Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Black Korea (1991) – Ice Cube

As depicted in Spike Lee’s 1989 film Do The Right Thing, Korean-owned liquor stores in African-American neighborhoods set the stage for confrontations born of racial tension and resentment. In March 1991, this strife culminated in the publicized Latasha Harlins slaying in Los Angeles by a Korean liquor store owner over the perceived shoplifting of a bottle of orange juice, in a climate of gang member death threats previously made against the owner’s son. For killing Harlins, Soon Ja Du received a voluntary manslaughter conviction, 5 years probation, 400 hours community service and a $500 fine, despite the jury’s recommendation of a 16-year jail sentence. The black community took this as justice’s measure of the worth of an African-American’s life: one could shoot a 15-year old girl in the back of the head and get off scot-free.

Seven months later, Ice Cube released Death Certificate—universally recognized as a manifesto of misogynistic, racist, hedonistic obloquy, invective and bravado. Fed up with being prejudged as a thief who draws the scrutiny of store owners, Cube counters racist treatment with racist statements in “Black Korea.” Well—upon closer inspection, they’re not so much racist statements, as they are indignant conniptions. In fact, all things considered, Cube refrains from outright slurs, opting instead for a flippant food stereotype peppered in with retaliatory economic threats.

In a mere 46 seconds, Cube voices a community’s grievances, epitomizes its ire, and demands respect as a condition precedent to a tolerable co-existence of cultures colliding for the sake of forty ounces.

  • Listen to "Black Korea" and purchase from iTunes Music Store.
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