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A Challenging Analysis of Black America
[FINAL Edition]
The Washington Post - Washington, D.C.
Subjects: Behavior; Social conditions & trends; African Americans; Poverty; Illiteracy
Author: Milloy, Courtland
Date: Mar 21, 2004
Start Page: C.01
Section: METRO

"Here's something that's curious about hip-hop to me," [Gates Jr.] said. "Seventy percent of hip-hop culture is consumed by suburban whites. What's the difference between white kids and black kids?

"The popularity of hip-hop trades off of voyeurism, right? So you're watching something illicit in a keyhole. The white kids watch illicit sexual activity in the keyhole, and they go back to their rooms and do their algebra and go to Harvard. The black kids, somehow, are trying to crawl through the keyhole. What I'm trying to figure out is why our kids, metaphorically, want to crawl through that keyhole and embrace those modes of behavior as authentically black. It is killing our people. And it makes me sick."

"Our leaders are geniuses at jumping on white racism when it manifests itself. And believe me, I don't want anybody to be confused -- when anti-black racism by anybody manifests itself, I'll be right there pouncing on it, too. But unless we do the second, necessary, act of leadership, which is to critique pathological forms of behavior with any African American community, our people will be doomed, doomed to perpetuate the class divide . . . which has arisen since that terrible day in 1968."

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