Saturday, May 26, 2007

More on the N-bomb and Hip-Hop Culture


It’s Your Nigger Problem Not Hip-Hop’s
by Mark Anthony Neal

"Permanently retire the word “nigger.” This was the call from a collective of black political figures in Los Angeles recently, in the wake of Michael Richards’ racist diatribe at a Los Angeles comedy club. The press conference where the appeal made was emblematic of a moment where the circulation of the images of “blackness” throughout the globe has created a moment of crisis in some sectors of the black community. The basic tropes of “blackness” – black culture, black identity, black institutions – have been distorted, remixed, and undermined by the logic of the current global economy. At stake is the preservation of a “modern” blackness – that blackness which was posited and circulated as a buffer against white supremacy, political disenfranchisement, slavery, Jim Crow segregation and the collusion of racist imaginations and commodities culture in the early 20th century. In many sectors “blackness” is literally thought to be under siege. It is in this context that many of the contemporary tropes of “blackness” that circulate in commercial popular culture, particularly in popular music, film and music video, are deemed threats to blackness as tropes of an erosive and inauthentic blackness that is as threatening to the Black Public proper as “death” itself. This sense of threat, has been, perhaps, most powerfully expressed in these debates over the use of the word “nigger” in popular culture which highlight a philosophical divide within “blackness.”

Read the article here

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