The other night on LoveLine, I heard Dr. Drew explain matter-of-factly that long-term use of marijuana can lead to extreme paranoia, so extreme that it often needs strong anti-psychotic drugs to treat it. I wonder if that’s the case with Nas, at least from what I saw as I watched his live interview with CNN at the Grammys.
Not only does Nas, his wife Kelis and his crew come in wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the sometimes in/sometimes taboo word “Nigger” in promotion of his album bearing the same name, he spouts off that he’s concerned about getting a president elected that will abolish a law that would take voting rights away from blacks in 23 years.
What he’s referring to is the Voting Rights Act of 1956. But I’m not really sure why he’s so freaked out about it now, since the urban myth that its expiration would take voting rights away from blacks circulated years ago.
As explained by About.com’s Urban Legends:
The kernel of truth in the text is that the Voting Rights Act of 1965 is indeed set to expire unless it is renewed by Congress before 2007. The rest of it is false. The basic right of all American citizens to vote, regardless of race, is guaranteed in the Bill of Rights and can’t expire with the Voting Rights Act. The NAACP addressed this issue in a statement quoted in the November 19, 1998 issue of the Internet Tourbus:
African American voting rights were granted by the Fifteenth Amendment, which was passed immediately after the Civil War. Expiration of the Voting Rights Act will not terminate the rights granted under the Fifteenth Amendment.
The U.S. Department of Justice concurs. In its “Voting Rights Act Clarification” dated April 2, 1998, it states:
The basic prohibition against discrimination in voting contained in the Fifteenth amendment and in the Voting Rights Act does not expire in 2007 ‚Äî it does not expire at all; it is permanent.
Don’t trust About.com? OK, here’s the scoop from the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund, back in 2004:
Myths are circulating that African Americans will lose their right to vote in 2007, or that the Voting Rights Act expires in 2007. These rumors are false. The right of African Americans and of all citizens to vote free of discrimination based on race or color is guaranteed by the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and does not expire.
The Voting Rights Act itself, which was enacted by Congress to enforce the right to vote without discrimination, does not expire. However, certain important provisions of the Voting Rights Act, which have enhanced the opportunities for African Americans and other minority groups to vote effectively, will expire if not renewed by Congress in 2007. The 2007 reauthorization process is a critical opportunity for those who believe in greater political participation to mobilize.
OK. So can we let this rumor/myth/fallacy lay to rest now? You would think a rapper with as much money as Nas would actually look into such rumors, or at least have someone look into it for him, before spouting off on it on live TV. The video cut it off, but CNN’s Tony Harris, who happens to be black, looked mighty skeptic and said something funny as the reporter tossed it back to him.
There’s also the issue of him using the word Nigger for the name of his new album and wearing it for the Grammys. I personally do not use the word myself, nor does my husband, and I tend to flinch upon hearing it. But its a free country, so if you want to be known as the “Nigger” with the “nigger” music, hey, more power to you. Although, Nas has a different explanation for the name of his album:
“Its all the experiences we go through every day, of all ethnicities, Black, White, indifferent. We‚Äôve all at some point felt discriminated on, whether its in Dominican Republic, whether its in China, whether its in Iraq with soldiers getting their heads blown off for reasons we don‚Äôt know why,‚Äù he reasoned. ‚ÄúThe meaning of the word is supposed to be ignorant.‚Äù
‚ÄúSo no longer are Black people still n****rs, its also me and you,‚Äù Nas said to the White CNN correspondent.
Right. I’m not entirely sure about the meaning of the slur being ignorant, unless you’re talking about the black youth who sling the word carelessly without knowing its cultural significance and history. You just keep doing what you do, Nas, and don’t be calling me names, mmmkay?