Is Barack Not Black Enough? DJ Chuck T, Spike Lee, and…me.

Prologue: Don’t get me wrong – this is absolutely not a personal attack on DJ Chuck T (he’s one of a few people that is actually willing to speak their mind on this and he should be respected for that). Nor is this even directed at him – it’s more directed at anyone with a similar opinion on the subject. What I am doing here, here though, for sale is using this as an opportunity to bring something up because Chuck brings up something that serves as a counterpoint to something that has been in my head for a minute.

Okay, Let’s Get Into It…

Like anyone who is even somewhat involved in the music world, I get a lot of e-mail. Demos from people hoping for some airtime (can you say airtime for a podcast?), mail from people who hate/like the show, promos from major labels, promos from indie labels, and general “blasts”.

Last week, I got an email blast from DJ Chuck T, who most of you will recognize as being a ridiculously prolific (as in drops two tapes a week) North Carolina mixtape DJ, the man behind the Down South Slangin’ and Sexxplicit R&B series. And yes, this is the same dude that aired Lil Wayne out after badmouthing mixtape DJs.

The Original Video

Anyway, in an email titled “DJ Chuck T Blasts Barak Obama On MTV! OUCH!!”, DJ Chuck T posted a link to this video (sorry, I can’t embed it – just click here, it’s short)

What doesn’t come out in the video, though, is this (excerpt from the email sent out):

“[...]the self-proclaimed “Malcolm X of Hip-Hop” DJ Chuck T has unleashed his fury on the Presidential Candidate! “He’s not black, he’s bi-racial! And he wasn’t even raised by black people…” DJ Chuck T stated to MTV’s Shaheem Reid on the Red Carpet of the 2008 Ozone Magazine Awards. Chuck T went even further and said “Barak doesn’t embody the values and characteristics we as black people are raised with…”

That “bi-racial” section definitely didn’t sit right with me, so…I wrote dude an email.

And as expected, I got a pretty thought out (considering the dude is preparing for a speech in DC) and respectful email, where Chuck elaborated and stood by his opinion. No issue in particular with that.

And I was about to leave it at that, until:

A Challenger Appears

Spike Lee came out and pretty much said what I had said, minus a few points here and there. Dig the article, then come back: Spike Lee has Sharp Words in Denver.

So compare that to the original email I wrote a few days before this article came out. Obviously I’m not claiming that Spike Lee jacked what I’m saying – this is just for comparison. Also, I’m posting the full unedited text of this mainly because I don’t feel like paraphrasing, but I’d appreciate it if you took it as a token of my honesty and openness.

What I Think, I Guess

My original response to the original email blast:

Peace DJ Chuck T -

I’m sure your email inbox is flooded on a daily basis, and you may well not be able to get to all of your mail directly, but I just read this and felt like I should respond.

As far as lashing out at Barack Obama the politician, I don’t really have much beef with that. To me, the dude is a politician. Maybe a good one, maybe a bad one, but a major league politician who plays by major league rules, which means he is going to pretend that certain people don’t exist, go back on his word when it is convenient, etc – that is what politicians do. He is just another politician, scheming for votes, because that is what politicians do. I’m not sure about being the biggest Uncle Tom in the history of Black America – but I don’t think you meant that literally. I did an episode about the primaries a long time ago but refrained from outright supporting Obama because I didn’t feel it was appropriate given my mixed feelings on him. I personally will probably vote for the man – not because I am terribly excited about him bringing some sort of change to society because I don’t think change comes from the top – if you look at our history, particularly Black history, it never has – but because McCain is a scary dude and I do not want him bombing anyone else.

What I do have a problem with, though, is how you referred to Barack Obama – “He’s not black, he’s bi-racial! And he wasn’t even raised by black people…”

That, to me, doesn’t make any sense, no matter how you look at it. If you want to look at things from a historical angle, then you’ll remember the “one drop” rule. Beyond that, before Obama was all over the TV, I’m pretty sure that when he walked into a 7-11, just like when you or I walk into a 7-11, the person behind the counter did not see a “biracial” man or a “guy who wasn’t even raised by Black parents”, they saw a Black man, and they acted accordingly.

And it makes even less sense to say something like that considering that exactly one sentence prior, you referred to yourself as the Malcolm X of Hip-Hop. I’m sure you know this, but Malcolm X himself was ‘biracial’. One half African-American, one quarter Grenadian, and one quarter white. So maybe you are making a distinction between 25% white and 50% white, with the former being “black” and the latter being “not black”. If not, then maybe picking another historical persona would make your argument more coherent.

That said, though, unless your family came to the US independently, if you look at your own family tree (and I know that this is hard for the descendants of the slave system to trace back more than a few generations – if you’re able to do this, then count yourself as being very fortunate – on my side, we have no idea what went on beyond 1900 or so), I’m pretty sure you’ll find that you are not “100% Black”. I’m not sure what the statistics are, but there are very few African American individuals who are not mixed with something or other – including me, yourself, and Ludacris.

For me, trying to slander someone by saying that they aren’t “Black”, or “Black enough”, is about as counterproductive as you can get. If you have beef with someone’s actions, particularly another Black man’s actions, address his actions. If you feel that he has turned his back on his people, that’s fine. But when you try to exclude him from the population based on some illogical, fuzzy numbers game, you also start to exclude some very important historical figures – and you start to fragment the Black population and cause friction and fighting where there should be cooperation and positive movement.

As you know, most kids, particularly minorities, do not listen to what politicians have to say – but they will listen to what people like you and me (you, obviously, much more than me) – people who either make or distribute music, have to say. That’s why I was concerned. And I realize some of this may have been a “publicity stunt”, and it seems that the “he’s not even black” statement didn’t go on the air anywhere, but the approach is what worried me.

Anyway, I’m sure you have other mail to get to, so I will end this here. Peace.


So, let me make a couple of points here.

First, while I respect their individual opinions, I don’t agree with either DJ Chuck T or Spike Lee. I think Spike is going awfully easy on Obama. And on the other side, I think the whole “bi-racial” thing is a mass oversimplification.

What does get me worried is this whole “Black enough” argument. This isn’t a recent development, and I don’t expect it to die out any time soon, but with the fact that we are currently facing the very real possibility of a Black man sitting in the Oval Office, this issue takes on a new kind of urgency.

Blacker Than Thou

Classifying someone as simply “biracial” is next to useless. Where’s the line between “monoracial” and “biracial”? 25% “mixed”? 12.5% “mixed”? Same thing with offering a “biracial” bubble on an application form – do you mean to tell me that there is no difference between a kid with Black American and white parents and a kid with Korean and Indian parents? Sure, there is a possible common experience of “Jesus Christ what am I” for the kid’s childhood (or their whole life, who knows), but you can’t tell me that our Black/white and Korean/Indian kid have any inherent cultural commonality. Excluding Barack Obama from the “Black” category because of 50% of his bloodline or the complexion of the people that brought him up is a scary notion.

What’s Blackness? Is it the music you listen to (rap)? Is it your IQ (low)? Is it your economic background (poor)? Is it how many gold chains you can fit on your wrist (a lot)?

The Effect Abroad

And yes, any Black person knows that the above have nothing to do with your being Black. Unfortunately, though, there are plenty of non-Black people out there that don’t get this. I’m not just talking about white kids here. The whole “Barack is not Black” line is not limited to the US, kids. Dig this topic from popular Japanese social site Kotonoha:

オバマ氏は日焼けしすぎた白人 (Obama is just an over-tanned white guy).

So somewhere, ladies and gentlemen, we have shown the rest of the world that being smart/well-spoken/successful is the antithesis of Blackness. It’s not just the police in LA and Atlanta that think this, it’s not your middle school principal, it’s the general, global populace (remember when Davey D said something similar?) (bonus points: Same Japanese website, different topic: “ 目の前に黒人がいると怖い / I’m Afraid of Black People“)

I’ve said this before, and I still believe it – America has one of the most uniquely screwed up race complexes I’ve ever seen (not that I’ve traveled that much, but still). This isn’t helping anybody. And the further that this thing goes, the more that this is going to come out into the open. I can’t say that that’s a bad thing.


Enough of me, though – what do you think?

Bonus closing joke – I don’t know any Black people that use words like “bamboozled” or “hornswoggled”. I hereby call Spike Lee’s Blackness into question. Can I get an amen?

okay, okay, a funky drummer?

Megan Williams March Report

If you’ve been following this blog for at least a couple months, emergency you’ll remember that Vince78 mentioned he was going to the march for Megan Williams in Charleston, implant West Virginia.

Well, dentist he’s back, and he’s put together a quick slideshow and a flickr gallery for everyone. Take a few minutes out of your weekend and check these out. The below is a youtube consisting of images from the rally set to Talib Kweli’s “For Women”:

National March Against Hate Crimes & Racism – Vince78′s Report

And here’s the images themselves in a flickr gallery with 80+ images including the Black Panthers:

Thanks again to dude for taking time not not only to participate in this march and show support for topics that the media willfully ignores – but to make sure all of us are up on what is going on as well. Any chance on you elaborating on the experience in the comments, fam? And remind us – where was the NAACP?

Also: dig the Seattle grunge throwback diversity:

Jena 6: Where are our hip-hop artists?

Think about this:

We’ve got six high-school age Black kids either in jail, information pills or on the verge of going in. And I know that not all Black kids listen to a whole lot of rap music – but for the sake of argument, visit this check this:

A lot of the same artists that these kids spend their lunch money on, that these kids (for better or worse) idolize, that these kids think speak for them; are now, in their hour of need, nowhere to be found. I’m not necessarily talking about Kanye footing the bill for the defense fund, but about somebody saying something.

However: some of us are doing something. If you want an example, check out the last episode. There are a lot of prominent people on there showing support for these kids.

So I’m going to go ahead and take a bar from clyde (who, by the way, has really been taking bloggers to task on this thing) and compile a list of people who I know have done something about this issue. If you know of somebody who is doing something, please add them up in the comments. If you yourself are an artist and are doing something, then let us know.

I do worry sometimes that we get too negative about hip-hop, when plenty of people are carrying their own weight (and in the cases of a few, that of others). So this post is really just to show people that there is a growing number of MCs, artists, and industry people who are taking responsibility – and thereby encourage the rest of us to do the same, feel me?

Hit up the comments section…I know some of you out there have some info on this!

Jena 6: Get Your Voice on The Mixtape Show

Note: The Jena 6 Episode is up now. Check it out here.

I’ve been thinking for the past few days on this Jena 6 case. I know that on the 20th there is going to be a nationwide action, bulimics centered in Jena, anorexia Louisiana. I can’t be there, but I feel like we can still do something.

So I’m working on an episode. Some tunes, some beats, some talking. I’m not exactly sure how it’s going to turn out. So I’m looking to you – yes, you reading this right now – to help.

I want you to call the Mixtape Show phone right now: (310) – 928 – 6876 – and leave a voice message.

Speak your mind on this issue. I’ll play it back, uncut, on the podcast show (in iTunes and on the site) for 15,000+ people.

Let everyone hear what you have to say. If you want to speak directly to the Jena 6, do that. If you want to speak to the public at large, do that. If you have something to say to the hip-hop artists or public leaders that are or are not doing something about this, say it. One sentence? Fine. One hundred? Do it.

Whatever is on your mind is perfect. Don’t be shy, don’t rehearse it, don’t give it a second thought. You can be anonymous if you prefer. Pull your cell out of your pocket right now and make sure everyone knows what you think.

Normally in this sort of situation, I would find a knowledgeable guest and interview them. But – I figure that we’re all world citizens here, and what we have to say is as valuable or more valuable than what any public intellectual or celebrity may have to say.

Try to keep it concise. A minute is good. Other than that, do your thing.

The mic is on. Say something. Please pass this on.


*If you’re outside the US, or can’t use your phone, that’s fine. We still want to hear from you. I’d recommend picking up Skype. It’s a free download, and will let you call the Mixtape Show from your PC for free. Just download it, and call the username “mixtapeshow” with your account, and it’ll go straight to the voicemail.

Or: use Gtalk and send a voice message to

** Producers, holler at me. I may need some more beats for this one.