russell simmons.jpegMore than a week ago, G-Unit foot soldier Tony Yayo was arrested for attacking the 14-year-old son of rival Jimmy Henchman. According to reports, Yayo was leaving the Violater Management offices when he saw the boy wearing his father's Czar Entertainment t-shirt. Yayo allegedly backhand slapped the boy and began to berate the company. Soon after, Al Sharpton, Russell Simmons, and Dr. Ben Chavis organized a march in Manhattan to protest the senseless beating. A few days later, Simmons and Chavis decided that their Hip-Hop Summit Action Network would not participate in the protest.

They provided the following explanation:

"Hip-Hop Summit Action Network is impartial and will not take sides in this dispute. Russell Simmons and Dr. Benjamin Chavis hope the issues between Tony Yayo and Jimmy Henchman and Czar Entertainment will be resolved peacefully and as soon as possible.”

The last time I checked, activists were supposed to take sides.

When a 14-year-old boy is attacked by a 28-year-old man over a t-shirt, we must side with the people in the community who are disgusted by senseless violence and commited to stopping it. When G-Unit leader 50 Cent refuses to criticize or punish Yayo's actions, we must side with those who refuse to buy G-Unit records. By scurrying away from a ticking time bomb and hoping that things will be "resolved peacefully,” Muhammad and Chavis are siding with those who advocate and enable Black genocide.

While I don't expect much else from Ben Muhammad Chavis-Muhammad Chavis, whose moral compass has been visibly askew for years, I'm truly disappointed that Russell Simmons would make such a disturbingly calculated move. And no, this was not a careless accident or a well-intentioned error. After all, a Black person in America doesn't become a multi-millionaire without being damn smart and analyzing every decision from all possible angles. That said, it is clear that the forces that motivated Russell Simmons to back out of the march at the last minute were both powerful and persuasive. I seriously doubt, however, that they were principled.

Although I have no concrete evidence, I'd bet my last dollar that Simmons' about-face was driven by money rather than morals. Perhaps he's planning some projects with 50 Cent, who has been known to leverage his considerable influence in problematic ways. Or maybe he thought that his participation in the march would make him less popular to the latest generation of youth consumers. Regardless, the decision to back out of the protest undermined the efforts of those trying to stop the senseless deaths of young Black men.

Of course, we must allow for the possibility, however remote, that this is all a big misunderstanding. Hopefully Simmons will offer a public explanation for his moves that blows all of my theories out of the water and forces me to offer a public apology.

Until he does, however, his silence is speaking volumes.