In the early 1990’s, I had my first introduction to the Nation of Islam on the streets of Pittsburgh. There were men in the standard bowties handing out pamphlets at the subway station near the building where I attended school, and one of the younger ones made the mistake of initially holding one out toward me as I passed. An older man came over quickly, and grabbed it before I could dare to touch it, saying “that’s not for you!” He was generally right, of course – I’m a white woman. That might have been the end of it, but he became just a little menacing toward me, which caught the attention of a transit police officer nearby. I ended up being escorted away from the men in the bowties by that officer, and encouraged to keep away from them.
Needless to say, that didn’t engender any particular feelings of warmth for me, and since then, I’ve generally viewed the Nation of Islam and its illustrious leader, Louis Farrakhan, as at least slightly insane. When it came out that Farrakhan has offered the services of his personal militant protection services to Beyoncé, it was difficult to keep from rolling my eyes. Yes, I did watch the video, and couldn’t help but laugh, though.
If you didn’t watch, I don’t blame you. Suffice to say that Farrakhan is raging yet again with his diatribes about how evil whites are, and that there is now a “cultural revolution” – presumably because he said so. The problem is that it started a while ago, and Farrakhan apparently missed it. Maybe he’s been too busy drafting racist epithets against “non-blacks” or something?
While I’m not a fan of rap music by any stretch of the imagination, even I am culturally savvy enough to know that while there’s still a fair share of it out there that sings the praises of “booties and bitches,” there’s quite a lot out there that is politically themed. Of course, that’s predictable, especially given the fact that black protesters have been calling out black celebrities for not supporting them. Yes, that probably had something to do with Beyoncé’s choices for her performance during the Super Bowl. Of course, rap artists stepping up to speak against gun violence are far more impressive. Also, Farrakhan must have missed the memo, because rap hasn’t been an exclusively black club for a while now, and there are some non-black activist rappers out there preaching about their own pet causes.
As for why I’m saying the eighties miss Farrakhan? That’s simple enough. He really does need to travel back to that time if he wants to suggest that the “white man” only just “allowed” black rappers to call their women bitches. Maybe he’ll catch up and be on time for the next cultural revolution? Uh, doubt it.