Twisting in the Wind
By: Staff Thursday, August 2, 2007
Yo, have you heard of a rapper named "Twista?" As with many in the hip-hop industry, his chants are full of violence and ho, ho, ho's, with no connection to the Yule season. He liberally throws around the "N-word," which I believe the NAACP wants banned, and often mentions shooting people to death with guns. He's quite a fellow.

So, naturally, the McDonald's corporation, which features a clown as a pitchman and has installed playgrounds in front of many stores, hired "Twista" to appear on a promotional concert tour. But many people were not "lovin' it." They loudly protested the hiring so, after a few days, McDonald's fired the guy.

At first glance, this is no big deal. A major corporation makes a dopey decision and then wises up. Happens all the time. But looking deeper, there are some very troubling things in play here.

There is no question that McDonald's markets its food to families and younger people. "Twista" appeals to a young demographic, but his product is so disturbing that you have to wonder what kind of corporate executive could possibly think it would be appropriate for any mass market presentation.

But, sadly, some people do not think saying the "F-word" dozens of times in a three-minute recording is inappropriate. Nor do they see any harm in glorifying drug use or demeaning women. That attitude is a significant change in our country in the past few years.

Far more importantly, however, is the effect "Twista" and his fellow thug rappers are having on race relations. In the 1960s and '70s, when civil rights advancements were being made all over the country, black athletes and entertainers were almost all positive role models.

As a kid growing up in the all-white suburb of Levittown, New York, I loved baseball player Willie Mays and I couldn't get enough of the Motown sound. I bought every Temptations and Four Tops record as soon as I could.

So, when I heard some nasty stuff about blacks from Neanderthals in my neighborhood, I didn't get it. Willie Mays was terrific. Bill Russell was phenomenal. If you didn't like Aretha Franklin, there was something wrong with you.

I remember challenging the bias by asking, "You don't even know any black people. Why are you ripping them?" I never got a clear answer to that question from the anti-black constituency in Levittown.

In my estimation, the sports and musical success of black Americans back then greatly aided the fight for equality. I'm sure millions of American kids like me rejected bigotry because of what we saw in the media: blacks doing good things and adding fun to our lives.

But today if you turn on the music channels and even Black Entertainment Television, you see vile things. Does this combat or reinforce negative African-American stereotypes? You know the answer to that question.

So "Twista" and his twisted brethren may seem to be a minor annoyance but, in reality, they are negatively impacting the entire country. Their garbage helps no one. They don't deserve a break today. Or any other day.