Sometimes, you don’t want to be called radical or militant. In fact, it’s funny how those labels get bestowed on people. Personally, one of the reasons I got the labels was because I recognized the significance of May 19. In light of the recent tragedy that further afflicted the Shabazz family, you’d think a little more empathy, pride and, in the very least, interest would be piqued, but no. So once again, happy belated birthday to our fallen soldier Malcolm X, and also my condolences to the family for the death of Malcolm Shabazz, the grandson of the iconic civil rights leader.
For years, the biggest and only advocate for keeping the legacy and memory of Malcolm X alive was the hip-hop culture. Unapologetic for their angst, emcees spoke their reality and truth to the tune of platinum upon platinum units sold while wearing their Blackness and pride like a tailored suit. Now, unfortunately, the message has regressed. And dig it–one of the living legends has played a part in the apathetic state the genre finds itself in.
Let’s rewind a minute and see if you remember this line: “Baby girl was draped in Chanel, said she loved Tupac, but hate some L.L.” Maybe “baby girl” foresaw his 2013 duet with country and western singer Brad Paisley. The pair cut a song called “Accidental Racist” for Paisley’s new album.
Why, why, why? The song is about a white young man, born and reared in the South, who has a sense of pride in his history and culture. As a symbol of that pride, he flies his Confederate flag and wants people to relate to what the flag means to him. Huh? So because you see the beauty in a racist symbol, you want others to see the world through your eyes? Is that it? And in the song, L.L.’s opening address is, “Dear Mr. White Man.” L.L., I wonder if you’ve ever seen an older Black man with head bowed, call a younger white man “Mr.” or “Sir”?
That’s not a pretty sight. But L.L. then goes further and compares doo-rags to the stars and bars flag, gold chains to slave chains and asks to be forgiven for his appearance to a group that committed some of the most unthinkable atrocities involving human beings under the guise of love of that flag.
During an appearance on NPR, L.L. said, “Slavery is absolutely not trivial. What we were saying is not to judge a book by its cover, and in life, it’s not about being bitter, it’s about getting better. I was not trying to suggest that the Confederate flag be flown across America; what I was saying was that they’re young kids wearing that symbol in the South as a badge of honor, and they don’t even understand the rape, the torture, the murders and the lynchings that took place in what that flag represented, under those circumstances.
“As a nation, ultimately, we’re going to have to heal and get past our differences, and I think that message got lost in the translation.”
With 30 years in the game and 40-plus years of life under his belt, here, L.L. came off as naive–to say the least. That message reeks of something far deeper. I wonder if we need to protest his endorsers …
I’m out, holla next week. Till then, enjoy the nightlife.