The entire country is up in arms about Don Imus and the slanderous comments he made against the women of the Rutgers Basketball team. I'd heard about Imus after GLAAD included him in their hall of shame last year, but like many people in the African -American community Imus was not on my direct radar. Imus has since been fired from his jobs at CBS and MSNBC due to his racially insensitive remarks. But the biggest debate to arise out of this scandal is the offensive and derogatory language used by rappers to refer to Black women in our own community.
So if Don Imus can't call us "knappy head ho's" then why is it acceptable for us to refer to ourselves as such?
I was sent the most disturbing youtube video of three young white rappers freestyling in the vein of 50 Cent and The Game, and what I saw was the result of hip-hop falling into the wrong hands. In under 10 minutes the three "rappers" used the n word over thirty times. It rolled off their tongue as if the word was not tied to years of oppression. But as I continued to watch the video I began to realize that we (Black people, rappers) have commercialized the word and given white men a pass to call us the very word that was spoken to dehumanize us for centuries.
The hyper-masculine thug persona of hip-hop has embedded itself in the minds, speech, and fashion of men all over this country and is considered the acceptable definition of manhood by many. The lead rapper in this video even has the word "Gutter" tatooed on his stomach and wears it like a badge of honor. I couldn't help but recall Tupac's famous "Thug Life" tatoo in the same place.
I'm still finding it hard to believe that they think it's okay to use the N word and post it on the internet for the entire world to see. Have they not noticed that Eminem's widespread acceptance amongst other Black rappers is because he was smart enough not to use the N word?
We live in a country where free speech is embraced, but hate speech is a totally different thing and should be censored. I'm glad the discussion is turning away from Imus and towards the bigger problem of harmful lyrics in hip-hop. After all it was the lyrics that we sing along too and bump in our cars that created the shameful display in this video .