Guests: John Ridley, Michaela Angela Davis
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: Tonight: The aftershocks of Don Imus‘s firings continue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If Don is watching or listening, we love you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The way he was treated, it‘s unconscionable, the way he was treated by this company.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There‘s no question.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unconscionable!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can‘t do it to him like that!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I‘m embarrassed by the company. I‘m embarrassed by their decision. And it shows really the worst lack of taste I‘ve ever seen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: As black and white America debate race, double standards and the hip-hop culture Don Imus was mocking when he uttered those three deadly words that ended his career.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DON IMUS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I don‘t want this to be the final thing I do in what has been a remarkable career. And I‘m a good and decent person, and I don‘t have to—for example, I don‘t need a “Come to Jesus” moment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Now NBC and CBS are being accused of setting double standards for firing the 66-year-old white man at the same time big media corporations are making millions of dollars by promoting violent, sexist hip-hop albums that demean women while glorifying rape, murder and mayhem. For years, media outlets like “The New York Times” have praised black hip-hop stars, some of whose lyrics are so offensive, so over the top, so misogynist that Don Imus could never imagine uttering profane such words, words so profane and violent we can‘t even show them to you tonight. And that lifestyle permeates American culture, from TV...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You might have won this time (DELETED)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: ... to music videos.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) big pimping up to NYC. It‘s just (INAUDIBLE) big pimping (INAUDIBLE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: ... while comedy giants utter the N-word as a punchline.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) What kind of ignorant (DELETED) is that? Hey, this is a good movie. This is so good, I got (INAUDIBLE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: While white media companies continue to embrace this culture, some African-American leaders are speaking out, demanding that all entertainers clean up their act.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REV. AL SHARPTON, NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK: You cannot glorify thuggism and gangsterism and say that you‘re going to relax and act like it‘s some cultural good thing if you‘re down (ph).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Hip-hop culture, race and Don Imus the topics of tonight‘s SCARBOROUGH REPORTS.
We‘ve got a provocative hour ahead. I‘ll tell you, everywhere I‘ve been going, over the past week, doesn‘t matter whether I‘m going to the grocery store, whether I‘m having lunch or dinner, people are constantly coming up to me, talking about Don Imus, talking about the hip-hop culture, talking about what they see as hypocrisy, debating whether it was right or wrong thing to do. There is so much ground to cover tonight.
Let‘s introduce our panel right away. We‘ve got John Ridley—he‘s a frequent commentator on National Public Radio, he‘s also the author of “The American way”—and Craig Crawford, a contributing editor and columnist at “Congressional Quarterly,” also an MSNBC political analyst—he‘s appeared on Imus‘s show 67 times—and Michaela Angela Davis, the editor-in-chief of Honeymag.com. We also have MSNBC media analyst Steve Adubato. He‘s also a visiting lecturer at Rutgers University.
John, let‘s begin with you. We‘ll get to double standards in a minute. But first let‘s talk about hip-hop. There is such a debate, and it‘s not a debate between white and black America, it seems there‘s a debate in all segments of society. Is this a violent culture that is a destructive force across America?
JOHN RIDLEY, SCREENWRITER AND COMMENTATOR: I think you can‘t indict all of hip-hop or all of rap. Are there elements of it that espouse a violent lifestyle, elements that are misogynistic? Absolutely. And I think you can find that in all elements of entertainment, of Hollywood and things like that. I mean, for me, as a black person, thought—and Joe, as you know, I wrote an article about this last December in “Esquire” magazine. There were some black people who were very upset about me calling to task the images that we allow ourselves to perpetuate in the media.
I think, now that this circus of hypocrisy with Imus is over, it really is, in terms of moving forward, what are we, as black people, going do to about policing the images that we put forward into America?
SCARBOROUGH: Let me—let me—you know, one of the most popular artists—and this isn‘t just about violence and sex and misogyny, it‘s also, of course, about the debate that always comes up, the uttering of the N-word. And everybody seems to talk about. Dave Chappelle—and I‘ve commented to this about—to my son, who absolutely loves watching “The Chappelle Show,” has bought, you know, the seasons on DVD. I say, This guy is making millions and millions of dollars getting white kids, black kids, Asian kids, Hispanic kids to laugh at a guy uttering the N-word.
You know, and John, a lot of people are talking about the hypocrisy where you have somebody like Ludacris. Let‘s—in fact, let‘s take a look at Ludacris‘s “Area Code.” This is a guy who‘s going for a mainstream audience. He‘s hosted “Saturday Night Live,” and he‘s appeared in the great film “Crash.” But this is one of his biggest hits. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LUDACRIS (SINGING): I‘ve got hos—I‘ve got hos—in different area codes, area codes. Hos, hos, hos in different area codes, area codes...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: More “hos” in that clip than a Santa Clause greeting. And yet a lot of people—again, and I‘ve been talking about this for some time. There are a lot of people, a lot of white Americans who say, again, Well, wait a second. Why does this guy get rich? Why do media companies that fired Don Imus make millions and millions of dollars off of these songs, and yet they‘re shocked and stunned when Don Imus mocks this type of talk?
RIDLEY: I don‘t think Don Imus was quite mocking this kind talk. It gets dicey with some of these things. When you talk about the N-word—I use that word politely on this show—when you talk about some black vernacular, people say there‘s a double standard. I say yes, there is, but I also say slavery and Jim Crow were a double standard, and perhaps as people of color, we‘ve earned just a little bit of it.
Having said that, I do believe it‘s time for people of color to start setting the standard for what we put out there and what other people see. Hip-hop and the bling culture and urban culture is big beyond urban areas. And you think about last year, a year ago, the song that won an Oscar for Academy Award was “It‘s Hard Out Here for a Pimp.”
It‘s not hard out there for a pimp, but it‘s hard out there for a black man or woman who are in a stable relationship, trying to raise three kids on $40,000 a year, but we don‘t extol those values enough in the black community. There‘s certainly enough people in the black community who live by those values, but you turn on television, you watch a lot of shows, you watch a lot of BET or MTV, you don‘t see enough of that. We‘ve got to start doing a better job of putting those images out there.
STEVE ADUBATO, MSNBC MEDIA ANALYST: Hey, Joe...
SCARBOROUGH: Let me ask Michaela first. Michaela, what—what would you say about these media companies that make millions and millions—almost, like, hundreds of millions of dollars through the years on these type of songs that many people believe are destructive, and yet they turn around and fire Don Imus?
MICHAELA ANGELA DAVIS, HONEYMAG.COM: Well, as you said earlier, this is a very complicated issue, and we have to think of it on a multi-dimensional level. But what‘s so interesting to me is that we are—we‘ve become so criminally comfortable in this culture, degrading young women and particularly young women of color. And what‘s so unfortunate is that so much of our attention is going Don and rappers and hierarchy in corporate America, and we‘re doing a lot of policing but not enough loving.
There are girls out there that are hurt, that are scholars, that are champions that have been called “hos.” It‘s like they‘re—they‘re demonized, no matter what they‘re doing, whether they‘re literally going down a stripper pole or whether they‘re being champions. So I think that much of our attention needs to go towards the young women that are the victims in this situation...
SCARBOROUGH: You talking about the—hold on a second. You‘re talking about the Rutgers basketball team?
DAVIS: Yes. Those are championship scholars, not muses of rappers. And we‘re putting them in the same conversation. And when we start looking to rappers...
SCARBOROUGH: Wait, wait, wait! No, no, no...
DAVIS: ... as our cultural compass...
SCARBOROUGH: I‘m not comparing them to rappers, and you know that.
DAVIS: No, no...
SCARBOROUGH: I‘m not comparing those...
DAVIS: We—we are...
SCARBOROUGH: ... basketball players to rappers.
DAVIS: But that...
SCARBOROUGH: You may be. I‘m not.
DAVIS: No, what I‘m saying is that we‘re in a conversation about an industry, about a culture that is very comfortable with degrading women, with marginalizing them, with misogyny and violence. And then we‘ve combined this conversation with what happened with Don Imus talking about scholars and champions, comparing them to the musings of old rap songs.
CRAIG CRAWFORD, “CONGRESSIONAL QUARTERLY,” MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:
Joe, I got a problem with the use of the word “victim.” I mean, I really think it is a terrible message to send to young people to be victims because of what someone else said...
DAVIS: No, but they—they are...
CRAWFORD: ... words that other people use.
DAVIS: They are the recipients...
CRAWFORD: I mean, a person‘s self-worth is not determined by what someone else calls them.
DAVIS: Yes, but...
CRAWFORD: I mean, these women...
DAVIS: But here‘s the question...
CRAWFORD: ... all week, from what I‘ve seen in their press conferences.
DAVIS: But here‘s the question. Who is telling them that they are amazing? What media company is saying to them—where does the self-esteem come from that they build their character, if they are constantly being bombarded by images that either degrade them or ignore them?
ADUBATO: Joe, let me make a point on that...
DAVIS: How do they build...
CRAWFORD: I just think—I think...
DAVIS: How do they build their self-esteem?
CRAWFORD: I think—I think...
CRAWFORD: ... we raise our children by telling them their self-worth is not determined by what a media company calls them.
DAVIS: Yes, but you‘re also talking about a culture of people that may be single-parented, may be—this is a class issue. You‘re talking about a culture of people that may have—may have a father at home, may not, may have a nanny, may not. But they‘re looking at TV. These are young women. So where do they get their self-esteem from...
DAVIS: ... if we don‘t start to...
SCARBOROUGH: Steve Adubato, let me bring you in. Go.
ADUBATO: Sure. Michaela, how about this. In many ways, through this horrible incident, through what Don Imus has done—and again, let‘s be clear, the last of many, many very racially and sexually insensitive comments. But here‘s the deal. In many ways, the Rutgers University women on that basketball team have gotten more positive recognition because of the way they conducted themselves in that press conference. Respectfully, they would not have gotten on Oprah if Don Imus hadn‘t done the horrible thing he did and they hadn‘t stepped up and handled it the way they did.
DAVIS: Yes, but is that...
SCARBOROUGH: Everybody stop for a second.
SCARBOROUGH: Everybody stop for a second.
ADUBATO: You‘re being cynical, and it‘s not helpful.
SCARBOROUGH: Listen, Let me tell you what bothers me and let me tell
you why I‘m cynical, because everybody, when they talk about Don Imus,
feels like they have to say, These horrible, terrible comments that he made
a week-and-a-half ago, the whole world shook on its axis. And yet, Craig Crawford, my gosh, CBS, who fired Don Imus for these extraordinarily terrible words owns Viacom, who puts out filth day in and day out, whether it‘s on music video channels or whether it‘s on other outlets. They make millions and millions of dollars. Big media companies get fat, rich and happy off of calling African-American women “hos” every day! It‘s in the videos! It‘s on XM radio! It‘s everywhere! Don‘t—please, please don‘t act shocked because it‘s still happening every day! Every day!
CRAWFORD: This was a public stoning. I would say a hanging is too dignified a term for it. And I think—down the road, a lot of people are going wake up and see that this was an overkill of this man. I do believe that.
ADUBATO: Joe, we talk about...
SCARBOROUGH: Listen—listen, everybody...
SCARBOROUGH: We‘ve got to go one at a time.
CRAWFORD: ... talked about how wonderful these women are. And I tell you what. I agree with that. These women have been wonderful. I‘ve enjoyed watching them this week.
CRAWFORD: But how come they‘re—how come they are the only ones who accepted Don Imus‘s apology?
ADUBATO: They didn‘t accept it, Craig~!
CRAWFORD: How come they‘re the only ones...
RIDLEY: They did accept his apology.
CRAWFORD: ... who forgive him?
SCARBOROUGH: OK, I‘m going to have to ask again, let the person finish speaking, and then I want to ask a question. John, I want to make myself very clear here, OK? I am not saying what Don Imus said was not repugnant. I‘m not saying if I were president of NBC News, I would not fire him because I would. I‘m saying what‘s bothering me tonight is everybody is sitting here wringing their hands, talking about how horrible Don Imus was and how CBS had to fire him, while this garbage is going on 24/7, not just—not just African-Americans, but you know, whites, Hispanics, et cetera, et cetera.
I mean, John, help me out here. Don‘t you see this double standard?
RIDLEY: Joe, can I say this? In my opinion, there is not one aspect of this entire affair that is not built on hypocrisy, from the same reporters who‘ve been on his show how many, 67 times—is that the number that I was given—who finally discover that Don Imus is saying inappropriate things. For Don Imus to give apologies...
SCARBOROUGH: Well, I‘ll tell you what...
SCARBOROUGH: Guys, listen, we‘ve got a hard break. I‘m going to let John finish, then I‘m going to let Craig Crawford respond because he was talking about it. We‘ll be right back in a minute with more SCARBOROUGH REPORTS.
SCARBOROUGH: Let‘s bring back our all-star panel, John Ridley, Michaela Angela Davis, Craig Crawford and Steve Adubato. John, before the break, you were talking about how some people decided after being on the show a good bit that they were offended by Don Imus‘s remarks. Go ahead and finish what you were saying.
RIDLEY: Well, you asked me to put it all in perspective. And to me, every aspect of this affair is just steeped in hypocrisy. And I was saying from the reporters and the media figures who‘d been on Imus so many times and yet finally realized that he‘d been saying these inappropriate things, from Don Imus giving these apologies to, of all people, Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, who‘ve used slurs and been unapologetic for things in the past, from these giant corporations firing Don Imus after the sponsors had already pulled out and there wasn‘t much to fire him from, to the fact that, finally, many of these Rutgers ladies, according to the statement today, not one of them actually asked for Don Imus to be fired.
So to me, the interesting thing—and I‘m sorry I don‘t remember whether it was Craig or Steve who said earlier, and I think they make a really good point, is that we cannot allow ourselves to be determined by what other people say, in this case, an older white man. And if we as black people were ever going to allow that to happen, we‘d still be slaves instead of being on the cusp of having the first black man as president of the United States.
So for me, it‘s Friday, this affair, to an extent, is done. What I‘m looking forward to Monday are the real solutions. And it comes down to two things. Are we as black people going do a better job of policing the images that we help put out there? And who exactly is going replace Don Imus? Is it going to be an Asian man, Hispanic woman, a Near Eastern individual? If it‘s not, just get ready for more of the same.
ADUBATO: Oh! I can‘t believe that!
SCARBOROUGH: Let me ask...
SCARBOROUGH: Hold on. I want to go to Craig first.
CRAWFORD: Well, I...
SCARBOROUGH: Hold on a second.
SCARBOROUGH: Guys, we‘ve got go to Craig because Craig never apologized for being on Don Imus. That was Ana Marie Cox. Go ahead, Craig.
CRAWFORD: Exactly. And I would go on the show again. I mean, unlike most of the ingrates in this town who lined up to go on that show, I haven‘t abandoned him. Maybe it‘s my Scotch-Irish blood. I‘m loyal to inanimate objects, but at the same time, I think this show—there were parts of it that made me cringe. Many of his fans think that, but not to the extent that he should have been publicly stoned in this way, especially with these students accepting his apology.
ADUBATO: Joe, I need to respond to something John said.
SCARBOROUGH: Steve Adubato, go ahead and respond to John.
ADUBATO: OK. And I probably misunderstand you, John, but here‘s what I think you said, and just allow me to finish. I believe you said if, in fact, the person who replaces Don Imus is not someone who is a minority, particularly a black, I believe you‘re talking about...
RIDLEY: No, I—I went across the spectrum. I said...
ADUBATO: OK. So if it‘s—I want to understand something. If it‘s a white male, I believe you said, quote, “expect more of the same.” A, I can‘t believe that you would make the statement in the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, who argued, and most of us right-thinking people would agree that you should judge people by not the color of their skin but the content of their character—that you would say that someone, because they are white and because they are male, we should, quote, “expect more of the same” that we got from Don Imus. I personally resent it. I professionally resent it. And I think you should apologize to all people who have been critical of Don Imus, white, black and otherwise, but in this case me. I can‘t believe you could say something like that!
RIDLEY: Steve, first of all, I‘m glad that the Don Imus affair has finally raised some outrage in the press. What I‘m saying is that until we get some diversity, yes, expect people to make these comments and allow them to go unfettered into the ethos.
ADUBATO: Because blacks can‘t make racist comments, John?
RIDLEY: Because what I‘m saying is if you had more women involved in hip-hop, you probably wouldn‘t have as many misogynistic images.
ADUBATO: Quick follow-up...
RIDLEY: If you had more...
DAVIS: I agree.
ADUBATO: Joe, quick follow-up...
RIDLEY: If you had...
RIDLEY: Hold on one second, Steve. Allow me to finish. Until you get diversity everywhere—look, Rosie O‘Donnell made that “ching chong” remark and it passed. If you—if Lisa Ling was still on the—on “The View,” that comment would not have been allowed to pass through the airwaves to morning America. You can disagree...
ADUBATO: Quick follow-up...
RIDLEY: Allow me to finish one thing.
CRAWFORD: ... that brought Imus down!
RIDLEY: Please allow me to finish one thing. You can disagree with me. You can demand an apology from me as much as you want. When we get diversity, come back and ask me, and then I‘ll tell you whether I‘m wrong on not.
ADUBATO: Can I respond, Joe?
CRAWFORD: I just want to point out it was diversity...
ADUBATO: Quick response, Joe?
CRAWFORD: ... diversity within NBC that brought Imus down! Al Roker had more to do with this than—than Al Sharpton.
ADUBATO: Joe, I just want to respond in this way. John, you said, accurately so—and I give you tremendous credit for this. You said that it was Jesse Jackson who did the “hymietown” comment about New York in 1984 and went after the white kids in Duke on a racist basis, who, in fact, were innocent and let go. It was Al Sharpton who did the Tawana Brawley thing. Are you saying that the same people who you rightfully criticize for being racial provocateurs—that they, or people like them who happen to be black, they are incapable of doing the same thing if...
SCARBOROUGH: All right, I‘ll tell you what...
SCARBOROUGH: Guys, you know what? I‘ve got bring...
SCARBOROUGH: Good Lord. You know what? I‘m going go out and take a smoke. You guys talk among yourselves.
SCARBOROUGH: Steve, go ahead.
RIDLEY: Look at any of my writings. Look at my writings in “Esquire,” all my writings on NPR, what I said about Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton—I want to make it very clear how I feel about those individuals. And believe me, you know, Al Sharpton talks about—he went after, I believe it was, Howard Dean about the racial make-up of his staff during the campaign in 2004. Somebody should have gone after Al Sharpton about the racial make-up or the faith-based make-up of his group.
I have—I‘m talking about diversity across the board. Prejudice and bigotry...
SCARBOROUGH: All right...
RIDLEY: ... is not limited by race or gender or sexual orientation.
ADUBATO: We agree.
RIDLEY: I‘m talking about diversity!
ADUBATO: We agree.
RIDLEY: Don‘t get on me for using the word diversity!
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, and you know what? You know what? We got to go to break, but when we come back, we‘re going to see what it‘s like when Michaela and I talk.
Well, I‘ll tell you what, a very spirited conversation. When we come back, one of hip-hop‘s most notorious and successful artists speak out about the double standard in America today. Can this type of language really be called art?
And later: Is America desensitized to shocking rap lyrics? And if so, will anyone be held accountable for what kids are hearing on the radio and downloading on iTunes?
SCARBOROUGH: Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH REPORTS.
He‘s known as 50 Cent, but the controversial rapper has made millions off of songs with violent, degrading lyrics. And with a focus now on who‘s allowed to say what, 50 Cent is just one of the many hip-hop artists under fire for their music. NBC‘s Jamie Gangel spoke with him about this hot issue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMIE GANGEL, NBC CORRESPONDENT: You ask any parent who hears your music, and inevitably, you hear the following: Why is it sexist? Why is it racist? Why is it homophobic? To use an old-fashioned word, a lot of it is vulgar. Is that a fair criticism?
50 CENT, RAPPER: To some people, you write a description of a woman from man to man or doing different things and you use the terminology “ho,” it‘s vulgar. But there‘s people who behave that way, you know, so it‘s just my choice as an artist.
GANGEL: You use the N-word constantly.
50 CENT: Oh, see that—that is not...
GANGEL: That makes parents crazy. I‘d kill my kids if that ever came out of their mouths.
50 CENT: Well, I understand that because your culture is different.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Still ahead on SCARBOROUGH REPORTS: As the Imus scandal shows, the real question in America‘s race debate: Where‘s the line, and is it determined by the color of your skin?
And late: Spike Lee and Whoopi Goldberg speak out on the double standard and whether or not there really is one, when we return.
SCARBOROUGH: Still ahead on SCARBOROUGH REPORTS, as the Imus scandal shows, the real question in America‘s race debate: Where‘s the line? And is it determined by the color of your skin?
And later, Spike Lee and Whoopi Goldberg speak out on the double standard and whether or not there really is one, when we return.
SCARBOROUGH: Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH REPORTS.
You know, the Reverend Al Sharpton has been at the center of this Imus debate from the very beginning. And earlier, I have talked to him about what many are calling the double standard in the hip-hop community.
THE REVEREND AL SHARPTON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: I think we‘ve got to confront them the same way. I think we‘ve got to be just as aggressive. I think that a lot of people now get it that didn‘t get it—I‘m talking about the general public—because, whereas we see these artists as having creative ability to free speech, and they do, we have the free speech to say, therefore, they ought not be subsidized by our dollars, through advertising and other things.
I think that you gain credibility when you have the same position you have with Imus as you do with them, so they can‘t say you‘re just picking on me. But you lose credibility if it stops with Imus. And I think that the real issue is that we must stop sexism, misogyny and racism, no matter who‘s selling it.
SCARBOROUGH: What‘s the next big step for race relations?
SHARPTON: I say everywhere I go, whether it‘s in a political speech or social speech or a sermon in a church, that just because we‘ve been knocked down does not mean we relax. You‘ve got get up. And I think that we‘ve got to have a dual strategy of still challenging society towards structural and institutional change, but also telling people you cannot glorify thuggism and gangsterism and say that you‘re going to relax and act like it‘s some cultural, good thing if you‘re down. I think that we‘ve got to do both at the same time.
SCARBOROUGH: Let‘s bring back in our all-star panel. John Ridley, he‘s a frequent commentator on National Public Radio and the author of “The American Way.” Craig Crawford, a contributing editor and columnist at “Congressional Quarterly” and an MSNBC political analyst. He‘s been on Imus 67 times. Michaela Angela Davis, the editor in chief of HoneyMag.com. And MSNBC media analyst Steve Adubato, he‘s also a visiting lecturer at Rutgers and has been for about 20 years now.
Michaela, do you agree with Al Sharpton that people like Al Sharpton need to go after those that subsidize the hip-hop community, also?
MICHAELA ANGELA DAVIS, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, HONEYMAG.COM: Well, it‘s interesting. There‘s been so many men in the center of this conversation, and I agree with some of the things that he says, but also we have to be careful when we single out certain artists and lump it into all that all of rap music is bad.
Ludacris‘ current hit is about runaways. The last hit of Jay-Z, he was calling me a pretty lady. So we have to really also think about, there are rap artists like Common that call black women queens and beautiful. There are rap artists like Talib Kweli. There are rap artists like Mos Def that say beautiful, amazing things.
But it‘s not sexy to the media to turn their eyes or their money towards things that black people are doing inside the hip-hop community, inside the hip-hop culture that are positive. There are things that we are doing that go unseen.
How David Banner rushed down to New Orleans when Katrina hit, like, the hip-hop community really showed up, but we didn‘t see that, because it‘s not sensational and it‘s not sexy. So we have to be really careful how we talk about hip-hop culture when you‘re talking about four or five individual rappers. I agree with the brother that we don‘t have enough balance.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, but we‘re not talking about four or five, though.
SCARBOROUGH: We‘re not talking about four or five, though. I mean, there‘s certainly...
DAVIS: Yes, but you‘re talking about...
SCARBOROUGH: ... there are people, even Chuck D, of course, the front man of Public Enemy, and a lot of people in the African-American community are actually going around and starting to say, you know what? This is a music form, this is an art form that has been taken over by thugs, and we‘ve got stop it. We‘ve got to take this back.
DAVIS: Oh, it‘s not just thugs. It‘s not just thugs. It‘s greedy corporate people that green-light these records.
SCARBOROUGH: I would call them thugs, too.
DAVIS: Are you thinking that there are no rappers—I mean, the fact that there are no women on the mike at all is a problem. And we used to have Queen Latifah, Salt-N-Pepa, Yo-Yo, the Real Roxanne, we had women who had voices. We have lost our balance in hip-hop because it‘s not making enough money. It‘s not sexy for Mos Def to be on MTV, the way he should be, to bring balance.
When Chuck D was rapping, there was a plethora of voices. Some of them were rough, like Tupac and Biggie. But we also had women. We also had satire. We also had fun. Hip-hop was about rocking the party. And anybody here that is under 60 has some rap song that makes them feel good.
So we can‘t forget how it has mobilized so many people. It gave Spike Lee his career, my career, Queen Latifah. We have CEOs owning things now because of hip-hop culture. So we have to be very careful when we start lumping it all together. This is a full-on culture.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, we‘re not lumping it all together, but certainly there are people of all races who are very concerned about the direction that it‘s has gone.
DAVIS: Oh, certainly.
SCARBOROUGH: But what I‘m concerned about, too, John Ridley, is—I read you some reviews before, but I want to read you some of these music reviews, because I don‘t think it‘s just the rappers. I don‘t think it‘s just the thugs who are behind the microphone or the thugs who are in the multinational corporations who are getting very rich off of these destructive lyrics.
DAVIS: Those are the big thugs.
SCARBOROUGH: I also think—yes, the big thugs, the rich thugs, the ones that are making the real money. I think it‘s also these media companies, these newspapers, and also music magazines that are praising this type of music. The “New York Times,” for instance, wrote a review of hip-hop group‘s Crime Mob‘s latest album, saying they were nostalgic for the magical year that this spectacularly unruly group emerged. In 2004, the “Times” called Crime Mob‘s debut album, quote, “addictive,” and said it evoked the gleeful mayhem of an out-of-control classroom.
What gleeful lyrics filled the CD that the “Times” praised as marvelously titled anthem? Well, one song was called—well, this is a lyrics to—the “F-word, the N-word.” We couldn‘t say it here if we wanted to. “F-word, n-word, you‘re a ho. Pull a trigger on that ho.”
And, John, I mean, I‘ve got examples from the “L.A. Times” and every other media publication that has elevated this type of music. So when Al Sharpton and other leaders are going after the corporations that are getting rich off of this or the rappers who are getting rich off of this, shouldn‘t they also tell “The New York Times” to hold themselves to a higher standard and not glorify this time of music, John?
DAVIS: That‘s so tricky.
JOHN RIDLEY, COMMENTATOR AND SCREENWRITER: You‘re talking about—if I could answer, you‘re talking about a review. And if I am guessing what Michaela was going to say, I do agree with the review. It‘s a little difficult. And, you know, I‘m almost loathe to say this, because I know that Steve is going to jump on me again, but I do think that it‘s indicative of a level of hypocrisy to, on the one hand—you know, even if the reviewers do like this kind of music, I‘m more concerned about the overall culture of “The New York Times.” I‘m more concerned about them in the way that they cover the news and cover the world.
You know, honestly, Joe, I‘ve enjoyed being here over this last week talking about this, but, you know, my sense is, when we do a head count coming up in the next week, how many people of color are going to be around talking about the housing bubble, or the war in Iraq, or these other issues that affect all of us?
I think one of the things—you know, we are all talking about, what was the tipping point with this Rutgers affair? And I think, for me, the big thing—and I would direct this, again, at Craig—is not so much whether this is a racial issue or even a sexist issue. When we saw these young ladies, the way any parent would look at their children, I think that‘s when these comments became unconscionable.
They weren‘t just general comments about media figures or about blacks in general, very specific young ladies that, when they came out, by no stretch of the imagination were they nappy-headed hos. And I would say to Craig, if someone made a comment like this to his kids, assuming he has children, or to the kids of his best friend if he doesn‘t, would he be so forgiving and would he show up at their house two weeks later for a barbeque? To me, that‘s the issue.
CRAIG CRAWFORD, COLUMNIST, “CONGRESSIONAL QUARTERLY”: I‘ll tell you what, I‘d like to see my kids handle it the way these kids do. And you know how they handled it?
RIDLEY: Didn‘t answer the question.
CRAWFORD: They didn‘t listen to all these adults telling them to be victims, telling them to kick back. They wanted to listen to this man. They asked to have a meeting with him. They listened to him. And what did they do? They forgave him.
RIDLEY: You didn‘t answer the question.
CRAWFORD: They accepted his apology. They‘re the only ones in this debate who‘ve done that. See, they didn‘t have an agenda in this debate, and I think that made a difference. I would...
STEVE ADUBATO, MEDIA ANALYST: That‘s not what he asked you, Craig.
CRAWFORD: I would hope my kids would handle this the way they did.
SCARBOROUGH: What John...
CRAWFORD: The only problem is, they‘re the only ones who accepted that apology.
SCARBOROUGH: John, what question do you want Craig to answer?
RIDLEY: My question was, if someone, if your neighbor, Craig—and, again, I‘m assuming you have children. And if I don‘t, then I am off-base. But if your neighbor, if you came home from a soccer game or a softball game or whatever, and someone had made that comment in the moment of glory of your child, would you go to a barbeque at their house two weeks later, the way you would show up on the Imus show two weeks after his suspension, assuming he had a suspension, but he got fired?
CRAWFORD: I think, you know, that doesn‘t make any sense, I mean, for starters. You know, what is the comparison?
RIDLEY: The comparison is, how do you feel about a comment like that? Can you personalize a comment? To make this comment and say, “Oh, it was just a comment. I would go back on this show in two weeks because he just said a little thing and it‘s no big deal,” to individuals, it‘s very, very personal.
And that‘s why I‘m saying to you, what would your response be if it was more personal? And can you see it—and, again, there‘s a lot of talk about racism and sexism and all these kinds of things. And to me, over the first day or so, it was fair. When we see these young ladies...
SCARBOROUGH: Let Craig answer, because we‘ve got to go to break.
CRAWFORD: I mean, the comparison—I think the better comparison would be if someone made that remark generally about students or about children. I mean, I don‘t think, you know, it was a specific comment that was...
DAVIS: But it‘s not general.
RIDLEY: But it was a specific comment. It was a very specific comment.
CRAWFORD: And I think the apology—if that person, you know, asked for forgiveness apologized, it would make a difference than if they didn‘t.
SCARBOROUGH: I‘m going to ask our all-star panel to stick around. But first, two of Hollywood‘s most controversial artists weigh in on the race war of words, when we return.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SPIKE LEE, DIRECTOR: And the thing that kills me—Ty and I were talking about this last night—is that now he‘s trying to hide behind, oh, black men talk about black women like that, so therefore I can do it.
AL ROKER, “TODAY SHOW”: OK. What about that? You know, people say...
LEE: That‘s a different discussion.
ROKER: A different discussion?
LEE: Different discussion...
ROKER: Because they‘re saying it‘s a double standard. What about the argument about double standards?
WHOOPI GOLDBERG, ACTRESS: It doesn‘t even matter if it‘s a double standard. Right now, the issue is, he made an incredibly bad faux pas and he‘s got to take the heat for it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Spike Lee and Whoopi Goldberg on the “Today Show” this week, saying it‘s not a double standard. OK, well, what is it then?
Let‘s bring back in our all-star panel, John Ridley, Craig Crawford, Michaela Angela Davis, and Steve Adubato.
Steve, I think you haven‘t talked in a while. This is a point that—you know, I have been trying to explain this to my progressive, white friends that maybe they think a double standard is OK. I had Bill Maher who said, sure, there should be a double standard. Spike Lee says there should be a double standard. You know, they may believe that, and whites in blue state America may believe that, but I will guarantee you the overwhelming majority of white Americans think that‘s just total crap.
ADUBATO: Including me.
SCARBOROUGH: And it causes a greater racial division from people that say, you know what? Don‘t even try to give me that line. I‘m not buying it.
And you know what? To underline this point, I want to go ahead and play you a Dave Chappelle clip. He‘s no stranger to racial controversy. But he uses the n-word all the time on “The Chappelle Show,” and I want to show you a skit that uses the n-word as the name of his family‘s last name. Watch it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVE CHAPPELLE, COMEDIAN: Morning, (bleep).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why, it‘s (INAUDIBLE) our colored milkman.
CHAPPELLE: This is my favorite family to deliver milk to, the (bleep). Mmm, something sure smells good! You (bleep) cooking?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We sure are. There‘s some leftover bacon if you‘d like some.
CHAPPELLE: Oh, none for me. I know better that to get between a (bleep) and their pork. I‘d get my fingers bit. Here you go.
I hate to bother you about this, but, well, you didn‘t pay your bill last week. And I know how forgetful you (bleep) are when it comes to paying bills.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: And so, again, he uses the n-word time and time and time again, and he gets richer and richer and richer every time he does.
ADUBATO: Can I answer your question, Joe?
SCARBOROUGH: Do you think, Steve, there should be a double standard, Steve?
ADUBATO: Should I do? I think there should be absolutely not. And, in fact, when it is argued that there should be, you are absolutely right, Joe, that it creates a greater racial division.
And I have to say this. And John‘s been very good in terms of criticizing a lot of things we‘re talking about, particularly the worst, the most sexist, the racist lyrics that we‘re talking about, the misogynist stuff we‘re talking about. John, I want to follow up with you. You didn‘t get a very direct answer from Craig to a very direct question.
My question to you is this. In light of what Joe just showed, do you believe there should be the same boycotting that Sharpton did in front of CBS, in front of BET, or in front of Comedy Central, when, in fact, they ran a clip like that from Chappelle or any black-owned or black-operated or black-profiting, if you will, corporation that does the kinds of things that you think are terrible in terms of the lyrics, in terms of the things we‘ve been talking about this whole program, should they be boycotted?
RIDLEY: All right, let me answer. Yes. Is that a direct enough answer for you?
ADUBATO: Yes, it is, and I appreciate it.
CRAWFORD: I gave a direct answer. I don‘t know why you had to take a shot at me.
ADUBATO: No, I don‘t think you did.
RIDLEY: Where was the yes or the no? Craig, just give me the yes or the no, and then I‘ll...
CRAWFORD: I said, if the person apologized and asked for a meeting, absolutely. I mean, that‘s my point.
ADUBATO: I apologize. I didn‘t hear your answer before.
SCARBOROUGH: OK, we‘re going to let Michaela get in on this when we return with SCARBOROUGH REPORTS.
SCARBOROUGH: And let‘s bring in our all-star panel. We‘re going to go to Michaela first. Michaela, talk about this double standard.
DAVIS: Well, I think what we‘re seeing here is the backlash of a deplorable educational system and how we don‘t know enough about each other that we can talk about each other in such separate ways. If we knew more about our own history, American history, black history, we wouldn‘t be so removed.
And, also, if we saw a little bit more black women that do love each other and take people to task, like what happened at Spellman (ph), like our foundation, Black Girls Rock, like what happens on HoneyMag.com, like what happened with “Essence” to take back the music for an entire year.
We talk to rappers and to corporate America, but we don‘t see us loving each other enough, so we think that we‘re doing nothing. There‘s a lot being done on a community level, on a grassroots level, where we are talking to our girls.
And if I have anything lastly to say is that this is about loving our young, black women, not about rich, white men, for me, that have millions of dollars, not about rich rappers, not about rich corporate America, but those young women who are building their lives and building their self-esteem with very little support from this culture. So I think that if you start to look at...
SCARBOROUGH: You know what, Michaela? I think you can say that. I think you can say that not only about African-American girls, but as a father that‘s got a young girl...
SCARBOROUGH: ... growing up right now, the visual images that these girls see, that they‘re supposed to look like, dress like. And I say this talking about Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, (INAUDIBLE) by the time they‘re 7, 8, 9 years old, it is destructive to women. It‘s destructive to women‘s self-esteem. It turns them into nothing but sex objects before they even get out of middle school and it is causing serious problems in this culture.
And it doesn‘t matter whether you‘re an African-American parent or a white parent or an Asian parent, it‘s something that we‘re all going to have to confront.
And, Craig Crawford, let‘s bring you in here, because you haven‘t talked. You don‘t have to talk about Paris Hilton or Britney Spears, but let‘s talk about that double standard. Because, again, nobody in Manhattan or L.A. may be talking about it, but I will guarantee you, in middle America, that‘s all I‘m hearing.
CRAWFORD: Well, I have a double standard that the—which artist was it who said the n-word was OK because that was their culture?
ADUBATO: 50 Cent.
CRAWFORD: I mean, the interesting thing about that is, I mean, let‘s face facts, what the rules are. I don‘t guess I can quarrel with this, because they‘re just the rules, that it‘s all right for an ethnic or racial group to disparage each other but not other people. And I just have to point out, white people have come to accept—and I do, and I think most do—that it‘s OK for everyone to disparage white people, because of the prestige and the power and the historical privilege that white people have had. I‘ve often though, just as an example, of the “White Men Can‘t Jump” movie, if that were, you know, racial or if it was a Hispanic or a black in the title of that movie, that movie, you know, would it have been allowed?
ADUBATO: Hey, Joe?
SCARBOROUGH: Hey, John Ridley, I want to ask John. John, you wrote this fascinating “Esquire” article. You used the n-word liberally but in a much, much different context. Talk about the flack, the blowback you got from the African-American community for that.
RIDLEY: Well, I will talk about some of the flack that I got from some people, because I didn‘t get it from all people, but I was trying to address this very thing. You know, for me, we‘ve talked a lot about women, and I think Michaela made some and you, as well, made some very good points about the images we present for women.
For me, as a father and a father of two boys, it‘s about the image that we present as men and teaching them to try to be respectful and to try to be good citizens. So, for me, in the manifesto of ascendancy that was in “Esquire” magazine, it was about these images that are out there, and for us as black people to separate ourselves and say, look, there‘s nothing intrinsically wrong with elements of hip-hop and what have you. And I‘ve said it before. There are guys like Jay-Z and P. Diddy who have become businessmen and entrepreneurs.
But if you could imagine almost every image of white people being NASCAR, I think at some point that you guys would get tired of seeing that and tired of being made examples of through one aspect.
SCARBOROUGH: I will tell you, John, I am sick and tired, as a southern white male, of being portrayed as a NASCAR-driving, barefooted, redneck, tent-revival-type guy who‘s a racist. I mean, those are the type of images that I see over and over again. But, again, John, it‘s easier for me to sort of brush that off, because I‘m not facing the challenges that an African-American male is facing, right?
RIDLEY: Exactly. And that‘s what I was trying to make in the manifesto of ascendancy. Let‘s just get more images and diversity of images in the black community.
SCARBOROUGH: All right. Hey, thank you all so much. Greatly appreciate it. John, Michaela, Craig, we‘re going to keep talking about this next week. Steve Adubato, thank you so much for being with us tonight on SCARBOROUGH REPORTS.
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