You Know What This Racist Party Needs? Photographic Evidence on the Internet!

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There was a brief, silly controversy at my alma mater one year when the cafeteria menu for Martin Luther King Day included fried chicken. It wasn't quite as controversial as this:

Authorities at Tarleton State University said they plan to investigate a Martin Luther King Jr. Day party that mocked black stereotypes by featuring fried chicken, malt liquor and faux gang apparel.

Photographs posted on social networking Web site Facebook.com showed partygoers wearing Afro wigs and fake gold and silver teeth. One photo showed students "mocking how African-Americans do step shows," Elder said. In another picture, a student is dressed as Aunt Jemima and carries a gun.

"That upsets me," Elder said. "That's someone who knows nothing about Dr. King, because Dr. King was totally about nonviolence."

The school responded with—what else?—a huge forum about diversity and "bridging a divide between black and white students."

Elder said he sensed a racial divide at the forum, with black students sitting on one side of the room and whites on the other.

In other words, just like every other event on any campus. They probably missed an opportunity by not scheduling a massive Ms. Peachez concert.

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  1. What’s a “step show”?

  2. I’m sure glad we live in a country where racism isn’t a problem anymore.

  3. No link to facebook?

    Dr. King was totally about nonviolence…

    MLK may have been non-violent but every time he gave a speech somewhere there was three days of rioting. He may have walked the walk but his followers certainly didn’t.

  4. My house at a mid-size southern private university hosted an annual “thug” party centered around the gangsta image. It was hugely popular, nobody complained, and a significant portion of the school’s black population regularly attended. The only material difference I see here is that ours was centered around 2Pac and this one is MLK. So either the change in name association makes it racist or it just isn’t racist. The latter seems more logical.

  5. MLK may have been non-violent but every time he gave a speech somewhere there was three days of rioting.

    What?

  6. jf, that was great, I didn’t see it the first time through.

    Joe, I get your point, racism is alive and well in the US and it is never going away entirely. You can legislate it, repudiate it, throw people in jail for using derogatory racist language, educate them, make fun of them, or any thing else you want and you will not entirely get rid of it.

    The lesson of this incident is that racism is isolated, not commonplace. It’s newsworthy precisely because crap like this doesn’t happen often.

    The other thing is that racism isn’t evenly distributed. There’s more of it some places than others and it’s directed at different ethnicities depending upon where you are. It’s not a smothering blanket of grey covering the entire American populace.

    I think we can safely say that racism isn’t all that much of a problem any more. I can’t recall the last lynching of a black man. In fact, I think gays have more to worry about in that respect than blacks.

  7. Six, you never heard about all those riots in the sixties?

  8. What!!! No watermellon? Damn, y’all!

  9. and a significant portion of the school’s black population regularly attended.

    I wonder if that’s true for the party at Tarleton. If not, I’d say that’s a significant difference.

  10. TWC- Of course I did. While I wasn’t there (I was born a decade or so too late), I’ve made a fairly serious amateur study of the Civil Rights movement. While there certainly were riots, they tended to occur later on in the era, and I certainly don’t recall there being riots 3 days later every time Dr. King spoke. When the movement was dominated by the SLLC, and later the NAACP, violence by blacks was minimal. At that point, the worst violence was done by whites, who often acted with the tacit consent of local governments. Remember, for example, the footage of peaceful black kids getting the shit beaten out of them by white men at lunch counters. Often, you can see the cops standing in the background, quietly observing.

    While I don’t dispute that there were riots, or condone them, I question the correlation you offered.

  11. “MLK may have been non-violent but every time he gave a speech somewhere there was three days of rioting.”

    …by his enemies, aimed at his followers.

    “Six, you never heard about all those riots in the sixties?”

    I’ve certainly heard of the race riots of the 60s. None of them were remotely connected with any marches or speeches by Dr. King.

    Great Ape,

    Do you not see a difference between dressing like a stereotypical black gangsta at a party with a gangsta theme, and dressing like a stereotypical black gangsta at a party with a Martin Luther King theme? Really?

    Let’s say I had a “hayseed”-themed party, and everyone wore bib overalls and no shoes, and there were lots of Rebel flags about. Now let’s say I had a George W. Bush-themed party, and lots of people attended in bib overalls and no shoes, and there were lots of Rebel flags about. See the difference?

  12. I’m sure glad we live in a country where racism isn’t a problem anymore.

    I think a better measure of the ‘problem’ (or maybe progress) isn’t the kinds of bigoted things that happen, but the general reaction. For example, that guy who called his costar (tv doctor show?) a faggot. He’s announced he’s going to therapy to cure his problem. Open homophobia and racism can kill a career. So, that’s good.

  13. Open homophobia and racism can kill a career. So, that’s good

    Maybe in Hollywood….yet it could make you a beloved politician in many parts of the country.

    Go Bears!

  14. I don’t get the critique in this article: is the author suggesting that the university should not have done anything? Or that there was a better solution?

  15. Oh, now I see:

    So, where do you find step shows? Everywhere. Although African American Greek fraternities and sororities originally helped to develop the popularity of the step shows, they are spreading across the country and around the world. From campus organizations and church groups to high schools and local communities, more and more people are becoming involved in stepping.

    And, um, mocking stepping.

  16. “Stepping”? Did the word “dance” suddenly drop out of the language?

    Although I suppose “stepping” is a hell of a lot shorter to say than, “Urban Modern Dance” or something in a similar vein.

  17. Did any post the pics yet? Here they are.

  18. . . . mocked black stereotypes . . .

    If you can’t mock stereotypes, what can you mock?

    And is there a better way of draining stereotypes of whatever power they have, than mockery?

    Open homophobia and racism can kill a career. So, that’s good

    Maybe in Hollywood….yet it could make you a beloved politician in many parts of the country.

    Lets have one example of someone who is openly racist and a beloved politician, anywhere in the country, in 2007.

    Other than some of the current “civil rights” leaders of course, who have been openly racist for decades and still somehow maintain their credibility.

    I’m not saying there are no racist white politicians (a few ex-Klan members leap to mind), only that we have at least gotten to the point where people are embarrassed by, and punished for, open racism.

  19. Lets have one example of someone who is openly racist and a beloved politician, anywhere in the country, in 2007

    Nice of you to conveniently ignore the “homophobic” part of the quote I was responding to.

    I guess that’s because homophobia is plank in the GOP’s platform.

    But let’s see, off the top of my head…George Allen was pretty beloved by a pretty big chunk of his state. Yeah sure he lost…but only be a razor thin margin and I don’t think it’s the racism that was his only undoing.

    I’m not saying there are no racist white politicians (a few ex-Klan members leap to mind), only that we have at least gotten to the point where people are embarrassed by, and punished for, open racism.

    Maybe in some parts of the country…but not all — but feel free to try and pretend this isn’t so.

    Go Bears!

  20. On a side note, I must confess that I miss the days when it was assumed that if you went to college, you were pretty smart. Obviously, there is no reason to assume this anymore.

  21. Based on those pictures, I’d have to say:

    1: Those are the whitest-white boys (er… white persons, sorry) I’ve ever seen. 40’s of Budweiser? That ain’t gangsta!

    2: Based on thier lack of understanding of the culture they’re satirizing, I’d say there is some level of racism going on.

    3: This should be a non-story, because there appear to be about seven people at this party. If this is supposed to be a greek mixer thing, these are the two crappiest greek chapters EVER.

  22. Six, you never heard about all those riots in the sixties?

    Yeah, there was Harlem ’64; what was the MLK speech that preceded it? Watts ’65. Preceded by an MLK speech? Nope. Cleveland ’66? Not there either. Detroit and Newark ’67? Nope. Washington, etc. in April ’68. Well, yeah, I guess there was his “been to the mountaintop” speech in Memphis, but I don’t think that had so much to do with the riots as the fact that some peckerwood killed him the next day.

    Oh, yeah, there was some windowbreaking in Memphis at the tail end of a march King led in support of the striking garbage workers a couple of days before he was shot. Is that what you were referring to? Not a speech, not three days of riots. Got anything better than that? Nah, didn’t think so.

  23. Six, yes that was a flippant wise ass remark. In the calm and reasoned detachment that decades provide, the correlation is, as you say, not that specific. But in the day that was a comment you heard muttered often. Even by those who were somewhat sympathetic to the movement.

    I have pretty vivid memories of the riots, which you pointed out, were largely confined to the late 1960’s and not earlier eras.

    South Central has never recovered what it once had. IMO the best portrayal of that pre-riot era in LA was done by Denzel Washington in Devil In A Blue Dress. That image is important particularly because it is in such sharp contrast with the horrific violence against blacks you cite that was a fixture in the South.

    We didn’t see that in California where I grew up. We saw black families using the same sidewalks and the same drinking fountains. I went to school with black kids. The discrimination that existed after the war was not institutionalized by law like Jim Crow.

  24. Taktix: and it looked as though they couldn’t scrounge up the $25 to go see the Offspring. At least we know which college Michael Bolton attended…

    Go Bears!

  25. So all they did was a diversity forum? Wow… normally they would kick out the offenders, or punish them in some other way, since freedom of speech does not apply to [insert whatever speech the university president does not like] speech.

  26. Joe if you had a hayseed party where people wore overalls and no shoes, that would just be an accurate representation of a normal day at Tarleton.

  27. But let’s see, off the top of my head…George Allen was pretty beloved by a pretty big chunk of his state. Yeah sure he lost…but only be a razor thin margin and I don’t think it’s the racism that was his only undoing.

    I thought we were talking about “open” racism. The “macaca” comment was one that Allen’s own listeners didn’t understand until it was explained to them by journalists who ferreted out one possible meaning.

    Now if you want to argue that Allen is a racist who keeps his sentiments under control most of the time but accidentally let them out that time, you can do so, but you can’t at the same time argue that he’s an example of a beloved practitioner of “open racism.”

  28. Did any post the pics yet? Here they are.

    Wow. That bunch has either a lame understanding of the word offensive or they’re just not trying.

  29. “None of them were remotely connected with any marches or speeches by Dr. King.”

    That’s not true, joe. There were riots associated with the Memphis sanitation strike and march and at least a couple others (don’t remember specifics of the others). See a new book called Going Down Jericho Road by Michael Honey about the Memphis riot.

    As far as I understand they were quite rare though….

  30. I don’t get the critique in this article: is the author suggesting that the university should not have done anything?

    I can’t speak for the author, but I’d say that, until we get around to repealing that pesky First Amendment, or decide that symbolic speech doesn’t get First Amendment protections, nothing is exactly what a state university should have done. (See, e.g., IOTA XI Chapter of Sigma Chi Fraternity v. George Mason University, 993 F.2d 386 (4th Cir. 1993.)

  31. I’m pretty sure I offended some Romans when I ill-advisedly attended a toga party. There were no recriminations or subsequent focus groups. We all just felt stupid and embarrassed. Probably like the dolts in those pictures.

  32. What the heck? After reading the post and perusing the photos I can’t for the life of me figure out what any of this has to do with racism? It was a freakin’ theme party, and was just put on in good fun. Big freakin’ deal. Even on a libertarian web site everyone is so freakin’ PC.

  33. Umm, when did everyone here graduate from college? When I graduate in 12/04, this is how a lot of students dressed every day. Most of them from small towns in Indiana with no black population whatsoever. When I drivbe around ASU and UA’s campuses, I see the same thing.

    Nick

  34. Heh. I actualy held a fried-chicken-and-malt-liquor MLK day party once myself. Was operating on the theory that all ethnic hero holidays eventually degenerate into stereotypical feasting – all the Italian families I knew would have pasta and tons of wine on Columbus Day, *everyone* gets shitfaced on green beer on St. Patrick’s day, etc.

  35. joe,

    The labelling of the party has everything to do with calendar. Just b/c you hold a similar party on MLK day or the anniversary of 2Pac’s death doesn’t change anything that goes on at the party theme-wise. Ours didn’t have any fried chicken, but I certainly did my best to mimic Chad Johnson’s grill.

  36. It is pretty humorous that some of their “gangsta” fashion statements are about 10-15 years old and were rocked out quite well in middle school by the white kids who hung around the “gangstas”(who were mostly hispanic) at school in my time.

    Is Colt 45 racist if their Jamaica trip promotions only show scanitly clad dark skinned women? I’m white as can be, and I have enjoyed a sixer of tall boys from time to time. Is it racist if I smoke mentholated cigarettes? And what about fried chicken? It’s also a stereotype that rednecks love it.

    Anyways, the racism displayed in those photos is a quaint racism that implies nothing more than ignorance of black culture. If it were me, I would have shown up like Chappelle’s crackhead character and dropped a deuce in the corner of the room. That’s racism I can get behind.

  37. Jose,

    I’m not trying to judge whether this incident was right or wrong, I simply am saying these guys are fucking stupid…

  38. Also,

    Captain MOAB:

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

  39. Nice of you to conveniently ignore the “homophobic” part of the quote I was responding to.

    I wasn’t ignoring it, I was admitting it.

    The only example of an “openly racist” politician you can come up with was, umm, defeated. Sorry, CT, but in my book “beloved” and “defeated” mutually exclusive.

  40. Six, yes that was a flippant wise ass remark. In the calm and reasoned detachment that decades provide, the correlation is, as you say, not that specific. But in the day that was a comment you heard muttered often. Even by those who were somewhat sympathetic to the movement/

    Which is an understandable misconception to have…in the 1960s. But we have those decades in between us, so folks can afford a little detachment, calm, and accuracy today.

  41. After reading all the comments, I can say in confidence that “we” as Americans are “all” racist or prejudice in some way, shape, or form. You don’t have to admit it, but that is reality… We can “tolerate” other cultures and people & we happen to like people(regardless of race), but looking at the big picture, “we” all are racist, ignorant Americans.

    Its never going to change because Americans are dumb and do not appreciate life or the people that surrounds them..

  42. I thought we were talking about “open” racism. The “macaca” comment was one that Allen’s own listeners didn’t understand until it was explained to them by journalists who ferreted out one possible meaning.

    Uhmmm….It isn’t just the maccaca incident. His affinity for confederate flags, and the noose that he had hung hanging on a tree in his office also come to mind. Not to mention his support for “Confederate Heritage Month”.

    The only example of an “openly racist” politician you can come up with was, umm, defeated. Sorry, CT, but in my book “beloved” and “defeated” mutually exclusive.

    I guess if you believe “beloved” can only be accurate if you win a whole state — seems rather odd to me. There are quite a few rural districts that went for him overwhelmingly. I would consider that “beloved” by large sections of the state. (Which was my original point…that there exist parts of the country that do in fact love them their racists) And losing 50.1 to 49.9 hardly is an overwhelming repudiation of his racism.

    You want more examples:

    Tom Tancredo doesn’t hide his racist tendencies too well.

    Jesse Helms was pretty beloved and not so great on race issues, either.

    Strom Thrumond was pretty beloved as well, no? I guess he wasn’t really racist because he impregnated his black maid at a young age, though.

    Virgil Goode is pretty racist as well. But he publicly hates Muslims so thats not so bad, right? I guess we will see in ’08 if he gets repudiated.

  43. Sorry.

    “College kids do something stupid, insensitive, and racist” isn’t news. It’s always happened and will still be happening in 3007, 4007, & 20007. Figuring out that your words and actions can make other people – including people you like and respect – unhappy and uncomfortable is part of growing up.

  44. Oh — and i forgot….

    Go Bears!

  45. “Stepping”? Did the word “dance” suddenly drop out of the language?

    Although I suppose “stepping” is a hell of a lot shorter to say than, “Urban Modern Dance” or something in a similar vein.

    Stepping is not “Urban Modern Dance.” I have been to a stepping club. The crowd was 40ish and very well dressed. The music was mostly 70s & 80s adult R&B. Those cats were very smooth dancers. I stuck out like a sore thumb not so much because I am a white guy and the crowd was predominantly African-American, but because I was not dressed in a suit and I did not dance. Steppin’, at least in Chicago parlance, is rather specific to a certain kind of dance scene.
    Fellow Chicagoans may remember “Steppin’ at Club 7,” which ran for years on WLS-TV.

    Go Bears!

  46. After reading all the comments, I can say in confidence that “we” as Americans are “all” racist or prejudice in some way, shape, or form. You don’t have to admit it, but that is reality… We can “tolerate” other cultures and people & we happen to like people(regardless of race), but looking at the big picture, “we” all are racist, ignorant Americans.

    Its never going to change because Americans are dumb and do not appreciate life or the people that surrounds them..

    Whaaaat?!
    No offense is intended with this question, ma’am, but who the f**k do you think you are?

    Go Bears!

  47. After reading all the comments, I can say in confidence that “we” as Americans are “all” racist or prejudice in some way, shape, or form

    We’ve hardly cornered the market on hate and xenophobia, so singling out americans may be a bit too narrow-focus.

    How about – humans have a tendency toward in-group amity and between-group enmity. Only by understanding this can we try to find a way past shallow ignorant conclusions that result from this type of thinking.

  48. Uhmmm….It isn’t just the maccaca incident. His affinity for confederate flags, and the noose that he had hung hanging on a tree in his office also come to mind. Not to mention his support for “Confederate Heritage Month”.

    Your definition of “open racism” is obviously a lot looser than mine. Apparently, it requires a lot of reading between the lines. I, on the other hand, would have thought that open racism had to be, well, open. Silly me.

  49. How about – humans have a tendency toward in-group amity and between-group enmity. Only by understanding this can we try to find a way past shallow ignorant conclusions that result from this type of thinking.

    And that tendency most likely had survival advantages. Innate/instinctual behaviours are explained by evolution (natural selection) as well as physical charactistics.

  50. Innate/instinctual behaviours are explained by evolution (natural selection)

    I prefer to think of it as FSM created man with these characteristics because of his innate sense of humor, but what the heck – you have your theories and we have ours 😉

  51. I will probably regret this, but here goes.

    These were college KIDS being stupid. So, they were politically incorrect and raised the hackles of the college “adults”; there is a shocking turn of events. It was in bad taste, which only made it more alluring to these dumb KIDS, and the rest of us too. Breath deeply into a brown paper bag. It will be OK.

    I really miss the “light, bright, almost white congressman from Harlem”, Adam Clayton Powell. Now there was a man without a racist bone in his body.

  52. “we” as Americans are “all” racist or prejudice

    I guess you also favor ice T and corn beef?

  53. Bears ‘go’ in the woods.

    Enjoy your Stuporbowl.

  54. Aresen: Thought it went like this.

    Is the bear a catholic?

    Does a pope shit in the woods?

    Or something…

  55. Bears ‘go’ in the woods.

    and to the Superbowl!!!!
    and wherever they want!

    GO BEARS!!!!

  56. Your definition of “open racism” is obviously a lot looser than mine. Apparently, it requires a lot of reading between the lines

    I hardly consider an homage to lynching in his office and being nostalgic about the confederacy very closeted. Nor does calling someone who looks non-white a racial epithet (regardless of how obscure it may be) and then demeaning them as not being part of real America / Virginia require too much reading between the lines.

    You know by themselves any one of these might be able to be explained away…but looking at all of these things and thinking …’hmmm that doesn’t strike me as racist at all’ is, IMHO, willful ignorance.

    I suppose if you choose to take the position that unless someone is calling every black person they come into contact with a nigger and openly wishing for a return to slavery, then there is very very little overt racism.

    Go Bears!

  57. I seem to remember Bill Maher on Politically Incorrect wondering why blacks are the only American ethnic group ashamed of their cuisine. Sounds like a good question to me. I can understand why some may be offended by the gang symbolism, but what’s so offensive about fried chicken? Irish, Italian, and Chinese Americans don’t take umbrage at their respective foods per se. I don’t believe the uniquely black experiences of slavery and Jim Crow are enough to justify the discrepancy, either. So what’s the deal?

  58. All this “Go Bears” crap has convinced me that I want the Colts to win the game. Before today, I didn’t care. Thanks for giving me a reason to root. 🙂

  59. And I just bet all of you “have lots of black friends”. So sad… The difference is that you still lock your doors and close your minds and just play pretend when one of “them” is around. Refute this and I say you are a liar.

  60. And I just bet all of you “have lots of black friends”. So sad… The difference is that you still lock your doors and close your minds and just play pretend when one of “them” is around. Refute this and I say you are a liar.

    Who the f**k are these people? The topic of race is brought up and all the sudden we’re all closet racists?

    God, I hate black people!
    Whoops! I meant to say
    Go Bears!

  61. I assume that the “210” appearing on their cheeks in the photos is a reference to Beverley Hills 90210, which was widely referred to as ‘210.

  62. No offense to the Chicago guys, but

    GO COLTS!

    (If it’s not my favorite team, I always root for the underdog.)

    Also, just ignore Danielle Britton and Your Guilty Conscience. These two are obviously 19-year-old college students (i.e., ignorant and overemotional, overgrown children).

  63. (If it’s not my favorite team, I always root for the underdog.)

    Real Bill,

    The Bears ARE the underdog. We are 7 point ‘dogs — even after the whoopin our ‘D put on the “Best Offense in the NFC”.

    Unless your post meant that the Colts are, in fact, your favorite team. In which case….

    SUCK IT, COLTS 🙂

    Go Bears!!

  64. Stepping is not “Urban Modern Dance.” I have been to a stepping club. The crowd was 40ish and very well dressed.

    I “stepping” to mean the type of dancing that is going on in the movie Stomp the Yard. Apparently this type of dance is quite popular in the African American Frat/sororities. (It’s also known as “Stomping”

  65. I “stepping” to mean

    Should read

    I took stepping to mean

    Go Bears!

  66. If you think that this was ‘just a little theme party,’ yep, your a racist.

    Please continue to waste your time ‘trying’ to prove me wrong…

  67. I just saw the pictures on tsg. Wow, that party looked so lame, I can’t even muster a bit of feeling about it. The images weren’t hateful. They weren’t loving homages, either, but just lame. Nothing funny, nothing shocking. Nobody looked like they were having much of a good time.
    My memory of college parties may have some gaping holes, but I am not imagining things as more exciting than they were. People got wild. People were hurt. Things were broken. There were fights! Sex! Vomit! Bottle rockets! 3 man slingshots! Eggs! Broken glass! Lots of it!

  68. Read the Aug 06 post and noticed the guy who was irked because MacDonalds created commercials supposedly directed at blacks. Well, advertisers do direct their clients’ products to various segments of the market, so that’s not a shock. But it reminded me of something bizarre I heard years ago. I’m guessing it was the ’80s, but the decades are more compressed as I age. It was a commercial for an Anheuser-Busch product (Michelob?) that was obviously directed at blacks. I’ve long forgotten the content of the commercial, but I remember at the end the voice-over (Ed McMahon?) clearly said, “An-hows-er Busch, St Louis, Missouri”. Not “An-highs-er Busch”, as it’s been pronounced ever before and since, but “An-hows-er”. It was a severe WTF moment for me. The commercials didn’t run that long. Does anyone else remember these? Why would a world-wide marketed corporation do something so foolish?

  69. After viewing the photos, I have to say that I am deeply offended by the partygoers and their mocking portrayal of my kind (i.e., lamely dressed white dipshits).

    (I did think the Aunt Jemima girl was kind of hot, though.)

  70. “An-hows-er Busch, St Louis, Missouri”.

    Fine, and how’s yer pecker?

    (Old joke but I couldn’t resist.)

  71. stevo,

    Good one! Funny jokes become old jokes. Believe it or not, this was new to me, and I am old.

    I agree about the Aunt Jemima girl.

  72. Irish, Italian, and Chinese Americans don’t take umbrage at their respective foods per se.

    And frankly, the Irish really should.

    As for the party–yeah, it was racist, though in a really sad and pathetic way. That doesn’t mean it should be outlawed, of course–people have the right to be stupid. But it was stupid, and it was racist, and I’m not sure how anyone can really disagree with that. This is a bunch of moron white kids who need to broaden their horizons, and soon.

  73. i went to tarleton. yes, there are racist people everywhere, but the majority of the people there could care less what your skin color is. everyone got along. yes, alot of the black people hung out together and with it being about 80% white, i would say that there mught have been clicks of only white people. yes it might have been insensitive, but have you ever been to stephenville? there is nothing to do there. it is about 1 hour to the nearest city. please tell me that this wasn’t just something stupid to do to make a party more fun in a town with nothing to do. let’s not always look for a reason to cry racism. yes it was insensitive, but we don’t always have to look for a reason to separate each other. everyone knows the significance of mlk day. everyone learns about him in history class. everyone knows what he has done to make the US a better country. don’t act like because there was a few white kids that were just looking for a theme for a party were trying to mock mlk. before you try to talk shit, blame hollywood, or BET. some of us that never grew up in the “hood” only see what we see on TV. that is the culture that many black people embrace. get mad at them for embracing this type of culture.

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