It sure is getting hard out here for a chump
The dragon who has been protected in his lair by naive lames who confuse tastelessness, willful vulgarity and denigration with black "authenticity" took another monumental hit recently.
Handsome Earl Graves, mutton-chopped archcapitalist and one who is neither a stranger to nor opposed to the making of money, ordered that the microphone plug be pulled on comedian Eddie Griffin, who was spewing the N-word at a corporate fund-raiser sponsored by Black Enterprise magazine, which Graves founded. In doing so, Graves separated himself from both black and white business types who are either too craven or too cowardly to understand that the issue at the center of American capitalism is bringing the profit motive in line with morality and ethics.
Meaning yes, you can make money selling a product. No, you cannot sell a dangerous or unhealthy product to your customers. If that is still too hard to understand, ask the Communist Chinese why they have had to face the returns of so many of their toys covered with toxic lead paint or showing other dangerous tendencies because of shoddy workmanship.
One talented black filmmaker referred to the conflict between Graves and Griffin as some version of a "class struggle." I assume that he meant Graves represented the black upper class while Griffin was "representing" the authentic imbecility easily had at the bottom. Wrong.
Basic morality and a sense of civilization are shared across the classes, no matter how many are intimidated by wealth. Criminals, whether from the streets or the suites, remain a minority and are never seen as representative of the "real" black person, rich as Fort Knox or poor as the hole in a doughnut.
That is why Graves received a standing ovation from the 1,200 sponsors attending the 14th annual Black Enterprise/ Pepsi Golf & Tennis Challenge, a scholarship drive for aspirant lower-class kids. They were pleasurably shocked and thrilled by Graves when he said that Griffin would be paid his fee but that, "We at Black Enterprise will not allow our culture to go backward."
We are at a moment of expanding truth that brings much-needed attention to the fact that our culture is struggling through a fecal storm without an umbrella. Those bothered by the filth and the stink are dismissed as conservatives trying to deny the identity of black culture. Bull.
We are seeing a response of monumental significance, which ranges from the campaign against the misogyny in hip hop that was sparked in 2004 by the women at Spelman College - and was extended by Diane Weathers when she was editor at Essence magazine - to the National Action Network calling for decency. Add to that the recent "burial" of the N-word in Detroit by the NAACP and the group Enough Is Enough, which is intent on picketing the home of BET CEO Debra Lee every week for as long as it takes to get tasteful changes in the network's presentations.
The bottom line is that comedians and filmmakers produced much better work when they had to rein themselves in, including Richard Pryor on television. People are beginning to realize that, and the hip-hop dragons tremble and bleed with their every realization.
Even the multiplatinum 50 Cent has had to do a gut check. When asked why he isn't currently producing more hard-core music, he said, "I take into consideration what the music business is facing with things like the Don Imus situation. I think it would cause a full uproar if I wrote [hard-core] lyrics from that perspective all the way through my album. That's why I released 'Curtis' instead of my next project, 'Before I Self Destruct.' It's more of a hard-core sound, and it would be too aggressive for this period."
We have been in the dark and the storm too long, but the sun is getting pushed up.
Monday, September 17, 2007
The Forever Vigilant Stanley Crouch........Words DO Hurt...Hopefully!
The latest from my favorite scribe/columinist Stanley Crouch, courtesy of the NY Daily News:
Posted by desmond burton at 6:45 AM