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.
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…