Friday, May 27, 2011

Winter in America: Rest In Peace Gil-Scott Heron

Winter in America:
Of Black Heroes and Black Homicides

Min. Paul Scott

Back in 1974, Gil Scott-Heron recorded a song called "Winter in America." No, he wasn't talking about the weather. He was mourning the death of activism after the Civil Rights/Black Power Era.

I thought about those lyrics during a lecture that I recently gave in front of a group of black male teens regarding black leadership. I had almost finished discussing the assassinations of Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr when I was interrupted by one of the young men.

"You guys are always telling us to be leaders but all the black leaders get killed ," he said. "How can we be strong black leaders and still survive?"

Good question.

Being a black leader has been the hardest job in America for the past 300 years. The earliest black leaders in this country were those who led slave revolts such as Nat Turner , Denmark Vessey and Gabriel Prosser. The leaders of those rebellions and their co-conspirators were rewarded with hangman's nooses. One must also not forget writers such as David Walker, whose "Appeal to the Coloured Citizens of the World' resulted in a $10,000 bounty being placed on his head. In 1830, Walker was found dead in the doorway of his shop.

Lerone Bennett in his book, "Before the Mayflower" wrote that during the Reconstruction Period of the late 1800's , "at least 5,000 Negroes died for their political beliefs."

Beginning in the early 20th century J. Edgar Hoover's Bureau of Investigation (later, the Federal Bureau of Investigation) targeted black leaders such as Marcus Garvey, Paul Robeson and WEB Du Bois. Later, under its Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO) many black leaders, such as Dr. Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, were targeted by massive disinformation campaigns to "prevent the rise of a black messiah who could unify and electrify the militant black nationalist movement," according to Kenneth O'Reilly in his book, "Black America: The FBI Files." COINTELPRO and its affiliate programs contributed to the deaths of many young African American leaders like Bobby Hutton of the Black Panther Party, barely 18 years old when was murdered by Oakland, CA police.

This led into the Richard Nixon Era, as his "get tough on crime" policies finished off what was left of groups like the Panthers.

Although, the COINTELPRO program had been "officially" over for more than a decade, during the the early stages of the Hip Hop movement of the late 80's and early 90's, rap artists like the members of Public Enemy, Sister Souljah and Ice T were targeted for their outspoken political stances.

Although, some would like to write off the late Hip Hop artist , Tupac Shakur as just some common street thug, author John Potash makes some pretty convincing arguments in his book "The FBI War on Tupac and Black Leaders" that Shakur was not targeted by law enforcement for being a "gangsta rapper" but because of the possibility that he would follow in the footsteps of his mother, Afeni Shakur and extended family members Mutulu and Assata Shakur, who were members of the Black Liberation Army.

This is why many of the rap artists of today find it safer to rap about gangs, guns and girls instead of black empowerment.

Although, many folks (especially Conservatives) are quick to blame the various pathologies facing black youth on Hip Hop, unwed mothers and absentee fathers, they refuse to acknowledge the calculated societal factors that turned revolutionaries to gangsta rappers.

As much as people like to talk about Freedom of Speech, for black men and women speech has been anything but free as, even today, there are still consequences for daring to speak truth to power.

Whether it be sacrificing that six figure dream job with the great retirement plan or knowing that your uncompromising style of writing will never get you a Pulitzer or even that coveted columnist job at the daily paper, the price of Freedom has been too much for most to be willing to pay.

Only a choice few have been willing to put the needs of future generations above their own. Their only rewards being the possibility of pictures on postage stamps or streets in the hood named after them long after they are dead and gone.

Why go through all the hassle when it would be just as easy to look the other way and adopt "Don't Worry be Happy" as a personal mantra?

Maybe it's the voices of the ancestors that whisper to you in the still of the night, urging you to keep on, keepin' on. Or the sense of responsibility as you walk through neighborhoods filled with young men who will either wind up in jail or the grave before they are 21 years old unless some one intervenes.

Heavy is the head that wears the crown of thorns.

But how do you explain that to a 15 year old?

Perhaps Scott-Heron was right. Maybe "nobody's fighting because no one knows what to say."

As I started to wind down my lecture, the young man interrupted me, again.

"But you didn't give me an answer to my question!"

Truth is... I didn't have one.

Min.Paul Scott writes for No Warning Shots He can be reached at (919) 451-8283 or
Dedicated to the memory of those who died so I may write.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

40oz of Racism

40 ounces of Racism:
Bollings Boilermaker of a Statement

Paul Scott

Recently, Fox News' talking head, Eric Bolling complained about President Obama being in Ireland "chugging 40's" instead of TCB-ing (Taking Care of Business) on the home front in the wake of the tornado tragedy in Joplin. For those who aren't hip to the Hip Hop vernacular, a "40" is short for high octane, malt liquor, also known as "liquid crack" that comes in giant 40oz bottles.

The response from black folks?


The response from the right wingers ?


Most Conservatives are at a lost as to why a comment about the Prez sippin' on a 40 would make black folks wanna give Bolling a back-alley beat down.

Let's look at the history of the marketing of malt liquor.

For over a generation, the image of malt liquor "drankin'" has been a negative stereotype of African Americans, taking its rightful place among other stereotypes such as tap dancing, watermelon eatin' and a love affair with Colonel Sanders' extra crispy fried chicken.

This is, mostly because ,over the years, alcoholic beverage companies have targeted the black community aka "urban neighborhoods" with high powered, cheap alcohol. During the 1980's, movie star and Colt 45 spokesman Billy Dee Williams inspired a nation of future alcoholics and wanna-be Casanovas with his motivational slogan "Works Every time," alleging that one sip of the drink would land you in bed with a supermodel. In the early 90's, ST. Ides Malt Liquor recruited such Hip Hop artists as Snoop Dogg and Ice Cube, to promote a drink that would not only get you high as the sky but also increase your sexual performance, making malt liquor the forerunner of Viagra.

These marketing schemes outraged black activists during that era who launched successful campaigns against malt liquors such as "Power Master" and "Phat Boy," which came packaged in a graffiti decorated can and was laced with gensing.

Despite the success of activists in the 90's, the marketing of malt liquor continues to be a major problem facing African Americans, as the liquor companies are now targeting an even younger demographic. Recently, Pabst Brewing Company, in an attempt to elevate the Colt 45 brand back to its former glory, pulled Snoop Dogg out of the malt liquor pimp retirement home to promote "Blast by Colt 45," a new Kool Aid flavored, 12% alcohol drink that comes in colorful soda pop-like cans. The company has also used Hip Hop magazines and social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter to push the product. Blast has been nicknamed "genocide juice" because the company seems to be using malt liquor to exterminate a whole generation of African American youth.

That's not to say that white kids don't get blasted off of malt liquor. Over the last year, Four Loko malt liquor has come under fire because of college kids passing out during English Lit 101 after a night of getting Loko off the joy juice. Also, many homeboys in the vanilla suburbs like to, vicariously, experience life in Chocolate City by getting tipsy off a tall can of booze. Malt Liquor is also the featured attraction at the racist college theme parties where
frat boys put on black face and Afro wigs and boogie to old 2 Live Crew albums. However, malt liquor is still mostly marketed as a "hood drink;" the bulk of the liquor being sold in communities that suffer disproportionately, from poverty and unemployment.

So, yes, not only was Eric "Easy E" Bolling's joke tasteless and racist but the marketing of malt liquor to the black community, is racist, as well.

And if you can't see that, you need a sobriety test.

Paul Scott is a minister, activist and writer based in Durham NC. In 1997, he led a successful boycott against Phat Boy malt liquor and is currently part of a national campaign against "Blast by Colt 45" malt liquor. He can be reached at (919) 451-8283 or His blog is No Warning Shots

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Letter to Family Fare Convenience Stores

Dear Family Fare,

I was recently in several of your Durham area stores and noticed that you are selling the new high alcohol, fruit flavored malt liquor by Pabst Brewing Company , "Blast by Colt 45." As you know, many of your stores are near elementary, middle and high schools. The drink has been at the center of controversy over the past few months because, not only does it come in "soda pop-like" containers but the company is using Hip Hop superstar, Snoop Dogg to promote the product. The artist has recently appeared on such child-oriented shows such as the Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards and Black Entertainment Television's "106 and Park." This has outraged citizens across the country who feel that the product is targeting underage drinkers. Also, in 18 states, attorney generals are calling for its removal from store shelves.

It is known that Family Fare prides itself on being a respectable, family oriented business and I am sure that you will agree that this product is neither respectable nor family oriented. Therefore, we are asking for the immediate removal of "Blast" from your shelves.

Thank you,

Min. Paul Scott
PO Box 3474
Durham, NC 27702
(919) 451-8283

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Letter to NC Attorney General Roy Cooper

May 1, 2011

Attorney General’s Office
9001 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-9001

Dear Attorney General Roy Cooper,

Last April 5th, a new malt liquor was released by Pabst Brewing Company , "Blast by Colt 45." The liquor contains 12% alcohol and comes in fruity flavors that will appeal to under-aged drinkers.
Also, Pabst Brewing Company is using popular Hip Hop artist, Snoop Dogg to promote the liquor.

All across the country, politicians, activists and organizations have expressed their concern over the marketing of this product.
Recently, attorney generals in at least 19 states have called for the removal of the product from store shelves in their states.

Unfortunately, North Carolina is not one of the states represented.

Therefore, I am asking you to join the other attorney generals in demanding that this product be taken out of the neighborhoods of North Carolina. As the president of the National Association of Attorney Generals, your stand will encourage other states to follow suit and send a strong message to Pabst Brewing Company that North Carolina will not allow a product to enter its borders that is, potentially, dangerous to our young people.

Thank you,

Minister Paul Scott
Durham, NC
(919) 451-8283