That Awkward Umbrage, Part I: The Potential Role of White People in the Protection of Black Women

A Black woman activist recently emailed a concise opinion piece she found, on Jay-Z’s new-found reluctance to use the word “bitch”, to me and a couple hundred of her closest friends. The essay was great, but a certain detail caught my eye. So I wrote a short email to those 200 friends, and a few of mine, then posted my little email as a note on Facebook for my friends there to respond too. Combining email and Facebook note discussions this was the conversation:

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‘Bill Drew’ Aabaakawad — Facebook note AND email

NOTE: If you reply to this [email/note], please say whether or not it is OK for me to quote your reply in a blog post I will be writing. I will be using an OPT-IN policy, so permission to publish will be assumed to be NOT given unless clearly stated otherwise.

Just a quick note. Tricia Rose‘s essay “Jay-Z – dropping the word ‘bitch’ doesn’t begin to cover it” implies that defending Black women against the misogyny of current Hip-Hop is necessary, but should be off-limits for White men (and White women?) because it would merely be another opportunity for White Supremacy to dismiss Black cultural expression and the value of Blacks themselves. I submit that the current apathy of mainstream society (read “White” if you wish) towards the protection of Black women is deeply implicated in the practice of Hip-Hop misogyny, therefore concern MUST be allowed to be expressed by White members of society. There are many such people willing to do so.

What do you think?

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Christelyn Russell-Karazin — email

I agree with you Bill. No way to I trust “us” to sort this out. Time to open up the discussion because it’s obvious there’s not real desire to seek solutions within. Frankly, I have little confidence of an attitudinal change unless there’s a widespread shame for it, so much so that perhaps the Power That Be will think twice about allowing all that filth into the music.

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Cher Smith — email

I’m In…Use my name, DOB, whatever…You’re free to fix any Spanglish, if any :D

This is like an arsonist offering a cup of water after the house he set on fire is burnt to the ground. Twenty-five years too later, go back to sleep Jigga! Those care about the legacy we leave our children children (not necessarily our own) have been trying to stop the bleeding and triage victims of this poison. A strange wonder how the word “bitch” and it’s implications did not cross Jay’s mind until the child he wanted had finally arrived.

And with that I leave this quote from Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”:

“O serpent heart, hid with a flow’ring face!

Did ever dragon keep so fair a cave?

Beautiful tyrant! fiend angelical!

Dove-feather’d raven! wolvish-ravening lamb!

Despised substance of divinest show!

Just opposite to what thou justly seem’st—

A damned saint, an honourable villain!

O nature, what hadst thou to do in hell

When thou didst bower the spirit of a fiend

In mortal paradise of such sweet flesh?

Was ever book containing such vile matter

So fairly bound? O, that deceit should dwell

In such a gorgeous palace!”

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Every statement from here to the end of this blog post
was a comment to my facebook note.

Some comments have been combined or slightly edited.

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V, the Great One

Limits are against freedom. Single words that some find offensive, no matter historically so is pointless. Words have multiple meanings, for multiple people, at multiple times, and uses. Intent is the key for me. I think it is discriminatory and a tad racist, to say it’s okay for some people to say it, and others not. There are power in words, yes, but in how they are used, in context, and in art. I have to regularly point out to my black friends (which is about 80% of my friendships) that they find being called a “boy” racist, but very quick to say “white boy” or “chinese boy.” I find that people who have issues with the word bitch, nigga, etc. have blame issues, believe themselves and others fall into stereotypes, limit the definition of racism to only institutional racism, and are the most limiting, exclusionary, and sensitive types.

Personally, I believe in free individualism instead of group association for identity. I believe in freedom of speech as an ideal. I put more responsibility for the perceiver to define and be free from words than the expresser. I am not weak enough to let words control me more than I command them. I choose what I believe, I choose to be free instead of jailed in what some people believe ignorantly to be “consciousness.”

I’d be a straight bitch if I didn’t let you repost what I said. So it’s ok.

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Don Rice – (NATruthstudent)

Bill, whenever I hear one of these rappers, or anyone else, refer to ANY women in this manner, I’m reminded of Queen Latifah’s song, U.N.I.T.Y., specifically the line putting at least some of the responsibility on women themselves:

“You gotta let ‘em know, you ain’t a b*tch or a ho.”

As for “white” men speaking up, I say someone has to do it, to show women, especially black women, that they are not alone in fighting this fight. And to Carmen (above), who says, “Too little too late”, she may be right. But I would also say, “Better late than never.” Yes, you can quote me, Bill!

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Ic0n

Don, Your quote is perfect. Not only for hip hop related misogyny, but because even in this economy, no one is really safe, as everyone is one layoff away from living on the “wrong side of the tracks”.

I say this because as usual, unless it’s related to themselves, and their superior need for safety, no one is willing to hear it. The excuses usually claiming that its “wrong” to police the actions of violent criminal men, unless their victims lives have higher value..meaning they are white women or men. But this logic that crime is something that has allll these factors QUICKLY changes when the victim is not a black woman, and moral justice simply wins the argument. Don’t we deserve the same right that WRONG is simply wrong?

The truth is more powerful men standing up is the only thing that works against controlling violent less powerful me, and it also encourages other men to speak up in a productive matter. Even white feminists, the safest women on the planet, aren’t arguing that punishment for delinquents be carried out by other women, so who does Tricia Rose think SHOULD defend us? Or are, black women once again expected to “make do”, with no tangible advice, or weapons, and constantly dodge bullets? What tricia rose has naively forgotten is that “White men said so” brings credibility to the situation, where a black female voice only brings vitriol, anger, and more threats for assault.

Integration or total segregation (with men taking control of their immediate environments) are the only thing that have worked to stop crime, and I pick the former. And informed whites talking to other “conveniently” naive liberals, or more intelligent anti-crime advocates across the board works even more. But what works the most is MEN policing the actions of other men.

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[Concern Troll]

[withheld by troll]

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Ic0n

[garbled response to troll]

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‘Bill Drew’ Aabaakawad

[Concern Troll], But why resent WOMEN focusing on how this crap effects WOMEN and children, while it’s perfectly alright for you to focus on how it effects men. It seems you hold an unchallenged assumption that the focus of women should be on the plight of men. And just how often are men focused on the plight of women? You are so uninterested in the plight of women that it tires you to hear about it.

Attempting to maim your girlfriend, and especially not taking responsibility for it, is a perfectly good reason to boycott an R&B artist, eg. Chris Brown.

Ic0n’s statement was a bit confusing. I’ll try a stab at what she meant in those two sentences. The more complete version of sentence #1 would perhaps be:

“IF it is legit for a fellow White person of another gender to call out a White man on his racism, THEN is it not legit for a man of another race to call out a Black man on his abuse of women?”

Now, to edit sentence #2 a little:

“Does it take having white male misogynists on your friends list in order to legitimately point out that abuse of white women is wrong?”

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[Concern Troll]

[massive derailing and faux outrage]

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Christelyn Russell-Karazin

For the life of me, I can not understand how this conversation has devolved. Don’t worry, [Concern Troll]. I won’t come near you.

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Halima Anderson

Bill
I only skipped through the article by Tricia so I didn’t quite pick up that bit about white people staying out. I am lazy and I wont go back to re read the article so I am just going to assume it was implied as you say. Thus my response is this:

As always, black women cant seem to let go of the ‘black people working out their issues themselves paradigm.’ I call this their anti-integration posture and it is at the root of a lot of their travails especially in such a modern world of ours that is interconnected and linked in so many ways and as highlighted by this issue of the production and distribution of ‘rap.’

So to summarize my point: Black women and their hard feelings against whites and their deep ‘white resentment’ will continue to hold their emancipation in abeyance!

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‘Bill Drew’ Aabaakawad

‎Halima Anderson, gotta sleep sometime, but I’ll be back. Tricia Rose’s point about White men was in passing and not an important part of her article in The Guardian. I’m zeroing in on it, not because I want to make this about me, but because a huge source of leverage is being set aside. BW have been pushing against the misogyny of current hip-hop for decades, and continuing to lose. A tremendous opportunity was lost with the public shaming of Ashley Judd.

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Halima Anderson

Well bill this will be waiting for you when you wake lol!

I think we are saying the same thing just in a different way. You are talking about ‘an effectiveness model.’ I am saying that bw have yet to emphasis effectiveness over the emotionally pleasing approach of ‘we black men and women working this one out.’ I am not surprised that white folk are indifferent to the black woman’s plight here, after all they get shot down if they approach two feet. Many bw draw up rules of engagement that no white person can attain, very soon it becomes a ‘black issue’ for black people to handle!

Many bw are caught up in the notion of ‘the right way of doing things’, in this case I don’t know if it is really about the right way, or the model that maintains ‘my resentment and anger at whites and my brotherly affection towards black men no matter what’.

If bw really wanted their issues solved they could as you said, leverage the general community in smashing the hold of poisoned hip hop, but you see they prioritize maintaining the working models over achieving the needed outcome!

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Ic0n

[Concern Troll] go read http://derailingfordummies.com/ and play the “who? what? me?” game on someone stupid enough to care.

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Derailing for Dummies
derailingfordummies.com

You know how it is. You’re enjoying yourself, kicking back and relaxing at the pub or maybe at the library; or maybe you’re in class or just casually surfing the internet, indulging in a little conversation. The topic of the conversation is about a pertinent contemporary issue, probably somethi…
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‎’
Bill Drew’ Aabaakawad, sorry for repeat notifications if you get them, I had to edit what I said “A tremendous opportunity was lost with the public shaming of Ashley Judd.” I totally agree. She’s a woman of another ethnicity, so there was some protection of her, because her life is considered to have value… but it was a total disgrace the way she was viciously attacked. Hip Hop came out only 30 years ago, but anyone mentioning the violence connected with it now, or even touching the issue is left swinging in the wind. It’s a lonely fight.

You will notice that the black men against hip hop crime will be called “traitors” and “sell outs” if they are past a certain age, and specifically if they are successful (Bill Cosby giving the biggest financial donation to black youth in history didn’t stop him from being considered a sell-out because he didn’t “rep with swagger” and support hip hop). So, whites aren’t alone in that sense.

Likewise, black women who are just living normal lives against the message and with tons of proof of the tragedy causes (i.e. their relatives shot over sneakers, my fear for the lives of my own relatives who might make the wrong choice and “choose the streets” and so on)…all of us..really..are rendered invisible. So are black youth who don’t have enough bravado and “swagger” to turn on any pathological guilty whites….. and those are specifically feminists, liberals, and other groups you’d think would understand. Their guilt is connected to the plight of the criminal assaulted by cops, and not the hundreds he has assaulted, for instance. It is PATHOLOGICAL in nature, and pathological never makes sense.

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Don Rice – (NATruthstudent)

Ic0n, I never understood the “Bill Cosby is a sellout” meme either. His most well-known shows have all-“black” casts portraying intelligent educated families. To call him a “sellout”, to me, is the moral equivalent of saying that “education is for white people”, which I heard many times. My response to that is the same as a “black” columnist who used to write for the St. Petersburg (Florida) Times: “If getting an education is only for white people, does that mean that not getting an education is good for black people?” Not an exact quote, but pretty darn close.

As for the issue of “gansta rap”, many of the lyrics are repugnant, yes. [Concern Troll] is in error when he suggests that a boycott will resolve the issue. It will take much, much more than a boycott, because the people who really listen to and buy into that “culture” won’t participate. The only effective means of fighting this is through education, IMO. I once asked a black friend, “Are you a man or a “nigga”? He replied that he is a man. I then asked him, “Then why do you keep calling yourself and your friends “nigga?” He said, “You’re right.” and walked away, but didn’t change his expression.

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‘Bill Drew’ Aabaakawad ‎

[Concern Troll], It was presumptive of me to reformulate Ic0n’s statement, but we understand each other pretty well. She was trying to make a flip-the-script point, an exercise in logic she favors.

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Ic0n

Totally Don, I appreciate your intellectual input on this as much as Bill. Bill Cosby reminds me of my dad’s sentiment on youth. Regardless of race, it used to be that older generations would tell younger generations about themselves… It was always that way, like fathers keeping youth in check. Now, to tell younger generations to aspire for something more than hanging on the corner is “selling out”.

Poverty was ALWAYS a good motivator (that is, if one doesn’t benefit or get privilege from poverty, as do many young black male youth). I think some of the vitriol shot at black women pursuing education is based on this. We were supposed to be excusing that poverty and “staying in the hood” were a matter of “cultural benefit”, and not segregation, regardless of the very alarming statistics, in which black girls are a target of assault or single-mother poverty or both. So to aspire something more than single-mother poverty and violence (even it that aspiration is ONLY to put a roof over your head) was always very threatening to the mainstream liberal opinion, which wanted to state that there were cultural reasons why poverty was a good thing.

Bill: “She was trying to make a flip-the-script point, an exercise in logic she favors.”

Yes, and your translation was precisely what I meant, but worded better. :-)

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Don Rice – (NATruthstudent)

Ic0n, Yes, I’ve heard that many times before. Those who promote the “staying in the hood” meme refuse (that is, CHOOSE) to accept the fact and truth that they’re promoting segregation. I hold up the basic premise of “Brown v Board of Education” as my first response: Separate is inherently unequal. And, like you and many others, I also point out that although the problems seen clearly “in the hood” are “hood” problems, and need to be addressed there, they are not actually being addressed there. A perfect example is the reaction to the young girl in the porn video who was ignored by that crowd, even while they sought to protect the young “men” (and I use that term loosely) who perpetrated that mess.

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Jess L Vallet

With the exception of a few family members and black (male and female) friends, any defense of me and the life I live has come from whites. When I was busting my butt in school trying to get to a post secondary education, I was a ‘sell out’ according to the vast majority of black students in school. It was the teachers and administrators (mostly white) who helped keep those kids from doing anything to me. For the handful of black teachers I had, they always pushed me to do better. They had heard the same taunts I heard.

Since I’ve been older and met (and married) my husband, he and his colleagues have been the biggest protectors of mine (and blacks in general). Hubby has no shortage of stories about some of the awful things his coworkers said about me and him. His friends won’t have any of it either.

I know I’m fortunate in having a circle (even if it is small) of people that look out for and protect me. I won’t take any bit of legit support (and care) for granted, and I’m surely not about to say no white people (asian people or whoever) you can’t help. I especially won’t say no knowing how few people openly support and protect me as it is.

Every white person isn’t evil, and every one that chooses to help doesn’t have an ulterior motive for it. Knowing what my husband goes through at his job just because he chooses to pick people to work on his teams that are best for the job and not because of race lets me know he’s doing it from a place of truly wanting to do it. He’s constantly called a “nigger lover” for putting blacks on his safety and audit teams, and there’s always someone trying to lie on him and get him in trouble because of it. He has never back down, and he won’t back down. I definitely don’t envy the position he’s in for doing it, but I truly admire him for doing it.

Especially after witnessing myself first hand how’s he’s been treated because of what he does and he continues to do it in spite of, how on earth would I tell him that he can’t help protect or defend me?

‘Bill Drew’ Aabaakawad, You can quote me, and you can message me for anymore questions…the thread has definitely gone a little crazy, and it isn’t all for the better either.

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Don Rice – (NATruthstudent)

Jess, your post reminded me of Malcolm X. In his autobiography, he reminisced (sp?) about a “white” woman who had asked him what she could do to help, and he replied, “Nothing.” He then wrote that he wished he’d never said that.

I agree, Jess. I’ve been called that too, and worse (if there is anything worse) because of my preferences and my friends. I have a cousin who’s father disowned her because she was dating a “black” man years ago. My uncle was in the Klan, and I caught holy hell as a child because I questioned him on it. I never understood what the big deal was, and nobody couldexplain it in a way that my “child’s” mind could accept.

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Jess L Vallet

I definitely can’t speak to works en masse, but one thing my husband and some of his friends do is remind men about how/what would they feel if someone said those things about their wife, sister, mother, daughter, etc.

It stopped a group of black men from watching porn that may have involved a girl who is underage.

And regarding Jay-Z, he doesn’t get a pass from me just because his daughter showed up…you couldn’t quit saying it when you thought about your mother, your wife, or anyone else before your daughter? Beyonce’ is not cool for not checking him on this either.

I think what he did was largely to try and assuage his own soul. He definitely doesn’t appear to be doing anything that would cause others to act differently. He’s not advocating boycotts of artists who use the words, nor do I think he’s going to tell any artists on his label to not use it.

If he wanted to, he could’ve done what he did in getting folk to boycott Cristal, among other things. He has more than enough means to persuade others to make a change if that’s what he wants to do.

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‘Bill Drew’ Aabaakawad

To be fair to Tricia Rose, she may not be against White men being involved w/ countering hip hop, but mere complaining about the way most do it. I have to read her book “The Hip Hop wars”.

It’s one thing to say this about “Bitch” after beau coup income, but will Jay-Z throw $$$ at a changing the sitch? It would require turning his business model on its head. It would be war, I think, with artists taking sides.

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Jess L Vallet

Yes, but he’s one of the few with enough means to do it. He and his wife has a fortune that could sustain any possible hits by him taking a different stand. Since a lot of people look to what he does as a model of what to do, I doubt he’d lose much if he made a legitimate change of heart.

I think if enough big artists got on board with Jay-Z, it would be a short lived war. Him, Diddy, and some other big ones get together and let it be known they won’t tolerate it…it’d be get it together or no record deal for you, and some of these folk are so desperate for a deal, what they’d do knows no bounds.

I don’t ever really see anyone with means banding together to do that (aside from the few who already do and get called sell outs), so I only spend but so much of my time thinking about it.

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Don Rice – (NATruthstudent)

Bill, do you really think it would come down to a repeat of the Biggie Smalls and Tupac scenarios?

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‘Bill Drew’ Aabaakawad ‎

Don Rice, rhetorical war, not bullets.

Jess L Vallet, oh I see no chance of it happening in the real world. Leopards don’t change their spots. It would be like a few mob bosses deciding to reform the Mafia. Ain’t gonna happen.

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Don Rice – (NATruthstudent)

The problem isn’t that no white people have defended black women. The problem is that the ones who count in this bass-ackwards society, the ones with power and recognition, haven’t done it. I defended my black wife when she needed defending, and I’ve spoken up in support of human compassion regardless of skin color. And i’m not the only one. But those of us who do, don’t get any recognition except, maybe, in a few instances, in a strictly local forum such as neighborhood get-togethers. What I’m saying is that we need a new social and societal paradigm.

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Martina Marty

I read this article and went back and read it again…If I understand correctly her premise is that if rappers specifically Jz agree not to use the word “bitch” in a song, then this action does not go far enough to end the disrespect of women. Well this is true. In rap video’s. called bitches and ho’s, scantily clad black and white females prance around in the video, showing their body parts. I call this objectification, where you perpetuate the myth that all women must be that way so individual women are not noted by males (black or white) for their individuality. They are just a body. Which means if you have no personality and are “just a body” I can do anything to you. You are not a person.

When starting off he was making too much money to care. I am sure, I would hope, his Mom did not raise him this way. So you give the public what they crave and now that he has a daughter he has a conscience, well he is getting older also…so wisdom and age. hummm On the flip side everything tv and media show little girls commercialism’s standard of stereotypical beauty. His action is a “step” a small one. He has the power and the money to do much more about this problem. I hope he does.

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Don Rice – (NATruthstudent)

As our society stands right now, and for the past almost 500 years, you’re right; as long as our society remains the way it is, we will always have racism. What I’m saying is that we need to restructure our society so that people can learn that we’re all people, no matter what color our skin is, no matter what our ethnic background is, no matter what our lifestyle is, no matter what our religious or spiritual belief is, and no matter what our gender is. Like I said above, a new paradigm.

Please forgive me for not being clear, but my wife passed away in 2002, so I no longer have her with me.

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Don Rice – (NATruthstudent)

You might say I loved her more than life itself, because after she passed, I gave up. It took another special woman to bring me back from the brink. I’m not with her any more, but I give credit where it’s due.

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Ic0n

‎Don: “The problem isn’t that no white people have defended black women. The problem is that the ones who count in this bass-ackwards society, the ones with power and recognition, haven’t done it.”

I agree toally 100% with Don’s statement here, and often, the ones who we SHOULD support in their statements are considered racist for viewing crime as immoral. A good example is that there are more black women who vote, more black mothers who work all day and do not want their sons to listen to the filth on the radio, and more working mothers who worry about their kids getting shot on their way home from school in gang violence, than the other way around. They are voting liberal, and I am liberal (well, I am anti-hierarchy) EXCEPT the liberal justification for criminal behavior so long as you isolate the violent animals in zoos and throw black women and black children in the cage with lions. But mainstream liberals being as spineless as they are, aren’t covering these issues.

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