New York Council
member Yvette D. Clarke joined community activists and elected officials last
week, denouncing misogynist and racist lyrics by Eminem and other popular hip-hop artists.
Clarke, along with
Erica Ford of the Code Foundation, Viola Plummer of the December 12th Movement,
representatives of the Harriet Tubman/Fannie Lou Hamer Collective, the Masses
United for Human Rights, Africans Helping Africans and others rallied at City
Hall in New York, saying they were "fed up with what has become a pervasive
and destructive theme in the commercial world of hip-hop."
nothing more important than what we have to say about the context of the images,
sounds and words that are broadcast to our youth," Clarke said. "We
are here to say that the entire hip-hop industry must begin to make itself more
respectful and accountable to a community it owes so much to and should be compelled
The groups condemned
the racist lyrics of Eminem, which surfaced when the Source magazine released
a ten-year-old tape that featured the multi-platinum artist using the word n*gger
and making disparaging remarks about African-American women.
"Far too many
have become apologists for what is wrong in hip-hop," Clark continued.
"Just because someone has apologized for their destructive actions doesn't
mean that we all don't have an obligation to stand up and say what Eminem did
was wrong. And more importantly, to make sure that his fans, black and white,
hear that message loud and clearly."
Clarke said the
positive themes of earlier hip-hop have been replaced with self hating and defaming
images, which have stunned the growth and development of the community.
other artists who look like my father and brother, who are just as guilty of
the type of hateful, anti-female words that Eminem espoused. These brothers
need to check themselves and realize that as artists, their words and actions
are strongly having a devastating impact on our youth," Clarke continued.
"While we hold Eminem accountable for his actions, we must at the same
time pose this question: who made it culturally acceptable for the word "n*gga"
to be used so openly and freely, without repercussion? Who made it acceptable
for hip-hop to be a forum for the denigration of Black women? And the most important
question of all: Who profits from this madness?"
the music business for promoting "hatred on our airwaves and in the record
stores" and called on the major labels to invest more into the Black and
Latino communities of the United States.
acknowledge that there are several organizations making contributions to the
community, it is only a fraction of the billions of dollars made annually off
the destruction of our culture," Clarke noted. "I am calling upon
the music industry that is hip-hop to seek out ways to give back to community
institutions that feed the minds, bodies and spirits of our youth. And for the
hip-hop community to wake up and realize that they are our future. We need their
strength and energy to combat the problems that afflict our community, and not
add to those problems."