Taking on Clinton gives Sister Souljah lots of attention


If it wasn't already a wacky enough presidential election year, the latest campaign controversy comes from an obscure rapper.

It'd be one thing if the candidates quoted relevant rap statements from Chuck D. of Public Enemy, KRS-One of Boogie Down Productions or even the incendiary remarks of Ice Cube or Ice-T.

But Democratic candidate Bill Clinton made headlines by publicly rebuking Sister Souljah, a marginal name in rap, who had been quoted as saying "If black people kill black people every day, why not have a week and kill white people?" in the Washington Post.

Mr. Clinton singled out Ms. Souljah while speaking at a Rainbow Coalition function in Washington because she spoke before the same forum the night before.

Ms. Souljah fired back at Mr. Clinton in a packed press conference in New York Tuesday, speaking of herself in the third person: "Sister Souljah was used as a vehicle, like Willie Horton and various other black victims of racism -- a poor excuse for an agenda-less candidate."

Even so, it's given Ms. Souljah her highest profile ever.

Identified in news accounts as "a popular entertainer and speaker," Ms. Souljah has not really gotten the sales or respect of other political rappers, despite her membership in the entourage of Public Enemy, one of the top groups of the field.

Her raps rarely rhyme and have none of the verbal dexterity of her colleagues. They come off as rants over a beat that stand apart from most of the genre.

Lisa Williamson, as she was originally known, first appeared in rap circles when she shared a panel discussion with Chuck D. of Public Enemy at the New Music Seminar three years ago in New York, before she changed her name.

She first appeared in the lengthy credits of Public Enemy's 1990 album "Fear of a Black Planet," as an influential inspiration of the group, nicknamed "Sister of Instruction, Director of Attitude."

She retained that title -- as Sister Souljah -- on last year's Public Enemy album, "Apocalypse '91 . . . The Enemy Strikes Black," where she was pictured not on the cover but inside with such P.E. cronies as Harry Allen, the self-styled "Hip hop activist-Media assassin" (whom Ms. Souljah, incidentally, lists as two-faced back-stabber" on her own album). She appears on just one P.E. track, "Move!"

Ironically, she replaced another peripheral member of the P.E. entourage, Professor Griff, who was let go after he made widely repeated anti-Semitic remarks.

Her one album, released earlier this year, "360 Degrees of Power," has not been a sales leader and has not made much of a ripple in the rap community.

As she explains (in the third person) in the liner notes to her "360 Degrees of Power" album: "Sister Souljah's album is dedicated to the disregarded, uncelebrated, unacknowledged, misrepresented Black woman whose fighting spirit, love, depth and compassion carried all of us through the wicked corridors of white supremacy. . . ."

"This album," she says in an introduction to "360 Degrees," "is from my heart to my people based on my experiences with America."

Now that she's part of the '92 campaign lexicon, and a staple subject on radio talk shows, here's a sampling of her own platform as found on her "360 Degrees" album:

* Her purpose: "Sister Souljah was not born to make white people feel comfortable. I am African first, I am black first. I want what's good for me and my people first."

* Destruction of the white race: "If my survival means your total destruction, then so be it. You built this wicked system. They say two wrongs don't make it right, but it damn sure makes it even."

* Education: "White teachers will never teach black kids how to survive in America because black kids gotta compete against white kids and white people want their kids to win."

* The Peace Corps: "Honkies join the Peace Corps so they can spy on other people's culture and make money off of the things they learn."

* White women: "They're real slick. They try to say that they're different than their white men, gain your sympathy and then want to sleep with your black man."

* White feminists: "White feminists say that they are the sisters of black women, ask you to join their women's movement and then they want to give you five hundred reasons why you should leave your black man."

* Charities: "They form charities because they get salaries and it's tax deductible. They give you scholarships to their schools so you can learn to think and act like them. So that they can use you against your people like these pitiful black mayors and Clarence Thomas."

* Welfare: "White people give you welfare with a set of rules and restrictions designed to keep you on welfare, ignorant and lazy and then talk about you on TV."

* News media: "Crackers pretend that the television and the news media is really 'for the people.' But we all know that its only purpose is to make more advertisement dollars and sell you products that you don't even need."

* The military: "Honkies create conditions where the majority of black men and women cannot make money. Black men and women cannot make money, force us to join the United States Army. And then order you to kill other black people in nations around the world.

* Her own racism: "Am I a black racist? No! Not unless you believe the boogeyman. There's no such thing as a black racist! Racism and white supremacy are systems of power that deny the majority of black people throughout the entire world. No black person or group of black people any place in the world has the power to deny white people or Europeans access to anything. What can you call me? Call me prejudiced because I prejudge situations based on my own understanding of history."

* Freedom of speech: "Say what you want to say, you have the right."

Therefore, we may presume, she holds no ill will for Mr. Clinton's own remarks.

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