OP-ED: PHIL MUSHNICK vs. JAY-Z, RACIST OR NOT?
By Richard Burroughs
I think the point of Phil Mushnick piece about Jay-Z is lost in the hoopla. I'm not even going to say he made sense but he "could have said it another way." Phil Mushnick spoke his mind on the temerity of a major league sports organization allowing an admitted former crack dealer (remember now, when he was selling crack, that ish was completely ruining lives…so I guess ruining the lives of black people gets a pass if you're black and go on to make music and clothes and live a life that other black people are fond of?), who has rapped "niggas, hoes and bitches," along with gun talk and drug talk across his whole rap career, to own a piece of an major league sports franchise.
Jay didn't go from former crack dealer (and if you've ever lived in a hood where crack was sold, you know it's the other things that go along with "selling crack", like for one, protecting your money from stick-up kids), to some sort of humanitarian with a life dedicated to helping and serving people selflessly. He went on to become a huge rapper by glorifying both his negative past and many of the negative conditions suffered by black people. He has influenced a generation, many to strive for success legally, but he's also influenced many to seek out ways to "stack paper" that's illegal and to repeat misogynistic words and actions. Youth are impressionable and although proper parenting is crucial, there's waayyyy to many ways for kids to hear music for a parent to even get close to adequate monitoring of their kids music consumption.
Phil Mushnick has obviously harbored issues with the Nets allowing Jay-Z to become an owner of the team and this was him putting the situation on blast. The word Nigga spoken/written by a white person is immediate controversy, but the underlying question remains. Should a person who created such exploitative, negative situations by selling drugs and selling and advocating harmful messages to black people, be rewarded with ownership of a sports team? History is rife with the dirty getting clean. Many a person started out illegal and then wanted to get legitimate. Only thing is Jay-Z went legal with his main product (music), yet it was still being harmful to the black community. People can't be above reproach and although Jay-Z has been a legal businessman for quite a while now, had a reading from his book at the NYPL, done major deals with Live Nation and a bunch of other business, he still has a history, both past and recent, that may not be appropriate for ownership in a business that is "supposedly" in the business of providing family entertainment. That was the point and I think it's a valid point to raise.
Richard Burroughs is a marketing strategist, event producer and free thinker, living in Brooklyn NY, who moonlights (and sunlights) as a DJ and is frustratingly writing his second novel. Facebook.com/Richardburroughs and @dickburroughs