Last week, Tracey Rose sent me the above video.
As I watched Hip Hop vs. America the video weighed
on my mind.
For example, in the clip titled TI and Nelly Speak Nelly continued to
talk about TipDrillGate.
The general sentiment of the women at Spelman
was that they wanted to host his bone marrow drive,
(his sister died of a bone marrow related disease) but that they
also wanted him to speak on the images in the TipDrill video.
Spelman's attitude towards Nelly was "We care about your sister,
but we care about our sisters too".
Dr.William Jelani Cobb gets into the nuances of TipDrillGate
when he writes,
The flyers posted in Cosby Hall said it all: "We Care About Your Sister, But You Have To Care About Ours, Too." The slogan explained the position of the student-activists at Spelman College whose protests over Nelly's "Tip Drill" video led the artist to cancel his scheduled appearance for a bone marrow drive on the campus earlier this month. But in a real sense, their point went beyond any single rapper or any single video and went to the center of a longstanding conflict in the heart of the black community. But rarely do we hear the point that these students were bringing home: that this single video is part of a centuries-long debasement of black women's bodies. And the sad truth is that hip hop artists' verbal and visual renderings of black women are now virtually indistinguishable from those of 19th century white slave owners.Nelly seems to want us to believe that the actions of his
non profit render us silent on a critique of the video.
I have spoken here before on my view non-profit programs.
The general notion is that they tend to have more to do with
serving the interests of those who created them, than those who
they claim to serve.
However, Nelly does have a point about the positive contributions
of Black men in general and his contributions specifically
Perhaps it would behoove us to recognize the positive, tangible,
contributions that both the famous and the every day folks make.
Back to the segment. What was really telling about this clip
and about us as a people is the cheering of Nelly as he
expressed his anger towards Farai.
While watching this I thought, why was she the only person on
stage representing the interest of thinking about analyzing
how these images impact all of us?
Why did Master P get so defensive towards her as well? As if
she is responsible for him having to hustle.
That they were allowed to yell on stage indicated that
Toure was doing a poor job of moderating.
Then came the next segment titled, and Toure redeemed himself.
Nelly was mentioning how his daughter made recently honor roll,
that parents come up to him complaining about how
Hip Hop is "messing their kids up in school".
Nelly then states, "My daughter doesn't watch Tip Drill".
That, is what we call the rub.
Toure then, interjects and asks, "How can you make Tip Drill
but your daughter can't watch it?" Nelly's response?
"Tip Drill came on at 3am on a program labeled for adult audiences
This is odd. Rappers are artists and artists know that you can't
control product distribution. RIAA anyone? Once it is out it is
on the internet, on DVD's, youtube, its viral.
You can no longer control information.
Nelly appears to be lightweight enraged at the gall of us. At our
audacity about caring about how we are displayed in "Tip Drill".
Which brings me to the street.
Yesterday I saw a young man, maybe 16, with a t-shirt which
said "Bad Girls Suck, Good Girls Swallow". His willingness to
wear the t-shirt is indicative of someone who may potentially
lack respect for the sex and sexuality of another being.
If that statement is on his shirt and he is willing to wear it,
I could only imagine what was going on in his head.
Perhaps it is more important to me is that the message being
sent to all of the younger boys and girls that see him in the
street wearing it.
Which bring me to the street.
When the woman at the beginning of the video said, Dudes getting
at her on the street was normal, "everyday like breakfast".
I wondered how the rap panel would respond if I asked them,
"How do you think your videos contribute to how men treat
us on the street?"
Why do Black men speak to women the way they do on the street?
Why is there a presumption of access to us, our bodies?
Why is their a refusal to see that rap videos normalize the notion