Lynne d Johnson



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05.02.07 01:11 AM

The Real Reason for the Sudden Attack on Hip-Hop

Mark Anthony Neal, Associate Professor of Black Popular Culture in the Program in African and African American Studies and Director of the Institute for Critical U.S. Studies (ICUSS) at Duke University, explores the real reason for the sudden attack on hip-hop at here. Neal suggests that in the aftermath of the Imus controversy, "..the current critique of hip hop is aimed at undermining the culture's potential to politicize the generations of constituents that might claim hip-hop as their social movement." Further he states, "..what marks this moment as different are the attempts to force mainstream black political leadership and Democratic Presidential candidates to repudiate hip hop culture (reminiscent of the pressures placed on Reverend Jesse Jackson to distance himself from Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan in 1984)."

And, "Asking figures like Reverend Al Sharpton, Senators Clinton and Obama, and Russell Simmons to publicly distance themselves from hip hop is a transparent attempt drive a wedge between them and a constituency that has both the energy and the creativity to galvanize a youth-based electorate in the 2008 election season."

My boy Neal, definitely makes a plausible argument here. In fact it's one that I'd never attempt to debunk. What is interesting though is that hip-hop, as always in recent years, has become the scapegoat for all of America's social ills. We've had this discussion before, so it should come as no surprise that I side with this argument. Where are the protests and marches when black women are being attacked -- not on recordings -- but in their daily lives?

About a week ago I mentioned Russell Simmons call to ban three words from hip-hop ("bitch", "ho" and "nigger"). At that time, I said nothing about how absurd this was. What will banning these words from hip-hop prove? What will banning these three words do to affect change in how people act? Now I'm not going as far to say words are just words ("sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me"). In fact, words wield power. But at the end of the day, these words are not the root of the black community's problems. And I'm not even going to point at America itself being the root of these problems. Instead, as I've often stated in this very space, there's a real disconnect in how black men are often not raised (and I would never dare to say all black men are not raised) to take responsibility for their actions. I'm not even going on the BET soapbox here, in terms of TV raising so many of our children, because latchkey kids have always existed. One or two further...

1. Often parent(s) fear disciplining their black sons too harshly because they feel the world -- the man and the system -- will do them unjust anyway. So there's often a babying and shielding.

2. Some black men are not taught to love. That's right, I said it. In fear of their little men becoming too soft, black fathers often hypersexualize their sons and stress a hyper macho image.

OK...maybe 3, and yes I'm saying this one too...

3. Young males who have no exemplary role models often fall prey to mob mentality.

And further still...

How would we expect the hip-hop generation, or the black community for that matter, to erase "sexism, misogyny, violence, anti-intellectualism and homophobia," within itself when these are norms within the larger society that engulfs them?

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