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Gangsta Rap and the Public Good

Civitas, 14 October 2004

As a rule, Afro-American rap artists are not a group noted for the profundity of their political insight. The wording used by one in an advertisement for an employee reveals him as something of an exception.
Today’s London Times reports Sean “P Diddy” Combs as having advertised for a new butler by declaring himself looking for a white man. ‘I am an equal opportunities employer’, he is reported as having claimed.
On one level, Mr Combs’ advertisement exhibits no more than the sort of anti-white animus all too frequently voiced in the lyrics of his musical fraternity. What Mr Combs appears to be indicating is that he would prefer being served by a white man than by a black man so that he would then be able to triumph over someone of the colour of those who for so long subordinated to themselves those of his own colour. Since to express any such preference openly would violate anti-discrimination employment law, Mr Combs seems to be wittily exploiting the language of affirmative action to get away with doing so. In this way, he seems also to be cocking a further snook at whitey through openly defying his laws. Not much in Mr Combs’ advertisement for a classical liberal to admire, you might think. And were that all there was to it you would be right.


However, there seems more to it. In phrasing his advertisement as he did, Mr Combs is only pretending to be voicing anti-white animus. All who know him will know he is not the slightest bit anti-white, and he knows this. Only because he does is he able to openly voice such a seemingly racist sentiment.
In reality, what Mr. Combs’ advertisement seems to be voicing animus towards is not whites but all bleeding–heart left-leaning liberals who consider themselves free of racism but who reveal themselves tainted by it in supporting the use of affirmative action on behalf of minorities such as his. In playfully using the language of affirmative action to pretend to express anti-white racial prejudice, what Mr Combs seems to be doing is draw attention to the covert racism of all who feel resort to it necessary if minorities are to succeed in the workplace. What Mr Combs seems to be suggesting is that use of such language is racist because its use betrays belief that without resort to it minorities could not succeed on merit alone.
Assuming, as seems plausible, such criticism of the race relations lobby is what really lies behind the form of words used in Mr Combs’ advertisement, and is the reason why it is so amusing, he is to be applauded rather than condemned for having so skilfully exploited the language of affirmative action to draw attention to its shortcomings.
Respec’ bro’, as one day we might all be forced to say in the name of diversity!

1 comment on “Gangsta Rap and the Public Good”

  1. He probably just wants an old-fashioned butler; that sort of thing is very trendy these days in that world.
    If you ever watch ‘Cribs’ on MTV, where rich American rock and rap stars show off their houses, it’s amazing how traditional and snooty their houses and lifestyles are (at least, until the evening party starts).
    I saw one show where there was a rapper who, when his career started to take off, said he swore never to leave the ghetto no matter how rich he got. And he said he really meant it, at the time. But not long after the money started pouring in, he somehow found himself buying a fancy house in a nice part of town.

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