“It’s too many Black women/ who can say they are mothers/ but can’t say that they’re wives…” – “Retrospect for Life”, Common and Lauryn Hill
The hottest new show on cable is “Sex and Hip Hop.” If you haven’t peeped it yet, it’s about the daily drama of Brooklyn rapper, “Charlie Manson,” his two baby mamas, Latoya and Patrona, and his label mate, the first openly gay rapper, “Flamboyance.” Originally, the cast included the stable, loving, hardworking Black family next door, the Moores, but they were dropped after the first episode because of low ratings…
Without a doubt, the most watched programs on television are the reality shows. With the popularity of shows such as “Love and Hip Hop” and “Housewives of… Wherever,” it is apparent that Americans can’t get enough of seeing dysfunctional Black folks and dysfunctional Black families doing funky, dysfunctional things. But the question that should be asked is, are these shows really, reality or just the Hip-Hop version of “The Big Lie Theory” - tell a lie long enough and people will eventually accept it as truth?
It’s a little bit of both. However, we cannot confuse the effect with the cause.
The depiction of African people as sex starved savages goes back hundreds of years. According to James Jones in Bad Blood, it was once believed by physicians that Black people were more sexually promiscuous than whites because, “Blacks had originated in a warm, tropical climate and were, therefore, closer on the evolutionary scale to man’s bestial ancestors.”
These myths have constantly been dis-proven by scholars.
Michael Bradley, in his book, The Ice Man Inheritance, wrote that “love” was such a natural process for ancient civilizations such as the Egyptians that they did not even need a word for it. However, it was the Western Man’s (European) “sexual reproduction aggression and frustration” that made their use of the word necessary, as it served as a temporary “truce” between men and women just long enough to make a babies.
Even with evidence to the contrary, the stereotype of Black sexual deviancy has remained.
During the early 20th century, according to Dr. Harriett Washington in her book, Medical Apartheid, the early eugenics theorists believed that Black women were “sexually indiscriminate and, as bad mothers, were constrained by biology to give birth to defective children.” She also wrote that scientists once believed that Black men were more likely than White men to spread vd because of “the Negro’s well-known sexual impetuosity.”
This stereotype of Black hyper-sexuality was reflected in the music industry, as white teens both embraced Black sexuality and rejected it, simultaneously. Even as far back as the jazz era, Brain Ward wrote in Just My Soul Responding that the white audience “romanticized its alleged primitivism… sensual rather than mental properties …and it’s supposed lack of sexual inhibition,” parroting the wide spread belief that Black people think with their sex organs instead of their brains.
This idea has dominated Hip-Hop since its origins. Twenty years before Big Sean was telling women to “bounce it and make it boomerang,” Luke “Skywalker ” Campbell and the 2 Live Crew were yellin’ “Me So Horny.” And decades before Nicki Minaj dropped that “Super Bass,” Salt and Pepa were demanding that dudes “push it real good.”
Perhaps the most destructive idea pushed in Hip-Hop is that Black men really don’t even need women, as many are still following the Snoop Dog mantra “we don’t love them hoes.” This can be attributed to an entertainment industry that consciously or unconsciously supports the prison industrial complex by propagating the “jail house mentality.”
Because many young Black men spend 5-10 years in prison without the pleasure of women, the “thug luv,” “money over hoes” and other ideologies serve as coping mechanisms. Unfortunately, as Dr. Frances Cress Welsing wrote in The Isis Papers, “young males only become more alienated from their manhood and feminized in such settings.”
One of the most spirited discussions in Hip Hop over the last few years is over the issue of homosexuality/homophobia. The word “homophobia” can be deceiving, in itself, as “phobia” means “fear”, which you rarely hear expressed in rap music. Outside of a handful of songs such as Brand Nubian’s “Punks Jump up to Get Beat Down”, you can hardly find any evidence of “gay bashing.”
However, you can find plenty of examples of “Black-on-Black blastin.’” So, what you have is not fear or hate but a culture clash between an art form based on an African cultural heritage where homosexuality was never the norm and a “Western” culture where it was practiced freely. (Noted historian J.A. Rogers wrote in Sex and Race Vol. III that the practice was “rampant in ancient Greece and Rome.” )
The overemphasis on homophobia is problematic, because it overshadows real pathologies facing the Black community.
Although Black celebrities such as Magic Johnson should be commended for trying to rally rappers against “homophobia” and AIDS, this should not take the place of the more specific problems facing Black folks, such as the physical abuse of Black women and the disproportionate rate of heterosexual HIV infection among them.
Also, while rappers such as Waka Flocka Flame have co-signed the “anti-bullying” call for tolerance of those who are “different,” this must not overshadow Hip Hop’s responsibility to address the much more prevalent violence between Black males who are basically the same. Also, we cannot ask young Black men to accept men wearing dresses, before we even teach them about Black men wearing shirts and ties.
Our main challenge today must be to address the dysfunction of the Black family and the conflict between Black men and women. whether real or imagined and repair the damage that has been done. And just buying a box of over-priced, chocolate-covered cherries, or rushing out to grab some last minute Valentine bling, won’t solve the problem.
As Dr. Cress Welsing wrote, “If we are successful in finding the true cause of the alienation and neutralizing that cause, then Black male /Black female alienation will yield to true harmony.”
And we must begin begin by teaching Black children to accept and respect themselves.
If not, we will forever be trying to correct the behavior of people who, as Lil Wayne would say, never learned “how to love.”
TRUTH Minista Paul Scott’s weekly column is “This Ain’t Hip Hop,” a column for intelligent Hip Hop headz. His website is www.NoWarningShotsFired.com, and he can reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter (@truthminista).