Like many people living in New York, I saw the Rev. Al Sharpton's face plastered over copies of the New York Post and the New York Daily News, roasting him for being a "rat" and a "mob snitch." Apparently, Sharpton served a role as an FBI informant against mob bosses in the 1980s. That was around the time I was either wearing diapers or serving as nothing more than a figment of my mother's imagination.
In response to the reports, Sharpton hastily organized a press conference at the National Action Network's headquarters in Harlem to address the reports. Sharpton, very much a black preacher, cleverly refuted the stories by noting, "Rats are usually people that were with other rats. I was not and am not a rat, because I wasn't with the rats. I'm a cat. I chase rats."
Let me repeat that for the folks in the back pews. Reverend Sharpton isn't Master Splinter, he's Heathcliff, ya dig? Can I get an amen?
Or better yet, can I get a clue as to why I supposed to care about Al Sharpton doing the FBI a solid 40 Madonna albums ago?
I'm not entirely sure who is behind this operation, but it sounds straight out of a bad blaxploitation movie that only airs at 3:40 a.m. on some rinky dink cable channel that is holding on for dear life on the channel guide.
I imagine some group of crotchety, conservative old white men gathering around a boardroom as one extra large fellow – probably petting a cat – says, "Don't those blacks hate when you help the 'po-po?' What do they call it? "Snitching?" Let's set Sharpton up. Show his people that he's a 'snitch.' That'll teach him." Then everyone laughs and we cut back to Sharpton at the dinner table eating fat back and collard greens out of a can 'cause times are hard.
Now I would be more serious about this if the story called for it. Sharpton revealed this information himself back in 1996.
Do you know how long ago 1996 was?
It's Lil' Kim's debut album old.
"The New York Observer" recounts:
The circumstances, he said, were simple: As he tried to increase the participation of Black promoters in the music industry for artists like James Brown and Michael Jackson, he received death threats, which he took to police. He was then asked by law enforcement officers, he said, to record the men repeating the threats.
"We had conversations for the purposes of trying to solicit these guys to repeat the threats," Mr. Sharpton said, describing the music industry at the time as "dominated" by mobsters. "The conversations were recorded. And I would record them today if somebody threatened."
"That is not an informant," he maintained. "I was never told I was an informant with a number. So in my own mind, I was not an informant. I was cooperating with an investigation," he said, comparing his participation to his current efforts passing information he's told to police in cases like the Kendrick Johnson killing in Georgia and his work with police on stop-and-frisk in the city.
By the way, I thought "others" wanted us to cooperate more with the police?
Sharpton said as much yesterday:
"I think it was very interesting that many of us are condemned for not fighting crime and now we're condemned for fighting crime," he said. "It is interesting to me, as we deal with the whole criminalization of many in our community, that the premise of a lot of this media is that I should have been with the mob rather than with the government."
"I've done a lot of things in life. Some that if I could do again, I would do differently," he added. "But in this situation, I did what was right."
Try again, certain white people.
This isn't ruining Al Sharpton's stance with black people. The perm, sure, but many of us have an uncle like that. We just tell him, "It looks good on YOU." Now go find something new to put on your front page. Say, news not from the original "Bad Boy" era. Take that, take that.
(Michael Arceneaux blogs at thecynicalones.com, tweets at @youngsinick, and praises Beyoncé's name everywhere he goes.)