Mexican stamp is bad, but U.S. rappers have it licked

July 06, 2005|By GREGORY KANE

SO, WHICH image of black folks does more damage to the race?

The one of Memin Pinguin, the little guy on the Mexican postage stamp who looks like he was yanked off the screen of a cartoon in the 1930s or 1940s?

Or the image of rappers 50 Cent and Tony Yayo on the cover of XXL magazine that its editors proclaimed "The Jail Issue" and dedicated to "hip-hop's incarcerated soldiers"?

Before you make up your mind -- although you've probably guessed where I'm going with this -- allow me to give a few more details about that XXL cover.

Fiddy -- as 50 Cent, born Curtis Jackson, is known to his adoring legion of addle-brained fans -- stands wearing a sleeveless T-shirt, black pants and a black doo-rag. His hands appear to be clasped behind his back.

To his left stands Yayo in an orange prison jumpsuit. He has his hands behind his back. The caption tells us that Fiddy and Yayo are "G-Unit's convicted felons." G-Unit is Fiddy's clique. It stands for either "Gorilla Unit" or "Guerrilla Unit." Or at one time stood for "Guerrilla Unit" and now stands for "Gorilla Unit." It depends on which Web site you access.

Oh, it gets worse.

"50 Cent & Tony Yayo" another caption tells us. Then, perhaps the most frightening revelation of all: "We Can't Be Stopped."

Just what we're afraid of, Fiddy and Tony. Just what we're afraid of.

This sordid tale hasn't hit rock bottom quite yet. If readers of the "Jail Issue" of XXL flip it over, the back cover shows Fiddy and Yayo from behind. They see Fiddy with some chain cutters and Yayo in handcuffs that clearly have been cut.

Clever stuff, what?

Potential buyers who've been weirded out by the cover and the theme will open the magazine and read what some of "hip-hop's incarcerated soldiers" have to say at their own risk. But they'll learn one of the "soldiers" is Antron "Big Lurch" Singleton. "Big Lurch" is serving life without parole for murdering a woman and eating part of her lung.

If you're thinking that the "Jail Issue" of XXL might be excellent propaganda for white racist hate groups, there's at least one that's way ahead of you. According to the Web site, "culture follows race."

You may have correctly surmised that this isn't a Web site strictly devoted to the Second Amendment. It skews white and racist.

"Do you still wonder why so many Whites move out of a neighborhood when Blacks start moving in?" the Web site asks. (The emphasis on still is the work of the folks in charge of the Web site.) The quote is directly above an image of the XXL "Jail Issue" cover.

You would think white racists using that cover for propaganda purposes would fall under the category of being "injurious to black people," wouldn't you? And you'd be right.

But the NAACP hasn't weighed in -- yet -- on whether the "Jail Issue" cover of XXL magazine is an image that is harmful to black folks. But NAACP interim President and Chief Executive Officer Dennis Courtland Hayes jumped right on the Memin Pinguin stamp controversy.

In a June 29 news release, the organization tells us that "Hayes ... said the decision by the Mexican government to issue a blatantly racist postage stamp is `injurious to black people who live in the United States and Mexico.' Hayes called on the Mexican government to immediately cease printing and distributing the stamp that bears an offensive cartoon character with black skin and thick lips known as Memin Pinguin and his mother, who resembles an early version of Aunt Jemima."

There's no indication that Hayes has called on the editors of XXL magazine to stop producing stupid covers and writing about idiotic topics. But that's one phone call he needs to make immediately, if not sooner.

NAACP spokesman John White said that the organization had to respond to the Memin Pinguin stamp, and he's right. NAACP officials have protested vicious racial stereotypes for years. I'm sure glad they were around in the 1940s when the horrendously racist cartoon "Scrub Me Mama With A Boogie Beat" was stinking out theaters across the land.

White took a look at the "Jail Issue" cover of XXL magazine online. I asked him if the organization had a stand on which image was more harmful to blacks.

"I think it's kind of apples and oranges to compare a stamp issued by a government to a magazine cover," White said. "That's not to say the NAACP approves of the cover. We would hope they [XXL's editors] portray more positive role models than they do."

NAACP officials may get a chance next year. The Web site for XXL said the "Jail Issue" was the "first annual."

Get your Prozac prescriptions filled.

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