New York Council Member Seeks Reparations From Record Labels

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."

"There is

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

to repay."

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.

"There are

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?"

Clarke criticized

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.

"While we

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."