The legendary rapper is now at the center of semi-partisan frustration over how to address racial inequity.
His ongoing advocacy now occurs with fewer than two weeks remaining until a highly contentious Election Day in the United States.
President Trump has faced a troubling record with race during his short time in politics, with critics taking note of his role in promulgating the conspiracy theory that then-president Obama was secretly a Muslim Kenyan-born agent who illegitimately assumed the presidency, his frequent disinclination to denounce white supremacy, and his open opposition to the legislative advancement of civil rights.
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Ice Cube has long been associated with the more anti-institutionalist flanks of the political sphere, as he is perhaps best known for decrying racial bias and police violence by penning the 1988 N.W.A song, “Fuck tha Police.”
His reinsertion into the political scene comes just as racial tensions reach a potentially once-in-a-generation high, wedged between the death of George Floyd at the hands of police, and a pivotal presidential election.
Ice Cube’s most recent response has been the issuance of what he calls a “Contract With Black America” (CWBA), a set of guidelines aimed at fundamentally altering governmental leadership as it relates to the black community in America.
What’s in the CWBA?
The CWBA contains an introduction and thirteen ideological tent poles to the major structural reform designed to grant equality to the black community on the basis that an “immoral devaluation of Black lives has been ingrained in America's political economy and is long overdue for a reckoning.” The thirteen points include everything from "Representation" to "Prison Reform" and "Judicial Reform" and more (listed in full below).
This was specifically according to the contract’s author, Darrick Hamilton, Professor and Executive Director of the Kirwan Institute at Ohio State University.
On August 22nd, Ice Cube tweeted a video with the caption, “But what’s in it for us.”
In the video, he asserted that politicians did not deserve the electoral support of black people without first signing the CWBA.
He stated, “Democrats don’t seem like they got a plan. Republicans don’t seem like they got a plan for us. So how the hell you gonna vote for them?”
CWBA Contract Points:
2. Lending Reform
3. Federal Funding
4. Federal Reserve
5. Finance Oversight
6. Data & Credit
7. Prison Reform
8. Judicial Reform
9. Police Reform Act
10. FCC Licensing
11. Confederate Institutions
12. AJP Program
13. Black Responsibility
Breaking Down the CWBA
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The CWBA addresses generations-long tacts of racial discrimination against people of color, most notably including those seen in the Justice System and economic hardships.
Possibly its most consequential requisites are those calling for "Massive Bank Lending and Finance Reform" and "Neo-Reconstruction," which would seek to continue upon the 1867-1877 Reconstruction Era after the Civil War, in which blacks slowly began being incorporated into society as fellow Americans, and not property. Beyond that, as it's detailed under "Representation" the website for CWBA:
"Additionally Black opportunity and representation will include: Affirmative Action in schools public and private; per student funding in states on an equal basis instead of paid by local property taxes; Black representation on all government civil rights bodies; civil rights classes mandatory in elementary schools; Gerrymandering reform; additional polling places in Black and minority neighborhoods; Juneteenth to become a Federal holiday."
As far as the "Federal Funding" is concerned, the proposal reads:
"Pass federal program providing every child with a government funded trust account at birth starting with a $1,000 contribution. As proposed by Senator Booker and Representative Pressley, accounts to be managed by the Treasury and only those born into lower-wealth families would receive more contributions each year up to $46,500 total. At age 18 access to the funds allowed but use restricted to asset enhancing actions such as buying homes, starting businesses and funding education."
This goes hand-in-hand with proposals for "Lending Reform" and "Federal Reserve," the latter of which would allow for a one-time interest-free loan for those seeking to buy a home, and the former would require the banks to lend "a percentage of all loan and credit categories on an equal basis to the Black population each Bank serves."
Under "Prison Reform," the demand includes that all privately-run prisons are to be abolished, prison labour must be consensual, and all those locked up for a crime involving marijuana to be freed.
"Judicial Reform" would include the abolishment of mandatory minimums and the three-strike rule, and would also include the the declaration of the Klu Klux Klan as a terrorist group, and lynching categorized a federal hate crime.
Finally, the "Police Reform" would first and foremost include the elimination of qualified immunity, but beyond just that, the demands include:
"Requirement of mandatory malpractice insurance for police officers; make municipalities liable for unconstitutional actions by police; mandatory use of dashboard and body cams; elimination of chokeholds and “no-knock” warrants; establishment of residency requirements, de-escalation training, and requirement to update training; severe penalties for evidence tampering including withholding DNA. A federal database of police and disciplinary records established and made public and once fired for cause cannot be rehired. Creation of Office of Independent Prosecutors to solely focus on prosecuting police accused of wrongdoing."
The proposals are potentially pragmatic ideals with a historical context of success that could aid legislative passage.
Some, such as the hosts of Fox Soul’s The Queens, have noted that the CWBA does not make ample effort to address the specific needs of intersectional African-Americans.
For instance, there is no specific mention of black members of the LGBT+ community or black women. The show’s panel of all-black women took note of the latter.
Ice Cube responded to the apparent concern of black women being excluded by saying, “You are mentioned. When you mention Black people you mentioning Black women, so don't count yourself out."
Who Does Ice Cube Support?
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While his best-known political statements involve criticism of police brutality and recognizing mass incarceration rates of African-Americans in the ’90s, Ice Cube has most recently come under fire for meeting with the re-election campaign of Donald Trump, who he famously referred to in his 2018 album, Everythang’s Corrupt, by saying, “Arrest the President, that n***a is Russian intelligence”.
The decision to work with the Trump campaign on a “Platinum Plan” for Black Americans was broadly panned online, with CNN even reportedly canceling his appearance on Cuomo Prime Time. He defended himself by asserting, “Black progress is a bipartisan issue”.
Even among those with moderate feelings of agreement toward the decision had some harsh words, as echoed by Malaika Jabali of The Guardian, who stated, “Conservatives gleefully use Cube’s message to prop up Trump. Liberals largely dismiss Ice Cube as a race traitor without sitting with his concerns.
"And Ice Cube defenders reflect little on Cube’s botched political strategy or the market-based, libertarian-esque philosophy he’s proposing for problems that require radical solutions and wholesale government intervention.”
Ice Cube responded at slightly more length on Twitter when he stated in a viral tweet, “Facts: I put out the CWBA. Both parties contacted me. Dems said we’ll address the CWBA after the election. Trump campaign made some adjustments to their plan after talking to us about the CWBA.”