I happened upon the Vibe Awards last fall just at the point where they were about to present the award for Best Video Vixen. I burst into laughter because my mind immediately translated it into "The Video Ho Award." I really could not believe they had actually established a category for the women who wear booty shorts, skimpy tops, high heels and basically gyrate against some man or other women throughout an entire video. While there have long been complaints that music videos do nothing but glorify violence and misogyny, the latest trend does seem to be videos with slews of black girls with over developed rumps wearing clothes that accentuate every curve. I subscribe to the "don't like it, don't watch it" school of thought so generally don't watch it.
However, I now recall an former IBM co-worker once saying that she hated walking outside to take a break because the Indian men, who were outside smoking, always seemed to be leering at her and would always greet her with rather creepy
"hellos." Jokingly, I laughed that they were foreigners and had probably seen some MTV video and thought she was like Patra
(old school video
vixen) or something (my body isn't quite stacked like that so I never got that kind of attention).
It's been more than a decade since I made that flippant remark and the videos have gotten even more suggestive and more prevalent. I guess the younger set must really be feeling the impact of those videos because the young women at Spelman College, in conjunction with Essence Magazine, decided to take action and make an effort to take back the music
. Stanley Crouch - a black columnist that many blacks love to hate - wrote about it
"When Bill and Camille Cosby donated $20 million to the historically black Spelman College in 1988, consternation went through the black community because the size of the check was so shocking. No one, even Bill Cosby himself, could have imagined that within two decades the young black women at Spelman would spark what is easily the most important American cultural movement in this new century.
In April of last year, under the leadership of Asha Jennings, who now attends New York University as a law major, the Spelman women gave voice to the fact that they had had enough of the dehumanizing images of black women in rap. They went after the rapper Nelly, who was scheduled to appear on campus, for the images in his 'Tip-Drill' video.
Nelly hid under his bed and chose to stay away from that female ire. Maybe it would blow away. It did not.
On Friday, Atlanta was set afire by the emotion and the hard thinking of black women. Spelman and Essence magazine presented a hip hop town meeting at the Cosby Academic Center Auditorium as part of their Take Back the Music campaign. The campaign is a response across generations that Essence has covered in its last two issues and will continue to address as long as necessary. One can easily see that many women find the overt hatred of females and the reductive, pornographic images of the worst hip hop quite disturbing.
The overflow audience filled three additional rooms. Michaela Angela Davis, an editor at Essence, was the moderator. The panelists were Tarshia Stanley, assistant professor of English at Spelman; Moya Bailey, Spelman senior; Kevin Powell, author and activist; Michael Lewellen, vice president of BET public relations; Brian Leach, vice president of A&R, TVT Records, and hip hop artist and actress MC Lyte.
The event lasted three hours. Said Davis: 'It was most heated and most uncomfortable for those representing the companies. Lewellen and Leach received the most fire from the audience. These women are in pain and are confused. One woman asked, 'What did we do to make you all seemingly hate us so much?' There was a great silence, and a feeling of collective pain filled the air.'
This mysogynistic and brutal turn in music is damaging the image of black American women to the point that they are approached outside of the U.S. like freelance prostitutes.
The Spelman women made their voices heard and have inspired thinking young men to fight the stereotypes and question the images. This is no less than an extension of the civil rights movement. But true change will only come when white females begin to identify with the dues their black sisters must pay as this hostility and exploitation continues to be splattered through radio and television. White women have to open up on white men, who buy four out of five rap recordings. Once they declare it uncool for white guys to support the dehumanization of black women, we will see much more than a sea change.
I'm an optimist. I think the tide is about to turn."
I found the link to that colun on Steve Guilliard's
site. I was actually a little surprised by his assessment of the article and even more appalled by many of the comments. It seems some people feel that a) Spelman women are just a bunch of uppity black women and b) they should find something other than music to worry about. I posted a comment too but by this afternoon, I was more convinced that the campaign against this type of music needs to continue.
It appears as though 50 cent is trying to start up another feud amongst rappers (including one of his own) and shots rang out
during one of his radio appearances leaving one person injured. There comes a point where "isht" just gets old. Shooting, "Tupac vs. Biggie" fueds and random violence are so ... 90s! It needs to stop ... now!
Note: And I do realize that my using the term "ho" means that the culture
has impacted me too!