Too Little, Too Late


So now black folks are mad at Phil Mushnick?

Mushnick is a columnist for the New York Post. On May 4, he wrote a column covering a number of topics, but it was his comments about rapper Jay-Z and the National Basketball Association’s Brooklyn Nets that have black folks mad at him.

Jay-Z is minority owner of the Nets. Apparently, Jay-Z has made some marketing decisions for the team that don’t sit quite well with Mushnick.

One of those decisions was to change the team’s uniform colors to black and white. Not being a Nets fan, I don’t give the proverbial tinker’s dam. At least Mushnick cares.

These are the comments that have black folks mad at Mushnick: “As long as the Nets are allowing Jay-Z to call their marketing shots – what a shock he chose black and white as the new team colors to stress, as the Nets explained, their new ‘urban’ home – why not have him apply the full Jay-Z treatment?

“Why the Brooklyn Nets when they can be the New York N***s? The cheerleaders could be the Brooklyn B***hes or Hoes. Team logo? A 9 mm with hollow-tip shell casings strewn beneath. Wanna be Jay-Z hip? Then go all the way!”

For those comments, Mushnick has been called a racist. Some have just called him “racially insensitive.” But I have one question for all those people mad at Mushnick: Did he use any language that Jay-Z hasn’t used, many times, in the lyrics to his raps?

Perusing a list of Jay-Z songs I pulled up on iTunes, I have to say the rapper has a more than passing familiarity with the language Mushnick used.

Let’s see: there’s “N***a What, N***a Who.”

Then there’s “Jigga That N***a.”

Next we have “Ain’t No N***a.”

Finally, there’s that hip-hop classic “N***as in Paris.”

And I spotted one tune called “2 Many Hoes.”

As for the “b” word, dare I leave out “I Got 99 Problems, But a B***h Ain’t One”?

That one gets my vote as the worst rap song of all time. And since the competition includes “It’s Hard Out Here For A Pimp,” that takes some doing.

Mushnick, in his own defense, had this to say about his critics in a story that appeared on the Sporting News Web site:

“Jay-Z profits from the worst and most sustaining self-enslaving stereotypes of black American culture and I’M the racist? Some truths, I guess, are just hard to read, let alone think about.”

Mushnick could have, and probably should have, added this: “I was simply trying to hold Jay-Z accountable for the lyrics in his music. The question is why aren’t more black folks doing that?”

In all fairness, I have to say that National Action Network founder Al Sharpton, whom I’ve criticized harshly in the past, is one black leader who’s done precisely that. Sharpton has regularly chided rappers about their choice of lyrics.

A couple of years ago I was at a symposium about ways to close the achievement gap. Sharpton was one of the participants. He told a tale about one rapper who refused to give up the “n” word.

The rapper insisted to Sharpton that he wouldn’t stop using the word, and that there was nothing Sharpton or anyone else could do to stop him. Later, some cops arrested that same rapper. Who was the first person he called?


“They’re violating my rights,” the rapper complained to Sharpton.

“N***as don’t have rights,” Sharpton answered him.

The story was an absolute corker, and shows that when it comes to pulling up rappers about their choice or lyrics, Rev. Al is on his post.

But where’s the man’s backup? Where are the other black voices of protest when we hear rap songs that talk about nothing but n***s, gangsters, b***ches and hoes?

Had Mushnick simply made the comment about changing the Nets’ name to the “New York N***s,” his critics might have a legitimate point. But his including references to “b***ches” and hoes clearly shows he was criticizing the rapper’s lyrics.

Former National Review columnist John Derbyshire wrote a piece for the webzine Taki’s Magazine that was far more racist than anything Mushnick wrote. The details are too copious to recount here.

But rest assured of this: Derbyshire used the “n” word not one time.

Gregory Kane is an award-winning columnist and Pulitzer finalist who writes from Baltimore.

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