The Reverse Race Card

By Todd A. Smith

            On his 1994 hit song “Hand of the Dead Body” that featured Ice Cube and Devin the Dude, Scarface rapped, “So why you tryin kick some dust up, America’s been always known for blaming us brothers for they mess-ups…So why you criticize me for the things that you see on your TV, that rates worse than PG?”

            The Houston rapper was inferring that America has a history of blaming young Blacks from the hip-hop culture with all of the violence that they see on TV when many White stars perpetuate violent images in their art as well, such as movies.

            That inference now has migrated to Great Britain, as many including the BBC, have blamed young Blacks and their culture of hip-hop for the violent London riots, even though many of the rioters are not even Black.

            “The problem is that Whites have become Blacks—a particular sort of violent, destructive, nihilistic gangster culture has become the fashion—and Black and White, boy and girl, operate in this language together; this language, which is wholly false, which is a Jamaican patois, that’s been intruded in England, and this is why so many of us have this sense of literally a foreign country,” said English historian David Starkey during a roundtable discussion on the BBC about the London riots.

            Starkey’s outlandish comments about the London riots were immediately challenged, but his sentiments echo a deeper problem that we have across the globe and that is blaming all problems and violence on Black culture even when the majority of the perpetrators are White.

            When hip-hop exploded onto the pop culture scene in the 1980s and 1990s, the violent lyrics in some of the songs were blamed for the violence that was occurring in the Black community.  Although I am the first to admit that many rappers need to use their influence to persuade the youth to avoid violence, those problems in our community existed long before rappers brought it to the forefront.

            Nevertheless, to see Blacks blamed for a gangster-like atmosphere amongst White youth participating in the London riots is totally immature, disrespectful and inexcusable for the bigots making these assumptions.

            Hip-hop has definitely integrated society like no other art form, but to blame rappers for introducing the White youth of Great Britain to “gangsterism” and violence is the epitome of playing the race card and totally inaccurate.

            I guess all of the gangster movies that Hollywood produced in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, like The Godfather, Scarface and Goodfellas, which were much more violent than many rap songs had no affect on the youth whatsoever.

            If Black entertainers can persuade the White youth taking part in the London riots to become violent then it seems ludicrous that White entertainers who have violence in their art will not have the same effect.

            To be quite frank, the Black community has its issues with violence, drugs and other vices, and we should take full responsibilities for our mistakes.  However, we should not be blamed for the mistakes of others, which we have no control over.  When the Black community blames the White community for our problems we are accused of playing the race card and if that’s true, then the same rules should apply to the White community.

            Take responsibility for your own actions and do not blame us for something we cannot control.

            Scarface goes on to say, “If you don’t dig me, then you can sue me, because the things that I be sayin’ ain’t worse than no Western movie.”

            What people like Starkey need to realize is that Blacks did not invent violence and rappers did not invent violent art, and to blame us for something that has been going on since the beginning of time is the epitome of playing the race card.

Smith is publisher of Regal Black Men’s Magazine, a publication dedicated to the African American community.

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