Hip-hop and its portrayal of women is the focus of a weeklong discussion that started this week at Spelman College.
Likely the most famous Black women’s college in the country, Spelman
has been on a mission since April 2004 to make the music industry look
at itself and what it produces.
Two Spelman students decided to take a stand against what they saw as the exploitation of women in hip-hop culture last year.
Asha Jennings, who is now a law student at New York University, said
she was motivated by watching rap superstar Nelly swipe a credit card
through a woman’s backside in a video.
“At some point you’ve got to say, ‘Enough is enough, and I’m tired,”’
Jennings, 23, said, comparing her turning point with Rosa Parks’
refusal to give up her seat for a White man on a Montgomery bus.
Nelly canceled a charity event at the school last year when he learned
that Jennings, who was a senior and president of Spelman’s Student
Government Association, was planning a protest, together with Moya
Bailey, who was president of the college’s Feminist Majority Leadership
Alliance, and other students. His record label, Universal Records, said
it was unfair that Nelly should be singled out.
While misogyny in pop music, especially hip-hop, has been around for
years, the students said there has been an explosion of almost-X-rated
videos passed around on the Internet or shown late at night on cable
channels like Black Entertainment Television (BET).
Earlier this year, Essence magazine sponsored a town-hall meeting on
women and hip-hop that turned into a slamfest against TVT Records and
BET officials. It drew 500 people, including some men from nearby
Jennings said her campaign against negative images of women in pop culture isn’t over.
“We started a conversation, but it really didn’t change things
enough,” she said. “I think the only way to change the hip-hop
industry is going to be to hit these artists in their pockets.”
Rappers MC Lyte, Cheryl “Salt” James and Da Brat and actor Darryl
“Chill” Mitchell join scholars for Hip Hop Week discussions this week.
— Associated Press
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