Thine Dirt in the Shell

God Bless Henry Abbott. Long ago, he made us realize that we could never keep up on current NBA events, controversies, and discussions to his level of skill and precision. We were forced to stop trying to stay current and break news, and it is with this admittance that I reveal the not-so-shocking secret that I have been terrible at keeping up with the NBA this year. I just realized that the Pacers were in the dumps...I also just realized that Carmelo has reverted to pouting and sluffing...and a few days ago I realized there was some big to-do over Whitlock, Simmons, and Scoop concerning hip-hop and the craziness of all-star weekend in Vegas. From what I've been able to gather, Simmons used the term "Hip-Hop Woodstock" innocuously to describe the Vegas scene, Whitlock went all Wynton Marsalis on us, and Scoop (amongst others) shot back IN THE NAME OF HIP-HOP. Then Simmons responded on some "You were never friends with Pac" type Ralph Wiley name-dropping, and D-Wil magically made a souffle out of it in this tremendously thoughtful piece.

I don't really feel like I need to "weigh in" on the whole back and forth except to say the following: People in the Scoop camp, who feel compelled to swoop in and defend hip-hop culture's honor in these situations--whether talking the age limit, the dress code, or Vegas weekend--are making hip-hop WAY MORE RELEVANT than it actually is.

No straw man. This type of argument is prevalent on the 'nets way beyond Scoop Jackson and I've been responsible for quite a good deal of it myself on this very blog. However, i really think that these culture-crusaders when using the term 'hip-hop' are conceiving of some emblematic monolithic reprsentation such as this:

and not this:

Hip-hop, while still artistically innovative, hasn't been the voice of a people (the people/a culture/whatever) for at least a few years. Don't start with me on those OMG YOU'RE NEGLECTING THE COUP AND DEAD PREZ AND FLO BROWN trips, because those people are simply not relevant right now. Of course things cycle around, and hip-hop will again serve (probably some time soon) as a powerful tool for the marginalized and for the truly revolutionary to voice significant biz. As it currently stands though, though Fall Out Boy is making blatantly racist videos for their songs and rap cats aren't doing shit but sitting back and remixing it.

This is all to say that hip-hop doesn't seem to care about shit. And hip-hop certainly doesn't care about the NBA, or the players that represent its aesthetic, so why should anyone rush to its defense when it is blamed for The Association's troubles. When we support hip-hop and fight for its innocence we're giving it way more credit than it deserves--it's not that relevant.

I'm as sick as anyone of media wigs citing "Make it Rain" THE SONG as the cause for Pacman Jones ACTUALLY MAKING IT RAIN in Vegas or drawing the Ron Artest = Wifebeater = Rapper (oh OBVIOUSLY Wifebeater/Thugh) connections. But hold up...peep this video of Roc-A-Fella underlings dissing Dipset: "Ron Artest sold more records than you." SEE. RAPPERS DONT CARE ABOUT RON ARTEST, so why should we care about them?

What I'm saying is this. The way things are currently, the link between hip-hop and the NBA is illusory. It's as illusory as for those trying to defend hip-hop as it is for those trying to blame it. Just because Gilbert Arenas is friends with The Game and Bow Wow is catching floorburns in the all-star celebrity game and Desmond Mason is playing the surrogate AJ Pierzynski-belting-Journey character for the New Orleans Hornets, doesn't mean anything more than Tobey Maguire showing up to the Lakers game. The hip-hop/NBA connection, as it stands now, is spurious. I grew up in an era when Tony Campbell was getting shouted out in Public Enemy's liner notes, and until something changes, those days are gone.


At 3/12/2007 10:08 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

i've felt for the last few years that if rappers are trying to be ballplayers, and ballplayers rappers, then basically everyone's just aiming for jay/bron.

At 3/12/2007 10:08 AM, Anonymous Bayern Munich said...

Excellent post.

I think you're right about both mainstream hip-hop's current diminished relavance and it's likely future return to cutting-edge relevance. I also think there's a little more at play here - if you look at the Simmons/Whitlock/Scoop interchange, it's sort of obvious that the phrase "hip-hop," sometimes followed by "culture," is a cheap pseudonym for a lot more. It certainly means more, or something more specific, than "black" culture, but I feel like people on both/all sides are talking about something far different than a genre of music. Whether that's due to laziness, or fear of offending, or simply because TV has led them to believe that hip-hop really is a "culture" that was on display in Vegas (probably not true of Scoop, but a distinct possibility for Simmons), I couldn't say.

Incidentally, I've been a semi-regular reader of this blog for a while, and I can honestly tell you that the linked-to buzznet page on Fallout Boy and Kanye is the reason why FD is one of the few corners of the 'nets I don't feel embarassed to read. So, thanks for that.

At 3/12/2007 10:11 AM, Blogger John said...

i have to agree completely. all the coverage after the all-star game was as strange as it was oblivious. oh, some big black guys play basketball. oh, some big black guys like rap and some even perform. therefore, basketball=rap music.
would any sportswriter ever make the same comparison between a mainly white sport? what music do hockey players listen to? it's asinine. i blame that white guy who threw the water on Artest for the NBAs problems. i think he was listening to rap.

At 3/12/2007 10:33 AM, Anonymous JoeyJ said...

D-Wil's piece = tremendously thoughtful?

Or more hackneyed, racist, tired Simmons bashing?

At 3/12/2007 11:03 AM, Blogger Gladhands said...

Hip-hop is definitely being used to describe a demographic, and has precious little to do with the music. To be honest, hip-hop has not been a culture or a lifestyle for quite some time. Sure, it's a lazy identifier, but we all understood who they meant (here's a hint: it's not just young, black people.

I didn't go to Vegas for ASW, but nearly everyone I know says that Simmons' account was just the tip of the iceberg. Some tales aren't meant to be told in mixed company, and Scoop caught feelings.

At 3/12/2007 11:15 AM, Blogger Emil said...

I was just about to start my response by saying how depressing it was to read all those comments over on D-Wil’s page, and then I gotta come here and see JoeyJ call D-Wil’s piece” racist Simmons bashing.”

I’d like to assume that most of the people that read this great site are smart enough to understand the very real difference between a black man calling a white man “cracker” and a white man calling a black man any of the myriad of racial epithets we all deem pretty damn inappropriate.

But, regarding DLIC’s piece, I agree with Bayern Munich’s thoughts that “hip-hop generation” is just a way for people to talk about “those blacks” in coded language. In other words, when people say “I don’t hate black people, I just hate this whole hip-hop generation, thug thing” they’re basically just raising their hands and saying “I’m a racist piece of crap.” Writers like Scoop understand this and thus “stick up for hip-hop” but are really just sticking up for “blackness” by using the racist’s lexicon—which may or may not be a wise rhetorical choice.

Point is though, I don’t really get the sense that anyone is defending “hip-hop” the music or “the culture” or whatever. Frankly, I don’t think it needs any “defending.” But, saying that “hip-hop is not the voice of the people” seems to me to be pretty inaccurate. Yes, it’s not the voice of “the people”--as in the “power to the people,” “revolutionary” people--but it most certainly is still “the voice” of a great deal of black Americans. Whether this “voice” is more “fantastic” (i.e. of or having to do with fantasy) than “realistic” (i.e. “CNN of the ghetto”) is of course up for debate, but regardless, to say that hip-hop is not “the voice of the people” to me implies that the music is no longer relevant to the black experience(s) in this country. And I would disagree with that pretty strongly.


At 3/12/2007 11:18 AM, Blogger Dr. Lawyer IndianChief said...

Emynd comes back wearing the 4-5!

At 3/12/2007 11:57 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

i pretty much agree with e. on everything, but feel compelled to pose this grouchy counter-argument: isn't saying that hip-hop is "relevant to the black experience(s) in this country" kind of like saying "the nba is a black league?"

we may want or need to think this, but when you look at the number of who consumes the two, what channels their moneymaking ventures are distributed through, and what kinds of identity can achieve any power within them, it becomes far more murky.

At 3/12/2007 12:02 PM, Blogger Emil said...

Also, I dunno how many of you suffered through some of those D-Wil’s comment folks, but one dude had the gall to say this:

No one said it, but we are saying the hip hoppers caused the crimes. I’ve never seen so many civilian in a civilized place so scared. You could tell the difference b/w good and bad. I personally witnessed three cab dashes, countless non tipped waitresses, fights, line cutting and countless blunts in the streets. I am by no means racist, I just hate the hip hop age and I will tell you: IT WAS THE HIP HOPPERS DOING ALL THE ACTS I SPOKE OF. If you weren’t there put in a little insight and shut the fuck up, if you were there then you would understand the chaos and unruliness that occurred. Did most of the people I witnessed happen to be black, yes, but to me it has nothing to do w/ black or white. It has to do w/ the hip hop age of no discipline and anger that has brought it down. I used to listen to “RAP”, yes rap. Rap was Big Daddy Kane and Big L. Hip hop is Fifty, Jay Z, Damon Dash, Jeez and the rest of the filth that has become associated w/ the young black youth of todays world.

First of all, this is the first time I’ve ever heard someone claim that “Rap” is the “better” form of “hip-hop” instead of the oft-stated idiotic “I don’t like rap, but I like hip-hop” comment.
Second of all, Big L?

I repeat… Big L?

Dude rapped about selling drugs, was clearly a “thug,” and was easily one of those most misogynstic rappers of all time. Not to mention the fact that he GOT SHOT AND KILLED.

Just so it’s clear, I absolutely love Big L, but I find it laughably incomprehensible that someone might use Big L as an example to the contrary of “the hip-hop generation.”

The internet has done a great job of revealing to me that I’m surrounded by idiots.


At 3/12/2007 12:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shadow said way back in 96 that hip-hop was like a his mother turning into an alcoholic.

If you read that interview he makes some good points about hip hop certainly evolved out of a progressive, experimental musical movement that pre-dated the MC. This was inextricably linked to the way of life of the people who developed it, who were mostly poor and exposed to drugs and crimes, and black.

Things have changed these days hip-hop has become formulaic both muscially and culturally. Inovation is quite limited and most combinations of producers, performers and labels cynically determined to maximise target audience. The artists themselves have started to adopt old world symbols of success and affluence (Cristal, Courvoisier, diamonds, women) and use race and crime as a way of illustrating that they are genuine and have in some way a right to use that medium.

Unfortunately the whole thing was devolved into the lowest common denominator for marketing purposes. If you follow the cash trail, hip hop is probably owned by a couple of white guys, funded by teenagers, with enough cash finding its way into the hands of the performers to keep them comfortable enough so they don't have anything important to say. Problem is, you can't criticize it without some people calling you a racist or a classist, because at its inception it was so clearly a black thing. But its only black on the surface these days, in fact hip hop is probably more culturally relevant in places outside of where it originated, where it is a newer form of expression.

Having said that, NBA and hip-hop are not seperate, they occupy a very similar marketing demographic, go to youtube and have a look at the NBA mixes. Mostly done to mainstream hip hop. So people who are into the NBA are into hip hop, I'm pretty sure they are not racially homogeneous though.

At 3/12/2007 12:54 PM, Blogger spanish bombs said...

I just want to make clear that I refuse to be part of any organization that tortures kittens!

At 3/12/2007 1:03 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

that's pretty much what i didn't want to be taken as saying.

lots of black people like hip-hop, and it's certainly an important part of a lot of black people's lives. it's chicken and egg whether hip-hop changes the world or the world changes hip-hop, but the bottom line is that there is that relationship and it's not my place to criticize that.

i'm just saying that it's become more of a distanced commodity—like e. said, a fantasy and not "the black cnn." and naturally, this complicates issues of participation and ownership.

At 3/12/2007 1:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hip hop isn't relevant??
Hip hop and basketball arent linked/joined at the hip???

Way to throw a bunch of stuff out there and see what sticks.

If you don't think the league and hip hop are intertwined try finding out what these ballers are listening to in the locker room and what they're playing in their cars.

The majority of these players grew up on hip hop, that's just a fact. Maybe the influence is going to die down with the newer wave of players.

Bron didn't sign with fallout boy... he signed with def jam.

Ron Artest didn't put out a country album, he put out a rap album.

Rappers wanna be baaaaaaaaalling, ballers wanna be rapping. Don't really see where you were going with this one. I think you missed the boat somewhere.

At 3/12/2007 1:13 PM, Blogger Emil said...

No offense to the anonymous that started out quoting DJ Shadow, but your post is ridiculous.

Things have NOT changed since hip-hop’s inception. “World symbols of success and affluence” have always been a focus of rap lyrics and white people BEEN reaping the financial benefits of rap since the first rap record was mass produced. Furthermore, if you think rap music today is “musically” formulaic, I don’t know what the hell you’re listening to. The production in rap music is currently as innovative as it’s ever been and the range of rappers out there is staggering. Please take your revisionist history elsewhere.

Also, I don’t care where you follow the “cash trail.” Fact of the matter is, rap music is “black music.” It’s created by black folks and a huge percentage of black folks consider it to be “their music.” The fact that white business men are making money from their exploitation of black rappers does not make the music any less authentically “black.”


At 3/12/2007 1:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sugarghill records black owners were able to buy out its mob based backers after its first hit (mass produced? record). Universal (french owned I think)has alot of the big main steam names (50, Kanye, Star Trak), none of whom are close to buying out universal.

The inovation today is in no way comparable to the first displays of turntablism, break dancing and rap. It IS formulaic in comparison.

Anyway, my point is, hip hop may still be the sound track to a young black mans life, but his culture does not participate in its production to the same extent as previously. It has been sold out. Basically I'm saying if people want to blame hip hop culture or NBA culture for anything they should address their complaints somewhere other than to black people.

At 3/12/2007 1:59 PM, Blogger Louie Bones said...

Radio-rap = commercial pop.
They have literally become one and the same. You're more behind on hip hop more than the NBA.

MF Doom, Madlib, J Dilla, Oh No, Guilty Simpson, Aesop Rock, Cadence Weapon. Around the year 2000 you'd be lucky to even see albums by these gents in a major music store. All these are excellent, balanced acts with no chance of significant radio play.
Is it their fault they lack relevance? Is it Gerald Wallace's fault that he just can't develop that star image? It's not for lack of effort (or even stats for that matter).

You just can't expect ATHLETES the be the ones with "good taste" in music. It will always be easier for rappers to illustrate the connections between the game and "the life."

I leave you with this bit from Weezy (in a track in which he lyrically decapitates Jay-Z over the beer-selling beat from "Show Me What You Got"):

"...And when it comes down to this recording, I must be LeBron James if (he's) Jordan, NO I won rings for my performance, I'm more Kobe Bryant of an artist..."

THAT right there, is sick.
You tube video of said song:

At 3/12/2007 1:59 PM, Blogger Dr. Lawyer IndianChief said...

spanish bombs, that cat is getting washed, not tortured.

carry on...

At 3/12/2007 3:28 PM, Blogger Wild Yams said...

@ Emil - I was just about to start my response by saying how depressing it was to read all those comments over on D-Wil’s page, and then I gotta come here and see JoeyJ call D-Wil’s piece” racist Simmons bashing.”

I’d like to assume that most of the people that read this great site are smart enough to understand the very real difference between a black man calling a white man “cracker” and a white man calling a black man any of the myriad of racial epithets we all deem pretty damn inappropriate.

While this is indisputably true, the assertion that this somehow means "cracker" is not a racial slur is completely false. Furthermore, the idea that because black people have been subjected to more racism in this country than anyone else that it makes it OK for them to be racist towards others is not right either. Racism shouldn't be tolerated from anyone, and using racial slurs to make a point severely undercuts one's argument. Pointing this out to someone (in this case to D-Wil) does not mean that those commenters were saying to him "cracker=nigger", as he was trying to imply that they had. They were simply saying that he could make his point without racial slurs; and while "cracker" doesn't have quite as strong connotations as other slurs have, it is still nonetheless a racial slur.

At 3/12/2007 3:32 PM, Anonymous Nas said...

"Freedarko is Dead"

At 3/12/2007 3:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The link to D-Wil caused me, for the first time, to regret reading Freedarko.com

You can't just throw around "cracker".

And frankly, I can't respect a writer who defends Scoop Jackson.

At 3/12/2007 3:55 PM, Anonymous White People Don't Know said...

I second everything anon 3:48 said. That D-Wil piece was fucking retarded, and calling it "tremendously thoughtful" is the most ridiculous sentence ever written on this blog.

At 3/12/2007 4:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree. How on earth can you describe that racist rant as "thoughtful"? By the middle of his argument, he was all but incoherent. What the fuck is happening to this site.

At 3/12/2007 4:22 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

check it out dudes: we can never truly know what's in another man's brain, but i can offer my own explanation of dr. lic's controversial decision. i think the general consensus is that d-wil did a great thing in an ill-advised way. the argument and analysis are on point, but for some reason he decided to throw in racial epithets. when, to me, what he had to say about simmons's ideas was damning enough already. anyway, that's thought-provoking. the rhetoric, not so much so, unless you consider the "who can say cracker debate" interesting.

personally, i'd rather ignore the silly stuff and salvage what's good about it.

At 3/12/2007 4:25 PM, Blogger Dr. Lawyer IndianChief said...

d-wil's joint was well thought-out and well-researched. i appreciate the attention paid to detail (e.g. simmons' "freaknic (sic)," what was ACTUALLY said in the houston chronicle by T-Mac, and the fact that establishment writers love to belittle the internet).

should be obvious from my post though, that i am agnostic (at best) with regard to d-wil's position on things.

At 3/12/2007 4:35 PM, Blogger Emil said...

Calling a white person a “cracker” is not “racist.”

We need to understand “racism” as the systematic oppression of a group of people based on race. It’s not just any time anybody judges someone based on “race” or says something mean about somebody that has to do with the color of their skin. It’s got everything to do with institutional power and systematic oppression.

Since white people in this country have NOT been systematically oppressed in any way shape or form there is no possible way to be “racist” against a white person and even blatantly hating white people is not “racism” as we should understand it. Thus, “reverse racism” doesn’t exist. Period.

Of course, it’s definitely possible for people to have racial prejudices against white folks and to dislike white people strictly because of their skin. This type of racial prejudice isn’t nice and is not something any of us should condone. But racial prejudice against white folks IS NOT “RACISM” AND WILL NEVER BE “RACISM” as long as white people are in power.

It is extremely important to understand “racism” as systematic oppression as opposed to simple race bias because systematic oppression is so much more dangerous than individual hatred. The “racist” ass KKK is dangerous and all, but not nearly as destructive to the black community as the racist institutions (police, prison, the public education system, etc) that have guided their lives for a half a century.

Perhaps it’s insensitive of D-Wil to throw around the word “cracker,” but I am a white man and I don’t find that term offensive at all. (As a side note, I find white people who are offended by the word “cracker” to be extremely suspect and probably closet racists themselves.) Additionally, as far as I’m concerned, D-Wil is using the word “cracker” to call Bill Simmons a racist, not because he hates white people or anything.

And, lastly, anybody that thinks D-Wil’s argument loses some validity because of the fact that he calls Bill Simmons a “cracker” repeatedly is absolutely ridiculous and is failing to see the bigger picture. Go read David Aldridge’s piece (http://www.philly.com/mld/inquirer/sports/16827570.htm) if you’re so shook about the use of the “c-word” you fucking honkeys.


At 3/12/2007 4:43 PM, Anonymous White People Don't Know said...

But what good is there to salvage? honestly, its hard to really discern any sort of point in between the cheapshots, but i'll do my best.

first, d-wil seems to think that people had no right to be scared at vegas, and if they were, its because they are racist. what the fuck? people were getting shot, you should be scared. scoop's arrest numbers are beside the point--we have heard from not only simmons, but from seemingly every writer who was there that the problem was there were not enough arrests.

here's the quote from raefer alston, in the article that d-wil somehow links to as if it supports his point. (and keep in mind, raefer is not just black, but pretty hip-hop black):
"I was very uncomfortable (in Las Vegas). I didn't leave my hotel until I was headed to an event. I didn't even leave to go to eat. I ate in my hotel. It was the overall atmosphere. The whole feeling didn't feel safe. Then when the weekend cleared, you started to see unbelievable numbers of arrests and things that went on."

how come raefer doesn't get blasted by d-wil? but simmons says basically the same thing, and we get, "You’re a man without conviction and worse, you’re a willing product of your fake-ass JFK liberal but racist underneath, “Up South” New England background."

the only reason the piece is not any more offensive is because it's so laughable.

hip-hop culture might not have any meaning any more, but we all know what it means. that's the problem.

At 3/12/2007 4:53 PM, Anonymous trouc said...

e, your definition of racism as exclusively an institutional issue, while popular in certain circles, is fairly idiosyncratic. If we're to follow that definition then in practice no one outside of positions of power could be called a racist because they would only be engaging in individual prejudice. Somehow I don't think that would fly and it's certainly not the standard in American discourse.

People here aren't questioning d-wil's point so much as pointing out that he comes across as a jerk and racist (bigot if you prefer), not just for calling Simmons a cracker but for borderline stating that white people don't have a right to participate in this conversation.

At 3/12/2007 4:55 PM, Blogger Dr. Lawyer IndianChief said...

Damn. Bill Simmons' Nastradamus'd the fuck out of all of us. Dude wins again:

"These days on the Internet, people spend far too much time writing about other writers instead of just writing about sports. Pretty soon, there will be Web sites devoted to writers [me] writing about writers[D-Wil] who write [Simmons] about other writers [Scoop]."

At 3/12/2007 5:04 PM, Anonymous White People Don't Know said...

The dude is clearly a geezer--even i won't defend him on that one. how anyone who likes sports could not like the interwebs is beyond me.

(and just to be clear, i don't mean to disrespect the esteemed doctor. my beef is with d-wil alone (okay, and with the idea that he is thoughtful). but dlic and the rest of the gang do great work here.)

At 3/12/2007 5:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Not to get all schoolmarmy on you, but that's a little off. It's actually writers (you) writing about writers (D-WIl) who write (D-Wil's piece) about other writers (Simmons and by extension Scoop, Whitlock, etc., ad naseum). Which of course, still makes the gist of your comment true. Sorry to be a douche. It was bothering me though.

back to the larger debate I suppose. To that, I have nothing to contribute. Just keeping things on the syntactic straight and narrow.

At 3/12/2007 5:43 PM, Blogger Dr. Lawyer IndianChief said...

nah, thanks for catching that. shit like that bugs the hell out of me.

At 3/12/2007 5:45 PM, Blogger Dr. Lawyer IndianChief said...

i meant syntactic mistakes bug the hell out of me

At 3/12/2007 5:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where the fuck does D-Wil get off calling Jason Whitlock an Uncle Tom? Are we supposed to hold up Scoop Jackson as an authentic, modern, "black" sportswriter? He's a lousy scribe and that's a fact that transcends race. Seriously, how many fucking one line paragraphs does the guy drop in a weekly column. The whole Orange Roundie heist was as sad as it was pathetic. What is Whitlock missing, a persecution complex? D-Will, keep Jason Whitlock out your motherfucking mouth.

At 3/12/2007 5:54 PM, Blogger Graham Swift said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 3/12/2007 5:58 PM, Blogger Graham Swift said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 3/12/2007 6:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

D-Will and Jason Whitlock are two entirely different people. I think you've accidentally conflated the two.

At 3/12/2007 6:01 PM, Blogger Graham Swift said...

Third time's the charm...

It seems to me like the question being lost in all this... (not by everyone, but by many) it's not whether D-Wil's response was violent or not.

It was. Clearly.

(and by "violent," I mean "aggressive," "angry," "insulting", etc)

The question is whether one believes Simmons' article was (a) justified, (b) poorly written, or (c) coded with language used to grant more power to the racial majority.

That all three can seem reasonable is what makes this a mess.

The three schools of thought:

To hint that the writers who felt unsafe are "racist" doesn't seem to be the most intelligent response. It seems quite a few of them felt that way. Did Simmons' piece need to be an "I feel," "my perceptions of the event were," "I'm sure my social upbringing influences how I perceive reality" circus? No, he's an entertainment writer. He felt unsafe. He wrote an entertainment piece about feeling unsafe and then later defended it.

That's not the hardest line of reasoning to understand.

I also get a lot of the freedarko comment section reaction, "he's an entertainment writer... who wrote a sloppy article about a sensitive subject." Because that is true. And I think D-Wil goes through and pretty much destroys (minus the Rafer miss in the Houston Chronicle) some cheap writing. It bothers some, though, who will admit - "you know, he's right about the Simmons article... but such a violent (others have called, "fucking retarded") response isn't called for."

And I feel that's completely missing out on the point of his response. The point is, and what should be dialogued about (whether you agree or not), is whether the subtle power-granting language in Simmons' article is worthy of an outburst. Is it worth outrage?

Do we allow language like his to go unchecked? How damaging is something so subtle?

I'm guessing there's a wide range of answers... from, "no, we shouldn't" and "incredibly"... to others - if you've even read this far down - who are thinking "what the hell?" and "what the hell?"

I know this comment is convoluted and elementary... and I'm sure could be shredded by either end of the spectrum. I think I got tired of reading the "in-between" comments... the D-Wil's-response-was-careless-and-unjustified because I don't think there's been a lot of thought put into why he reacted why he did.

His response wasn't off-the-cut. It was thought out and deliberate.

There. That's what I wanted to say. It just took a while to get there.

At 3/12/2007 6:01 PM, Blogger Graham Swift said...

anonymous - you're right and I caught it when I posted. too late.

At 3/12/2007 6:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why does no one mention the final thought of Simmons piece in which he offers a well thought-out, well argued attack on the racist implications of all the Las Vegas weekend attack pieces? Doesn't this in and of itself get him off the hook for the carelessness of his language in the first half of his piece? Simmons did Scoop Jackson's piece better than Scoop Jackson. I think D-Will goes berserk because a white author has stolen a black author's thunder. The vicious tone of his piece is evidence of a profound inferiority complex more than anything else.

At 3/12/2007 6:22 PM, Blogger Pooh said...

I don't want to get in the substance of this debate, since the possibility of saying something unfortunate is off the charts, but I will say that D-Wil's piece is exceedingly, I would say unfairly, angry from the word go, which makes it difficult to suss out what might be the accurate observations.

That, and siding with Scoop over Whitlock on pretty much any subject is sort of self-negating to one's credibility.

At 3/12/2007 6:37 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

you know, i was mildly disillusioned with this morning's conversation on race, rap and authenticity. but that was likely because i'm getting old and listen to nothing but the radio.

this, though, is like the last thing i want to bother with. so dr. lic wasn't quite clear on what he liked about d-wil's piece. jackson, simmons, whitlock, and d-wil were all guilty of some version of bad writing and cultural insensitivity. d-wil's initial points (the good ones) may only have resonated because sg has made questionable statements in the past.

clumsiness is not the same thing as evil.

At 3/12/2007 6:49 PM, Blogger zip said...

Hip-hop and the NBA are relevant to each other as long as both are commodities viewed as entertainment and not an art form.

It's easier to market entertainment than art.

It's easier to sell/market Bow-wow over the Roots, as it is to sell/market Lebron James (efficiency rating 25.5 for the season) over Tim Duncan (efficiency rating 25.3 for the season).

Sure, Duncan is the most fundamental player in the game, but can he pitch for Sprite?

Hence we won't be seeing Jorge Garbajosa on the cover of SLAM anytime soon.

At 3/13/2007 10:15 AM, Anonymous eauhellzgnaw said...

1.) Though I disagreed with parts of the Jackson piece and parts of the Simmons piece and both were sloppy and biased, I am glad that they had the discussion in a mainstream forum.

2.)“Cracker” has a particular history of which the white people catching feelings may be unaware.

Cracker can be a racial slur against white people generally, or it can mean (Southern,) white defender of racist structure--it’s sometimes a companion to “redneck,” referring to practice like “redneck” refers to culture.

(see: Bill Hicks, Ice Cube)

To me, it’s clear that D-Wil is using the second meaning. There is nothing white JFK liberals fear more than being called racist, especially if they’re identified with Southern whites. The point D-Wil makes is true: white liberals, though rarely harboring as much over the top racial antagonism (and usually exhibiting more guilt), are just as arrogant, prejudiced, and condescending as the group of prejudiced Southern whites they despise. Why wouldn’t they be? They’re just as privileged.

Simmons-as-“cracker” makes perfect sense given the thrust of the piece. It’s a rhetorical strategy. Lighten up people (no pun intended).

Perhaps a comparison is in order: consider “coon.” It has a long history not only as a racial slur against blacks in general, but as a word that refers to a specific cultural stereotype popularized by minstrelry. Today, most people don’t use the word as a general racial slur; people still use it to describe negative black stereotypes, though. I don’t think it’s a big deal when rap insiders/knowledgeable fans from all backgrounds use the word to refer to current rap stereotypes, but it is more problematic when obvious outsiders like Crouch, W. Marsalis, and Whitlock, not to mention countless hipster douches, use the term.

(see: dallaspenn.com, startsnitching.com)

It’s all about context, knowledge, and (self)-awareness.

3.) About the racism, structure argument: yes, it’s idiosyncratic, and yes, sometimes people use it to elide responsibility for making bigoted racial comments toward whites. It’s really a failure of our language that we don’t have widespread terms to parse the nuances of what people just lump into the broad category “racism.” That lone term just doesn’t cut it for individual expressions of bigoted racial comments, which anybody can make, and actions that support racist structures, which anybody can make, but from which only some people can suffer given different histories and power structures.

At 3/13/2007 2:55 PM, Blogger Wild Yams said...

@eauhellzgnaw - Cracker can be a racial slur against white people generally, or it can mean (Southern,) white defender of racist structure--it’s sometimes a companion to “redneck,” referring to practice like “redneck” refers to culture.

To me, it’s clear that D-Wil is using the second meaning. There is nothing white JFK liberals fear more than being called racist, especially if they’re identified with Southern whites.

For the record, "cracker" comes from "whip cracker", as in a slave driver; but your rationalization of D-Wil's use of the word misses the point. It's a derogatory term used against one race of people, hence it's a racial slur. If he wanted to call Simmons a "redneck" he could have called him a "redneck". If he wanted to just say he's a racist, he could have done that too. By using a racial slur he himself is being a bigot, it's that simple. As Ann Coulter has recently demonstrated, explanations justifying using bigoted terms to attack someone generally don't work, so you're better off not trying to do so (especially if you're not the one who made the comments in the first place).

At 3/13/2007 9:05 PM, Anonymous Joe said...

Emil said:

Since white people in this country have NOT been systematically oppressed in any way shape or form there is no possible way to be “racist” against a white person and even blatantly hating white people is not “racism” as we should understand it. Thus, “reverse racism” doesn’t exist. Period.

Are you serious?

At 3/15/2007 12:08 PM, Anonymous D-Wil said...

Damn, I never read the comments here on this post...
Racial epi---? What?! Cracker=what?! A black mans' complaint against the "whipcracker" that is white. male. western. soulless. culture.

to joey-
it hurts when some one other than a whiter person calls a spade a spade, doesn't it? dave zirin =cool...

to wild yams-
if you want to know how i meant to use cracker, you could have emailed me and asked.... that's one thing i despise of in too many people - presuming when they don't know; it's alao a hallmark of "the West."

and yes, the piece was completely thought out before it was written (since too many people think i just went off as "The Angry Black Man")... it is a response to Simmons' attempt to frame all further discussion of his piece and any other critique of ASW in an image to his liking....


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