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manufactured controversies

Things Get Racial Over Mrs. Obama Choosing Common and Jill Scott for a Poetry Lineup

As anyone with even a passing knowledge of popular culture will probably agree, Jill Scott and Common are about as warm-and-fuzzy as you can get in the rap and R&B world. Much closer to B.o.B. than, say, Tupac. But when the news came out that Michelle Obama would be hosting a poetry reading and invited them to read, Sarah Palin lashed out, tweeting a link to a Daily Caller article with the words "Oh lovely, White House . . ." The article says:


[Common] is quite controversial, in part because his poetry includes threats to shoot police and at least one passage calling for the “burn[ing]” of then-President George W. Bush.


Never mind that he was squeaky-clean enough for Sesame Street. Now Matt Drudge has chimed in, posting a quote and link to an article Jill Scott wrote for Essence last year, “When my friend told me his wife was Caucasian, I felt my spirit wince."

In fact, the controversy over Common reading at the event also included an interview he gave in 2005 where he called interracial dating a detriment to "self-love." Anyone who bothers to actually read Scott's article will find it goes on to thoughtfully examine her internal conflict before eventually writing:

"I was taught that every man should be judged by his deeds and not his color, and I firmly stand where my grandmother left me. . . My position is that for women of color, this very common ‘wince’ has solely to do with the African story in America.”


Both musicians' comments on interracial dating may still offend some people. . .who are easily offended. But more to the point of the Twitter beef, let's not pretend that interracial coupling is an issue near and dear to Sarah Palin's and Matt Drudge's hearts.

Without further interruption, please enjoy Jon Carney stumbling to defend Common (a.k.a. Lonnie Rashid Lynn) at a White House press briefing today:

I mean, we do think that some of these reports distort what Mr. Lynn stands for, more broadly, in order to stoke a controversy. I mean, he is -- within the genre of hip-hop and rap, he is what's known as a conscience rapper -- or a conscious rapper, rather. And I would quote a report just six months ago from Fox News where he was described as a rap legend and quote, "Your music is very positive and you're known as the conscious rapper. How important is that to you, and how important do you think that is to our kids?"


Quoting Fox to the Right. Nice save, Carney.

White House Press Secretary on Common the 'Conscious Rapper' [Atlantic]
Singer Jill Scott Is The Next White House Guest Being Targeted As Racist By The Right [Mediate]

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Photo: Johnny Nunez/WireImage