Kudos, Phil Mushnick.
You’ve found a way to make yourself newsworthy once again, following your misguided assessment last week of Jay-Z’s involvement with the Brooklyn Nets:
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———s? The cheerleaders could be the Brooklyn B——hes or Hoes. Team logo? A 9 mm with hollow-tip shell casings strewn beneath. Wanna be Jay-Z hip? Then go all the way!
Thanks to Jay-Z, the Nets are finally relevant again. Thanks to Jay-Z, the casual basketball fan in New York won’t be embarrassed to wear Nets merchandise. And thanks to Jay-Z, we’re starting to get a glimpse of the folks whose only exposure to hip-hop comes from the music they hear blasting over the speakers at arenas and stadiums.
For someone who’s been a writer at the New York Post for nearly 40 years now, Mushnick knows exactly which buttons to push in order to generate a reaction that will get the attention of the national media.
Not only did he push those buttons, he continues to press them, as he’s gone on to defend his column via email to a variety of media outlets and even received some support Monday from Tom Van Riper of Forbes:
Whether or not Mushnick’s analysis is correct, it certainly isn’t racist. His sarcastic use of racial epithets was clearly meant to ridicule the stereotypes, not perpetuate them. He later explained, offering no apologies, that he sees Jay-Z as a guy who glorifies violent rap culture for his own financial gain. That’s what his rant was about.
There’s nothing satirical about racial epithets in a sports column — just like there’s nothing satirical about someone invoking the name of Adolf Hitler when it comes to addressing the Jewish community. I can’t sit here and label Mushnick a racist, because I’ve never met the man, but he’s certainly guilty of race baiting.
Need further proof? Check out his email he sent to The Village Voice regarding the backlash:
“I’m never comfortable using that word [ni**er]. That’s the way I was raised. Shame on my parents,” Mushnick said in an email to The Village Voice. “The one time I spelled it out — for accuracy — I was widely condemned as a racist. So either way, I’m a bigot. I know what’s in my heart and my head, the way I was raised, and the way I raised my kids. But you’ve painted me a racist.”
For someone who isn’t comfortable using the word, why did he feel the need to use the word again?
He could have made his original point of Jay-Z profiting “from the worst and most sustaining self-enslaving stereotypes of black-American culture” without using the n-word.
In fact, I’ll even go as far as saying Mushnick is correct about his assessment of Jay-Z profiting from hip-hop music.
But it appears Mushnick is under the impression that all hip-hop music, even Jay-Z’s vast catalog of songs, glorifies violence and degrades women. That’s simply not the case.
The beautiful thing about hip-hop is you can listen to an artist like Jay-Z, who routinely raps about his time as a youth in the drug- and crime-infested streets of Bed-Stuy, or you can listen to someone like Childish Gambino (better know as actor Donald Glover), the nerdy backpacker who raps about overcoming being labeled as an “Oreo” and homosexual. No two hip-hop artists are alike; therefore, you can’t paint the entire hip-hop community with one broad, uninformed brush.
Don’t hold your breath over getting an apology from Mushnick or the Post, as both parties have made it clear that they stand by the original column. They didn’t flinch after the National Association of Black Journalists condemned Mushnick and the tabloid newspaper for their use of the word.
If for some reason hell froze over (or Rev. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson went on the attack) and the Post punished Mushnick, equal punishment should be handed out to Mushnick’s editor as well — a great example of why diversity at media outlets is such an important issue.
At the end of the day, the only person painting Mushnick a racist is Phil Mushnick, as he continues to ignore the millions of people he’s offended with his hurtful words.
Follow Marcus Vanderberg on Twitter at @marcowill