Hip-hop is contributing to American society’s misogyny and racism, hyper-sexuality anti-Black representations. Hip-Hop isn’t setting the standard for misogyny. No one reduces the presidency to misogyny, although we’ve had misogynistic presidents. No one reduces our government to being solely homophobic, although we have a government with a don’t ask, don’t tell policy for gays and lesbians in the military.
I agree that all kids of all colors love hip-hop. My point in writing the book was to raise questions about the ways the hip-hop generation and the millennium generation, both who have lived their entire lives in post-segregation America, are processing race in radically different ways than any generation of Americans. I think they have a lot to tell us as a country about ways of addressing race matters.
Legions of young hip-hop fans are as against this as hip-hop’s most fierce critics. There is a huge underground movement within hip-hop circles that against these representation. You can hear this message on tons of lyrics and rap songs produced by independent emcees. But they are fighting against a well-oiled and well-financed machine.
My hope is to get young people to think about ways that they can translate hip-hop’s great cultural movement into political power that can change the conditions for America’s young, so that young people upon graduating from high school who don’t have economic means to go to college can realize other options beyond joining the military and fighting in wars that enrich corporations like Halliburton which should feel guilty about profiteering off of a war that is being fought on the backs of those locked out of America’s mainstream economy.
We need to look beyond the obvious. Yes, there are minstrel images in hip-hop. Yes, there are demeaning, anti-racist, misogynistic and homophobic representations. We could make the same case about the church and our government. But hip-hop, like society, isn’t one dimensional.
Few places in American culture have made as effective a case for entrepreneurship than hip-hop. Hip-hop tells young people that our society is offering very limited options for youth. And that while society points to a radical decline in living wage jobs for youth and meaningful and affordable education, hip-hop is offering an alternative legitimate economy that is giving youth hope.
The question ‘Why white kids love hip-hop?’ forces us immediately to deal with the historical weight of race in America. On the surface people see hip-hop and race as nothing new. I think the ways young white Americans are engaging hip-hop suggest something more.
I am trying to get folks outside the hip-hop culture to understand why, despite the negatives, young people find hope and refuge in hip-hop. I’m hoping that young people immersed in the culture will work harder to capitalize on the possibilities for great social change that hip-hop represents as a national unified cultural youth movement.
Hip-hop is a complex music and culture that has been reduced to a one-dimensional critique. Hip-hop’s messages aren’t all bad. Neither are they all good.
And just as you can find hip-hop lyrics beating up on all these groups, including young Black men themselves, the primary producers of the music, you can also find lyrics celebrating them.
Unfortunately there is a standard set for it that precedes hip-hop. It would be great if corporate America didn’t do this, but there is a huge market for sex and violence and anti-Black representations in America and the world that doesn’t begin or end with hip-hop.
Hip-Hop’s cultural movement is much larger than the corporate representation. The images most of hip-hop’s critics point to are those manufactured by major corporations whether on television, via Viacom, or on the radio, via Radio One and Clear Channel.
I’m not a poster boy for misogyny and I don’t think hip-hop should be either.
We live in a society that refuses to set a standard for what we will allow American entertainment to expose to our children. I think we need to set a standard that is entertainment industry wide, not just limited to hip-hop.
Locally lived hip-hop culture that is giving many of America’s youth the tool they need to survive and thrive in America, in the face of public policy that have written too many young people off.
After many years of hip-hop as a nation we should have the sophistication to accept that their are distinctions between the corporate manifestation of hip-hop, sold as a commodity and package with sensational race, sex and violent imagery, and the hip-hop culture that kids are living everyday at a local level, which often doesn’t dabble in that terrain.
I agree that a lot of mainstream corporate sold hip-hop is self-hating.