Who Will Be The New Jesse Jackson?
Rev. Jesse Jackson's words last week that he wanted to cut Obama's nuts off was a source of outrage for many blacks across the nation. He has apologized. Obama has accepted. Personally, that was good enough for me. I think it's time to move on this week to more serious issues such as the economy, gas prices, the war in Iraq, global warming. But rapper Nas just wouldn't let me. He told MTV that Jesse was finished.
"I think Jesse Jackson, he's the biggest player hater," Nas said. "His time is up. All you old …, time is up. We heard your voice, we saw your marching, and we heard your sermons. We don't wanna hear that … no more. It's a new day. It's a new voice. I'm here now. We don't need Jesse; I'm here. I got this. We got Barack, we got David Banners and Young Jeezy's. We're the voice now. It's no more Jesse. Sorry. Goodbye. You ain't helping nobody in the 'hood. That's the bottom line. Goodbye, Jesse. Bye!"
Now this comes on the heels of rapper Lil Wayne diss of Rev. Al Sharpton. On the track "Misunderstood," Wayne spits: "You see, you are no MLK/ You are no Jesse Jackson/ You are nobody to me/ You're just another Don King with a perm/ Just a little more political/ And that just means you a little more un-human/ Than us humans/ And now let me be human by saying/ F**k Al Sharpton and anyone like him." Rappers have the right to their personal opinion just as anyone else does.
But, I'm never going to confuse Nas or Lil Wayne with Chuck D of Public enemy, Mos Def , KRS One, or Sister Souljah. We now have gangsta rappers trying to wrestle away Black leadership and some of them are putting themselves on the level of Obama.
I cant quit laughing. Who on earth would actually follow these malt liquor drinking, misogynistic, drug using, gang banging idiots? Nas and Lil Wayne are helping people in the hood? I believe the last time I heard Lil Wayne's music it was blasting out of some gang member's car as they rode though South Central L.A. and did a drive by shooting. Seriously, I do believe Jesse's time has come and gone, he's lost to much credibility to be effective anymore. But should we and are we ready to dump Jesse's outdated vision for the more clear advancing vision of Nas? Excuse me while I laugh some more.
Sharpton on the other hand has emerged as the heir to King's movement and is seen as the premier civil rights leader in the nation. Now, there are some who may disagree and don't care for Sharpton and his tactics, but the reality of the situation is he led and organized the Jena 6 movement. The Sean Bell movement was spearheaded by Sharpton as well the fight for justice in the shooting death of Amadou Diallo, and the torture of Abner Louima by the N.Y.P.D.
Which brings me to my question. Now that Jesse has truly become irrelevant, and there are so many that don't want to follow Sharpton, NAACP, SCLC, and the older model of civil rights leaders and groups, which young leader is going to emerge and step up to the plate of advocacy? Is the hip hop nation ready or even prepared to lead a movement for justice? Are you willing to follow Nas David Banner, Young Jeezy and other gangsta rappers and let them lead you and be your voice?
What do you think?
Najee Ali is Executive Director of Project Islamic H.O.P.E, a national civil rights organization that advocates for the human rights of oppressed people regardless of race, gender or religion. He was selected by Wave Newspapers and Our Weekly Newspaper as one of the 25 most influential black leaders in Los Angeles. More information is available at: www.islamichope.org.
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