Archive for the ‘hip hop values’ Category

Baby Girl, Where’s Your Line in the Sand?

Thursday, January 31st, 2008

Warning: This is a rant.

A popular website that will not be named on this blog decided earlier in the week that the way to get back at Maya Angelou for endorsing Hillary Clinton is to post Angelou’s photo there on the website with the caption underneath “Ho, Sit Down.”

It’s taken me several days to catch my breath.

Okay, young womyn of the hip-hop generation, whoever you are, whatever you call yourselves, however you define yourselves, where’s the line? When is enuf enuf? When is it not funny anymore?

Ms. AngelouNot only is Maya Angelou at 79 years old an icon in our community. Not only is Maya Angelou an elder in the village who has made invaluable contributions as a poet and writer and footsoldier in the Civil Rights Movement. Maya Angelou is old enough to be your great grandmother. Baby girl, Maya Angelou is your great grandmother.

Aren’t mothers and grandmothers, and old women, off-limits when we’re fighting? 

I’ve been wondering lately, young womyn, where is your line in the sand?

Evidently I, and the women of my generation, can’t decide that for you. The late C. Delores Tucker learned that the hard way back in the early 1990s when she tried to launch a campaign against the filth in rap music and your beloved Eminem and Tupac deployed some pretty filthy language in their lyrics to shut her up. 

As someone reminded me the other day, I’ll be collecting Social Security in few years, if it’s still around by then. (Lord willing, and the creek don’t rise.) And as such, you and I are generations apart. What I say is smut, you say is art. What I consider obscene, you consider free expression. What I decry as profane, you embrace as edgy. What I label risky, you label sex positive. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

So, here’s what I have to want to know from you young womyn.

Forget what you want in a presidential candidate. Forget what you think about the black church. Forget what you think about feminism and second wave feminists. Forget what you think about your mother.

What do you want for yourselves? What do you consider to be sacred? What are your values?  What does it take to make you mad, baby girl? (Thanks Song in the Key of Life for showing that some of you get it.)

But why is there no outrage at calling Maya Angelou a “ho” to match the outrage that was launched against Don Imus? Or was it “nappy headed” that was the real insult back then?

You seem to be knowledgeable and articulate about racism, but can you recognize sexism when you see it? Does it make you mad?

Baby girl, do you know when you’ve been betrayed?

Baby girl, do you even know when you’ve been disrespected?

Baby girl, do you know when you’re hated?

Tears in the eyes. Face in the hands. Elbows in the lap. Chest heaving. And, yes, scarf around my head. I sit here asking myself, ”Lord. Lord. Lord. Somebody tell me, where did we go wrong?”

Overlooking the Lioness

Wednesday, April 25th, 2007

Historians have always paid more attention to the lions of a movement. Very little interest is paid to the lionesses even though they are the more agile of the species and tend to be the ones who do much of the hard work.

Judging by the comments of some, you would think that black women have been silent about being called out of their names. As far back as the early 90s the late C. Delores Tucker used her post as president of the National Coalition of Black Women to launch a fiery campaign against rap music. She took it upon herself to pass out leaflets with the lyrics to gangsta rap to everyone she met, calling the music “pornographic filth” and claiming it was demeaning and offensive to black women. Despite her legendary contributions in the civil rights movement and despite being the first black woman to be named Secretary of State (serving the commonwealth of Pennsylvania) Tucker’s campaign against degrading lyrics against women fell largely on deaf ears. To many she was an eccentric old woman who was out of touch with the lyricism of the times. To add insult, rappers like Eminem and Tupac Shakur blasted Tucker, a civil rights giant and a woman old enough to be their grandmother, by targeting her in their lyrics, using some pretty filthy, derogatory language to shut her up.

Since C. Delores’ Tucker’s death in 2005, and long before the debate that has ensued after Don Imus’ remarks against the Rutgers women’s basketball team, others like Essence Magazine and Oprah Winfrey have spoken out against the sexist and demeaning lyrics in some of the rap songs heard on radio. But you wouldn’t know that for many years now black women have been challenging women’s exploitation and degradation in popular music. You would think that black women have been content to be insulted by the music we hear.

Enter the lions.

After days of conversation with executives in the music industry, hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons released a statement earlier this week recommending that words like “b**ch,” “h*os” and “n***ger” be banned entirely from the recording industry. His recommendation has met with mixed reactions, but there’s no denying that he’s gotten the attention of the industry. Similarly, in the early days of the fall out from Don Imus’ remarks activist Al Sharpton brought a repentant Imus on his “Keeping It Real with Al Sharpton” radio program and gave the shock jock a platform to apologize to black America for his comments. Sharpton later managed to secure spots for himself on CNN and “Larry King Live” boldly calling for Imus’ firing.

So, let’s see, what are the odds that when history is written and the move to clean up hip hop music is accomplished we find folks like Russell Simmons and Al Sharpton getting all the credit?

That the lioness was the first to sink her teeth into the prey will be all but forgotten.