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This article appeared in the "Passion" issue of Blacklight,
Vol. 2, No. 4.

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Blacklight Home Page

Nigger for the '80s

By Adrian Stanford

Ben VereenThe Inaugural Eve Gala, televised January 19, 1981, gave explicit credence to the old adage "a picture is worth a thousand words." For there before the eyes of the world, one was given a front seat view of the rich, the White, and the mighty–and what some will do to ingratiate themselves with the new masters of this land.

No doves were in sight, but hawks and fools were plentiful. White American Supremacy sat perfumed and polished, resplendent in the knowledge that their king was about to reign–while just below the murmur of the satiated crowd, one could hear the guns of war clicking into their well-greased gears, and the splendid tinkling of gold and silver falling deeply into the right-winged recesses of conservative American pockets.

As the cameras scanned the vast assemblage, knowing smiles of surety were captured on every White face. Only the few Blacks in the audience registered a vague tinge of uncertainty; each had a look of suppressed uneasiness, like traitors in the act-caught unaware.

Then, as one sat trembling at the sight of this Neo/Nazi, Fascist, Ku Klux Klan cornucopia, Ben Vereen stepped out on the stage to put the icing on the cake. Mr. Vereen, his face blacker than usual, and his lips painted thick and "plantation white," let everyone know just what he thought Black America's role in the 1980's should be.

Under the pretext of paying homage to Bert Williams, Mr. Vereen "shucked and jived" until surely Martin Luther King spun in his grave.

As was to be expected, Blacks were grievously insulted, and so vocal in their outrage, that Mr. Vereen came forth in the media with a very weak protest in regard to his act having been cut, and the punch line to the piece (he claims) removed from what was shown on TV.

This poor excuse will never assuage the notion in most Black people's minds that under the circumstances. Mr. Vereen's costume and mannerisms were in very poor taste.

His performance shamed Black America completely and set the civil rights movement back at least a hundred years.

From this day forward, Mr. Vereen must be remembered for his performance in Washington above all others. A man of this sort should not have our respect, our patronage, or our trust.

End


As was to be expected, Blacks were grievously insulted, and so vocal in their outrage, that Mr. Vereen came forth in the media with a very weak protest in regard to his act having been cut, and the punch line to the piece (he claims) removed from what was shown on TV.