Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Strength of Street Knowledge: An Interview with Tariq “King Flex” Nasheed Part 2

In the second half of my two-part interview with Tariq “King Flex” Nasheed (*Click here to read part one), Tariq offers his perspective on ‘Django Unchained,’ as well the way Black Americans are stereotyped in Hollywood films.  

Scott Wilson: Why do people have such a hard time accepting someone who knows how to combine academia with street knowledge?

Tariq Nasheed: The last person to effectively combine street knowledge and academics was Malcolm X.  Malcolm was a street hustler, and a very smart man later on in life.  He was very academic.  He could break down any scholar or theologian in a debate.  Most White folks didn’t like him during his lifetime.   A lot of Black folks didn’t like him either.  They thought he was a rabble rouser and a troublemaker.  He was talking about Islam, and that went against the mainstream Christian ideology that was prevalent in the Black community.  Malcolm was not really loved in the Black community during the 1960's.  We idealize that brother now, after the fact.

Malcolm X

Our community tends to pigeonhole you.  You have to be one way or you have to be another.  It’s no secret that I come from a hustling background, on the streets of L.A.  Everybody knows that about me.  A lot of people don’t understand that real hustlers and street dudes are very smart.  Many Black folks don’t want to admit it, but the Hustler has always been the backbone of our community.  People like to think that the church has been the backbone of the Black community, but it’s actually been the Black hustler. 

The hustlers were the numbers runners, gamblers, pool hall guys, and the moonshine makers back in the day.  These were the people who really helped the community stay afloat financially.  A lot of times, racist Whites would target and sabotage mainstream Black businesses.  The hustlers knew how to move and shake in the underground and stay afloat.  They would help out the community.  They knew that the community had certain vices.  People would go to church, but after church they're going to want a sip of whine.  They're going to want to gamble or roll dice.  The hustlers knew that, so they were there to fill that void.

Academic Blacks have a problem with street smart cats, because academic Blacks want to be accepted by Whites, even though they don’t like to admit it.  The basic mentality of academic Black folks is White acceptance.  They have to shy away from anything street.  They have to say "Hey, wait! I have to call this out!  That ain't me!  We have to stay away from that!"  They think that by embracing the street Black person and/or the hustling Black person, that they are going to mess up their relationship with Whites.  It's been that way for a long time in the Black community.  There are a lot of dichotomies in the Black community that are very interesting.

Scott Wilson:  Why do so many older Black folks always condescend to the youth?  It's almost as if they expect younger Black males to emasculate themselves in the presence of an elder.

Tariq Nasheed: For a long time in the Black community, that was a very respectful thing to do.  When I was growing up, you respected your elders.  In the African spiritual system, we've always respected our elders.  The elders that we have now don't get the same respect as the elders from back in the day.  When I was growing up, the elders looked out for us.  The older Black people took care of us.  We could go to different people's homes and be welcome.  Everybody would take care of each other's children.  Everybody respected each other.  Whenever there was a problem, we helped out people within the community.  So there was respectability there, because they (the elders) had earned it.  We knew that our elders were going to take care of us, so we would show them the utmost respect.

Now, in this generation, a lot of the "Black Baby Boomers" who are the elders now, they want to get that same respect.  But these “Black Baby Boomers” have let the youth down.   They haven’t taken care of us.  A lot of Black men and women who are 45 and under were raised in single parent homes.  The father's and the males weren't there, so there's not going to be the same respect for the man as there was back in the day.  A lot of the mother's out here now, they're not taking care of the community like they used to.  They’re out at the club.  You got 45 and 50 year old women still going to the club and trying to be like the 21 and 22 year olds.  We have a lot of older Black folks trying to mix and mingle with the youth community, yet they still want that respect when they haven't actually earned it.  They haven't been providing opportunities for the youth like they should have been. 

You've got a bunch of young people out here now who are confused.  They don't know what to do.  They don't know how to move and shake in this world.  White supremacy is kicking them in the ass, and they're looking at their elders like "Hey, how come you don't have any answers for me?  What should I do?”  We've been teaching our youth to go to school and get a good job, but that's not the answer.  We should have been creating business opportunities and an economic background.  A lot of these older Black people have not done that, and a lot of those younger Black people are falling by the wayside.  As a result, they're not giving the older Blacks the respect like that.  They're not listening to them.  They're like "Why should I listen to you?  You haven't done anything for me.  I'm starving.  The police are locking me up.  I got a record.  They're putting me in special education classes.  Why am I listening to you?  You’re not helping me."

So that's the mentality out there right now.  Respect has to be earned.

Scott Wilson: On The Zo Williams Morning Show, you said that you liked Django Unchained for what it was, but you felt that it wasn't truly empowering to Blacks.  Would you care to elaborate on that?

Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) and Django Freeman (Jamie Foxx) from Django Unchained.

Tariq Nasheed: Yes indeed.  I loved the movie!  Django Unchained was a great movie, cinematically speaking.  I liked it for what it was.  It was a movie maintaining White supremacy, just like every other movie that comes out.  Nothing more, nothing less.  I'm not going to get upset about it.  If I get upset about that, I have to get upset about all the other movies out there.  The way they marketed the movie (Django Unchained) was a stroke of genius.  They pulled a Jedi mind trick on people.  Though I liked the movie, I didn't fall for the Jedi mind trick.  You have to look at racism and White supremacy in this country as a game, not from an emotional standpoint.  When somebody makes a creative move on a chessboard, I pop my color to that.  I pop my color to Tarantino, and the way they maintained White supremacy while pulling a Jedi mind trick on Black people.  It was genius.  I love it.  I study that.  I’ve got to use that myself one day. 

Django was marketed as being so empowering to Black folks.  No.  That movie maintained every last bit of White supremacy.  Django was subservient and submissive to his White male counterpart.  He only killed insignificant, powerless Whites.  The one time he actually did kill a powerful White person, he had to get permission from his White male counterpart.  Other than that, he killed a bunch of insignificant Whites, In exchange for being called nigger 200- 300 times throughout the course of the movie. He didn’t even get to kill the main bad guy, Calvin Candie.  In movies like Inglorious Basterds, the team of Jewish-American soldiers killed significant Germans. They killed German Nazis until they got to the big dog, which was Hitler.  They didn’t let somebody else come in and do that, because that would have taken away from the film.  I thought they were going to let Django kill the main guy, who I’ve always said is an extension of Tarantino.  

A controversial photo of Quentin Tarantino (Right) and a completely nude Nichole Galicia (Left) from a recent issue of W magazine.

There was a recent magazine article.  It had a photo of Quentin Tarantino wearing the same outfit as Calvin Candie while gripping the ass of a naked Black woman.  The woman was the chick who played Sheba in the movie.  That image has a lot of psychological implications.  Let me at least break that down.  It’s a whole “If I fuck a Black woman, I’m not racist” mentality.  That was that even in the movie.  Calvin Candie had a Black mistress, who was basically his Black bed wench.  She was a very nice, very attractive Black woman.  She almost had a certain control over him.  There was that one scene where he was telling all the slaves to get out of the room, but he told Sheba "Sheba, don't you move a muscle!”  She replies, "I knew you weren't talking about me."  That says a lot.  They were sexually compatible, but this motherfucker said “nigger” every five minutes.  He was maintaining his level of White supremacy.

Let's go back to another Quentin Tarantino film, Pulp Fiction.  It had that one famous scene that was really gratuitous and out of context: The "Dead Nigger Storage" scene.

Scott Wilson: The "Dead Nigger Storage" monologue!  I knew you were going to mention that!

Tariq Nasheed: Exactly!  He does this whole monologue that was extremely out of context.  It was outside the parameters of reality for a White character to randomly talk that way to his Black friend.  He just kept saying "dead nigger storage” over and over again.  That same scene also showed that he (Quentin Tarantino’s character) had a Black wife.  He thought that by having a Black wife that he could get away with saying the word “nigger.”  That's the whole thing about White supremacy.  People think that if you're fucking somebody Black that you're going to be less racist.  A lot of times, when a White person is fucking a Black person, they have to personify more racial qualities in order to let other people know that they still have a White supremacist identity.  It's a very interesting thing that people need to look into.  But again, I liked Django Unchained for what it was.  It was a buddy film.  It was basically an 1860's version of Lethal Weapon.  Jamie was Danny Glover and the other guy was Mel Gibson.  In Lethal Weapon, Danny Glover was always playing the subservient role.  He was the sidekick, just like Jamie.  But it was a good movie nonetheless, and it maintained White supremacy.

Scott Wilson: Do you think that Quentin Tarantino is a racist?  If so' do you think that it's time the Black community checks him?

Tariq Nasheed: No, I don't think he's a racist.  I don't think that Quentin Tarantino goes out actively trying to harm Black people, but he has that White liberal mentality.  I've done talks on White liberalism.  White Liberalism works when White liberals are helping out Black people.  White liberalism works when Black people are in a position of subservience to Whites.  But the minute a Black person becomes equal, that's a problem.  When a Black person moves next door to a White person, that's a problem.  A lot of these White liberals like to help Black folks and throw Black people a bone.  They go to Africa and feed the Black babies.  They go to Haiti and bathe the earthquake kids.  They're so liberal and love Black folks so much, as long as we need their help.  The minute we move next door to them and get equal footing, they'll be the first ones out there protesting. 

It was the same way with the Abolitionist movement, back in the 1800's.  They had all these White Abolitionists fighting for the freedom of Black people, fighting to help Black people.  But when Black people moved to the north, they experienced the exact same racism as they did in the south.  Actually, it was even worse.  The mentality of the abolitionists was "I wanted you to be free, but I never really wanted you to be equal and/or move next door.  My conscience bothers me when I see you getting beat up.  I don't want to see that, but live over there.  Don't live here.”  There's that same mentality now.  We have to understand it for what it is.  Black Americans are like the CMB from New Jack City.  We all we got.  We don't have any allies.  We really have to look out for ourselves when it comes to issues specific to our community.  We're all we’ve got.

Scott Wilson:  What do you think about the reaction to Spike Lee's comments regarding Django Unchained, particularly that of Dick Gregory, Luther Campbell, and Jamie Foxx?

Spike Lee during his interview with VibeTV.

Tariq Nasheed: I think a lot people kind of jumped the gun going after Spike, because I respect Spike's opinion.  He's put it down.  People try to criticize Spike, but he's really put his neck out there, man.  He's put out movies that represent us in a very positive way.  You can't really shit on Spike.  I don't really like it when cats are shitting on that dude.  If Spike wants to say "Hey, I ain't really fucking that movie," then let Spike say that.  Spike has really campaigned to get positive images of us out there, so we gotta respect that in that brother.  If we're gonna criticize people, there's a lot of people we need to criticize before we get to Spike, and I always say that.  I don't like to see other Black folks shitting on Spike and Tyler Perry. 

Now Spike is not infallible.  I don't like the way he criticized Tyler Perry.  He shouldn't have done that.  Spike does slip-up sometimes.  He said that he thinks watching Django Unchained would be disrespectful to his ancestors.  Now that's his opinion.  If he feels that way, then I respect that brother’s opinion.  They should have let him keep it pushing with that.  I respect Dick Gregory, but I don't think Dick Gregory should have called the brother a thug.  Luther Campbell is probably just trying to get his name in the paper.  I don't know what he was trying to do.  I can understand Jamie's position because he's in the movie.  He has to speak out to defend himself and the movie.  But I still respect Spike’s opinion.

Scott Wilson: I have my issues with what Spike said about Django Unchained, but I feel that Black folks should be able to publically disagree without casting dispersions at one another.

Tariq Nasheed: Absolutely, and again, I love Dick Gregory.  But I think he went overboard with calling the brother a thug.  That’s Spike’s opinion, and I respect it.  I think it was a valid opinion, because Spike knows the game.  A lot of people don’t know the game, but he knows the inside game on how they market these films, and the conversations that go on behind the scenes.  Spike knows what’s up.  Certain people know what the real deal is.  The general public doesn’t really know, they just believe whatever’s told to them in a press release.  But some of us really know what goes on behind closed doors and how they really market these films.  We know what their real agenda is.

Scott Wilson: Do you think that Hollywood has ever produced a movie that was truly empowering and/or inspiring to Black audiences other than Malcom X?

Tariq Nasheed: Not to my recollection.  I think there have been some independent films that were really empowering to Black audiences, but not a film out of Hollywood.  The thing is, most Hollywood films are meant to make a lot of money.  They want a return on their investment.  They have to cater to a large White audience.  large White audiences don’t want to see Black empowerment, period.  That’s the reality.  We can play games with that, we can tap dance around it, but a large White audience doesn’t want to see a movie that’s truly empowering to Blacks.  That would take away from their (White audiences) identity.  They like movies that show people of color in terms of stereotypes.  That makes them feel good about themselves. 

The Help was a movie that made Whites feel good about themselves.  It had Black maids and showed Black people being subservient.  They make it seem like it’s a film about race relations, but it’s a film about Black inferiority.  The Blind Side was supposed to be a movie about the life of Michael Oher, the football player.  It was really about Sandra Bullock’s character, and how good White people are to the needy, subservient, dependent nigger.  That’s what that movie was about.  Michael Oher was basically like a pet nigger in the movie.  I did a whole podcast about that, about how he just kind of walked around in the film like he was retarded.  The real Michael Oher had to come out and say “Hey, wait a minute!  I wasn’t like that!  God Damn!  I wasn’t walking around like that!”

Scott Wilson: Now I can never watch that movie ever again without looking at it as an unintentional comedy.   

Tariq Nasheed:  It was basically a comedy.  It was a movie of Black inferiority and White Supremacy.  Whenever you have movies with Black folks in them, there has to be some kind of stereotype in them to make Whites comfortable.  For example, the movie Boomerang is one of my favorite movies.  It was made by Reginald and Warrington Hudlin.  I love those brothers, because they are very thorough.  They’ve always represented for the community.  Boomerang was a great movie.  Hollywood spent like 50 million dollars on it.  It was deemed a commercial failure because it didn’t crossover.  White audiences didn’t go see it, even though it was a great movie.  The movie grossed like 70 million dollars, which is not a total failure.   However, Hollywood looks at it as a failure because it didn’t crossover like Beverly Hills Cop. 

The poster for Eddie Murphy's film Boomerang.

White people as a collective couldn’t understand the thought of successful, good looking, well-to-do Black people in normal relationships.  That was foreign to the White collective in this country.  They were like “Wait a minute, nobody’s on crack, tap-dancing, or a scam artist?”  They were used to seeing Eddie as a conman or a scam artist.  Boomerang was closer to the real Black experience than all his other movies.  That was foreign to the mainstream audience.  Movies are out to make money.  The one thing they do is perpetuate racial stereotypes, which creates income.  That’s what people want to see.  The first Blockbuster movie ever made was The Birth of a Nation.  It was a movie about White supremacy and Black inferiority.  So the Hollywood system is based on White supremacy and Black inferiority.

Scott Wilson: Will you ever make any forays into fictional literature or genre filmmaking?   

Tariq Nasheed: Yes indeed!  I’ve been working on a fictional book for some years now.  It’s based on my experiences coming up in Los Angeles, and dealing with all of the street players and hustlers.  I’m working on a book called The Game Advisor. I don’t know when that’s gonna be done, because I’ve got so many projects in between that.  I’ve done a movie already, that’s going to be out later on this year.  We sold the international rights recently.  It’s a horror movie called The Eugenist.  I’m definitely going to get into fictional movies and books.  I’ll also be working on more documentaries as well.

Poster for Tariq's upcoming horror film The Eugenist.

Scott Wilson: Are there any other upcoming projects that people should look out for?

Tariq Nasheed: Right now, we’re working on a dating and relationship show for women.  We’ve got a lot of ratchedness going on, and I want to see more positive representations of sisters on the screen.  That’s another big thing of mine.  I like to see positive images of sisters.  Right now, all the images we see of Black women are negative and ratched.  That’s considered normal now, and that’s a bad thing.  I have a 13 year old daughter.  There aren’t too many people I can point out to her and say “Hey, that’s a good role model for you.”  That’s a very unfortunate thing.  I put very positive women in my movies, like the Hidden Colors films.  I get a lot of sisters I look up to, like Shahrazad Ali, Frances Cress Welsing, and Michelle Alexander to be in my movies.  They are all positive sisters that really have it together.  That’s what we need to see more of in our day and age. 

With this television show that I’m trying to put together, hopefully we can help some sisters to get themselves together.  Not to sound corny, but a lot of times when you say you’re trying to do something positive, it becomes some preachy church shit.  That’s not what I want.  I’m just trying to show that we can be entertaining, witty, interesting, and have fun without cooning it up all the time.   That’s my whole thing, so I have some things in the works.  



  1. Tariq is the Man with the Master Plan. The Sage of Our Age.

  2. I like the last part of what Tariq said about showing that we can be entertaining, witty, interesting, and have fun without cooning it up all the time. Bill Cosby had that same mentality with the cosby show. his goal was to show black people being funny, entertaining, and telling jokes without becoming the joke.

  3. I feel that Spike is blatant because he feels that Hollywood has jerked him on a lot of things. As usual King Flex is on point with his views that pertain to the black community.

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