Skip to main content

Russell Simmons Eyed As New NAACP Prez
Tuesday - January 18, 2005
by Carl Chery

http://www.sohh.com/thewire/read.php?contentID=6625

With former president Kweisi Mfume recently resigning, Russell Simmons is now considered an ideal candidate to takeover the NAACP's helm.

Presently in the midst of restructuring their organization, the NAACP hopes to find a leader that speaks to the younger generation of Black Americans. J. Whyatt Mondesire, head of the NAACP's Philadelphia branch believes an influential figure like Simmons would appeal to the youthful demographic they seek to reach.

advertisement
"We are basically 2,200 local organizations with a national title," Mondesire told Newsday. "The organization needs a heavyweight with a national reputation who can raise money, who has a vision and who has the connections to push us forward with a modern civil rights agenda."

Scot X. Esdaile, president of the Connecticut district also supports the idea of Simmons taking over.

"He would bring the young people into the association and wouldn't be beholden to corporations or special interests," Esdaile said of Simmons.

The mogul didn't return calls for comments. If he does decide to take on the challenge, Simmons will have to persuade insiders who feel that their next leader needs to be a current member of the organization.

"The lesson to be learned is they should search internally for someone who knows the operation, rather than someone who has a name but doesn't know the operation's special nature," former fund-raiser and public relations director, Gilbert Jonas offered.
Egungun, Egungun ni t'aiye ati jo! Ancestos, Ancestors come to earth and dance! "I'm sick of the war and the civilization that created it. Let's look to our dreams, and the magical; to the creations of the so-called primitive peoples for new inspirations." - Jaques Vache and Andre Breton "Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone." -John Maynard "You know that in our country there were even matriarchal societies where women were the most important element. On the Bijagos islands they had queens. They were not queens because they were the daughters of kings. They had queens succeeding queens. The religious leaders were women too..." -- Amilcar Cabral, Return to the Source, 1973
Original Post

Replies sorted oldest to newest

I see another angle to this which may be what the NAACP is focusing on. The president's job is the external one as compared to the chairman's role - which Julian Bond has. What is the NAACP's greatest public challenge: how to be relevant and current in 2005 versus the extraordinary inertia that keeps the organization on the path the was plowed in the 50s/60s. Here's Russell with tremendous personal resources, even greater contacts, and most important, with a tangible connection to the youth of our community.

What's the downside of putting Russell in this job? The NAACP is already flirting with extinction. Putting another leader who came up through the CRM just further digs the organizations grave. Why not shake things up? Why not put in someone who could potentially translate the traditional goals of the organization into a language that our youth in 2005 can "get with"? As I understand it, Russell was the primary force that got the racist Rockefeller drug laws overturned which disproportionately targeted black offenders in the state of New York. I have no reason to question his commitment to our people. I have every reason to believe that he would inject a level of energy and creativity that just might make an impact.

What does the NAACP have to lose?
quote:
Originally posted by MBM:
I see another angle to this which may be what the NAACP is focusing on. The president's job is the external one as compared to the chairman's role - which Julian Bond has. What is the NAACP's greatest public challenge: how to be relevant and current in 2005 versus the extraordinary inertia that keeps the organization on the path the was plowed in the 50s/60s. Here's Russell with tremendous personal resources, even greater contacts, and most important, with a tangible connection to the youth of our community.---MBM

I don't have THE answer, but Simmons isn't it. He is all the things you say, and more.

He is the 'Father' of the Rap Industry.' That includes the bitching of African America's women.

The NAACP can't play that.

He is the head of a burgeoning business empire. He can't spare the time. That is in the amounts the NAACP needs for leadership.

Put him on the board. He has all the assets you have listed, and can afford to contribute money as well as guidance.


What's the downside of putting Russell in this job? The NAACP is already flirting with extinction. Putting another leader who came up through the CRM just further digs the organizations grave. Why not shake things up? Why not put in someone who could potentially translate the traditional goals of the organization into a language that our youth in 2005 can "get with"? As I understand it, Russell was the primary force that got the racist Rockefeller drug laws overturned which disproportionately targeted black offenders in the state of New York. I have no reason to question his commitment to our people. I have every reason to believe that he would inject a level of energy and creativity that just might make an impact.---MBM

All of that can happen with him as a board member.

What does the NAACP have to lose?


Credibility in both African America, and America as a whole.

Russell Simmons is admired for his creativity, AND community activism, not to mention his business acumen. He carries with him the baggage of the rap industry as well.

Not only would he have to defend, explain, deny, every act of misconduct and statement of that industry, but so would every other official and member of the entire organization.

The NAACP should not play that.


PEACE

Jim Chester
quote:
Originally posted by James Wesley Chester:

Not only would he have to defend, explain, deny, every act of misconduct and statement of that industry, but so would every other official and member of the entire organization.



I respectfully disagree. Aside from the fact that you malign an entire culture and industry because of one element of it, why on Earth would you place a demand on Simmons that you don't place on any other leaders? Was Jesse Jackson responsible for the unscrupulous jack-leg preachers out there? Does George Bush answer to ALL of the problems of the oil industry? Should Ronald Reagan have been responsible for the scourge of the porn industry? Because you've written a book, are you responsible for all of the junk that gets published these days?

IMO - part of the problem with the NAACP is that they've created a nice, safe box for themselves to exist in and they can't seem to break out of it to make a deeper, bigger impact. IF you are concerned with the survival of the organization and IF you believe that there still needs to be an organization like the NAACP, then it would seem that you would be far more open to perhaps non-traditional alternatives. Do we really need another 60 year old minister type leading the NAACP? Wasn't that Ben Chavis? What did he do for the NAACP?
I know I'm going to regret this but.....I don't see anything wrong with the idea. The NAACP has had corrupt, worthless, sellout leaders in the past so maybe a change may spark some new ideas and movements towards progress. As the saying goes "change is good".
My only fear is that Simmons being a rap pioneer, that his influence will attract the wrong element and make the situation worse. I just don't see the need for gangsta rappers trying to motivate the public to "do the right thing".
I for one am guilty of not supporting the NAACP as I really don't know where their focus is!


catch
quote:
Originally posted by ocatchings:

I just don't see the need for gangsta rappers trying to motivate the public to "do the right thing".



Folks - we're not talking about Suge Knight here! We're talking about Russell Simmons!! BIG DIFFERENCE!! brosmile Moreover, perhaps the bigger point is that the disconnect that many here feel about Russell is PRECISELY why he, or someone like him, should be considered the job!! Think about it.
quote:
Originally posted by ocatchings:
I for one am guilty of not supporting the NAACP as I really don't know where their focus is!
catch


I DO support the NAACP ... and would revoke my membership in a heartbeat if they want to go down the Russell Simmon's path! Eek

I had hope when Mfume took over. And though he didn't do much politically or socially, he did bring the organization out of the financial ruin they were facing and would show up here and there to make like he was doing something to earn his salary.

I would consider Russell Simmons as president an embarassment and a clear sign they don't know what the heck to do or where to go in trying to build a respectable reputation ... and, as would, would not like to be a part of it. JMHO.
quote:
Originally posted by MBM:
quote:
Originally posted by ocatchings:

I just don't see the need for gangsta rappers trying to motivate the public to "do the right thing".



Folks - we're not talking about Suge Knight here! We're talking about Russell Simmons!! BIG DIFFERENCE!! brosmile Moreover, perhaps the bigger point is that the disconnect that many here feel about Russell is PRECISELY why he, or someone like him, should be considered the job!! Think about it.


I am being a bit paranoid but (IMHO) rappers are a bunch of hypocrits and bandwagon jumpers. They (except for a few) do nothing if there is no "bling bling" involved.
Simmons would be great and if he could get some endorsements from some of the other positive rappers and hip-hop artist (with talent) this could be something big. Puff had a big push for voters so this would be a teriffic way for him to keep the momentum for '08.



catch
The questions now becomes what are the qualifications one need to head up the NAACP? If Russell is qualified than so is Sean Combs being that he has done damn near everything Russell has done and been more successful at it in many ways plus he has helped Russell in all of his activism. After all it was P-Diddy that started the Vote or Die. He ran the marathon to get school supplies. I nominate P-Diddy!

I do not think Russell Simmons is the least bit qualified to headup an organization like the NAACP. I find it hard to believe that the NAACP could not find any other Black men or women to head this organization. I think Russell Simmons refusal to condemn Eminem racist lyrics is exemplary of what we can expect from him in regards to how he see hiphop which is one of the biggest proliferators of filth in our community.

Like Ebony I believe there are plenty of other Black entrpreneurs and educators if not Politicians that are more suited for the position of President of the NAACP.
quote:
Originally posted by ocatchings:

... rappers are a bunch of hypocrits and bandwagon jumpers.


Aren't all of us? brosmile Seriously, who doesn't operate out of self-interest and without regard to broader principle sometimes.

quote:
They (except for a few) do nothing if there is no "bling bling" involved.


And please tell me what business does do things where there is no pay off? The rap game is a business. No?
quote:
Originally posted by Faheem:

The questions now becomes what are the qualifications one need to head up the NAACP?


The objective of the president's position is to be the external mouthpiece of the organization NOT to run it internally. That's what Julian Bond is doing. The president needs to be able to galvanize folks in the black community and outside to accomplish the goals of the organization. If the NAACP sees it as a critical objective to capture the youth of our community, then someone like Russell might make sense.
ER, thank you! If there was an alternate choice besides Russell Simmons, it would be Spike Lee. Spike will definitely get in Hollywood's azz and get them to get more independent or black films with substance to become greenlighted.

Maybe the Image Awards would get more credibility and reward shows with mostly black casts, because they are good shows, not because they were invited to the award ceremony or the show is on UPN Roll Eyes.

I have a HUGE problem with the Image Awards. First of all, the NAACP awarded "The Parkers" for Best Show. I was like "WTF? 'The Parkers' won? An obese African-American woman stalking a black male professor (who doesn't like her) into submission is a GOOD show?"

Now this was the same organization who nearly 20 years ago, boycotted the Academy Awards because they didn't like how the black male characters were portrayed in the movie version of Alice Walker's The Color Purple.

Now I've done some research, and out of the 11 Oscar nominations, which The Color Purple lost all of them, six out of the 11 nominations were from African-Americans: Whoopi Goldburg "Celie"(Best Actress), Oprah Winfrey "Sofie" and Margaret Avery "Shug" (both for Best Supporting Actress) and Quincy Jones for three (Best Original Score, Best Song, and Best Picture [as co-producer with Steven Spielburg]). The Best Song went to Stevie Wonder and Best Score went to Lionel Richie instead. Both acclaimed black artists, but nothing for "Purple."

JMHO, I think the NAACP really didn't want a white Jewish guy, Steven Spielburg, to be successful in making a "black" movie based on a black woman's novel (which Spielburg asked Ms. Walker to do), so they make up this "excuse" of not liking how Mister, Harpo and the other abusive black male characters portrayed in the movie, which were following the book.

I'm sorry, but the NAACP protesting at the Oscars for that is one of the dumbest moves ever. That's like the Anti-Defamation League protesting "Schindler's List" or the VFW protesting "Saving Private Ryan".

If that's not irony, then I don't know what is, because protesting "The Color Purple" one day and rewarding "The Parkers" two decades later is a shining example of irony, because if the NAACP was really serious about stamping out stereotypical black characters on television, there wouldn't be a Desmond Pfeiffer, there wouldn't be a "Parkers;" hell, there wouldn't be a UPN network.
Last edited {1}
quote:
Originally posted by MBM:
quote:
Originally posted by ocatchings:

... rappers are a bunch of hypocrits and bandwagon jumpers.


Aren't all of us? brosmile Seriously, who doesn't operate out of self-interest and without regard to broader principle sometimes.

quote:
They (except for a few) do nothing if there is no "bling bling" involved.


And please tell me what business does do things where there is no pay off? The rap game is a business. No?


I doubt seriously I if were to say "me" you would believe so I'll pass on that one. brosmile

Yes rap is a business and everyone does have some self motivation for what they do. Once again I think my paranoia of the leadership of the NAACP with baggy clothes, gold fronts and visions of BET showing a NAACP rally with a lotta drop it like its hot going on may be limiting my train of thought. So I will think on this awhile and try to get a broader sense of the new direction of the NAACP and if this really does make sense.

catch
quote:
Originally posted by MBM:
quote:
Originally posted by James Wesley Chester:

Not only would he have to defend, explain, deny, every act of misconduct and statement of that industry, but so would every other official and member of the entire organization.



I respectfully disagree. Aside from the fact that you malign an entire culture and industry because of one element of it, why on Earth would you place a demand on Simmons that you don't place on any other leaders? Was Jesse Jackson responsible for the unscrupulous jack-leg preachers out there?---MBM

Rev. Jesse Jackson used to be called 'jackleg'. Until he gain credibility he was highly suspect.

All he had to account for was himself.

AND...Jesse Jackson did not START the ministry.


Does George Bush answer to ALL of the problems of the oil industry?

Bush's motives in the Middle East are CONSTANTLY suspect for that very reason, and others of course.

Should Ronald Reagan have been responsible for the scourge of the porn industry?

If are suggesting this because Reagan was an actor, there is a disconnect in reasoning that is obvious.

Because you've written a book, are you responsible for all of the junk that gets published these days?

This the same disconnect. Specifically, I didn't start the industry of book-writing.

IMO - part of the problem with the NAACP is that they've created a nice, safe box for themselves to exist in and they can't seem to break out of it to make a deeper, bigger impact.

I agree entirely. AND... they won't make such an impact without re-direction.

Simmons IS NOT it.

Simmons can help bring about that change. Putting his image on the face of that change is tatamount to putting a target on the organization.


IF you are concerned with the survival of the organization and IF you believe that there still needs to be an organization like the NAACP, then it would seem that you would be far more open to perhaps non-traditional alternatives. Do we really need another 60 year old minister type leading the NAACP? Wasn't that Ben Chavis? What did he do for the NAACP?
---MBM

That's YOUR image of the new leader.

I haven't offered one.


PEACE

Jim Chester
James - Simmons did not START anything. And what he was involved in the early stages of had very little to do with the aspects of the culture that are currently viewed as problematic. NY Hip hop in the late 70's / early 80's was, for the most part, about parties and MC's one upping each other. Russell had nothing to do with gangsta and videos hadn't even been invented yet.

Here's an article that perhaps can shed some light on him that I read not too long ago - fyi.

link
quote:
Originally posted by ThaWatcher:

I can't understand why us Americans seem to think that celebrity equals wisdom and leadership ability.


You're right, but Faheem asked the right question. What are the objectives and requirements of the job? Largely, the presidency of the NAACP is about the public, it's about putting a face on the organization that can help achieve its objectives. It's not about management and leadership and legal or legislative proficiency per se. It's about being able to catch people's attention and rally support around the organization. Again, IF the organization sees youth as being important to its future, then someone like Simmons makes a lot of sense IMO.

To a certain degree, the fact that we're talking about the NAACP now proves the point.
MBM, the only argument you seem to have is that Russell can appeal to the youth, which I think is a bogus position. Russell Simmons has no appeal to the youth, his connection with hip-hop artist and his ability to ask them to do events is what gets the attention of the youth.

While the youth is important, the President of the NAACP does not need to appeal to the youth as his reach will not go that far being that each city has a NAACP chapter that should have out reach programs. The New president of the NAACP need not appeal to the youth anymore than Mfume did.

I think it aught to be said, Russell does not have the political or academic background to head this organization. Russell Simmons is a committed capitalist who I believe will continue to put money before doing the right thing in regards to his approach to the sick and twisted entertainment industry. He has too many friends in the very industry that is putting out filth and he will not challenge them and from his past actions he will defend them and their right to put out filth.

Take a look at the background of the President of the National Urban League, Russell can not compete. If the NAACP want to piss the Black folk off that has been the defenders of this Organization all they need to do is appoint Simmons as the head and they will have officially made themselves a joke. What creditability will Russell Simmons have when it comes to questioning the actions of the President and his administration? Who will take him serious? I do not think he can rise to the occasion nor do I think he is fit to lead the NAACP.

One more thing, who will get mad if the President refuse to sit down and talk to Russel Simmons?
quote:
Originally posted by Faheem:

Who will take him serious?


Well, he has the ear of plenty of heavyweights from heads of state to CEO's to governors. You may be right that he is not the right person, but I love the out-of-the box thinking which produced his name for consideration. Plus, remember, Julian Bond remains the chairman. He certainly has the gravitas that I think you see lacking in Simmons. IMO - the organization badly needs some fresh, young, cerative blood that comes from outside of the present CR establishment.
Q: How come Kweisi Mfume is credited with repairing the naacp's fiscal situation, if his position has nothing to do with that? Would the position change if Simmons is on?

As for what I think about Simmons becoming president of the NAACP, I personally don't place any continued importance in them these days, so I don't really care. Far as I'm concerned, he may as well be running for the Baptist Church Ushers Association president. I think arguing about who they pick overstates this group's relevance.

But I mainly agree with Faheem, for about 2/3 of the same reasons. His apparent ho-to-the corporate pimp status is fairly clear to me, since I heard him year or two back on a radio talk show. In that segment, they talked about hip hop's irresponsible messaging and the role hip hop can play in galvanizing youth toward political action. First, Simmons said that hip hop does not have the power to negatively influence youth, because they do what they want and hip hop only reflects, rather than influences. Then, less than 5 minutes later, he said that hip hop can be a powerful influencing force in galvanizing the youth to political action.

Confused Well, which one is it? Confused

Something underlies the clear contradiction in this guy's statements, and Faheem's reference to his financial benefit of selling out is as logical a reason as any. If he does become president of the naacp, it's imperative that we allow them to continue to slide into obscurity. If we start increasing our reliance on them for important stuff with him at the helm, it won't be a good thing.
quote:
Originally posted by Faheem:

MBM, the only argument you seem to have is that Russell can appeal to the youth, which I think is a bogus position. Russell Simmons has no appeal to the youth, his connection with hip-hop artist and his ability to ask them to do events is what gets the attention of the youth.


I think you miss the point. Michael Eisner, for example, similarly may not be personally attractive to youth, but as CEO of Disney he has children across the globe at his command. If nothing else, I think Simmons has proven the ability to market to AA youth. It seems that the NAACP seeks similar "marketing".
MBM, what I am saying is this bruh, this is too important a time for Black men and women in America to have a representive of the very thing we believe is contributing to the negativity in our community to be heading up an organization dedicated to fighting for our people. The destruction of negative hiphop is being carried out and is only growing; with Essence magazin staring their campaign, this year will be one of many years to come where hiphop artist will be challenged on the garbage they are putting out. We do not need anyone in a position of power to be a defender of this filth.

As much as I hated that Bush would not meet with the NAACP and have a sit down with the leadership of the NAACP, if Bush refused to meet with Russell Simmons I can tell you right now, I would not give a damn and from what I am reading all over the web today, nor will most Black men and women.
quote:
Originally posted by Faheem:
MBM, what I am saying is this bruh, this is too important a time for Black men and women in America to have a representive of the very thing we believe is contributing to the negativity in our community to be heading up an organization dedicated to fighting for our people. The destruction of negative hiphop is being carried out and is only growing; with Essence magazin staring their campaign, this year will be one of many years to come where hiphop artist will be challenged on the garbage they are putting out. We do not need anyone in a position of power to be a defender of this filth.

As much as I hated that Bush would not meet with the NAACP and have a sit down with the leadership of the NAACP, if Bush refused to meet with Russell Simmons I can tell you right now, I would not give a damn and from what I am reading all over the web today, nor will most Black men and women.



AMEN!!!
quote:
Originally posted by Faheem:

MBM, what I am saying is this bruh, this is too important a time for Black men and women in America to have a representive of the very thing we believe is contributing to the negativity in our community to be heading up an organization dedicated to fighting for our people.


Agree, but are you branding an entire culture of music by its most destructive elements? Does all Hip Hop contribute to negativity? Isn't there a big difference between Lil John and Will Smith, for example. Perhaps Simmons has been part and parcel of the destructive aspects of Hip Hop. Honestly I don't know. What I do know is that Run DMC, probably still his most famous "creation", was not a part of what you rightly malign.
quote:
from MBM:
Agree, but are you branding an entire culture of music by its most destructive elements? Does all Hip Hop contribute to negativity?


The big problem, MBM, is that Russell Simmons actively defends the filth element of hip hop. It doesn't matter that there is positive hip hop. The point is, he actually defends the negative hip hop.
Originally posted by Huey:
Maybe the Image Awards would get more credibility and reward shows with mostly black casts, because they are good shows, not because they were invited to the award ceremony or the show is on UPN Roll Eyes.

I have a HUGE problem with the Image Awards. First of all, the NAACP awarded "The Parkers" for Best Show. I was like "WTF? 'The Parkers' won? An obese African-American woman stalking a black male professor (who doesn't like her) into submission is a GOOD show?"

Yes!!! NAACP is in dire need of reconstruction along with the democratic party...
quote:
Originally posted by Vox:
quote:
from MBM:
Agree, but are you branding an entire culture of music by its most destructive elements? Does all Hip Hop contribute to negativity?


The big problem, MBM, is that Russell Simmons actively defends the filth element of hip hop. It doesn't matter that there is positive hip hop. The point is, he actually defends the negative hip hop.


So Vox, IYO, does the music influence life or does life influence the music? Isn't any form of art merely a mirror on life? It sounds like some of us are blaming rappers for creating the problems that appear in their music. This is a completely different issue than the Simmons/NAACP one, but is blaming artists really fair? Is Russell Simmons (or Suge Knight for that matter) responsible for creating the societal conditions which spawned the aspects of rap that you talk about? I know you wouldn't prefer white folks to make money off of our music? And who is to say which music is appropriate for our uplift and which isn't? brosmile
Last edited {1}
Russell Simmons, the godfather of hip-hop, has used street smarts and a platinum Rolodex to create a $300 million conglomerate. Now he's flexing his political muscle. Come inside the frenetic world of a modern entrepreneur.---link

I'm sorry. I was hesitant to say he is the 'Father' of hip-hop.

Your link does per the quote.

I said he was the 'Father' of the rap industry.

I think I'm right.

As you pointed out, until Simmons came along, the business revolved around one person 'calling out' another. It is my understanding it was he who converted that entrepreneurial ambition into a structured industry operating outside of the control of the 'bigs' of the business.


PEACE

Jim Chester
Sure any art form is a mirror. If hip hop were confined to lyrics printed on canvas hanging in a museum, then it would reflect, and reflect only. But commercial electronic media, as I'm sure you know, completely change the equation. Success in the media goes to those who know how to use the media to impact people's perceptions and interests. This is an elementary concept, understood since at least 1960, when JFK won the presidency largely because he was more photogenic and looked into the TV camera instead of at the moderator asking the questions in his debates against Nixon. Hip hop's negativity seems to be the only topic about which this understanding is ever questioned.

And let's not lose sight of the main issue here. Again, Simmons denied hip hop's influencing ability vis-a-vis the negative messages, but he turned right around and defended hip hop's power to influence when the subject turned to political interest. It either influences or it doesn't. His contradictions, regardless, show that he's motivated to uphold certain interests, whether they're damaging to our people or not. And that's a serious concern about him.
MBM, it use to be that hiphop reported on what is happening on the street but now hiphop dictates what happens on the streets. Hiphop has more influence on life than life have on it, especialy with all the fantasy rappers out there. You know the ones who talk about doing this or that and having this or that and at the end of the year we find out they made less that you and I. They are selling lies that they can not afford, to the men and women who live in abject poverty and use their income to try and be like the image being sold to them in music and in videos.
quote:
Originally posted by Vox:

And let's not lose sight of the main issue here. Again, Simmons denied hip hop's influencing ability vis-a-vis the negative messages, but he turned right around and defended hip hop's power to influence when the subject turned to political interest. It either influences or it doesn't. His contradictions, regardless, show that he's motivated to uphold certain interests, whether they're damaging to our people or not. And that's a serious concern about him.


Vox - I don't know the interview you talk about nor the context, but I seriously doubt that anyone believes that anything that communicates doesn't influence. Especially Simmons who, without regard to what you think of his message, influences and influences well. I have heard a number of folks in Hip Hop in interviews resist efforts to criticize their art. Somebody like Larry King asks someone like Simmons or Dash about it - expecting there to be some under the breath admission of complicity in a dastardly capitalistic scheme to make money at any expense. It would be like if Egbert Souse asked me about destructive elements of our community.

Now - getting back to my original question - IMHO there could be serious argument about whether Hip Hop influences behavior or whether it is merely an expression of it. There is a huge difference between saying that the music creates aberrant behavior and saying that it is a reflection of that fact that there is aberrant behavior in our community. If I'm Simmons, the answer to this is clear. You may not like it, but I don't see that as being a dishonest answer. Again, if Hip Hop were not a part of the people, then the people wouldn't buy it. If it didn't resonate, then who would consume it? Russian peasant folk music has no relevance to us. Hence we wouldn't listen to it and it wouldn't matter. Hip Hop, for all its warts, matters because it is of us. Seems to me that the music is the last place that we should look to fix things. It's an easy target because it is so visible, but it's really kind of lazy to focus attention there when the hard work is really required elsewhere. How about our families, our schools, our churches, our leaders, our institutions, our society, our neighborhoods, etc.? I'm not saying that it doesn't influence, I am suggesting that it is not a causal factor however. If it were, why wouldn't the negative elements of Hip Hop negatively impact the largest consumers of the music - the white suburban kids who crave every word of rap?
I don't know enough about the man to challenge his qualifications for this position and you certainly cannot judge the sum total of someone's character based on their work history. However, some of you might remember that Simmons was one of the wealthy African Americans that was interviewed by Harvard's African Studies professor, Dr. Louis Gates, for a two-part documentary that was designed to compare the experiences of wealthy blacks in the South to the experiences of poor blacks in North. On this interview, Simmons was answering his cell phone, carrying on conversations with people on the phone while Gates asked him questions, cussing obsessively for no reason, and looking out of the car window as if Gates was not there. If I didn't know any better, I would think that Simmons was intentionally trying to show his low opinion about the interview and the professor. The point is, he seemed to have no respect for the fact that he was being interviewed by a prominent professor of Black Studies and that this interview would become apart of a profound documentary that summarizes the experiences of black people. Perhaps he was having a bad day, but I think the NAACP would want someone of consistent character to represent their organization.
quote:
Originally posted by MBM:
So Vox, IYO, does the music influence life or does life influence the music? Isn't any form of art merely a mirror on life? It sounds like some of us are blaming rappers for creating the problems that appear in their music. This is a completely different issue than the Simmons/NAACP one, but is blaming artists really fair? Is Russell Simmons (or Suge Knight for that matter) responsible for creating the societal conditions which spawned the aspects of rap that you talk about? I know you wouldn't prefer white folks to make money off of our music? And who is to say which music is appropriate for our uplift and which isn't? brosmile


You know, MBM, I understand the argument you are trying to compel here ... and it would be a good one Smile ... but let's consider some facts.

First of all, hip hop IS a negative influence on our young. It doesn't matter if music is mirroring life or whatever (and, in not all cases are those rappers even living the life they are rapping about!) because it's not really the part of life that needs to be glamourized!! I mean, education is life, making goals, building dreams, having/loving a family, getting polically involved, building up the community ... that's part of life too! But that's not what sells records. Thug life, violence and sex sells records. And makes money. So, because its damaging aspects are SOOO destructive, it has the effect of totally negating whatever positive influence there may be about it! Or at least it should. Eek

Secondly, although Russell Simmons has immersed himself so deeply into this culture as to actually be both rich and famous for it, how much has he really done to push hip hop away from it's negativity towards some of these positive qualities? He mobilizes the top names, gets them together for some money-making event, and makes sure the media has the place, date and time to give himself more exposure! He's found a goose that lays golden eggs ... and he's milking it for all he can get! Period.

Thirdly, in another post you said:
quote:
Hip Hop, for all its warts, matters because it is of us.


That's true, but just because it is of us, doesn't make it good, or right, even in some cases acceptable. Clarence Thomas is a good example. He,too, is of us. And he, too, is a destructive influence. (And he puts just as bad a taste in my mouth as hip hop does! Eek) But, would you also embrace the good in him? He's a black man with a degree and a Supreme Court Justice ... is that more redeeming than the fact that he crushes Affirmative Action every chance he gets?

So all-in-all, despite the fact that Black youth are making the millions (though not as many as the white record labels that are producing them), and they are become big and famous, and getting an outlet in which to "express themselves" on a global basis, the fact that they are taking youngsters with them down a path of sex, violence, drugs and moral degredation to me, makes the present hip hop industry unacceptable. And anybody as deep off into it as Russell Simmons is primarily, if not totally, for the money and notoriety that it generates, should not be put in charge of an organization such as the NAACP, unless they are trying to do annihilate any semblance of intregrity they may be trying to hold on to.

Add Reply

Post
×
×
×
×
Link copied to your clipboard.
×