It wasn’t enough that party promoters thought using Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s likeness wearing gold chains to advertise a party was cool or that Russell Simmons thought making fun of Harriet Tubman was funny or that Li’l Wayne thought that comparing rough sex to Emmit Till’s death was okay. Now rapstress Nicki Minaj has gone and released a new single “Looking Ass N#$*a,” already controversial for its show of guns in the video, and used Malcolm X’s picture for the cover. You can see and hear the NSFW single here. (Warning: EXPLICIT LYRICS).
Not only is this ignorant and sad, this particular image speaks volumes about Malcolm’s legacy and the duress he was under for speaking his truth about race relations in this country. It’s the famous pic where he’s looking out the window, machine gun in hand, prepared to defend himself and his family against the many people who had threatened their lives.
Did we mention that it’s still Black History Month?
Should we blame Nikki for this or blame ourselves for creating an atmosphere where not only are we OK with the visual imaging that has helped her become a platinum-selling superstar (despite lacking any real talent except for marketing and imitating various voices) with an allegedly surgically enhanced butt and a blonde wig? We’ve been OK with one of our daughters working out some obvious self-esteem issues while turning a profit by encouraging other insecure young girls to want the same plastic parts instead of celebrating their own unique beauty. Are we now OK with the shameless use of one of our icons’ images for commercial purposes when his famous autobiography, penned by Alex Haley, is not just a classic, but one that a lot of young Black males reference as changing their thinking about themselves and their potential?
Because if we are OK with our young artists disrespecting our history and neither feel that we can correct or re-educate them, then it’s us, as parents, aunties, uncles, teachers and grands that have collectively failed. If it’s not up to us to remember and testify, then who will? If we don’t share and protect our history, then who will we have that can continue to fight for the equality and justice that is our right? If we are not sharing this knowledge, we are sending young people out into the world unarmed with the information and knowledge that they need.
Without it, how can they stand strong when they meet with institutional racism and the persistent mindset that African-Americans are second-class citizens who can be shot in cold blood because their very presence offends or frightens others? We need to snatch up our young people and let them know that others came before them who lived and died to get us where we are today and that they were more than Black and white images, they were living breathing people who sacrificed family, friends, and often their lives for the greater good.
They were not just holidays and names to quote in a hip-hop song. They were patriots who wanted justice for our people and the chance to let freedom ring in a country that paid lip service to that ideal but denied it to too many of its citizens. If we haven’t taught Nicki anything, then we haven’t done nothing, as another great Black man said.
It’s Black History Month. Teach somebody something, buy someone a book, or mentor a young person. Do it not just this month, but all year. Because if you support this mess, by saying it doesn’t matter or that you bear no responsibility in it, then, well, you’re just part of the problem.
Note: Minaj has responded to complaints via her Instagram and taken the offending image down from hersocial media sites.
A Tribute to Famous Firsts - Part II
50 photos Launch gallery
1. 1964: First movie with an African-American interracial marriage: "One Potato, Two Potato" starring actors Bernie Hamilton and Barbara Barrie, written by Orville H. Hampton, Raphael Hayes, directed by Larry Peerce.
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2. 1965: First African-American nationally syndicated cartoonist: Morrie Turner (Wee Pals).
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3. 1965: First African-American star of a network television drama: Bill Cosby, I Spy (co-star with Robert Culp).
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4. 1965: First African-American cast member of a daytime soap opera: Micki Grant who played Peggy Nolan Harris on Another World until 1972.
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5. 1965: First African-American Playboy Playmate centerfold: Jennifer Jackson (March issue).
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6. 1965: First African-American U.S. Air Force general: Benjamin Oliver Davis, Jr. (three-star lieutenant general).
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7. 1965: First African-American female Ambassador of the United States: Patricia Roberts Harris, ambassador to Luxembourg.
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8. 1965: First African-American NFL official: Burl Toler, field judge/head linesman.
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9. 1965: First African-American to win a national chess championship: Frank Street, Jr. (U.S. Amateur Championship).
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10. 1965: First African-American United States Solicitor General: Thurgood Marshall and in 1967, he was the first African American appointed to the Supreme Court of the United States.
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11. 1966: First African American male to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award and first African American to win a Primetime Emmy Award: Bill Cosby, I Spy.
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12. 1966: First African-American coach in the National Basketball Association: Bill Russell (Boston Celtics) and in 1968, he was the first African-American coach to win NBA Championship.
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13. 1966: First African-American model on the cover of a Vogue (British Vogue) magazine: Donyale Luna.
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14. 1967: First African-American interracial kiss on network television: entertainers Nancy Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr. on Sinatra's variety special Movin' With Nancy, aired December 11 on NBC.
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15. 1968: First African-American interracial kiss on a network television drama: Uhura, played by Nichelle Nichols and Captain Kirk, played by William Shatner: Star Trek: "Plato's Stepchildren"
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16. 1968: First African-American man to win a Grand Slam tennis event: Arthur Ashe (US Open).
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17. 1968: First African American to start as quarterback in the modern era of professional football: Marlin Briscoe (Denver Broncos, AFL).
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18. 1968: First African-American woman elected to U.S. House of Representatives: Shirley Chisholm (Democrat; New York).
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19. 1968: First African-American actress to star in her own television series where she did not play a domestic worker: Diahann Carroll in Julia.
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20. 1968: First African-American woman reporter for The New York Times: Nancy Hicks Maynard.
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21. 1969: First African-American superhero: The Falcon, Marvel Comics' Captain America #117.
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22. 1969: First African-American woman to get a Business degree from Harvard University: Lillian Lincoln.
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23. 1969: First African-American director of a major Hollywood motion picture: Gordon Parks (The Learning Tree).
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24. 1969: First African-American founder of a classical training school and company of ballet: Arthur Mitchell, Dance Theatre of Harlem.
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25. 1969: First African-American woman to appear on the Grand Ole Opry: Linda Martell.
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26. 1970: First African-American member of the New York Stock Exchange: Joseph L. Searles III.
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27. 1971: First African-American pitcher to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame: Satchel Paige.
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28. 1973: First African-American Bond villain: Yaphet Kotto, playing Mr. Big/Dr. Kananga, Live and Let Die.
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29. 1973: First African-American Bond Girl in a James Bond movie: Gloria Hendry (playing Rosie Carver), Live and Let Die.
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30. 1973: First African American elected mayor of Los Angeles, California: Tom Bradley.
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31. 1974: First African-American woman to win a Primetime Emmy Award: Cicely Tyson, for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie, for The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman.
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32. 1974: First African-American model on the cover of American Vogue magazine: Beverly Johnson.
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33. 1975: First African-American game show host: Adam Wade (CBS' Musical Chairs).
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34. 1975: First African-American interracial couple in a TV-series cast: The Jeffersons, actors Franklin Cover and Roxie Roker as Tom & Helen Willis.
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35. 1975: First African-American four-star general: Daniel James, Jr.
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36. 1975: First African American inducted to the Basketball Hall of Fame as a player: Bill Russell.
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37. 1975: First African-American woman named as Time magazine's, Person of the Year: Barbara Jordan.
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38. 1976: First African-American woman and trailblazer Addie Wyatt was the 1st to hold a senior office in an American labor union—at both the local and international level and 1st elected President of her local meat-packing union in Chicago in the '50s and rose to the rank of International V.P. of the United Food and Commercial Workers.
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39. 1978: First African-American broadcast network news anchor: Max Robinson.
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40. 1979: First African American and first person to win the Emmy Award Best Supporting Actress in a Miniseries: Esther Rolle.
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41. 1979: First African-American U.S. Marine Corps general officer: Frank E. Petersen.
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42. 1979: First African-American to win a Daytime Emmy Award for lead actor in a soap opera: Al Freeman, Jr. (Ed Hall in One Life to Live).
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43. 1980: First African-American-oriented cable channel: Black Entertainment Television.
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44. 1982: First African American to receive the Pulitzer Prize for Drama: Charles Fuller for A Soldier's Play.
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45. 1983: First African-American astronaut: Guion Stewart "Guy" Bluford, Jr. (Challenger mission STS-8).
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46. 1983: First African-American mayor of Chicago: Harold Washington.
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47. 1983: First African-American Miss America: Vanessa L. Williams.
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48. 1983: First African-American owners of a major metropolitan newspaper: Robert C. and Nancy Hicks Maynard, (Oakland Tribune)
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49. 1986: Regina Taylor, a Golden Globe-winning actress and playwright was the first black woman to play Juliet in William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” on Broadway.
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50. 1986: First African-American musicians inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in the inaugural class: Chuck Berry, James Brown, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Fats Domino, and Little Richard.
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