Sunday, April 15, 2007

Black Women Are Under Attack!!!

It's been quite a rough year so far for black women in America. First, a sister gets jail time for throwing a cup of ice into a car, an act which deemed nearly terrorist in nature when the cup was considered by law a missile. Then, a 14 year old in Texas is is tossed in jail for pushing down a hall monitor. Finally, an ill-intentioned shock jock insults the basketball national championship runners up, calling them "Nappy Headed Hoes".

The only reason all three of the aforementioned items are even in the news is because someone, somewhere, deemed them sensational enough to cover. In the first two cases, previous indiscretions of the legal system were corrected in the victims' favors. In the third, a blabbermouthed moron was (correctly) censured and lost his job in the process. But of course, since the media loves to pile on and stretch a sensational story as far as they can, now the focus has shifted from Don Imus' moronic comments to an indictment on hip hop music, black culture, and black people in general. Why, many ask, should Imus be fired when black people say the same things that offend black women all the time.

Personally, this pisses me off for many reasons. The concept of black people voicing opposition to rap lyrics is not new, by any stretch of the imagination. From Calvin Butts and C. Delores Tucker's crusades in the 90's, to the more modern examples of Spelman vs Nelly, there has long been a vocal segment of the black community that has said enough is enough. Just because this opposition hasn't been widely covered by the mainstream press (perhaps because much of the mainstream press is owned by the same media conglomerates that own the same record labels that produce the crap, or because they simply don't care about black people trying to better themselves) doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

Predictably, in an attempt to milk this thing for the needs of a 24 hour news cycle, CNN, ABC, MSNBC, etc. have rolled out a litany of "civil rights" era "experts" to discredit the music as a whole this week. Conspicuously absent from these conversations, with the exception of some incredibly ignorant (what else did you really expect though?) comments from Snoop Dogg, have been actual members of the hip hop community who could actually articulate how the music attempts to police itself (there's a whole genre of hip hoppers who rap about nothing but their disdain for the crass mainstream genre). That's why I was happy to see Talib Kweli completely school a panel of "experts", including suspect host "Lester Holt" on the Today Show yesterday. Good for you Talib.

The next step in cracking down on misogyny in black America isn't going after rappers, who are already suffering anyway, since illegal downloads and a general disinterest from consumers are causing rap music sales to plummet. It would be too easy a target to attack Ludacris and ignore the corporate entity that allows him to make a song like "Hoes In Different Area Codes".

The harder step is for America to admit that Imus' comments, as well as those of ignorant rappers, and the corporate entities that support both, are a lasting byproduct of slavery, Jim Crow laws, and everything else that has systematically created a rift between races. In other words, you can't fix Black America's problems as long as White America ignores how it contributes to these problems.

Rap music, and Imus are only symptoms of a far bigger illness.

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