One of the more interesting opportunities that I recently availed myself of was an offer to serve as a Jack and Anita Hess Fellow at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) in Washington D.C. The program targeted scholars working at Historically Black Colleges and Universities and provided them an opportunity to use the USHMM resources to develop courses. I must state that the benefits of my involvement stretched well beyond its intended purpose.
Although I was already aware of Jewish priorities, particularly their single-minded focus to advance their collective welfare and political agenda in the face of significant opposition, the Jack and Anita Hess Foundation provided me an opportunity to garner an unprecedented perspective of the way that this particular group achieved their goals. I must admit that I came away from the process with nothing less than admiration regarding the organization, dedication, collectivism, and tenacity from which they operate. I left repeatedly stating this particular mantra; “They tell their story so well.”
Indicative of how well ‘they tell their story’ is the fact that if you ask any K-12 student what the holocaust was, they would immediately apply that word to Jews horrific experience at the hands of Hitler, Goebbels, and Mengele’s Nazi Party; such a position totally ignores the other holocausts that have occurred throughout history: African, “Native American”, Arawak, etc. Most Nationalistic minded African-Americans seeking to uplift the race are angered by the power that flows from Jewish organization, dedication, collectivism, and tenacity. I must admit that I am (a) envious of such power and (b) consider their blue-print for developing power, group identity, and solidarity to be one that we should emulate. The alluded to power is a wonderful thing to he who possesses it as it instantaneously makes them a global force to be reckoned with. The utility of this power was displayed this week when the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) tapped Nicki Minaj on the shoulder regarding what they considered a pressing matter.
ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman took Nicki Minaj, and the entire Young Money Crew (Drake and Lil’ Wayne), to task for the imagery included in the video ‘Only’. Although I am absolutely certain that Nicki Minaj, Drake, and Lil’ Wayne can honestly assume a “forgive ME father, for I know not what I did” stance in regards to this matter. However, the Jewish community is in no way interested in such excuses; from their perspective, this is a major offense that must be addressed. In the alluded to video, the cartoon character depicting Nicki, which plays the role of a dictator, is speaking before a re-creation of the Berlin Sports Palace with banners that look eerily similar to Nazi swastikas. This location is particularly significant to the Jewish population as it was the initial location that ethnic cleansing was discussed as a viable option for the German people. Just as troubling is the reality that the aforementioned video was released 76 years to the day of Kristallnacht (the night of broken glass) when German hooligans went into Jewish Ghettos and attacked residents, broke out every window they could find, and set fire to synagogues. Although I agree with the ADL that the video’s debut date was not accidental, however, I seriously doubt that any of the artists featured in the video (Nicki Minaj, Drake, Lil’ Wayne, and Chris Brown) realized the date’s significance. Foxman cried foul regarding the entire matter and related that “This video is insensitive to Holocaust survivors and a trivialization of the history of that era. The abuse of Nazi imagery is deeply disturbing and offensive to Jews and all those who can recall the sacrifices Americans and many others had to make as a result of Hitler’s Nazi juggernaut. It is troubling that no one among Minaj’s group of producers, publicists and managers raised a red flag about the use of such imagery before ushering the video into public release.”
This moment is déjà vu for the Hip-Hop community as Nicki Minaj has been down this road before with her use of an iconic photo of Malcolm X to promote her single “Lookin Ass Ni%%a”; so has Lil’ Wayne to a lesser extent with his line regarding “beat the p#$$^ up like Emmett Till”. These moments fleetingly raised the ire of many within our community; however, things soon returned to normal.
One of the most consistently debated topics among those who feel that Rap Music damages the African-American community is how do we rein offensive rap artists in. This matter is particularly convoluted as the majority of contemporary artists are beholden to white record companies who have little concern regarding how lyrical content, artists representation, or imagery affects African-American youth. Although many desperately seek to link up the voluminous negative imagery and lyrical content that emanates from today’s rappers as an integral aspect of a much larger secret-society conspiracy to maintain the Black community’s marginal politico economic position, in actuality, the alluded to negativity is allowed, if not embraced, by the Black community because in critical areas, it is the anti-thesis of the Jewish community, meaning woefully lacking in organization, dedication, collectivism, and tenacity.
I was not surprised when Foxman attacked Nicki Minaj and the modern-day Venus Hottentot humbled herself and responded in an appropriate manner before the Jewish leaders calling for her recompense with a quick quip of “I’d never condone Nazism in my art.” The ADL National Director attacked and publicly lambasted Nicki, and her entire crew, for their ignorance regarding historical matters by stating,
We are pleased that Nicki Minaj has taken full responsibility for the video and recognized that it was indeed offensive…Her clear renunciation of Nazism is an important step. We hope that she will take further steps to educate herself and her fans about who the Nazis were and why we should never take genocide or the Holocaust lightly…
The fact that Nicki Minaj had to ‘bow’ before the ADL raises myriad issues for the African-American community and Black artists in particular. Most notable of these issues is how quickly Rap Artists humble themselves when faced with challenges from non-Black communities. Although it is reasonable to state that the Young Money camp had no idea regarding the anniversary of Kristallnacht, Goebbels, Mengele, or the significance of the Berlin Sports Palace, it is interesting how quickly they responded to the criticisms projected by the ADL. Apparently someone, from somewhere, explained to them that Jewish power is not something that you want to face. It is the type of force that would make Young Money disappear.
So that begs the question, if the Jewish community were able to force Nicki Minaj to apologize for a mere cartoon, what does that say about an African-American community whose young girls are psychologically harmed with images of Nicki’s round-bottom on a consistent basis and lyrical tom-foolery that amounts to nothing. The Black community is obviously incapable of reeling in contemporary rap artists for the daily degradation and negativity that they spew within our community. This is the cost that the Black community pays for its lack of organization, dedication, collectivism, and tenacity. One has to wonder, how long will we willingly pay this toll by refusing to mobilize politico economic power.
Dr. James Thomas Jones III