RUTH Minista Paul Scott ~
March 3, 1991. What started off as just another case of a brotha gettin' beat
down by the Po Po, would set off a chain of events that would forever change
the socio-political dynamics of America, especially for the Hip Hop
Although, they beating of Rodney King by four Los Angeles police officers
happened 20 years ago, the shock waves from the event are still being felt
today. To grasp the gravity of the situation one has to look at it in
The period of the late 80's was,possibly,the most revolutionary since the
'60's, as the combination of Reaganomics and racial incidents such as the
Virginia Beach and Crown Heights incidents had pushed America, once again to
the brink of revolution. There was also a cultural revolution happening ion
America, where Black youth were rediscovering the works of heroes such as
Malcolm X and Huey P. Newton. The rapidly maturing Hip Hop genre also began
to absorb the changes as the party music of the early 80's began to become
what Public Enemy front-man, Chuck D, coined "The CNN of Black America."
While the music previously was seen as fad and just a blip on the radar
screen of middle America, the idea of rebelling "ghetto youth" using rap
music as an unregulated form of information dissemination sent shock
America's political foundation.
This is not the first time that the rising collective voice of "the silent
minority" became a matter of national security.
According to the March 21, 1993 edition of the Memphis Commercial Appeal, in
1917, a Lt Col. Ralph Van Deman created the Army's black spy network, which
snitched on black organizations, even black churches. The article names
Robert Morton of Booker T. Washington's Tuskegee Institute and Joel Spingarn,
one of the founders of the NAACP,as operatives in the spy network.
In the book, "Heard it Through the Grapevine," Patricia A. Turner wrote that
"rumor clinics" were set up during World War II to "prevent potentially
adverse hearsay of all sorts from gaining credibility."
Also, although the FBI's COINTELPRO is the best known of the "dirty trick"
operations of the Civil Rights /Black Power Era, Clay Risen, in his book "A
Nation On Fire: "America in the Wake of the King Assassination," wrote about
the Army Operations Center and" its first operations plan for national
disturbances, code named Steep Hill." Risen also talks about the U.S. Army
Intelligence Command (USAINTC) which included 1000 agents "around tthe
country whose job was to spy on militants and "monitor indicators of imminent
The entertainment industry was not immune of the fear of a black uprising. In
Peter Doggett's book, "There's a Riot Going On" he wrote about how James
Brown was hired by the mayor of Boston , Kevin White, to throw a concert the
night after the King murder to keep the natives calm.
From the very beginning it has been clear that America's fear was not the
thugs in the street stealing hubcaps but the fear that they may become
politicized, intelligent hoodlums. So on April 29, 1992, the day the police
officers were acquitted of beating King, the apparatus was already in place
to deal with young "urban" youth who were chanting Hip Hop lyrics
challenging the system as their mantra.
As, rebellions took place in cities across the country, even the watchful eye
of the Fed's underestimated the politicizing of the youth courtesy of rap
lyrics. The site of "gangstas" articulating the political ideologies of
Frantz Fanon on Night-line caught politicians with their pants down.
According, to the May 11, 1992 Time Magazine article "How TV failed to Get
the Real Picture" it was reported that LA mayor Tom Bradley "requested" that
in the midst of the chaos that the highly rated "Cosby Show:" air as an
exercise in "crisis counter-programming." However, this was not 1986 and
black youth were more responsive to the voices of the X-Clan, than they were
"Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable."
So, another form of "crisis counter-programing" had to be developed that
would insure that rebellions like what happened in LA would never happen
Even before the LA Rebellion, President George Bush had instituted the "Weed
and Seed Program" which many residents of Los Angeles, such as those
interviewed in the book "Uprisng" by Yusef Jah and Sister Shah Keyah
considered a spy operation. The official purpose of weed and seed was to
"weed" out gang members and in their places "seed"the hood with community
So, we see the same strategy was used in Hip Hop as the biggest threat to
this country's racial hegemony " conscious rappers" were weeded out and the
industry was seeded with "gangsta" rappers.
One can clearly see how the careers of early conscious rappers suffered
because of their courage to speak truth to power. However, the "gangster
rappers" of the period became multi-millionaires and were rewarded with movie
scripts and endorsement deals.
It is against this historical backdrop that two major post-LA Rebellion
developments took place.
First the "no snitching" ethos was taken out of its historical context and
was been replaced with a scapegoat for black on black violence and the
demonization of entire black neighborhoods. Conveniently forgotten were the
various government sponsored snitch operations that had plagued the black
community for decades.h
More important is the overall anti-political direction of commercial Hip Hop,
where, instead of "Cosby" crisis programming, the Hip Hop artists are now
part of preemptive crisis programming, where the minds of the youth are
distracted by such things as face tattoos This can help to explain, in part,
why the incidents of police brutality in cities such as Cincinnati, New York,
Oakland and Houston generated relatively little outcry.
Some may argue that times have changed and the season of "fighting the power"
is a part of a bygone era.
However, with incidents of global outrage taking place from Egypt to
Wisconsin, maybe not.
Perhaps Ice Cube was right when he once rapped ," April 29th brought power to
the people, and we just might see a sequel."
Only the 'hood knows....
TRUTH Minista Paul Scott can be reached at (919) 451-8283 or
Article courtesy of the Militant Mind Militia
Posted by TheBlackList – http://www.theblacklistpub.nin.com
What I listen to and what I say is the future that I am living into.