Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Attack of the Activist

What happens when a veteran of the civil rights struggle goes off the rails? When does the next generation tell the previous one to step aside? That's been a question on a lot of minds, particularly after Jesse's comments on B-Rock. It has always been a sticky area and taboo subject back home in Louisville.

Rapper Nas made it plain about Jesse.

"I think Jesse Jackson, he's the biggest player hater," he said. "His time is up. All you old niggas, time is up. We heard your voice, we saw your marching, we heard your sermons. We don't wanna hear that shit no more. It's a new day. It's a new voice."

Check me out in LEO Weekly, 'Attack of the activist'. Underneath the juicy quotes are several pertinent questions about grassroots organizations, 'damaged goods' members, iconic veterans and the generational divide.

From LEO Weekly:

For years Gracie Lewis has worked to fight racism, but the feisty advocate’s longtime tenure with the Kentucky Alliance now is in jeopardy after she reportedly got into an altercation with a child, then berated the boy’s mother.“Gracie had an inappropriate and totally out-of-line confrontation with my 13-year-old son and I approached her about it,” says Attica Scott, a fellow activist and coordinator at Kentucky Jobs with Justice. On July 21, she says Lewis verbally abused her son, Advocate, who was participating in the Arts and Activism Summer Institute at the Kentucky Alliance.

Specifically, the 13-year-old claims Lewis accosted him for getting in her way, then waved her finger in his face and told him not to speak unless spoken to.

The boy’s mother says she approached Lewis about mistreating her son, and that she received the following threatening message on her answering machine the next day: “This is Gracie Lewis you black bitch. You better not never bring your skinny, narrow ass and get in my face again because I will kick your black ass. Peace.”...


Looking the other way might be the accepted way of doing things it can potentially endanger the reputation and work of social justice these groups claim to hold dear. Of course it'll upset some people that I wrote this piece, but accountability matters -- does it not?

6 comments:

Shannon said...

This is definitely a touchy subject. But I think the last statement in your articles sums up how I feel about it. People shouldn't be able to use their past accomplishments as a reason for misbehavior. If, in fact, she made those comments, serious action should be taken. There should be repercussions for every action, regardless of who you are.

Shannon said...

p.s. I think Nas' comments were incredibly inappropriate. I understand that he feels that its time for a new generation to step up, but telling your elders that you "don't wanna hear that shit no more," and "all you old niggas, time is up," is BEYOND disrespectful...especially coming from the mouth of a rapper, no matter how "conscious."

Perry said...

I would have to disagree with Shannon's comments on Nas. I think Nas's comments represent a generation that has largely been criticized, dissed, and ignored by the old-guard of Black politics. I made a comment a few months ago about Jesse Jackson that was highly controversial, however representative of my feelings regarding the old-guard. Now I will say this it is not necessary to step on the toes, or disrespect those elders in the community who have an understanding that it is a new generation...

Shannon said...

Perry, can you blame the "old-guard" for criticizing Nas' (our) generation? I mean, Nas, for all his "consciousness" wasn't above telling women they owed him and singing about oochie-wallie. In short, he wasn't above disrespecting Black women and men with his music just like many others of his era. I'm not necessarily criticizing him for that, but for him to posit himself as some sort of activist is laughable to me.

If our generation wants to take over this movement, I think we need to prove ourselves worthy of the movement and willing to make the sort of sacrifices the old-guard folks made. I don't think we've done that...and I damn sho don't think most rappers have done that.

Perry said...

I will always agree that this insistance on hip-hopers being the political vanguards of the community is absoutely rediculous. Russ Simmons shouldn't be a political, social leader just like Sean "P. Diddy" Combs is.

"If our generation wants to take over this movement, I think we need to prove ourselves worthy of the movement and willing to make the sort of sacrifices the old-guard folks made."

That arguement is replicated over and over and yes our generation does, has and will takeover this movement. There are young people ALL over the nation, in this city and around the world who day-in and day out are making moves with the people in very socially progressive ways. However, the old guard always comes with this wack ass argument, that we dont know our history, aren't engaged. As an active participant in Student Politics, I know first hand that young people our generation is on the frontlines...

Shannon said...

I certainly agree that all in our generation are not apathetic assholes. (I was on SGA, pres of BSU, etc, etc, etc, also) However, when I talk to my mother about her college days in the 60s and 70s, it becomes glaringly obvious that our generation lacks the mass motivation that hers possessed. Of course, much of this is due to the fact that we haven't had to work as hard against injustice as they had to...but still, we're nowhere CLOSE to their level of dedication.

Eventually we will have to take over the movement because all of our elders would've worked themselves to death.