The Difference Between Paranoid and Suspicious

April 14, 2008

A quick one on why Alicia Keys is the Reverend Wright of Hip-Hop.

Background links:

  • Alicia Keys Interview
  • CNN on MLK and the FBI
  • FBI blackmail letter to MLK


    Posted by jsmooth995 at April 14, 2008 7:46 AM

    I don't think she was wrong commenting the way she did. I just don't know if her career is going to last too long considering how easily offended black communities are towards this sorta thing, especially those who love Gangsta Rap.

    Posted by: Matthew Milam at April 14, 2008 8:33 AM

    Funny if Erykah Badu was quoted saying the same thing that Alicis Keys said, it wouldn't gotten any attention. Since Alicia is more "mainstream", there's an expectation that she sticks to the script. It seems that the only people who can speak out and not have it affect their career are people who were always considered "crazy" or people who have so much money and power that they have nothing to lose.

    Posted by: Nichelle at April 14, 2008 9:03 AM

    Y2K the end of the world!! You kill me Jay.

    I didn't catch the Keyes bit until you pointed it out and I agree with you. She is wrong but, not crazy. Well, not crazy for saying what she said, perhaps for other things. I do however feel that it is calling out race in a negative, much the same as Wright did. This coming from a woman with a white mother is a bit confusing to me but, whatever. Like the future President said, We all need to forgive each other and begin to move on together. Comments like Keyes made aren't exactly helping that cause. This is mainly due to the fact that white media (Fox News) will pick this up and put a negative spin on it (if it reaches that far, I don't know). It's ok to think certain things that are like that but, coming out and saying them, maybe not such a good idea.

    Posted by: Mike at April 14, 2008 9:04 AM

    I still wonder why it is people considered Tupac and Biggie potential black leaders...

    Granted as lyricists and musicians they were incredibly influential and gifted individuals, but given their overall portrayals, both in media and in their own music, how were they in any way fit to lead the black community?

    It's like Al Capone being considered a politician. It's one thing when we choose someone qualified to lead, it's another when we blindly aggrandize people like these posthumously.

    Brilliant rappers? Yes. Leaders? No.

    Posted by: Kellen at April 14, 2008 9:29 AM

    The problem I have with Alicia Keys comments is the same problem I have with a lot of racial conspiracy theories. They're just really unlikely at this stage of American openness. Sure, we're still a country built on secrets and oppression, but have you noticed how many things get "leaked" to the press. The current administration couldn't keep a lid on anything they wanted to much less something as explosive as what Alicia is suggesting. The government is no longer competent enough to manage keeping a conspiracy as far reaching as the one she is talking about a secret. I agree that she is NOT crazy, it's just sad that someone with such a high platform as she has can't say something that would be more helpful rather (like discussing actual problems of race in New Orleans's rebuilding) than conspiratorial in a time when the government can't even keep secret European prisons under wraps.

    Posted by: Knots at April 14, 2008 9:29 AM

    when I hear stuff like this, it always brings up the chicken-and-the-egg question. did gangsta rap give rise to gangsta culture or did gangsta culture give rise to gangsta rap? regardless, I doubt the conspiracy goes as deep as AK wants us to believe. "gangsta rap" as an orchestrated genre was a ploy to make money on a reality-based fantasy. and that's a conspiracy that has succeeded for a long long time.

    as always, you're the best.

    btw, where are all the 2012 rappers at?

    Posted by: consumatron at April 14, 2008 9:31 AM

    I'm so glad you spoke about the Key's interview, as i don't think I would've heard about it otherwise. My respect for her just got a significant boost from that, knowing that she's actually paying attention to the world around her and is actively seeking to build leadership in the black community.

    Understandably suspicious is a good way to put it.

    Posted by: whittles at April 14, 2008 11:32 AM

    mmm..Never thought about it like that....

    Posted by: stealthgator at April 14, 2008 11:54 AM

    I agree with what you said Jay.
    Mrs. Hoover was a far worse threat than the stuff that Alica said. She may be a little over zealous with it but I'm sure she isn't the only one that thinks this way. If you study history, you can see that the government isn't as white washed (in the innocence sense, not race)as it wants to claim.

    I watched the documentary King on the History Channel and there is proof that Hoover sent tapes of Dr. King with other women to Coretta. I mean, malicious, hateful stuff that this organization did and no one wants to publicly discuss this!

    I agree with the poster above, I'm not sure why everyone feels that Tupac and Biggie are the martyred poster boys of rap.

    Posted by: Cynthia at April 14, 2008 12:43 PM

    Very well stated. Just because COINTELPRO was outed in 1971 doesn't mean they could continue their activities in another fashion.

    Is Keys wrong? Probably.

    Is there no way that something sinister was occurring behind the scenes? Probably not.

    Does that make her crazy? Ask Gnarls Barkley.

    Posted by: Bedirhan at April 14, 2008 1:37 PM

    The problem I have with Alicia Keys comments is the same problem I have with a lot of racial conspiracy theories. They're just really unlikely at this stage of American openness.

    Uh, Knots? The gov't (with the help of the Nat'l Institute of Health) were using poor black and brown foster kids as HIV-medicine guinea pigs as recently as 2005. Things may be a little more open, but that hasn't stopped the U.S. from doing dirty ish.

    Posted by: thewayoftheid at April 14, 2008 4:08 PM

    Every minority in this nation in my opinion is there you got a point...and i think the gov't wants us to be real comfortable and forget that way when it comes up again (conspiracies) we wont be ready to or have the capacity to understand what is happening

    Posted by: Q Minus at April 14, 2008 10:05 PM

    What's crazy is that I just started reading a book on COINTELPRO, or as I like to call it, The PATRIOT Act, Part 1.

    You seem to have an uncanny ability to post vlogs on subjects that I'm reading about. WTF?

    Posted by: Wendy at April 15, 2008 1:26 AM

    Crazy always needs some context for perspective. Great post, Smooth.

    Posted by: crj74 at April 15, 2008 1:55 AM

    aight. an ACCURATE explanation of the difference. nice.

    Posted by: Jaz at April 15, 2008 11:33 AM

    I'm going to second that disgreement with Knots. And to Cynthia, I ask, was Mrs. a typo, or are you likening Hoover to a woman as a means to tear him down a peg, b/c that would be pretty crappy.

    Seriously, I love this vlog, Jay!

    Posted by: kissmypineapple at April 15, 2008 4:16 PM

    You said it yourself... the facts don't support these assertions.

    This post-60s leftover political paradigm has more minds in a stranglehold than any conspirators in the government or corporations.

    The real threat here is that activists and concerned citizens often prefer to indulge in fantasies of persecution than accepting the fact that lasting change is almost always achieved through unglamorous, piecemeal, gradual, and patient dedication to SPECIFIC social, political, and economic issues, activities, and resources.

    I would say these paranoid views stem primarily from a sense of powerlessness. The prevailing outlook of the Civil Rights era was clearly not powerlessness. Thus, I would argue that this "paranoia" is actually somewhat of a new phenomenon. Sure, people of the Civil Rights era were aware of the very real conspiracies and their consequences... but the focus was kept where it should be: on the issues and on ACHIEVABLE and WELL-DEFINED goals.

    Bringing it full circle... this is why the "black community" is not currently a "threat" to the "man"... because people are not focused on ACHIEVABLE and WELL-DEFINED goals.

    Posted by: eric at April 16, 2008 3:11 AM

    Some perspective in this crazy mixed up world is always needed.

    Posted by: shanio at April 16, 2008 9:31 AM

    if we're going to give the fbi props for their "counter-revolutionay" work, lets not forget the fbi's infiltration of another notorious and militant gang, the kkk.

    Posted by: at April 16, 2008 12:23 PM

    Great commentary Jay. Today's youth need a black history lesson quick. Hopefully some of these singers such as Alicia Keys and even the rappers will see their voice is needed to drop some knowledge.

    Keep sharing the history on your page. If we don't share it, who will?

    More information on J Edgar Hoover

    Posted by: Jennifer at April 16, 2008 6:41 PM

    eric: Right, this is topic of my follow up video if I ever do it. My problem with conspiracy theories is not that they're crazy, just that they are unproductive and distract us from finding practical solutions to our many straightforward, non-conspiratorial problems.

    I think "the system", for the most part, works against us in straightforward ways that don't require any secret conspiracy.

    Posted by: Jay Smooth at April 16, 2008 6:50 PM

    Whenever they want to discount a theory, it comes from the mouths of babes.

    Posted by: johnnyunitus at April 16, 2008 7:36 PM

    Alicia has issued a clarification statement and also spoke on air with Ryan Seacrest to clear this up, it's just what we thought, her comments were misinterpreted and taken out of context.

    And about Tupac, here's an example of how he could have become more than just a rapper if he chose to become political

    Tupac had learned of activism from his mom and others as he grew up. If he wanted to change the world, he was more than capable.

    Posted by: tee at April 17, 2008 12:47 AM

    I would never suggest that the government won't do dirty shit. But you proved my point, in regards to using poor kids as HIV-medicine guinea pigs as recently as 2005. the point is we KNOW about it. And we know about it publicly within 3 years of it happening. Do you think anyone outside the FBI and the inner ring of the civil rights movement knew about the awful shit they where doing within ten years of it happening?

    Posted by: Knots at April 17, 2008 11:53 AM

    Knots. Prior to the full legal status (and protection) of racial minorities, I guess we could say that "institutional racism" was one big open conspiracy (albeit with many somewhat obscured conspiracies). So while some of these activities might have been secret, they were far from unexpected.

    I think it is safe to say that the things we consider to be "conspiracies" (esp. from the civil rights era) were simply extensions of the racial status quo of the time. Racism was simply the status quo.

    Most people of the Civil Rights era maintained a certain level of optimism in the face of this status quo. I'm not saying people were naive or unrealistic. They simply understood that America was ready for change and they were willing to sacrifice and lead that change.

    I think today it is the opposite. We accept those changes that are inevitable, but shy away from changes that seem unrealistic.

    The difference is optimism.

    I agree with Jay that 99% of the problems we face are open, well-known, and well-documented. And the solutions have been well-articulated (usually it is an issue of resource allocation).

    Even if there are some very real conspiracies, it shouldn't change the strategies one bit. Access to education, health care, and economic opportunities (along with criminal justice reforms) are the big issues of our time.

    Posted by: eric at April 17, 2008 1:59 PM

    'Most people of the Civil Rights era maintained a certain level of optimism in the face of this status quo' -
    Must not talk to a lot of older brothers.

    '99% of the problems we face are open, well-known, and well-documented'
    - The frog asks, How can you know what you don't know?
    If Martin Luther King were around today, he would be in jail for incitement and been held responsible for injuries or deaths occurring during any march he incited, in accordance with the patriot act.

    'Prior to the full legal status (and protection) of racial minorities'
    Which is true except in a magical place called booking...

    Ho ho ho
    Green Giant

    Posted by: divisivejones at April 17, 2008 3:16 PM

    Listen to her clarify what she meant and how it was misintrepreted:

    Posted by: tee at April 18, 2008 9:22 AM

    "Must not talk to a lot of older brothers".

    - No one is saying "older brothers" don't complain, or aren't jaded, or disgruntled. But just as often I hear "older brothers" complaining about the behavior or attitudes of "younger brothers".

    "99% of the problems we face are open..."

    - I know it was somewhat of an ironic devil's advocation, but your response does touch on the subject of paranoia. The comment suggests that the greatest threat might be hidden. When, in fact, the biggest problems (see slavery) are usually written into the very laws by which we are bound.

    " status and protection..."

    - It's all relative. And you'll notice I mentioned criminal justice reforms in my last sentence.

    I definitely appreciate your response. It brings up some KEY issues and outlooks.

    Posted by: eric at April 18, 2008 1:09 PM

    The CIA actually believed that the civil rights movement was instigated by russian intelligence to promote a communist agenda.

    Stupid paranoid, well said Jay.

    source: Tim Weiner "Legacy Of Ashes"

    Posted by: Foreign Guy at June 8, 2008 6:38 AM

    Helpful blog, bookmarked the website with hopes to read more!

    Posted by: roclafamilia at October 21, 2010 3:58 AM

    How could have fox put a negative spin on this? It's already negative. Think people.

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