Jun. 5th, 2017
What Nas Was Talking About in His Open Letter
Nas had a lot to say in his “Action Speaks Louder Than Words” published by Mass Appeal. In case you missed some of his references, we’ve got you covered.
“The only way the black man gets a little piece in America is if he takes the O.J. stance: “I’m not black, I’m O.J.” When you ignore the shit that’s happening to people you can live in this fantasy…”
A magazine based in New York, Mass Appeal published an open letter to the public from Nasir Bin Olu Dara Jones, the rapper known more commonly as Nas. In it Nas speaks frankly about the current state of racism in America (“We all know a racist is in office.”) to culture (“But in reality, art is gonna thrive regardless.”).
This is a topic we covered in our Music as the Means for Culture Appropriation and, as we stated then, this is going to come up even more as the year goes on.
Let’s get into what Nas was referencing in his letter.
The only way the black man gets a little piece in America is if he takes the O.J. stance: “I’m not black, I’m O.J.”
This quote goes back fifteen years to a 2002 documentary released by HBO titled “O.J.: A Study in Black & White.” In it, sociology professor Harry Edwards is the one who says to camera that O.J.’s “sentiments were, ‘I’m not black, I’m O.J.” Fast forward to 2016, FX releases their crime drama The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story and actor Cuba Gooding Jr. repeats the line as O.J.
There’s no evidence the Juice ever said the line but many have confirmed it as in-line with Simpson’s thinking. In an ESPN Page 2 article by Ralph Wiley, he writes, “O.J. tried and almost succeeded at being everything but a black guy — and, more important, his own guy. He fooled himself. He fooled white people. But he didn’t fool very many black people. Not the ones who knew him well, anyway.”
“Some guy lynched in a tree at Piedmont Park in Atlanta, Georgia, and the cops rule it a suicide.”
The link redirects to an article by Atlanta Magazine where the by-line reads “How social media fueled a rumor that the KKK ’lynched’ a black man in Piedmont Park.” The body of a young, black male was discovered in a park, hanging from a tree. The evidence released by official sources say there were no signs of struggle, pollen on the man’s shirt suggested he climbed the tree, and he was still wearing earbuds.
Because the story was not reported immediately or for days afterward, and due to the Klan’s activity in the area, social media had something else to say:
A black man was found hanging from a tree in #PiedmontPark, but it is ruled as a suicide and no media coverage? The KKK were in town too…
— lemonade heux 💋 (@jstcwarrior) July 7, 2016
“We all know a racist is in office. People can talk their shit. Comedians can sound racist.“
This occurred after Nas released his article, but is another example added to the pile of what he’s talking about. Bill Maher used the n-word on his talk show “Real Time” in the following exchange with a senator:
“You’re welcome,” he said. “We’d love to have you work in the fields with us.”
“Work in the fields?” Maher responded sarcastically. “Senator … I’m a house n*****.”
— deray (@deray) June 3, 2017
Chance the Rapper has recently asked HBO to discontinue the talk show. It’s been favorited over 47,000 times since June 3rd.
Please @HBO Do Not Air Another Episode Of Real Time With Bill Maher.
— Chance The Rapper (@chancetherapper) June 3, 2017
“I’m doing all the things I ever dreamed of, even though there was a Ronald Reagan, even though there was laws that ruthlessly destroyed the black community, put tons of us in prison on trumped-up charges, and put us in jail for a long time over crimes that other people get a smack on the hand for.”
If you haven’t seen or read anything on the War On Drugs campaigns by past presidents, it’s a lot to get into in one article. Essentially, the presidents’ mandates to enforce tougher punishments on drug-related crimes affected certain communities at much harsher rates than other communities (generally, rich white ones) who were also abusing drugs throughout the 70s, 80s, and 90s.
Studies and articles have stated that “when black and white people engage in the same illegal activity and have the same criminal history, black people are more likely to be arrested, more likely to face tougher charges and more likely to receive longer sentences than whites.”
“It’s basically slavery. It’s like the top of Sacha Jenkins’ documentary, Burn, Motherfucker Burn! where this guy says “I see blacks as a superior pet.”
This documentary, released on Showtime this year “explores the roots of civil unrest in California and the relationship between African Americans and LAPD.”
If you’re hungry for more history as told to the masses by Nas, check out the New York native’s music of the same vein.
Nas – “American Way”
Vote fo who now? You’re red, white and blue?
I’m American too, but I ain’t with the president’s crew
What you peddlin’ and who you peddlin’ to?