Who You Callin’ A Bitch?

This is a re-post from my old blog site, but it is one that is very relevant. In this post I reference my music project “I Am Hip Hop Too”. I will be posting about that very shortly. But for now, just know that it is a project that I am working on and hope to have done late 2010. You can vote for the idea here http://www.refresheverything.com/iamhiphop (until June 30) and you can “friend” (well I guess it is “like”) us at http://www.facebook.com/iamhiphoptoo . Hope you enjoy the blog, and feel free to comment!

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What Do We Really Think?

 

If you’ve read my early posts, then you know that I am in the process of making a CD, I Am Hip Hop Too, that is about, for, and by young women. Also in the earlier post I touched on the subject of how women have been devalued, de-humanized, and “thingified” in a good amount of rap songs. Today I want to share excerpts from an article written about four years ago. I came across this article the other day while looking for the original business plan I wrote for the CD. I had saved this article simply because it was a very powerful piece. Again, I will share excerpt of the article which was entitled “Celie’s Revenge: Hip Hop’s Betrayal of Black Women” You can read the full article by clicking on the link.

Please note, in the article the author refers to “Hip Hop”, when she is mostly talking about Rap Music. Granted there may be sexism in Hip Hop as a culture, but it is most blatant in the music. Hip Hop is a culture, NOT just rap music. The elements of hip hop include: Breakin (dancing), Emceeing (rapping), Graffiti Art, Deejayin, and Knowledge (which are considered the Five Pillars of Hip Hop). Hip hop also includes Beatboxin, Street Fashion, Street Language, and Street Entrepreneurialism.

Betrayal Of Imagination

The article was written by Jennifer McLune (ironically enough, the main character on my CD is named Jennifer. Maybe I did that sub-conciously) in response to this excerpt from Kevin Powell’s “Note’s of a Hip Hop Head” from the book Who Shot Ya? Three Decades of Hiphop Photography

Indeed, like rock & roll, hip-hop sometimes makes you think we men don’t like women much at all, except to objectify them as trophy pieces or, as contemporary vernacular mandates, as baby mommas, chickenheads, or bitches. But just as it was unfair to demonize men of color in the 60s solely as wild-eyed radicals when what they wanted, amidst their fury, was a little freedom and a little power, today it is wrong to categorically dismiss hip-hop without taking into serious consideration the socioeconomic conditions (and the many record labels that eagerly exploit and benefit from the ignorance of many of these young artists) that have led to the current state of affairs. Or, to paraphrase the late Tupac Shakur, we were given this world, we did not make it.

Ms. McLune opens her article in the following paragraph:

To hip-hop’s apologists: You were given this world and you glorify it. You were given this world and you protect it. You were given this world and you benefit from it. You were given this world and even in your wildest dreams you refuse to imagine anything else but this world. And anyone who attacks your misogynistic fantasy and offers an alternative vision is a hater, or worse, an enemy who just doesn’t get it. What is there to get? There is nothing deep or new about misogyny, materialism, violence and homophobia. The hardest part isn’t recognizing it, but ending it. Calling it unacceptable and an enemy of us all. Refusing to be mesmerized, seduced or confused by what hip-hop has come to signify: a betrayal of our imagination as a people.

“Refusing to be mesmerized, seduced, or confused by what hip hop has come to signify: a betrayal of our imagination as a people” I couldn’t have said it better. Let’s forget for a minute that we are discussing the betrayal of women; Hip Hop in many instances has betrayed our imagination as a people! I know I sound like the old man when I say “back when I was growing up….” but really take a listen to some of the stuff that gets a lot of radio play. Most of it, and the rappers who created it, sorely lack in creativity. Definitely not all of hip hop suffers from this, but so much so that marginal rappers today are considered “hot”.

Fighting To Be Heard

Kevin Powell’s “socio-economic” explanation for the sexism in hip-hop is a way to silence feminist critiques of the culture: It is to make an understanding of the misogynistic objectification of black women in hip-hop so elusive that we can’t grasp it long enough to wring the neck of its power over us. His argument completely ignores the fact that women, too, are raised in this environment of poverty and violence, but have yet to produce the same negative and hateful representation of black men that male rappers are capable of making against women.

Hip-hop owes its success to the ideology of woman-hating. It creates, perpetuates and reaps the rewards of objectification. Sexism and homophobia saturate hip-hop culture, and any deviation from these forms of bigotry is made marginal to its most dominant and lucrative expressions. Few artists dare to embody equality and respect between the sexes through their music; those who do have to fight to be heard above the dominant chorus of misogyny.

Now I would have to disagree that hip hop’s success is due to woman-hating. Rap music has been popular for a long time, and woman-hating hasn’t always been the mainstay of it. Once Black Consciousness was phased out and replaced by “gangster-rap”, woman-hating was a big part of it. As Ms. McLune makes not of, those who deviate from what’s popular usually has a fight on their hands if they want to be heard. I realize this as I have embarked on a journey to make music that definitely does not fit in to what is “popular” these days. But I don’t see it as a fight. We will make our music, and our expectation is that those who is seeking that type of music will be attracted to it in one way or another.

Female Rappers

Unlike men, women in hip-hop don’t speak in a collective voice in defense of themselves. The pressure on women to be hyper-feminine and hyper-sexual for the pleasure of men, and the constant threat of being called a bitch, a ho – or worse a dyke – as a result of being strong, honest, and self-possessed, are real within hip-hop culture, and the black community at large. Unless women agree to compromise their truth, their self-respect, their unity with other women, and instead play dutiful daughter to the phallus that represents hip-hop culture, they will be either targetted and slandered, or ignored altogether. As a result, female rappers are often just as male-identified, violent, materialistic and ignorant as their male peers.

Well, Ms McLune, you have a point there. There aren’t any Queen Latifah’s, Lauren Hill’s, or even Yo Yo’s in mainstream rap right now. I’m admittedly not as into rap as I once was, so it should be no suprise when I say that I’m hard pressed to name any female rappers other than Nick Minaj, and she doesn’t even have an album out. Maybe it will come to me before the end of this blog post, but I just don’t know of any female artists out right now. I certainly don’t hear them on mainstream radio.

Who You Calling A Bitch!?

Some women sing along to woman-hating lyrics because they’ve convinced themselves that Snoop, Jay-Z, Ludacris and others aren’t talking about them. They are talking about women who act like bitches and hoes and thus deserve to called bitches and hoes. When do women ask what men deserve? Too many of us sing along to woman-hating lyrics because we have allowed men to decide which women are worthy of respect and which women are asking to be called names. But as long as men define the terms upon which any woman is worthy of respect, we are all bitches and hoes. And as along as we allow men to divide and label us, they’ve conquered us all.

Not much for me to say after that. You may want to read that paragraph once again….

I’ll conclude this right here. Again, if you want to read the entire article click on the hyperlink at the top of the blog.

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How Do YOU Use Facebook?

How do 500,000,000 people use Facebook? In 500 million different ways I would guess. Maybe we are like snowflakes, no two users are alike. There are so many ways to use it thus the question I ask is how do YOU use Facebook?

Here are a few ways that I use Facebook:

Share Information: The information could be personal information such as “going on a job interview ” or “watching Thomas the Train for the millionth time” or the information could be something like a link to an article about How To Become Debt Free.

Ask For Help: When you have a lot of “friends” in your network if you ask for something, there’s a decent chance someone will respond. Help could be anything from answering a question to getting a job (Ive gotten some part time work via a friend on FB). I’ve also asked friends to vote for my show or my idea in the Pepsi Refresh Project (if its June 2010 when you read this you too should vote at http://www.refresheverything.com/iamhiphop ).

Spread Hope: I often post inspirational quotes on my status, particularly in the morning, so hopefully someone can use it that day.

Talk About TV Shows and Sports: When LOST was on a number of us would post our thoughts about what was happening on any given episode. Same thing went for events like the Grammy Awards, BET Awards, and especially sporting events.

Promotion of a Project: When a group of us were organizing our 20 Yr High School Reunion, we used FB to promote it.

Pass/Waste Time: With a good number of games on FB, it’s easy to find something of your liking. When I first got on FB I was big on Wrestling. Then I got into Hold ‘Em Poker. Millions of people are on Mafia Wars and Farmville (I think I got 1000 invites). Even if you aren’t playing games you could pass a ton of time looking at friends pics, looking at videos they post, or responding to people’s status.

These are a few of the ways I use Facebook, how about you?

Do What You Love

Today we (my wife Sheila and our friend Maieka) shot an episode of our new TV show “Yummy! Yummy!” I’ve been producing/directing TV shows for about 11 years now and I really enjoy doing it. Thing is, its not my profession, so I haven’t made 1 cent doing it. As much money as I may have spent over the last 10 plus years, I don’t feel like I’ve “lost” any money either. When you are doing what you love to do things like money and time, which are very important in our society (and very important to me too!) don’t seem to matter as much. What I mean is you can spend a good deal of both money and time on something and if you love doing it then the payment comes in the form in satisfaction you get in accomplishment of the activity.

Now don’t get me wrong I wouldn’t mind making a ton of money from doing what I love to do. As a matter of fact I hope that Sheila and Maieka can graduate from Public Access TV to Food Network, Cooking Channel, or some other major network and make an excellent living from it. And in the meantime I make a lot of money from my music projects (more on that in another post). However NOT making money hasn’t and wont stop me from doing what I love to do.

I’ve seen to many people NOT do what they say they would love to do because of time or money. People say they don’t have the time, don’t have the money, or not sure if they could make enough money (to make a living) doing what they say they love (or would love) to do. Time and money are good reasons to not do something but they are also convenient excuses for most people. If you are one of those people, Stop With The Excuses! Find some time and/or money to do what you love. You wont regret that you did it, but you will certainly regret that you didn’t.

Father and Son Time

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Today Justin and I are having some father and son time together. Since he loves trains (we bought him about half of the Thomas the Train collection) I am taking him on a “trip” just riding the Metro system here in DC. Very simple and very cost effective, yet very powerful. The actual train ride is uneventful, but the experience of doing things with his daddy will stay with him.

I, like far too many males, never had the experience of doing anything at all with my father. I only saw him a handful of times throughout my life, and even when I did we never shared anything more than a few passing words. So I never knew what it was like to have a “daddy”. I know that affects many people adversely, but I used my “non” experiences as a motivation to be sure that I would be an active (positive) part of my children’s lives long before I even had a child.

So although I don’t like all the father and son time we share (when I’m trying to nap and he insists on playing, when he gets into our bed at 2 or 3 am taking up our whole bed, or when for some reason only on Saturdays he wakes up early and wants to play/watch TV), I do cherish the time we have together. I also look forward to trips to the zoo, sporting events, fishing, and teaching him a whole host of things. As the saying goes – Enjoy the little things. One day you may look back and realize they were the big things.

You Got Good Hair

Chris Rock in Good Hair

The other day I was at a friends house during a BBQ and a young lady commented that my son was adorable and someone else chimed in that he had “good hair”. This brought back memories of my childhood and teen years when the same was said about and to me… “you got good hair”.

Growing up I heard that a lot, and it was usually followed by a question “do you have (Indian/Spanish/White) in your family? ” To which I usually responded ” nah, I guess I’m just lucky” Lucky for what? I guess lucky to get all this attention from the laaadies! Ah yes, they always wanted to touch the hair, and run their fingers through it.

Whereas I didn’t know which person in my family had the “good hair” (neither my mother or father displayed it), my son can say both his mother and father have good hair (yup the wife has it too). So now Justin will go through a good part of his life hearing “ooh, you got good hair”, being asked “do you have (pick a nationality ) in you?”, and having the laaaaadies want to run their fingers through his hair. Enjoy it while you can son, enjoy it while you can.

Of course “Good Hair” is a hot topic in the Black Community. Chris Rock came out with a documentary about it. It was about woman, and what they do to get their hair to be “good”. It’s a pretty enlightening movie. Rent it or purchase it (buy the DVD here GOOD HAIR)  and join the conversation.

Uncluttering Twitter: Manageflitter To The Rescue

What’s up party people in the house! It’s saturday night, and tonite we’re gonna have fun by…. unfollowing people on Twitter!

I’m not sure if you are like me, but not too long ago when I rededicated myself to tweeting, I decided to follow a bunch of people by clicking one button. Yup, with the click of a mouse I was following about 800 “popular” people! Just what I needed, to be following Paris Hilton, the WNBA, and some rock dudes I don’t even know.

It wasn’t all bad though. There were a bunch of people that I followed that actually provided some useful information. One piece of very useful information came in the form a a tweet (don’t know who tweeted it. You will note that this will be a recurring pattern) that read “Efficient Way To Unclutter Your Twitter Following: http://j.mp/a1vSk5 “. When you follow the link it takes you to A.R. Karthick’s blog ( http://www.arkarthick.com ), and he posted about a site called ManageFlitter ( http://www.manageflitter.com ). Boy was this site useful!

I logged on to Manageflitter and after a couple of simple steps, it was able to tell me all sorts of good things about my Twitter account, namely who I was following that wasn’t following me back, and who I was following that had an inactive account (hasn’t tweeted in a month or more). With that information in hand I went to work and deleted 124 of the 408 accounts that wasn’t following me back or was inactive.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect the celebrities and stars of the world to follow me on Twitter, yet, but there were plenty of people that I definitely didn’t need to be following. There are more, I just have to look at my Timeline and make a few notes.

Thanks Manageflitter, you made my Saturday night!

Hola Mi Amigos!

Just wanted to say hello to my peoples! This is my new site, and new blog. The old site was a cheesy one pager hosted by Yahoo! that I got for purchasing their business mail account. The old blog was (actually still is as of right now) hosted by Blogger. To keep it simple (for you and I) I will copy old blogs to this new blog.

Anyhow, read my “ABOUT” page so you are up to speed on what my blog is and is not.

Holla!