Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Black America Needs To Clean Our Own Backyard

Today's Oprah Winfrey broadcast discussing the role of the hip-hop/rap industry in the perpetuation of misogyny in music and videos pointed out several sad ironies in our society.

First, asking the hip-hop industry to fix the problem is like asking the the oil industry to fight US dependency on fossil fuels. Don't hold your breath. It's all about the $$$$. As long as the top industry execs are getting rich they have little motivation to change a thing.

Two, we as African Americans need to stop making excuses for bad behavior. Just because a young hip-hop artist grew up in a broken home, or in poverty, or is uneducated is not an excuse for producing what is tantamount to hate speech -- self hate at that.

It is crazy for the African American community to accept that our musicians and comedians can use the language of misogyny and self denigration and then get offended when a member of another race does the same.

Three, we all need to stop blaming things on "society" as if "society" is "them", "society" is us -- everyone one of us.

During Oprah's show Russell Simmons, Kevin Liles and Benjamin Chavis patted themselves on their efforts to mentor hip-hop artists and hailed young hip-hop artists as today's poets, yet not one of them explained why it's acceptable for a hip-hop artist to refer to black women as bitches and hos but when a white person ( outside of the hip-hop community) does the same he/she should be fired. No one discussed the fact that the record industry spends billions of dollars promoting the culture of misogyny and black denigration to an audience that is at least 60% white. And no one dared discuss why the record industry spends several times more promoting an Alicia Keys than an India Arie.

When the young ladies from Spelman College explained that they are often called bitches and hos in public settings, their comments basically went unaddressed by the panelists. So I had to smile when later in the broadcast Kevin Liles became righteously indignant at a comment by a member of the audience that referred to hip-hop execs as clowns. He made a little speech stating that after achieving all that he has accomplished he is offended by being called a clown. How does Mr. Liles think that thousands of equally sucessful black women feel everyday when they are walking down the street and have to listen to a car stereo blasting lyrics far more offensive than "clown"?

I also had to smile when Simmons, Liles & Chavis said that they felt that their entire industry was being attacked. How do they think thousands of young black women feel everyday?

No one is saying that the entire hip-hop industry is the cause of all of the ills in the black community. What we, as black women, are saying is that the first step in improving our cultural neighborhood is for each resident to clean out their own backyard. Once the neighborhood is clean, outsiders will be less likely to drive through and throw their trash on our streets.

# # # # #

I Am Not My Hair Lyrics
by India Arie (feat. Akon)

Is that India.Arie? What happened to her hair? Ha ha ha ha ha
Dat dad a dat da [4x] Dad a ooh

[Verse 1]
Little girl with the press and curl
Age eight I got a Jheri curl
Thirteen I got a relaxer
I was a source of so much laughter
At fifteen when it all broke off
Eighteen and went all natural
February two thousand and two
I went and did
What I had to do
Because it was time to change my life
To become the women that I am inside
Ninety-seven dreadlock all gone
I looked in the mirror
For the first time and saw that HEY....

I am not my hair
I am not this skin
I am not your expectations no no
I am not my hair
I am not this skin
I am a soul that lives within

What'd she do to her hair? I don't know it look crazy
I like it. I might do that.
Umm I wouldn't go that far. I know .. ha ha ha ha

[Verse 2]
Good hair means curls and waves
Bad hair means you look like a slave
At the turn of the century
Its time for us to redefine who we be
You can shave it off
Like a South African beauty
Or get it locked
Like Bob Marley
You can rock it straight
Like Oprah Winfrey
It’s not what's on your head
It’s what's underneath and say HEY....


(Whoa, whoa, whoa)
Does the way I wear my hair make me a better person?
(Whoa, whoa, whoa)
Does the way I wear my hair make me a better friend? Oooh
(Whoa, whoa, whoa)
Does the way I wear my hair determine my integrity?
(Whoa, whoa, whoa)
I am expressing my creativity..
(Whoa, whoa, whoa)

[Verse 3]
Breast Cancer and Chemotherapy
Took away her crown and glory
She promised God if she was to survive
She would enjoy everyday of her life ooh
On national television
Her diamond eyes are sparkling
Bald headed like a full moon shining
Singing out to the whole wide world like HEY...

[Chorus 2x]

[Ad lib]
If I wanna shave it close
Or if I wanna rock locks
That don't take a bit away
From the soul that I got
Dat da da dat da [4x]
If I wanna where it braided
All down my back
I don't see what wrong with that
Dat da da dat da [4x]

Is that India.Arie?
Ooh look she cut her hair!
I like that, its kinda PHAT
I don't know if I could do it.
But it looks sharp, it looks nice on her
She got a nice shaped head
She got an apple head
I know right?
It's perfect.

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