Pitts Responds to Criticism From African-American Writer Gantt

By: E&P Staff

An African-American writer described Leonard Pitts Jr. as a “modern-day Buckwheat” who writes “what the white publishers and editors at The Miami Herald want him to write.” Pitts, a 2004 Pulitzer Prize winner, defended his work today.

The exchange was on Bob Norman’s “Daily Pulp” blog on Florida’s New Times Broward Palm Beach site (http://www.newtimesbpb.com/blogs/index.php).

Lucius Gantt, who writes for a number of black newspapers in Florida, was annoyed at a Pitts column that included criticism of rap music.

“Apparently Pitts is so loved as a Miami Herald Negro columnist because he does not spend a lot of time in Black communities,” Gantt wrote: “If he did he would know that most residents of Miami’s and other Black communities have no problem with rap music. …

“Leonard, since you don’t know about a lot of things you write about, rap music is a product of the society in which it was born. Rap artists sing about police brutality because there is police brutality. Rap artists rap about whores and tricks because there are whores and tricks. Rappers did not invent those words that upset you the most. Niggers, bitches, and so on were coined by white folks!”

Pitts, who’s syndicated by Tribune Media Services, said of Gantt’s criticism: “I won’t lose any sleep over it. … I like to tell people that I have been condemned by people from the Nation of Islam and folks from the Sons of Confederate Veterans. When people on all sides are pissed off, I think I might just be doing my job.”

He added: “You don’t get to tell me how to write this column based on how black I’m supposed to be. I am not black in the sense that I am not 38 million black people. This is one black man’s voice.

“When I first started doing the column I called it ‘adjust the negro.’ That’s what readers and even editors were trying to do, adjust the level of black in me. And you’re starting out and you’re eager to please, but after you’ve gotten battle scars and all these people have built these preconceived ideas that are not based on who you are, you have to just stop listening. …”

Pitts also said: “Rap music could be the most profound and important musical development in the past 30 years — obviously you can’t ignore it. … What bothers me is that the values that are being espoused [in rap music] are antithetical to anything that is healthy or life-affirming, particularly for black people.”

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