Thursday, February 12, 2009

Pimps, Ho's and Chris Brown


It happened on Sunday. The news first broke.
I was on Twitter,
reading messages about The Grammys,
with the TV turned off, when someone wrote a tweet saying,

"Looks Like Chris Brown put his Pimp hand Down on a Ho."

I unfollowed the person that made this statement.
And continued
about my business. Then I thought.
That's odd, why is Chris Brown beating on a woman,
and isn't he dating Rihanna?

Then I learned, via Twitter, that Rihanna canceled her
Grammy performance,
and of course, unless you have
been under a rock for the last few days
you are aware
of the news, rumors, speculation, surrounding

what happened to them during the early hours of
February 9th.

The details of what happened between them are
not as interesting
to me as what our response to
him allegedly beating her says about us.

Clarence Thomas.
Bill Clinton.
Elliott Spitzer
The Duke Rape Case.
R Kelly.
Mike Tyson.

Now this.

When race, sexuality, violence, power and gender combine with
pop culture
it has a tendency to force us to choose sides and
our thoughts about the aforementioned
issues are laid out
for the world to see.

I grew up in a house where The Mack
and Sparkle were dubbed onto the same
VHS cassette
tape. I grew up in a house where adult family members
The Mack and pointed out streets and family
friends who played extra's in the

That being said, I have been exposed to the world of
pimping as an every
day, largely uncritizied, acceptable
from a young age.

There is something frightening about the ways in which
some folks have uncritically accepted and tried to explain
away what he has allegedly done. "He is young, he is a good
." But then again, we have done the same thing with pimping.

What does our unwillingness to criticize both Chris
and Hip Hop/ R & B say about us? Is R & B and Hip Hop our Daddy?

The tendency to explain away Chris Browns alleged
behavior reminds me of the habit within the hip hop generation to explain
away hip hops misogyny, with out fear sounding incredibly hypocritical.

The things that we listen to shape our world

In the same way that many people, both Black men and women
felt that Chris allegedly beating her is an acceptable response
to finding out that she allegedly gave him herpes.

Many of us were raised getting spanked or whuppins by our
parents. Our parents loved us, but they were also beat
us as a form of discipline. Consequently there are many of us
who walk around scared and violent
because our parents beat us.
Some of also think that it is normal for a person who loves us, to beat us.
There are many of us who cannot connect intimately because
of our fear of being hurt. This is the legacy of violence.

Many of us conflate being hit with being loved. They are not one
and the same. Being hit constitutes abuse and violence.
Period. End of Story.

Which brings me back to The Bay and pimping.
The Bay Area is notorious
for its reverence for pimp
culture and it shows in our music.

I am a firm believer that we use language to organize
how we relate to
one another in the world. I was
reminded of the danger of normalizing pimping when
I read
the following passage in Taking Back God American
Women for Religious
Equallity by Laura Tannenbaum. She writes,

...inclusive language is needed because words and the images
they evoke, have the power
to shape our attitudes: male dominant language creates and reinforces a hierarchical order in which women are regarded as subordinate; words indicate our basic belief and assumptions about ourselves, about others and about God.
The pervasive use of the term pimping serves to normalize
the expression of hatred towards women.

Pimp my ride.

Pimp Juice.

Pimp my myspace profile.


Big pimping tells me a lot about what I need to know
how women in general and Black women
are perceived in our culture.
There are some of us in the Black community that feel that
some women deserve to get beat for their behavior. This is exemplified
by the tendency in Tyler Perry Films for a woman to be slapped or
, and for the violence to go unaddressed in the film.

Which leads me to ask a few questions. How can a culture have
such pervasive reverence for pimps and Black women in the same

Have you seen a pimp beating a woman? Have you encountered
a young
woman who thought her pimp loved her? I have, and
it is a heartbreaking
sight. Where is the humanity in this treatment?
Furthermore, not only is it heartbreaking, but I found nothing
entertaining about her life
. In fact it made me feel powerless.
The documentary film, Very Young Girls, by
David Schisgall about
13 year old prostitutes, illustrates the vulnerability of young women.

I was not surprised when a friend told me yesterday, (a friend
said he was being a feminist because he felt that under
no circumstances should a woman be beat) that he was
surprised that women
defended Chris Brown's alleged
right to hit Rhianna, if she did in fact have an STD.

I stay away from the "Men shouldn't hit women" logic because
if you believe that then what stops you from saying that men
can do things to woman
"Because she is a woman." That
logic goes both ways

I responded to him saying why should you be surprised,
why should women
be any less patriarchal then men? He
mentioned a previous conversation where we concluded that
misogynistic parents raise misogynistic children. That being
said, there are some women who think that violence is a
reasonable response to certain situations.
My reasoning is that
we only know
what we are taught and when we know better we
(presumably) do better.
I contended that both Oscar Grant and Rhianna
are human beings, and thus deserve to be treated as such.

To get into "women are more fragile, men are more strong,
some women
are stronger than some men" is some part to
whole reasoning, that only serves to mystify and obscure
the issue at hand, which is that every person is a human
being and deserves to be treated as such. Violence is not the
way to go, be it the male or the female as the initiator.
Period. End of sentence.

Let's be clear. I am not writing from the inside out.
I come from a place that stipulates that you shoot first and
ask questions
later. If you think I am lying see the Oscar
Grant Riots five weeks ago.
I am talking about myself. I have
the strong urge to stick people with hot thangs when I feel
that they have wrong me. I also know that rage is destructive.

The issue of how to articulate responsibility between men
and women
fighting in public is a hairy one. I have written
about that here as well. In fact, it was almost exactly a year
ago to the day that I wrote, "Domestic Violence, What Would
You Do?" where I mentioned a discussion with
my brother about how he decides whether to get involved if
he sees a woman being assaulted in the street.
Powerful stuff.
My general stance is that oppression is oppression
and the no one
should be beating on anyone else.
. End of sentence.

It seems that many of us are trying to make a connection between
Chris Brown's alleged beating of Rhianna and our personal lives.

I read a post today by Jozen Cumming about Miles Davis and
Chris Brown.
I was reminded of my Patriarchy and Mobb Deep essay
Jozen, tries to reconcile what it means to listen to
and enjoy Miles' music
knowing full well that he unapologetically
beat Cicely Tyson.
Jozen, splits hairs and ultimatly concludes
that the
man is not his music. He writes,
What I learned with Miles Davis is that my loyalty is not to
the man but to what the man created. As a matter of fact, I
don't even know who he really was except for what he told
me in his autobiography. So why would I write off the very
thing he's made for me (his music) to enjoy simply because
outside of his job he was (from what I read) a complete jerk
who gave the world the middle finger?
For me. The music isn't just about the the artist or my enjoyment,
but about what
our young people are learning about what is
acceptable behavior in

For me, fucked-up teenagers make miserable, and many times
addicted adults.

This awful incident gives us an opportunity to think about how
violence against women is normalize thorough our casual use
of the
term pimping to describe everything from actual pimping
to the act of making a car very attractive.

I hope that we can see the ways in which our response
to Rihanna's alleged assault shows us who and what we value,
and the role that tolerated violence plays in our relationships.

Your thoughts?
I'm sure you have one or two. Big {Teef} Smile.


Unknown said...

Damn that was dope.

At the same time. I've been hearing she's abusive as well. Physically abusive. Now I'm not gonna take sides cause I don't even know these knee grows. But realistically from what I've always seen and heard about chris brown, I can't really see dude fighting unless provoked. Even in Germany when he got into that fight he was being antaganized because of who he was. Not to generalize, but in my experience with women from the islands( my mom was from trinidad and my auNt is from Jamaica) women from the islands are a fiery bunch. If I'm sitting in a bentley coupe and rhinna started putting hands on me in the same manner a man might(||) I might have to defend myself or crash. Reallistically, who knows what happened. But during my short tenure on this earth I've learned, there's two sides to every add whoopin'

modest-goddess said...

domestic violence is wrong, no man or woman should put their hands on someone, if someone is being verbally abusive, jealous or controlling get out of the relationship because it is only going to get worse

too many men and woman think that type of behavior is acceptable

a mutual friend was recently involved in gay male on male domestic violence. The man had been jealous and controlling from the start, they were arguing and it progressed to physical violence, they both need to walk away from the relationship, I just want to tell him to run for his life

Model Minority said...

@ Hi J,
Glad you could comment.
Not to generalize, but in my experience with women from the islands( my mom was from trinidad and my auNt is from Jamaica) women from the islands are a fiery bunch.
You say that they are fiery for what reason. Any BLACK woman who is alive has to have some fire in her to have persevered this far.

My issue has LESS to do with them AND MORE TO DO with how WE TOLERATE VIOLENCE in relationships.

@the lady
Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

a mutual friend was recently involved in gay male on male domestic violence. The man had been jealous and controlling from the start, they were arguing and it progressed to physical violence, they both need to walk away from the relationship, I just want to tell him to run for his life
Out of pocket ideas about tolerating violence
affects all of us. This reminds me of
San Francisco's GAY Male Rape Awareness campaign. If it were NOT for that campaign I would have never thought about the issues around Gay men, rape, and its apparent pervasiveness in SF which brings me back to
the fact that, Violence is violence.
Regardless of who is doing the hitting.

My momma.
Or My Partner.

Simple as that. Pray for your friend. I will too.

SoSerious said...

When the story first broke...something about the way the whole thing was parsed out to us made me suspicious. Almost like the media was building anticipation for a summer blockbuster or something. It will be a long time before the truth comes out and by then many will only believe what was first reported. Those same people will use the incomplete initial reporting to draw conclusions and lines in the sand.

I'm embarrassed. Rhi-Rhi and lil Chris had obscene amounts of talent. Until this very unfortunate incident, both had squeaky clean images. That is another reason why what happened has caused such an emotional response. To land safely from such dizzying heights is damn near impossible. How will she shake the role of 'victim' that the media will paint her as? What is the future career of an 'alleged' woman beater? I don't even want to talk about how race complicates the situation exponentially. At first I was thinking 'We gotta do better with Obama in office.' Now it's we just have to do better, period.

MartiniCocoa said...

Although I have no idea what happened between Chris brown and Rihanna, I do see this as an opportunity to examine the jokes, biases, sensibilities that seem to pervade when romantic relationships slipinto physical or emotional abuse.

The reactions highlight how incredibly immature we choose to remain about how to treat each other with humanity. Also highlighted is how unwilling people are to question their out of this world mindsets (Island women are fiery? So what? Fiery doesn't warrant a fist to the dome or an elbow to the neck.)

I think that's been the biggest, personal wake up call to me. Imagining a loved one (mother, father, brother, sister, partner) charging me with a clenched, enraged fist made me pause everytime I thought of Rihanna (or anyone else) facing down that kind of fury.

If only everyone could have that kind of collective brain freeze before rationalizing violence as the status quo instead of the aberration.

matt williams said...

J Not to generalize, but in my experience with women from the islands( my mom was from trinidad and my auNt is from Jamaica) women from the islands are a fiery bunch

Wow just wow. I guess his biting(alg) her help pervent an accident too huh.

Model Minority said...


How you been?

If only everyone could have that kind of collective brain freeze before rationalizing violence as the status quo instead of the aberration.
Collective brain freeze is the business.

Building Minds Multi-Media (BM3) said...

Model Minority,

Greetings to you from Los Angeles, CA.

I'm a High School History Teacher and
Founder/Co-laborer of Building Minds
Multi-Media (BM3) [Blogspot].

I am deeply engaged in dialogue with my
teen students about the omni-present
influence of popular mass media on their
lives. Your insight is helpful and I hope
that we can find opportunities to collabo
on crazy issues like this.

It makes me nutso to see how my students
puke-forth conversations they heard the
night before on College Hill, The Hills,
etc... They walk around campus like they
bein' followed by an invisible TMZ crew!

I'm doin' my best to listen to my students
and help them understand who controls the
images, sounds, and ideas that they consume
daily. Once they see that there are really
only 5 media corps that control all the media,
amusement parks, a grip of pro sports teams,
etc. They begin to discover who the real PIMPS
are--who continue to manipulate us ALL to be
they HOES. They spend billions of $ a year to
maintain their thrones of persuasion.

Chris Brown and Rhianna's saddening and deplorable incident is just some of the popular visuals we're digesting as a result of the vile concoctions the mass media moguls stir up about gender-race realtions and whatever other ingredients they want to sprinkle on us; to addict us to their brand loyalty at the cost of ANYBODY.



Unknown said...

@ Chic noir

I mean if you know Rhianna or happen to have the police report laying around, Holla at me! Id love to know how you got the inside scoop about him teething on her. But as far as I know, the incident did happen, but all details thus far are pretty much hearsay.

Soooo Yeahhh....

Unknown said...

@ M. Dot


Model Minority said...

@ Bill,

Thank you for stopping by and commenting.
The work that you are doing is precisely the kind that both me and many of my allies/readers are interested in.

The babies fail/win based on what we give them. Nothing more, nothing less.

Keep in touch. Don't hesitate to e-mail me to connect, if you have an idea, a thought etc.

Take care.

~m. dot.

A.u.n.t. Jackie said...

my father was never allowed to hit me. and I was one of those bad ass kids that probably would have been beaten within an inch of my life in any other house hold.

i have no threshold for pain or violence in my relationships, i have no defense mechanisms for such. i have been taught since day one if a man hits me to tell my parents, my brother's my uncles, the police and who ever else will listen. in adulthood i add to that to call my lawyer...

my father has told everyman i've ever dated that he is NOT to put his hands on me, that I am a loved daughter and am always welcomed home.

that being said i sometimes have a violent temper, fought all the way thru high school and some in college. was one of those hit first and hit hard chicks and even still i never dated a man who put hands on.

i think it's learned behavior, and i'm not judging because i think it can happen to anyone, however i wish more girls were raised to have a zero tolerance on violence from men.

Model Minority said...

@ AJ,

Thank you for sharing.

I wonder how your dad got that way.

My momma whupped me. My dad, was like yours.
He spanked me twice.

Once when I stole bubble gum, the other time,
when I threw rocks at the train (the other kids were doing it)<<<< tre country.

Mr Alex said...

that's why pimp game is a skull game.

Why people have a pity for R?

being in this business requires 'no feelin'

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