Hip-Hop’s Role in Black America

I saw the Oprah town-Hall meeting on hip-Hop’s role in demeaning black woman.  I want to address the second part of the show which aired yesterday.  Russell Simmons, Kevin Liles, Common Benjamin Chavis and the Ladies of Spellman College were the panel members.

Russell and Kevin gave their views of what the real problem is.  They claim that hip-hop is a reflection of society; that rapper’s lyrics are poetry of what they see in the hood.  Russell admitted that some of the lyrics are sexist and offensive, but he does not believe in censorship. 

Kevin Liles said that since he is 39 y/o he is trying to make in effort to help new artist avoid the pitfalls he fell into as a young person.  Yadda Yadda Yadda…….

The woman of Spellman were not buying it; they called them to task and asked a direct question; now since you know that this is a problem, what are you going to do about it?  They tapped danced around the question, still saying that Hip-hop is poetry and it a relfecton of the hood, and until we end poverty and other problems in the hood things will repeat themselves (by the way that Russell himself did not grow up in the hood).  I have no doubt that is hard to live below the poverty line, but

Well wouldn’t a start be to start holding the artist they sign to a standard of self respect for their people; their culture and not their damn wallets and bank accounts?  Oh that’s right, but it is the very same offensive music that has lined Russel Simmons and Kevin Liles pockets with cash. 

Russell and Kevin maintained that this so called “poetry” may be uncomfortable for middle class America, but it is real and we need to help hip-hop artist not come down on them.  So Russell is helping by signing them to contracts and getting out of the hood but at the expense of demeaning their own people.  That’s smart…..

For those who say that we can’t blame hip-hop for our social problem; they are right.  No one is blaming Hip-hop for our problems in the black community, we are blaming some Hip-Hop for continuing to perpetuate negative images, speech and stereotypes that aid and assist racism in this country.  If I shoot someone, and get charged with murder, I can’t use as a defense that I saw someone else kill someone.  I can’t use as a defense that Smith and Wesson made the gun so blame them.

For Russell or anyone else who feels that just because black people didn’t create the word whore, ho or bitch, that we can’t hold those artist responsible for taking the conscience decision continue to use these language at the expense of their people is a cop out. 

Poverty doesn’t equate to ignorance.  Growing up in the hood does not give you a free pass to contribute to the degrading of your own people.  Do I blame Hip-Hop for what Imus said? absolutely not. But it is one of the many negative factors that contribute to our upward struggle; no one can deny that.  And for rappers and artist wh say that they have the right of Freedom of speech; they are right.

But I also have the 1st Amendment right to say when an artist chooses freedom of speech over not degrading their own people; and then use the excuse that because white people created the word or action that is then okay for them to use it, without retribution is not only ignorant, but evident of how powerful cultural conditioning is and how it has warped the minds of the very same people racism sought out to oppress. 

What I hope will happen is that we start giving more attention to the positive Hip-hop artist and not the Top 10 R&B chart making hip-hop which is mostly negative. 

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3 Responses

  1. I am with you definately. I believe that we should promote our talented jazz musicians and our true soul singers instead of rap as part of our modern popular culture. I would love for their to be a serious coup in overthrowing those responsible and willing accessories to the kind of music that has demeaned men and women of color, and promoting the worse among our all of our children (whether black or non-black).

  2. “..but evident of how powerful cultural conditioning is and how it has warped the minds of the very same people”…

    You are so on point! I wish I could have seen this show- its long overdue. I have a feeling Oprah has been wanting to do this show for a long time.

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