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Friday, May 4, 2012

"Jay-Z and the New York Niggas", by Phil Mushnick


Look, I'm getting pretty sick and tired of writing about racial shit, too. But as long as there are people like this that continue to say stupid things...well, I think it needs to be brought to light.

Phil Mushnick has been a sports columnist with the NY Post for a long time. Recently, he went on a bit of a rant about Jay-Z's ownership of the New Jersey Nets-- more specifically, the fact that he is moving them to Brooklyn, and changing the color of the uniforms. Basically, Jay-Z is rebranding the team, and Phil doesn't like that idea.

So, I guess he was trying to be cute and satirical, and gave a few suggestions about other changes that Jay-Z could make to the team:

As long as the Nets are allowing Jay-Z to call their marketing shots — what a shock that 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***as? The cheerleaders could be the Brooklyn B***hes or HoesTeam logo? A 9 mm with hollow-tip shell casings strewn beneath. Wanna be Jay-Z hip? Then go all the way!
 Meh...I mean look-- I've made quite a few attempts at satire on this blog; I call them "Modest Proposals". The one thing that I try to do in those cases is make my rants a bit more tongue-in-cheek; I want people to laugh, not get pissed. Sure, I'm annoyed at the issues I try to lampoon, but I don't go about it with anger and venom. At least I don't THINK that I do. I can't say that his passage reads that way at all. It sounds like some pissed-off dude ranting and raving. The fact that he's using racial language, and the fact that he's an old white guy, don't really seem to be helpful.

Even in his defense of the article, as supplied by the Village Voice, he seems pissed off:
"...did you actually read what I wrote and what I've been writing for 30 years? I don't call black men niggas; my kids never heard the word until folks such as Jay-Z came along. I'd suggest you talk to him about it. What I wrote today was on Jay Z's artistry, and only the wishful and foolish would so badly misinterpret and mischaracterize it as you plan to do."
Not for nuthin'...but he just sounds like a dick. I mean sure, I can understand being annoyed by people misinterpreting your stuff...but a little perspective would prove to be helpful for Mushnick. The thing about satire is that it needs to be thoughtful and introspective. There needs to be an intellectual backbone behind it. If you're just spiting out vitriol, you sound like an asshole. In Mushnick's case, he sounds like a bigot. He's old enough to know what it looks like when old white men use the word "nigger", or in his case "niggas". He simply, as a writer, did not adequately prepare the reader for that language. He just threw it out there in the midst of his anger, and just sounds bigoted.

Again, I've been accused by a few white folks of being a racist. Like Mushnick, I stand by what I've written. But at the same time, I go out of my way to articulate things as clearly and rationally as possible (typos and grammatical errors aside). I want to give people something to think about. I don't want them to just read some angry black guy bitching about white people. I am blunt, and direct, but I also provide a bit of perspective. This guy just took a piss and stormed away.

Is he a racist? My guess is no. Maybe satire is just not his thing. Maybe he should have written another draft, or showed the article to someone else for a bit of feedback before it went out into the world. Or maybe he was too pissed off to care. I honestly don't know anything about him, or his work, or his method of working. All I know is what other have perceived: he's some white sports writer that called Jay-Z a "nigga".

Sorry, Phil. That's what happens sometimes when you misread your audience; they end up misreading you.

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