By Richard B. Muhammad -Editor-
Nick Cannon is pretty much as Black anti-thug as you can get in the entertainment world. Clean cut, funny, handsome and sharply dressed, with no saggin’ pants under his suit, the husband of singer Mariah Carey and father of her children isn’t someone you would pick to be targeted for controversy.
Think again. The host of America’s Got Talent made a mistake and a big one: Someone stuck a camera in his face and asked about his thoughts on a march to support justice for Trayvon Martin. He spoke in favor of the march.
No problem. He is free, Black, over 21 and should be able to say calling for justice and getting Black youth involved is a good thing.
Nope. He didn’t ask permission.
Whose permission? The Anti-Defamation League.
Yep. Wait before you think this is just another Muslim writer bashing the ADL consider a few things: Nick Cannon spoke in support of the Sept. 7 Millions for Trayvon March, which happens to be organized by the New Black Panther Party and will mark the 15th anniversary of the Million Youth March in New York. Nick didn’t declare himself to be Nick “Babatunde” Cannon, nor did he announce he was now Nick X Cannon and a champion of Black Nationalist causes. (Not that anything would have been wrong with either of those announcements. And Nick, if you are planning such, please let a brother know because I want the scoop.) What he did was try to use whatever influence he has for good, show some level of social consciousness and help this country deal with a problem he didn’t create. But in the eyes of the ADL, this brother’s simple statement was damn near an all-out declaration that he was going to war with the ADL and leading militant commando raids across the country.
It is ridiculous that this brother should be subjected to such attacks and insults for simply offering a few heartfelt words and a shout-out for a good cause. But the ADL doesn’t see good; the ADL sees the New Black Panther Party as an enemy so anyone who stands near a Party member is tainted too. Haven’t we had enough of this? Hasn’t Black America had enough of having to parse every word, censor every thought, and evaluate every plan on the basis of what others think of our efforts to mobilize and uplift ourselves?
It isn’t like the ADL is sponsoring its own march for Trayvon. The ADL statement after the insulting verdict that George Zimmerman was not guilty of anything after following and killing the 17-year-old was weak. “We have great faith in America’s jury system and do not question the verdict in the Zimmerman case…. There are serious, unresolved issues of race in our country, and this trial underscored the need to explore these issues more fully. Hopefully, the debate concerning the justice of the verdict in the Zimmerman case will inspire a continued much-needed discussion about the lingering impact of racism in society,” the ADL whimpered.
The statement didn’t condemn the lack of value of Black life, it didn’t condemn racial profiling and stereotypes of Blacks and it didn’t even support a federal investigation of the possibility that Trayvon’s civil rights were violated. “Nick Cannon supports positivity, equality and unity amongst all people,” his publicist Tracy Nguyen said on Tuesday (July 16) in a statement, according to the Hollywood Reporter. “Any efforts to use his name by any organization, including the ADL to assert otherwise is a weak and tacky attempt to generate publicity on a non-issue.” Great response and one we should support.
The sad thing is Nick is living and looking like the “responsible” Black man that Whites love to urge Black folk to be. But as soon as he steps out of boundaries decided and drawn by the ADL and the White power structure, he becomes a problem. Why? Because he actually spoke what was on his mind and heart. He showed compassion for the fatal shooting of an unarmed teenager who went to 7-11 for Skittles and a drink.
But maybe there is a bigger fear. Maybe the fear is that Nick might start to use some of his $20 million fortune to get involved in more social and political causes. Jewish entertainment industry moguls, lawyers, agents, actors and professionals do it all the time on behalf of Israel, despite Israeli bombings of virtually unarmed Palestinians, blockades, segregated roads, illegal detentions and murders of these people. No one demands to know what they are doing with their money and why. No one accuses them of supporting every single act of the Israeli military and the Israeli government. But a young Black man can’t say one good thing without being crucified? Come on Black people, stand up. It’s time to Free Nick Cannon and all our celebrities to grow and become the socially conscious and politically powerful influential people they can be. The days of Stepin’ Fetchit are over–or at least they should be.
(Final Call editor-in-chief Richard B. Muhammad can be reached at editor@ finalcall.com. You can also follow him on Facebook and @RMfinalcall on Twitter.)