Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The misguided priorities of the NAACP

This is so typical. Mitt Romney used the phrase "tar baby" in saying why he would have been smarter to have stayed away from the Big Dig catastrophe in his state.
"The best thing politically would be to stay as far away from that tar baby as I can," he told a crowd of about 100 supporters in Ames, Iowa.
Because he is a Republican, civil rights leaders leapt for the microphone to criticize him for using a phrase that many blacks find offensive.
Bruce S. Gordon, president of the national civil rights organization, said Romney, a 2008 Republican presidential contender, “made a bad choice” in Iowa Saturday when he compared the Big Dig debacle to “that tar baby” he needed to run a mile from.

“Anyone running for public office should remove from their vocabulary any language that is sensitive to any ethnic group. ‘Tar baby’ is one of those phrases,” Gordon told the Herald.
Gee, are Bruce Gordon and the NAACP as eager to criticize rap stars who routinely glorify the thuggish lifestyle of gang leaders and drug dealers while rapping about bitches, ho's, and Niggaz? Do they they grab a microphone or issue press statements criticizing MTV or BET for playing such songs or the Grammy Awards for celebrating them? Of course not. They're hands off about criticizing rap and the record companies and TV stations making millions off the corrosive message in modern rap music.

As Juan Williams argues so convincingly in his book that comes out today, Enough: The Phony Leaders, Dead-End Movements, and Culture of Failure That Are Undermining Black America--and What We Can Do About It, white-owned corporations making fortunes off such demeaning message in rap music require the full cooperation of black leaders, black politicians, and the media. If those leaders who purport to speak for the black community were constantly leading protests against music moguls who use rap music to perpetuate a stereotype of black men as pimps and black women as ho's those white corporate leaders would stop producing such garbage just as they always back down when Jesse Jackson leads his protests of economic blackmail against white corporate leaders. But those leaders are silent on rap and black entertainment corporate bosses at BET help by giving their own stamp of approval to such "keepin' it real" lyrics and videos.

What is likely to do more damage to the black community? A politician using the phrase "tar baby" to talk about a bureaucratic catastrophe or rap stars sending the message to young blacks that the proper way of things is for young black men to celebrate a violent lifestyle while depicting young black women as sexual objects only good for servicing these thugs? Which message is degrading cultural values for millions of black teens and perpetrating disgusting stereotypes of blacks as criminals and whores?

We all know why civil rights leaders are silent on the corrosive impact of rap music on young black teenagers yet can't wait to criticize some white Republican for using a phrase like "tar baby." And such hypocrisy shows the irrelevancy of the NAACP today. And that is a true shame because it once was an organization that spoke with moral authority and was truly dedicated to bettering the lives of blacks. Today it is just a partisan agency that has sublet its message to the Democratic Party. That is such a shame because there are problems throughout the black community that need addressing from horrific dropout rates, frightening numbers of unwed mothers having babies, while too many young black men are incarcerated. Instead of looking for ways to blame whites or to target Republican politicians, the NAACP could get busy addressing the cultural messages that tell young blacks that it is acting white to do well in school, that it is somehow glamorous to embrace a gangsta lifestyle, and that women's sole purpose is to shake their bootie for black pimps. Speak about that, Mr. Gordon, and don't worry about Romney using a metaphor that has dual connotations that he wasn't even aware of. Not one black teenager is going to give up aspirations for a better life because of Mitt Romney, but millions are influenced by watching gangsta rap videos. Use your microphone for that message and you'll have a much greater impact on improving the culture for black teens than you ever would be jumping on every politician who unknowingly uses offensive metaphors.