Ever since Don Imus called the Rutgers women’s basketball team a bunch of nappy headed hos, there’s been a lot of talk about racism in the media. And a large amount of the debate in mainstream media outlets have unfairly imposed the question on hip hop, asking ‘should we complain that a white sports anchor used the same language black males in hip hop use?’
Worthless. Racist comments are messed up no matter who uses the language. Reappropriating the n-word, for example, doesn’t negate the fact that it’s been used under very disturbing circumstances. Scapegoating hip hop is an immature way to talk about the bigger problem of silently accepted racism. But the conversation’s still been happening on a lot of media outlets. Like the Oprah Winfrey Show.
People have a really hard time understanding that mainstream hip hop is not a reflection of hip hop overall, let alone the entire African-American community. Hello. Mainstream hip hop (what you hear on the radio) is out there to sell personalities, sell records, and sell out amphitheater shows. In mainstream hip hop, sex sells. Just like it has in rock n roll for the past 50 years. Remember Nine Inch Nails’ Closure? Motley Crue’s Girls, Girls, Girls? or Elvis’s “suggestive and downright obscene” hip shaking? No one took these songs as a reflection of white america and said “we’re all a bunch of perves!” If I said something nasty to a white woman and defended myself by saying, “Nikki Sixx said the same thing, so you must feel the same way. It’s all good” would you seriously hear that argument?? Nikki Sixx is as much a spokesperson for white people in america as 50 Cent is for black people. Furthermore, misogyny in hip hop is a reflection of what the consumers in America are looking for. Not the African-American community’s views towards women.
But Oprah can’t see that. Cause she must have never listened to Mos Def, Talib Kweli, or The Roots. Saul Williams wrote an open letter in response to Oprah’s quick-critique of hip hop:
“You see, Ms. Winfrey, at it’s worse; Hip Hop is simply a reflection of the society that birthed it. Our love affair with gangsterism and the denigration of women is not rooted in Hip Hop; rather it is rooted in the very core of our personal faith and religions. The gangsters that rule Hip Hop are the same gangsters that rule our nation… For a Hip Hop artist to say “I do what I wanna do/Don’t care if I get caught/The DA could play this mothafukin tape in court/I’ll kill you/ I ain’t playin’” epitomizes the confidence and braggadocio we expect an admire from a rapper who claims to represent the lowest denominator. When a world leader with the spirit of a cowboy (the true original gangster of the West: raping, stealing land, and pillaging, as we clapped and cheered.) takes the position of doing what he wants to do, regardless of whether the UN or American public would take him to court, then we have witnessed true gangsterism and violent negligence.”