People are rolling their eyes at Ice Cube, and The D.O.C. is rolling his eyes at people who are rolling their eyes at Ice Cube.
Last week, news circulated that the legendary N.W.A. co-founder was working with President Donald Trump on what the president called the “Platinum Plan,” a campaign platform that includes promises of prosperity and opportunity for Black Americans. Cube didn’t write out the entire Platinum Plan or accept an outreach position in the Trump campaign, but the rapper did confirm on Twitter that the brass at headquarters reached out to him for consultation after he created a political platform dubbed “Contract With Black America” in August 2020.
Now, whether you agree with Cube’s initiative or not, he has insisted repeatedly that he is brokering and negotiating with power for the advancement of Black America, regardless of that power’s track record. Social media users who have noted this distinction have compared it favorably and unfavorably to Marcus Garvey and Malcolm X meeting with the Ku Klux Klan in efforts to strike up a peaceful coexistence, but the press collectively described it in simpler, albeit slightly deceptive terms: Cube has “joined forces” with Trump.
I have to confess that when I reached out to the Dallas-born N.W.A. collaborator and Death Row Records cofounder The D.O.C., I used similar terminology in texting him, “I’m sure a lot of people are hitting you up about this, but I wanted to get your thoughts on Ice Cube joining forces with the Trump campaign.”
I knew upon sending this text that the story had more nuance to it than that, but I said “joined forces” (perhaps unwisely) for the sake of brevity. D.O.C. has known Cube for more than three decades, and he has an active social media presence, so I assumed that I had license to be vague.
The rapper, whose real name is Tracy Curry, responded 20 minutes later.
“When you write that he joined forces with Trump, do you know that to be fact?” he replied. “Or was he seeking audience with the right to try and change the condition of millions of people. You’re a writer so I’m sure you know one reads very different than the other. Fantastic day bro.”
Fair enough. I deserved that.
I clarified the aforementioned reasons for me saying “joined forces." From there, our conversation became more in-depth and candid.
“I’ve spent many years with Cube, and I know his desire is to make things better for the next generation of Black folks who come through America,” he wrote. “And it’s sad that the industry is attempting to jump on Cube’s back for doing just that. [Nobody] is talking about what’s in his CWBA. Only that he spoke to Trump.”
The Contract With Black America (CWBA) consists of many provisions that are quite desirable for civil rights activists, including making Juneteenth a federal holiday, bank lending and finance reform, declaring the KKK a terrorist organization and the abolition of mandatory minimum sentences. Still, many Black artists and activists alike have taken to Twitter to express disapproval.
1) You don’t negotiate with fascism.— Black Socialists in America (@BlackSocialists) October 15, 2020
2) Power you do negotiate with must be negotiated with from a position of organized (dual) power.
3) “Justice” under Capitalism is the administration of law and authority, and should not be conflated with freedom.
Freedom is NOT bipartisan. https://t.co/wgOoQ4vklB
while these man child rappers continue to disappoint—let’s remember that billie holiday refused to quit singing strange fruit even when the FBI threatened her with arrest for speaking out against lynchings across the south. pic.twitter.com/m5X0JRU0BH— Adia Victoria (@adiavictoria) October 20, 2020
And for the record, while Ice Cube hasn’t done a full-throated endorsement of Trump and just worked with him on policy, he’s been saying some falsely equivalent nonsense like both parties are the same.— Ahmed Baba (@AhmedBaba_) October 19, 2020
That "lesser of 2 evils" cynicism is damaging when we need to juice turnout.
“While Ice Cube hasn’t done a full-throated endorsement of Trump and just worked with him on policy, he’s been saying some falsely equivalent nonsense like both parties are the same,” tweeted Ahmed Baba, a columnist for The Independent and president/editor-in-chief of Rantt Media.
“You don’t negotiate with fascism,” said the Black Socialists of America on Twitter last week. “Power you do negotiate with must be negotiated with from a position of organized (dual) power … ‘Justice’ under Capitalism is the administration of law and authority, and should not be conflated with freedom. Freedom is NOT bipartisan.”
There doesn’t appear to be any doubt among Cube’s many vocal critics that he sincerely wants life for Black America to improve, but they see insincerity and hypocrisy in other respects. The collective memory of social media caused an old tweet of his to resurface, saying, “I will never endorse a mothafucka like Donald Trump! EVER!!!” It’s also been pointed out that in the diss track “No Vaseline,” Cube attacked Eazy-E for going to a dinner with George H.W. Bush: “I never have dinner with the President.”
About the latter criticism, D.O.C. replied, “I would argue none of the people talking shit about that knew either man nor their reasons behind doing what they did.”
Indeed, Eazy-E’s reasons for interacting with the president are unknown to the general public, but some speculate that he and his manager, Jerry Heller, attended the $1,250-a-plate fundraiser to ease the FBI’s scrutiny over the group’s members (“Fuck Tha Police” was, to put it lightly, a controversial single). It’s rarely if ever argued that the late rapper rubbed elbows with Bush in an effort to influence public policy for the advancement of civil rights.
D.O.C. maintained the pragmatism behind his colleague’s bargaining with Trump in saying, “Look at it like this. Half the country voted for that guy. Even after all he’s done, maybe … 40% will still.”
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