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Racism vs. Bigotry
Wednesday, June 21, 2006

I caused more than a bit of controversy last week when I wrote about my thoughts on Jay-Z’s boycott of Cristal and his accusation that because Frédéric Rouzaud, their CEO, implied he didn’t want to be associated with Hip-Hop he was a racist. The fact of the matter is Jay made a very poor choice of words. Rouzaud not wanting to be associated with Hip-Hop, or at least being hesitant about it, was not racism, it was, potentially (and please note I am saying potentially as this is not an indictment of Rouzaud), bigotry.

I’ve had a few people say there’s no difference, or that I’m nitpicking, but in truth there is a big difference. Racism deals with superiority, it’s the idea that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others. At no point did Rouzard say he felt he was better than any race, all he said was that he was uneasy with the way his product was associated with Hip-Hop. Hip-Hop does not equal black, in 2006 everyone knows this. Eminem is one of the top selling MC’s of the past decade, and that’s something that’s global.

When a CEO sees his product being used in a way he doesn’t like, for instance in the Big Pimpin video where Dame Dash is pouring it on bikini clad girls while Jay brags that his prowess with women is so good he can “fuck ‘em, love ‘em, leave ‘em,” he’s probably not going to be thrilled and if he feels the need to say something he should be allowed to. HOWEVER, if that statement is a blanket statement like Rouzaud’s can be construed to be they run the risk of being labeled a bigot.

Bigotry and racism seem to be confused a lot. All racism is bigotry but not all bigotry is racism. A bigot is one who is strongly partial to one's own group, religion, race, or politics and is intolerant of those who differ. Bigotry is everywhere, some might even say there are factions of Hip-Hop that are very bigoted towards each other, i.e. the underground vs. the mainstream. The idea that someone, including a CEO of a major company, would make a negative blanket statement about an entire group of people is an act of bigotry.

So why does this all matter? Well, every time the race card is pulled when it’s inappropriate the very word racism becomes less powerful, and racism is a word and an idea that should not be thrown around lightly. Racism is fire hoses, separate schools and sitting in the back of the bus. Bigotry is when someone refuses to listen to your idea because they don’t want to hear anything that differs from their own opinion. Racism can enslave a people, bigotry only makes the bigot in question dumber. The bigot states “I don’t like that,” while the racist says “I’m better than that.”

Nine times out of ten when someone says something is racist they mean bigot. This has led to a weakening of the word racism and people who a number of years ago would have jumped at the idea of racism now just sigh and ignore whatever is going on. Jay-Z did a great disservice to those who actually are being victimized by racism by his marginalizing of the word. Jay also, by his use of the word, helped to separate people even further.

The use of the word racism instantly divides. I recently compared it to the Tower of Babel which is the Biblical story where the people are trying to build a building that can reach up to Heaven but God gives everyone different languages so they cannot complete the task. With anything in life where something is being built calling out racism is like throwing that wrench in development that sets everything back and potentially destroys what was being built. As I’ve seen on numerous message boards Jay’s use of the word racist has divided Hip-Hop fans and made many bigoted towards each other, whereas if he had said the correct word, bigot, he would have united more than he would have divided.

There’s no doubt that the images being displayed of Hip-Hop that Cristal’s people saw on TV were negative ones, the images themselves divide even Hip-Hop fans, but one thing is for sure, the vast majority of Hip-Hop fans know that the images shown on TV aren’t the only images of Hip-Hop out there. Any bigotry toward Hip-Hop based solely on those images is understandable, but remember it’s just that, bigotry. This is not a race issue. Some people like to equate Hip-Hop with blackness like it’s some kind of long math equation, like if someone says they hate Hip-Hop they must hate black people and that makes them a racist. Completely untrue. If someone says they hate Hip-Hop it means they hate Hip-Hop and it may make them a bigot, but it certainly doesn’t make them a racist.

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posted by Adam Bernard @ 8:40 AM  
  • At 8:57 AM, Blogger Conscious said…

    Well said.
    I wonder who will be the first to dispute this.

    One of your new friends no doubt.

  • At 9:28 AM, Anonymous REIGN said…

    not a friend, but yeah I know Adam,lol.....

    I defnitely dispute this whole thing. It is neither bigotry NOR racism. It's an opinion. If the owner of Cristal had been black, this issue would not have even been brought up. I am a Hispanic individual who sees a LOT of "reverse" (if that even makes sense) racism/bigotry CONSTANTLY.

    If I invented a malt liquor for my people in the hood and publicly came out and said ,"I dont really like the fact that all these Country and Western singers are talking about and flashing my product around", how is that worng? It's MY fuckin product!!! I can say whatever the fuck I want. Does that mean I hate white people?? No, maybe it means that I made it for the hood, and i could give a fuck WHO buys it, I'll still be making money. So WHAT???

    Jay-Z is just as rich if not richer than the owner of Cristal, so if it bothers him so much....go make some classy Champagne and fight back. Dont call out a 55 year old white dude from Beverly Hills or wherever the fuck he's from. Fight back and do it the strategic way.

  • At 2:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I have to disagree...and yeah Conscious, I'm that dude. I think this is a very pc way of looking at it, and as diverse as hip hop has become a little naive. We still associate hip hop, thug culture, violence etc. with black and brown people in this country. To say that the head of Cristal was not speaking in code is to dismiss a lot of my history in my eyes.

    Racism is nmore then just a belief that you are a superior but the implementation of power to enforce or secure that superiority. As rich as Jay Z may be, like it or not, he does not have the influence, networking or political might to make any real impact on Cristal or any of these larger companies/corporations.

    While reign's example of reverse racism works well in the abstract, the fact remains that his boycotting white people in that example would hurt him more, since they have more buying power and resources then any person of color. Point blank the power shift does not sit with us, despite the advances.

    Put it like this, have strides been made? Absolutely. Has our influence and power increased expotentially from 40-50 years ago. Can't argue. Has to the point to realistically shift public conscious, thought, and action away from negative perceptions of our people? Has it allowed us to really control the perception people have of us? I can't and don't see it. Its silly to me the idea of reverse racism. Can I hate on you because you're white, can I hate you because your white? YES. Can I and do I have the system at my disposal to put you in a lesser position, supress you and put you in an inferior situation indefnitely. NO. Its called white privilege. No such thing exists for persons of color. The bottomline in order to even have access to this power you essentially must assimilate to what in essence is a homogenized european culture. If it is persons of color, we don't speak about the ingenuinety or the power of intelligence unless its in the context of a hoodlum, a pimp, a dealer etc. all negative connotations in this society that are synomous still with black and brown people.

    Cristal can't say he doesn't want Darkie reppin his product...this ain't the fifties. But he certainly can use the term hip hop. The funny thing is, what he's subtlely saying is that despite the revenue it could potentially (cause their is no stats suggesting it even has an impact on their financial take)create and expand a market, the fear is that individuals uncomfortable being associated with that lifestyle would be turned off. Whose lifestyle are we talking about then? Who are the people who are most related to that lifestyle? Its truly not Eminem. Em is not bling, and he is not violent....he is what Chuck has said, our Elvis.

  • At 3:01 PM, Anonymous Hired Gun said…

    Sorry, anonymous=Hired Gun. sorry bout that

  • At 4:11 PM, Blogger Adam said…


    Whaddup, thanks for the comments. It seems people have short memories, though. Eminem was boycotted at the Grammys for how violent his lyrics were, including multiple songs where he graphically killed his own wife.

    Also, and I'm kicking myself now for not including this in the original post, racism and slavery are two, although very connected, different things. I made sure to research the word racism in a number of places and it has nothing to do with exerting power over someone, that would be the act of slvaery, which was a result of racism. Racism was the thought, slavery was the action.

    I agree that the CEO of Cirstal COULD have been speaking in his own code, but I'm sure he has plenty of Fortune 500 clients that are black that he loves seeing drink his product.

  • At 12:44 PM, Anonymous REIGN said…

    OK, I whole-heartedly understand where every one is coming from,BUT that still doesn't mean that the dude is a racist/bigot. It means he doesnt like the hip-hop element being associated with Cristal. This is annoying me a lot becaus eI feel as if I am "defending" this dude when in all actuality i coud give a fuck. But i think too many people throw the word racism and bigotry around so loosely, it DOES lose its value (however nieve and ignorant it is). The word everyone should be using is PREJUDICE. That's what it is, not racism/bigotry. Prejudice has nothing to do with hate or anger, as bigotry and racism do. It has to with pre-judging something, hence the name. Prejudice can be applied to anything. An item, a person, a comic book....it doesnt matter. The Cristal guy PRE-JUDGES hip-hop, cuz he's ignorant. He hates hip-hop. OK, so what? If this was rock 'n roll, we wouldnt even be having this discussion. Anyways, just my opinion. Cristal is highly overrated anyways, lol, I think ALL champagne sucks!!! Now THATS racism!!!!!!! ?????????

  • At 10:06 AM, Anonymous HG said…

    Peace Adam,

    I'll answer your definition inquiry by saying this...if you look in the merriam-webster's dictionary the word "nigger" no longers means African American, the NAACP lobbied to have that definiton "changed" in 2003.

    My point? That definitions change are revised, revamped and even manipulated for political and social reasons. In my time speaking with black educators, my peers and the history I've been taught the idea of "racism" derived from hate and being able to exert influence, power or control to proliferate and put that hate into practice.

    Why its dangerous for me to accept your logic, implies that you and I are viewed as equal still. I don't believe that. The powers that be, our system of government, and corporate culture makers are not interested in establishing a sustainable positive image or environment for persons of color. To say the manager of Cristal simply was just protecting his brand, takes him off the hook and allows him to discriminate against a group of people.

    I know my viewpoint especially in this day and age isn't the popular one. Its believed and felt that after 65, everything has been rectified or at least has been on its way to being, and that 41 years later we've come full circle from the dehumanization and mischaracterization of a race of people. Their is too much evidence that is overlooked for me to believe that. This manager's attitude towards hip hop in my eyes is just another indicator.

    If you believe that 1. a bigot or a racist if we use my definition can be anyone, that would mean that a black person could on his own with a whim subjugate and suppress another group of people or persons without restraint. I find that very hard to believe possible. If Jay were to release a statement saying that he didn't understand why suburban rock kids continued to buy his Rocawear line, because it hurt the street/hip hop image that its supposed to portray, I have no doubts in my mind he would be boycotted immediately, and his business would literally cease (because the massive amount of revenue generated actually isn't from street hip hoppers, but a cross cut of various groups and demographics). Cristal on the other hand doesn't need to worry about offending or being discriminative towards "hip hop" since in its view they are minor in that demograhpic.

    And I don't know how many blacks even still exist in the fortune 500 world =). More then in the sixties, but in great abundance (25 percent or more) I HIGHLY doubt.

  • At 10:22 AM, Anonymous REIGN said…

    "If you believe that 1. a bigot or a racist if we use my definition can be anyone, that would mean that a black person could on his own with a whim subjugate and suppress another group of people or persons without restraint." You damn right!! (what happened to "2" by the way, lol).

    ANybody can supress ANYBODY. To imply that they can't would mean they are a weak person in general. This is NOT a racial issue and it seems that everytime someone says something that may not be PC , someone pulls the race card. In doing that, it makes THEMSELVES supressed, because it shows weakness. Its like, since me and you are intelligently agruing about this subject, what if I cam e out was like, "FUCK YOU, YOU STUPID COCK LICKING HOMO BASTARD" for no reason, that would kind of make ME look weak, no? It would only be being said because I couldnt intelligently defend my opinion or theory. Hey wait a minute!!! That sounds like Jay-Z!!!

  • At 10:52 AM, Anonymous HG said…


    Who ran the Katrina situation, Nagin or Fema? Is there a woman, or person of color who is in the white house? Where does a majority of the wealth reside. The strength in the people is blunted because they do not use it. Admitting that someone has power to exert control because of their position and condition is not weakness. Where slaves weak? Where the jews weak?

    Its PC to make this excuse that because people like Martin and Malcolm, the Panthers called a spade a spade, weak I think is just incorrect. So when the State Troopers were racially profiling blacks and latinos in NJ (and this was documented) because blacks and latinos or even whites who spoke out against it, are weak? Do you have the power to profile white people in the same way? Do Arabs and Indians (whom have been repeatedly mistaken for Arabs, simply because of their wraps on their head) have the power to stop Americans in this country from labeling them all potential "terrorists".

    The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled is making the world believe he didn't exist....

  • At 11:01 AM, Blogger Adam said…

    I love where this convo is going! Everyone is bringing up fantastic points. Great stuff!

    I will say this, we do have quite a few "minorities" in the white house (in quotes because I hate the word), including one black female. Yeah, Condy Rice has very few fans, but she IS there.

  • At 11:25 AM, Anonymous REIGN said…

    Yeah this is good. As you may not be alone in your opinion of being supressed, I know I am not either. My point to you is this. Look at the Young Lords, who were an organization raising awareness for the Latinos of there time, like The Latin Kings of today, doing for their people as well as the community, somewhat like The Panthers. They were HELPING out, not POINTING out. Just as there are bad apples in every organization, legal or not, there is no one safe from assholes and ignorance. They exist on every plateau of life from the poverty level to the white house level.
    If you feel YOU are a victim, they you will ALWAYS be a victim and so will your children and so on and so on. There have been many "supressed" people and they have overcome those situations. They did NOT overcome it but expressing how "supressed" they were, they overcame it by struggling and sacrificing to get out of that position.
    I was homeless for a very long period of my life while taking care of a child by myself. I was in the shelter system for almost 8 years. I dont need sympathy or want praise for any of my struggles. I'm simply explaining to you that if I kept the same mentality as you and felt everyone one ad everything was supressing me, I would not have gotten out of my position. Of course a person can feel like it, and I DID feel like that very often, but I never let it beat me. I overcame MY cross to bear and theres no reason in the world somebody else can't.
    Complaints are great in moderation, but solutions are what nulls complaints.

  • At 11:47 AM, Anonymous No-Fatchicks.com said…

    In regards to what Reign said..since i really didnt read anything else, about doing it the "strategic way"..Jay Z calling him out will do and has done more damage than anything else he could have done, simply because of the following he has. Id say thats pretty fucking strategic.

  • At 11:47 AM, Anonymous HG said…


    Adam, you are correct, Gonzalez, Rice, and Powell all are representative of some "diversity", and yet their is a reason why they are not embraced, much like Clarence Thomas, they support and agenda that has worked against people of color. So they really appear to be there for "show".

    Reign, I have this conversation so much and its interesting people's perception. All of those examples you named are right on, but their actions started because they were speaking out and against this system, and truth be told all of the organizations you mentioned were not and do not operate within the framework of this system. That's what I'm talking about. What I don't understand is how this generation sees calling out and exposing racists, educating people on exactly the truth is, and spurring people to question authority, constitutes "whining". The words are always backed by action, whether its risking your reputation and livelihood by exposing the truth, or creating an organization.

    Saying the government is stopping young people from prospering, or deciphering the coded language of racists is action, its action that can get you killed, ostracized, and in a lot of trouble. If it wasn't important, no one would worry about it and certainly would allow it manifest on the airwaves and in print. So it is important.

  • At 12:12 PM, Anonymous REIGN said…

    I agree, however, you are not "taking a stand" and changing something. You are simply reiterating something that has been said already over and over, whats the next step?

  • At 12:17 PM, Anonymous REIGN said…

    and to No-fatchicks.....thats not "strategic". "Strategic" is chess-move like....speaking at a press conference about how your million dollar videos wont have a certain champagne in it, is not fuckin "strategic", its called "self-promotion".

  • At 12:21 PM, Anonymous No-Fatchicks.com said…

    and how exactly will Jay Z creating his own liquor (cough cough, armadale vodka) going to cause ANY harm to Cristal?...You underestimate the following Jay Z has. Simply because he said "thats racist" millions of his fans are goin to stop drinking it.

  • At 12:31 PM, Anonymous REIGN said…

    ur right, because millions of his fans drink Cristal, ok.

    My point about the creation of his own liquor was just a statement to say, "Jay-Z boycotting Cristal, will not affect Cristal that much". Sure they will lose a certain demographic (if that) but it wont put them out of business. There are other ways to compet besides name calling.......dickhead,lol j/k.

    I believe Tommy Hilfiger and Timberland also went through this a few years ago. You dont wear Timz anymore??? uh huh, shhhhhhhhh

  • At 12:38 PM, Anonymous No-Fatchicks.com said…

    awww, you still wear Tommy hilfiger?..The only place you find that shit is at the salvation army.

  • At 12:44 PM, Anonymous HG said…

    Reign, again I disagree. The next step is continuing to educate people on the truth. What you are saying has been reiterated over and over, obviously has not helped too much, because the problems still exists. That means people are ignorant to the impact these situations have. So by speaking it, and getting the dialogue and the information out there for those to analyze, be aware of, and then actively resist against that is a step.

    Are you asking me personally? If so I can say beyond being an artist who continues to broadcast the truth, and bring those to question (which is a power in itself, you cannot truly think, if you do not question, and if you do not think then you cannot truly act) the world and environment around them in a constructive way, I've contributed to documentaries on the education of our history, I have independently worked with kids in my neighborhood as a role model, and bringing them into my home to build with them, show them my equipment and show them an alternative to the role models they have (Jay, 50), as well as trying to build an alternative education/media not-for-profit. But beyond all of those things, their is action in bringing people to realize and understand what's going on around them. That can be enough.

  • At 12:48 PM, Anonymous HG said…

    And to back up nofatchicks.com for a minute. It is strategic if you realize what else Jay has also proposed at least from what I heard. In addition to no longer promoting the cristal "brand" in his music and entertainment, did you know that he is no longer purchasing the high end liquor for his 40/40 franchise here in NY, Atl, and I think L.A.? Now from an undisclosed source, I've heard he sells upwards of 65 cases of Cristal a month in the NY restaurant alone?

    Think that isn't strategic? Think that won't hurt? And if we're believe that "race" won't or doesnt play into it, we'll see if Jay's friends in high places support him.

  • At 1:59 PM, Anonymous REIGN said…

    ok first off No-Fat....I saw a picture on your site of you wearing a Tommy Hil shirt with a pair of Cross Colour jeans and that picture was taken at ground zero, so relax.

    HG, I understand you're thought on that if you don't act out and speak you will not be able to change. BUT (you knew that was coming), what I'm saying is, is that actions always have ad will speak louder than words. The public has a voice. The voice will be heard. However, if no one steps up to the plate to try to CHANGE anything, what is going to happen? NOTHING. I think Jay-Z is probably one of the most talented artists out there and this isnt a comment to bash him or put him down. I'm just explaining to everyone while they are out there supporting or not supporting his feelings towards the situation, it will make ZERO difference to Tommy Toughnuts or Shelia Shitmouth. Point being, Jay's friends in high places could care less about what the owner of Cristal said. I dont just dont think his comments warranted a race card pull. That IS what we getting at originally , no?

    I'm starting to hate Adam's World blogs....does that make me a bigot?

  • At 2:05 PM, Blogger Adam said…

    "I'm starting to hate Adam's World blogs....does that make me a bigot?"

    No it makes you a hater, lol!

  • At 2:12 PM, Anonymous REIGN said…

    lol, ok you got me. But if anything, I'am an equal-opportunity hater, i hate a whole bunch of shit. I dont discriminate and single anything out.

  • At 2:31 PM, Anonymous HG said…

    Peace Reign,

    I understand, but then I have to question those individuals priniciples, especially after the "action" Jay put in basically stopping his purchases for his business.

  • At 2:42 PM, Anonymous REIGN said…

    Yes and I myself will have to question the principles of the CEO of Cristal

  • At 5:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I think Jay-Z did the right thing . Even the CEO of Cristal said that he did want hip hop associated with his drink so Jay Z help him with that, by starting a boycott which was very well needed. If he doesn't want the money hip-hop (blacks) spends on his drink, making him rich, Then maybe blacks don't need to make him rich anymore. This is the 2000 era rascism is dead so let it be DEAD!

  • At 9:51 PM, Anonymous reign said…

    Well maybe the CEO of Cristal meant all hip-hop except for Bubba Spark, Eminem and other white hip-hop artists. Keep in my mind hip-hop in 2006 is not an all-black thing anymore. Get with the times, hip-hop is universal now.

  • At 11:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Bullshyt I can't keep my mouth shut anymore. Hip hop is more then black but it also is black get it?!!? He meant we dont want them niggers drinking our shyt period. just because you hip hop is multiracial it does not mean someone else does not look at hip hop as those black people. your writng has a very spiteful tone to it as if we black people are making this racism shyt up. You are jewish but you have the benifit of growing in a country and world controlled by people that look like you. I don't care what you say that makes a difference. Not being down with Jay-Z on is not very hip hop.
    Do you know how it feels for a whole government to fight against you? no you don't. from slavery and beyond black people have been taught to hate themselves and it still goes on today. I am as a black male more likely to be killed by another black male. In job market black males are looked upon as thugs and murderers force fed us by the media. What about most of my friends from childhood are on drugs or in and out of the prison system? I am not all white people are bad but we have to pay the price for the ones that are.

  • At 10:58 AM, Anonymous REIGN said…

    hold on...my tissues....my eyes....i can't stop sobbing.

    Listen man, out of half of the stuff you said that you made sense on, I disagree. First off I'm not Jewish, if you read a lil closer you would realize that. Secondly, I could care less about your friends thats locked up or how the government hates you and blah blah blah. The government hates me too, trust me. And I have a LOT of people that were close to me locked up too. Just cuz that scenario exists in my life doesnt mean I have to be an asshole.
    Don't fuckin judge me, you have no clue about where I've been and what I've done to make any such comment on ANYTHING. You aint got shit to say so you throw in the race card again cuz you suck at arguing.

    "I am not (saying) all white people are bad but we have to pay the price for the ones that are." lol, wtf does that mean? You'll have to 'pay the price' no matter what because of a white, black, Hispanic, asian or indian person's ignorance. Kind of like what I'm doing now by arguing with you.

  • At 11:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I dont understand why there is such a big problem with this boycott.The Cristal manager says he doesnt want the attention of hiphop.jay-z is a part of hip-hop.He decided to stop spending his money where its not wanted.People do it all the time.You go in the store and they dont act like they appreciate your hard earned money and you say i am not spending my money in here.Why would u spend your money and the man is saying they dont want it for whatever reason.Who begs somebody to take their money.It doesnt matter whether or not u feel he will make a dent in cristals profits or not.Its the principle.If he has the right to say i dont like the attention(money) from hiphop jay z has the right to say i won't give it to u.

  • At 12:00 PM, Anonymous REIGN said…


  • At 2:28 PM, Anonymous No-FatChicks.com said…

    I think ive discovered what this is really about..it was in my face all along. George Bush Hates Black People.

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