Snoop's Wrong

Category: By Christian
"It's a completely different scenario...[Rappers] are not talking about no collegiate basketball girls who have made it to the next level in education and sports. We're talking about ho's that's in the 'hood that ain't doing sh--, that's trying to get a n---a for his money. These are two separate things. First of all, we ain't no old-ass white men that sit up on MSNBC going hard on black girls. We are rappers that have these songs coming from our minds and our souls that are relevant to what we feel. I will not let them mutha----as say we in the same league as him."
--Snoop Dogg in an article that was posted on

In the wake of the numerous commentaries about Don Imus, I haven't said much. It seemed pretty self-explanatory, really. A blowhard who is known for towing the line once again got in trouble for going over it. Much like Ann Coulter, Al Franken and Rush Limbaugh, Don Imus is more of a caricature who entertains us than a legitimate news figure. The problem is that the aforementioned group masquerades as actual news personalities who should be taken seriously, so when they cross the line there is outrage. Put your show on Comedy Central and don't take yourself seriously and you can get away with a lot more. Or, don't say hurtful things and you won't get in trouble at all.

The one conversation that this incident has resurrected is the one that focuses on rap music and they way it talks about women and violence. As a life-long fan of Hip Hop, I've come to the point where I can no longer be an apologist for the way the community endorses violence and misogyny. My thoughts were cemented last night when I went to the Tivo and watched the film, Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes, which aired on PBS a few weeks ago.

The film does a great job laying out how preposterous it is that Hip Hop propagates the messages it does on a mainstream stage. One of the most telling interviews was with a college professor who noted that black Hip Hop artists have adopted the values of white slave owners, and now treat their own people with the same contempt and degradation that severely crippled the black community in this country as well as in Africa.

Snoop Dogg has his opinions. He also has many apologists who easily explain away why it is ok for rappers to repeatedly use versions of racial slurs and unsavory titles for women. And yet, when we sit down and really look at some of the statistics I saw in Hip Hop last night, can the black community really afford to allow these trends to continue?

1/4 black women are raped after the age of 18.

black women are 35% more likely to be assaulted than white women

1 woman is sexually assaulted ever 45 seconds in the US, and 61% of those are under the age of 18.

70% of Hip Hop consumers are young white men.

A couple of things stand out to me here. First, violence against women is a huge problem in the black community. Rappers contend that they are reflecting the society they come from. Fine. But as an artist, you have a responsibility to communicate truth while at the same time saying "this is not the way things should be." Some rappers are able to do this. Toni Morrison has a gift for such communications. The majority of mainstream Hip Hop however, seems to be content to reflect ugly truths while at the same time glorifying and propagating them.

Second, other people are listening to us and learning from Hip Hop. Rappers will often claim that they are only speaking to "their people", and that their words contain many in-group messages that those outside of the community misinterpret. Bull. Snoop Dogg and all of the other successful mainstream rappers are getting as rich as they are because white people distribute and buy their music. For a lot of these people, this is their primary window into the black community. Thus, you are doing another huge disservice to your own community by making us look like animals. Oversexed animals who cannot control violent impulses, even if they are aimed at women. These rappers are perpetuating stereotypes, and they are getting rich doing it.

There were a lot of people in the black community who directed strong and angry words toward Mr. Imus. Now he is being hit where it counts. In the pocketbook. Sponsors are dropping like flies, which is the worst thing that can happen to a media personality. Until the black community inspires a similar reaction toward those in Hip Hop who are focused on the degradation of others, we will find it difficult to get out from some of the issues that are currently holding our young people back from high achievements.

Fair Dinkum

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