Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Morning Edition - 4/18/07

Standing In the Mirror Cursing Myself Out
Following the Don Imus slur that incited so much outrage, I sat and thought about why any race would appropriate hate-speech as a term of endearment. I joked with a friend how odd it would sound if a Latino man walked up to another and said, “Yeah, this is my spic,” or if a White man would run into his neighbor at the grocery store and greet him by saying, “How’s it going honkey?” It’s funny because it would never happen. So, how did the “nigga” conundrum begin? Why, when it began so long ago, did those that were “in the know” not pump the brakes of the younger folks who thought it would be a cool phrase. The argument that it is empowering to convert a word used for hate, into a term of camaraderie is ridiculous. No other culture appears to share this belief. Hate is hate. Hate begets hate. Then there’s the issue of the trying to explain why a girl from the projects that uses her flirtation and, sometimes more, to get ahead is a “ho,” while a young lady from Spellman who dates men who pay her bills is simply resourceful and ambitious. More importantly, it appears the lines become blurred when men fail to recognize the distinction between the two and resort to calling both types, simply, a “ho.” Oprah Winfrey had an open discussion on the subject this past Monday and Tuesday. She included respected members of the Black community, young women from Spellman College and members of the Rap industry who discussed why the Rap industry fails to see the connection between the glamorizing of sexism and oppression and the proliferation of hate speech in America. Ultimately, the Rap industry would like it if we see the problem as one that started before they began uttering the hate speech and so it should be addressed in general and not focus solely on their industry. What was most disturbing was how the record industry executives felt that freedom of speech should protect those that wish to continue to voice their experiences – even if those experiences included the artist using words such as “bitch,” “ho,” or “nigga.” One panel member said it best when he said that no one will be given more respect that they give themselves. Simply, if we’re okay with calling each other bitches, niggas, etc., it is difficult to hold others accountable for echoing our hate speech.

On Blast
Our first amendment rights protect what we say – regardless of what that is. The rap industry appears to hinge their argument on protecting that right in an effort to explain why it is important to allow rappers to express themselves as they see fit. Do you believe we would still have “nigga, ho, bitch,” etc. in rap lyrics if our communities refused to purchase music from any artist that engaged in hate speech? Is “green” the ultimate deciding color in racist remarks and freedom of speech discussions?

Keep passin’ the open windows…


Anonymous said...

Ok, this is my take on things. There were two different types of slaves house and field. House slaves were of a lighter complexion and we more acceptable to the master this is why they could come in the house. This made the house slave feel they were better than the field slave. Now although the word nigger came from the white masters I believe (and this is my opinion)this is where blacks calling blacks niggers originated. Now somewhere down the line somebody told the lie about using it would not make it as important. If that was the case then you or I would not mine my friend Jessica (who is white) saying "what's up my nigga!" Now when rap (originally called hip hop) first came out there were messages in the lyrics. There was no violence, no bitches, no hoes. Rap came out when gansta rap occurred. Hip Hop and rap are really two different types of music. Now as I grew up and music changed I did not buy what was then called gangsta rap. I bought hip hop. Do I think if everybody stopped purchasing this music it would die I have no clue because I don't think that will ever happen.


Adam said...

Yes I think that, if the community stopped purchasing the music, things would change. But that's only part of the problem.

As long as we, as a community, allow ourselves to be defined by this "gangsta" image, these negative descriptives will never lose momentum. I think that it's just a sign of ignorance on our own parts.

It's obvious that other races and cultures take their lead from the black community, when it comes to things like fashion trends, music, the ethnic arts, etc., but we refuse to use this power to gain the respect we deserve. We're just too content with being a steriotype. We're also too anxious to put each other down.

I say, "Black folk, no matter where you come from or what you do, open your eyes!"

Also, I wish I could ask the black rap community, who think it's OK for them to use the work "nigga" in their lyrics, if they would think it OK for the few white rappers to do it too.

Anonymous said...

its all a crock of bullshit.
respecting yourself is respecting God is respecting everything He created!
You don't really think P.Diddy respects himself, do you? Making babies all over the place like he does? He's a DOUCHEBAG. Anyone who walks around calling a sister a hoe or a bitch or a whatever derogatory might as well go up to their own mother and spit in her face. Most of the lost ones out here are lost because their Daddies weren't doing their jobs. All of these rap dudes out here - with the exception of Q-Tip, DeLa Soul, Talib Kweli, The Roots - are idiots who need to have their teeth kicked in for some of the stupid ish they say.
Listen to Taib Kweli in "Black Girl Pain" and you will understand what I am saying. They are setting the worst examples for the young ones who look up to them because their own parents were too smoked out or incarcerated or dead for them to really have their own parents to look up to. Its certainly is not about stripping away First Amendment rights. Its about CONSEQUENCE IS NO COINCIDENCE. Its about respecting yourself.
Don Imus is an animal .... but even he is worthy of redemption.

I want my daughter to never feel the kind of pain some of the sisters I know feel. So I decided to let her be Sophia and told her to be brave and strong always. My sons would never treat any human being the way I see some people get down. Its all very sad. But something has got to give....and I believe if each individual takes inventory and responsibility for themselves - and stops blaming other races for their pain - things will change for the better.

-- Caspar608 (I don't know why my password isn't working)

Anonymous said...

Oh, this isn’t that hard to understand. How people choose to refer to one another are truly base on their relationships to each other; not on how you or I feel about what they are saying. And just for the record, bitch and ho is not synonymous to the Blacks community but people still to always connect them; imus said nappy not nigga and ho not bitch. And to Cocoa, it seem that you hesitate using some racial words but nigga seemed to jump from the page very easily. Don’t get me wrong, I Love you like I love my luggage but keep it real. Is it wrong for you to use these words so freely? Is it social conditioning or just literary rights? We all know what is offensive and what acceptable language is; in mixed or open conversation. If you choose to be ballsy enough to call someone out of their name, grab hold to those same balls when you are called on it. Can we have the power to control speech? Well then, let’s head to the libraries and burns some books; what history don’t we approve of? Or should it be “hertory”? If you take away all the four letter words and “hat-speech”, would everything be alright? Every day people speak negatively about us, our Love ones and our God; are we about to police words and control speech? What next, our thoughts and choice of religion…? Just remember if you have .10% African blood in your veins, you are concern Black… so, in the long run, who are you really talking about?

Cocoa Rican said...

Racial slurs - regardless of what culture they are referring to - are wrong. I'm confused as to what you're saying about my use of the word "nigga" in my posting, since I always highlighted the word "spic" and "honkey." For the purpose of this posting the words needed to be said to actually know what we're talking about... I actually hate when folks coyly say, the "N" word or the "B" word... we're not children. If I don't want you calling me a "spic" I'm going to say, don't call me a spic. Since you and I have been friends for over 20 years J'Moo it stands to reason that as a man of color, who just happens to be Puerto Rican, I take offense to both the word spic AND the word nigga. As you will recall, I have been called both and you were a witness to both. Don't play...this isn't about me...

Leniere said...

I am pleased that this conversation is happening, in whatever form it takes.

I watched Oprah too, and while I agree that finger pointing doesn't help, I agree with Stanley Crouch (who I really don't like) when he says that hip hop artists are not hapless victims who are simply being forced to use such language because they have no other option.

I disagree with Russell Simmons when he says that this is about poetry and that we shouldn't attack the poet when he/she is saying things that make us uncomfortable. I don't buy the notion that these artists are simply reflecting the contradictions in our society. I would submit that they are also contributing to it.

When thinking about Imus and how that all went down, I have to consider the following:

The ad people buckled to the perceived financial fallout. We don't know if black people would have actually boycotted anything. I'm not saying it's impossible, but it hasn't been proven in recent history.

In answer to your question about the impact of our refusal to purchase this music: 75% of hip hop music is purchased by non black people. I only spend money on artists who don't degrade my experience as a black gay man. I'm sure there are others who do the same thing. At times, it feels that these quiet protests are a drop in the bucket. Luda is not crying because I didn't buy his album.

Maybe we should test it out. Maybe gay people should test it out too. It's profound how people who degrade us can profit from us. I'm sure hip hop would hurt if black people withdrew support. It's public image would be tarnished, but as we aren't the largest group who purchase this music, the overall effect is questionable.

Jeanine said...

OK I don't know why my username is acting up but let me just say, Cocoa I'm glad we're discussing this.

It seems like everyone is looking for someone to blame in this now global discussion. No it's not right to call a woman a whore, a hoe or any other derivation of the word but let's keep it real. If she is selling her body, demeaning herself, and/or stripping butterball naked for some dollars - then what the hell do you expect for her to be called. Certainly not a virtuous woman. In many instances, some of these songs are talking about the money hungry gold digging, maniuplative women that are trying to come up and are doing WHATEVEr necessary to get it...Now you may not want to call her a hoe but those are some hoeish tendancies.

As far as the whole rapper angle goes I am SOOOO tired of these 'self appointed leaders of the black/brown community' jumping on this bandwagon. But here's the catch with that whole argument, people pay to listen to that. For whatever reason, people make a decision to spend their money on music that calls women these terrible names. You cannot tell an artist what s/he can and cannot say especially if someone wants to buy it.

The first amendment protects us all but at some point, we ALL have to say that disrespecting women, making homophobic statements, making hateful remarks is NOT ok. We all have a responsibility so it's not fair to put all the blame on rappers. Like it or not, their voice serves a purpose so telling them that they cannot express themselves will cause more harm than good.

The whole Oprah show pissed me off. These snobs (including O) are sitting there pointing the finger and blaming everyone but neglecting to address the real issue. Don;t even get me started with the sistas from Spelman. They came off as bourgie and elitist. Talking about "they call me a hoe whenever I go out". Let's be real about MANY of the chicks at Spelman. THEY ARE SOME CLOSET HOES (LOL) who try to act like they are sweet demure women! YEAH OK. Plus many of them have their nose WAYYYY up in the air so when a brother from ATL tries to holla, they come off as stank. LEt's not confuse this debate with isolated incidents.

This is a societal issue and it speaks to why the conditions are such that an entire culture think it's ok to degrade and beat up on each other. It begs the question, what is going on in these guys’ communities and what are they seeing that is making them say these things. Additionally, why are they so angry? These questions open up a Pandora’s box that few want to deal with. It gets to the deep seated issue of race, class, prosperity, inclusion and so many other issues. America is the only country where people feel that we have the right to say whatever we wish with little regard for human and public decency.

As far as Imus, he made totally unprovoked and unacceptable comments about a group of women that never did anything to warrant his statements. He crossed the line on public airways and I am glad he was held accountable. The entire ‘conversation’ was disgusting. Mentioning jiggaboos and wannabes was as racist as you could get. Calling these women hoes was completely unacceptable. Wrong is wrong no matter who says it and how they mean it. If I called a person of the jewish faith a kike I would be a anti-Semite. Even if jews called themselves that, the term is offensive and disgusting. I shouldn’t say it…EVER, period. Think about this, the word cunt is horrible and essentially means the same as hoe yet if you call a woman of any race a cunt it is the most disgusting thing you can say to her. At some point, society decided that word wasn’t ok and we stuck to that. We should do the same with the n word and other racist epithets.


Anonymous said...

Yeah Baby, let's get this party started. Oh, what I meant to say is, Yes ladies and gentlemen it is more than pleasing to hear your comments; please carry on...
big up! to Jeanine

Anonymous said...

Don't forget ya'll. Not all rappers are "guys." Let's hold Eve, Lil' Kim, Foxxy, and others accountable too. They've all used those words in lyrics at one time or another.

And don't forget that young women (of all races) have recently taken ownership of the word Bitch. I've heard many a woman take pride in calling herself or another woman a Bitch. So don't go trying to put it ALL off on the men.

People can say whatever they want. We don't have to accept what they're saying.

Joey Bahamas said...

What's interesting is how we don't call money hungry, promiscuous men hoes...we call them ambitious, we call them sexy, or we call them men. When we live in a society where the only roles black, underprivileged women are ascribed is the video girl, or the stripper we can hardly call them hoes for trying to make a coin. There is excuse for misogyny, homophobia or racism on the radio, in music, or in language....

Anonymous said...

I have a really good friend who for all of our friendship has openly and very easily uses the "N: word while talking. It seems second nature to her and is as common as saying her name. I've never pointed this out to her and I doubt she has even noticed how I cringe as she slings this word. I've often tried to man-up and let her know she really need to stop but I've failed not wanted to hurt her feeling( yeah where is the irony in that). I wonder is it because I never feel the slur is directed to me? making it no reason for me to feel offended... I know that down the line I will snap and this will all come to a head. So I ask how can I be diplomatic about this very ugly topic?