Cognitive Dissonance

"Democracy! Bah! When I hear that I reach for my feather boa!" - Allen Ginsberg

Posts tagged hip hop

133 notes

On racism, rap, and cultural appropriation

Rebloggable by request:

I have a question. I never liked rap until I heard Macklemore. And I listened to some other stuff, and so the only rap I like is by white people. I wrote an informative persuasion speech for my Public Speaking class about how black people started rap but white people made it better because it’s not all gangster. I got docked for points because my teacher (a black prof) said it was racist, that it’s in the syllabus hate speech won’t be tolerated, and it’s not a persuasion speech. Who’s right?

image Anonymous

Meg at Cognitive Dissonance:

You are definitely in the wrong here. So. Very. Wrong.

Your opinion is just that — an opinion. If you’re doing an informative persuasion speech, I’m going to guess your professor wanted you to cite sources. I don’t even know what sources you’d cite to suggest that white people were able to take rap and make it better because it’s not “all gangster.” I’m gonna guess Stormfront. It was Stormfront, right?

And that leads to the whole racism thing…

Yes, your professor is right. Let me quote another white rapper, Eminem, as our starting point:

“I am the worst thing since Elvis Presley / to do Black Music so selfishly / and use it to get myself wealthy (Hey) / there’s a concept that works” — “Without Me”

There’s a long history of cultural appropriation with Black music and culture, whether it’s rap, blues, rock n’ roll, etc. (Harlem Shake anyone?) What do you think birthed rock n’ roll? It just fell out of the sky like manna from White Jesus? Bullshit. I encourage you to pick up this book, The Soul of Rock ‘N Roll: A History of African Americans in Rock Music.

Now, on to rap. First off, I’ll help you with the whole hip hop white people like thing. Brian over at Cats and Beer complied a list of hip hop songs for white people and damn, if it isn’t the truth from what I’ve seen with white people who say, “Oh yeah, I LOVE rap!”

In all seriousness, examine what you’re saying up there. You like rap that white people have done because it’s “not all gangster” — did you stop to consider that perhaps the music you hear from people of color has something to do with their real-life and their struggles? Yeah, there’s gangsta rap, but check your privilege at the door anon — I’m guessing your objections don’t come from growing up in and seeing that as a part of everyday life.

However, some rap and hip hop IS problematic itself with the derogatory language towards women, LGBTQ people, and Black women in particular, but there’s also the same degradation in rock music — largely by white men, and for decades. On my radio show, we came to the conclusion that Death Cab for Cutie’s, “I Will Posses Your Heart” is the ultimate “nice guy” song:

“You reject my advances and desperate pleas / I won’t let you let me down so easily / So easily”

Let me? How sweet of you Ben Gibbard, let me have hundreds of your twee lil’ babies!

Dr. Edward Rhymes wrote an excellent piece about rap being scapegoated by the dominant culture in America called “Caucasian please! America’s Cultural Double Standard for Misogyny and Racism.” An excerpt:

In this composition I will not be addressing the whole of hip-hop and rap, but rather hardcore and gangsta rap. It is my assertion that the mainstream media and political pundits — right and left — have painted rap and hip-hop with a very broad brush. Let me be perfectly clear, hardcore and gangsta rap is not listened to, watched, consumed or supported in my home and never has been. I will not be an apologist for anything that chooses to frame the dialogue about Black women (and women in general) and Black life in morally bankrupt language and reprehensible symbols.

In the wake of MSNBC’s and CBS’s firing of Don Imus, the debate over misogyny, sexism and racism has now taken flight — or submerged, depending on your point of view. There are many, mostly white, people who believe that Imus was a fall guy and he is receiving blame and criticism for what many rap artists do continually in the lyrics and videos: debase and degrade Black women. A Black guest on an MSNBC news program even went as far as to say, “Where would a 66 year-old white guy even had heard the phrase nappy-headed ho” — alluding to hip-hop music’s perceived powerful influence upon American culture and life (and apparently over the radio legend as well) — and by so doing gave a veneer of truth to the theory that rap music is the main culprit to be blamed for this contemporary brand of chauvinism.

However, I concur with bell hooks, the noted sociologist and black-feminist activist who said that “to see gangsta rap as a reflection of dominant values in our culture rather than as an aberrant ‘pathological’ standpoint, does not mean that a rigorous feminist critique of the sexist and misogyny expressed in this music is not needed. Without a doubt black males, young and old, must be held politically accountable for their sexism.

Yet this critique must always be contextualized or we risk making it appear that the behavior this thinking supports and condones — rape, male violence against women, etc. — is a black male thing. And this is what is happening. Young black males are forced to take the ‘heat’ for encouraging, via their music, the hatred of and violence against women that is a central core of patriarchy.”

How about that for an informative persuasion speech?

Not liking rap isn’t racist. I dig Macklemore — “Same Love” and “Thrift Shop” are catchy as hell. Saying the only rap you like is by certain artists who are white, well, it’s awkwardly walking a fine line and some people will assume you’re racist. Claiming white people took rap and made it better? Fuck, anon, you should be grateful you just got points taken off. You assume that rap by people of color is just gangster? Yeah, that’s racist but sadly, I bet there are a few in your class that agree with you. Again, your professor is right. It wasn’t a persuasion speech. It was (likely) racist. I say likely because I obviously didn’t hear it, but I seriously can’t think of a way in which it wouldn’t be racist.

And lest you think all rap by white artists is a-OK, please, let me remind you of 3OH!3’s “Don’t Trust Me” — which holds the honor of being the only song I have ever refused to play as a request on my own radio show.

In conclusion, check out Sarah Jones, “Your Revolution”:

Hopefully you’ve learned something here, and your next speech is just a simple how-to instructional speech. May I suggest how not to be an ignorant tool as the topic? Re-read the above if you have any questions.

Class dismissed.

Cheers,

Meg

Filed under racism music rebloggable Anon cultural appropriation Black music hip hop rap culture are you kidding me? Edward Rhymes Rock n roll Blues race Harlem Shake

46 notes

Fox Nation keeps it classy.
The headline: Obama Hip Hip BBQ Didn’t Create Jobs. The White House birthday was a private party which, according to the Chicago Sun Times, was paid for by the Obamas. The guest list included many more government officials than celebrities, as if that really matters.
Fox Nation has a tendency to portray the Obamas as irresponsible occupiers of the White House via racial messages, as opposed to a democratically elected president. Note the pictures at the top of the article. The whole “hip-hop BBQ” versus outdoor garden party with dancing inside (as described by several blogs and ABC News) is fairly blatant.
However, the url really gets the message across: http://nation.foxnews.com/president-obama/2011/08/05/obama-parties-chris-rock-jay-z-and-whoopi-while-rome-burns
How dare that guy throw himself a private birthday party AND PAY FOR IT HIMSELF after a ridiculously stressful few months? It’s not like he’s even supposed to be there! YOU GUISE! LOOK! HOW DARE HE?!

Fox Nation keeps it classy.

The headline: Obama Hip Hip BBQ Didn’t Create Jobs. The White House birthday was a private party which, according to the Chicago Sun Times, was paid for by the Obamas. The guest list included many more government officials than celebrities, as if that really matters.

Fox Nation has a tendency to portray the Obamas as irresponsible occupiers of the White House via racial messages, as opposed to a democratically elected president. Note the pictures at the top of the article. The whole “hip-hop BBQ” versus outdoor garden party with dancing inside (as described by several blogs and ABC News) is fairly blatant.

However, the url really gets the message across: http://nation.foxnews.com/president-obama/2011/08/05/obama-parties-chris-rock-jay-z-and-whoopi-while-rome-burns

How dare that guy throw himself a private birthday party AND PAY FOR IT HIMSELF after a ridiculously stressful few months? It’s not like he’s even supposed to be there! YOU GUISE! LOOK! HOW DARE HE?!

Filed under Fox News Fox Nation politics racism Barack Obama Obama Hip Hop