Oh, the ties that bind. As the proverb goes, a cord of three strands is not easily broken. I am sure that I do not need to lay the foundation for our audience with the history of rap and hip hop in North America. We saw the impact that rap has had on our culture and our communities for approximately the last 30 years. Our practice of oral history in the motherland has now been reinstated in the form of musical entertainment. The encapsulation of cultural practices and genealogy has now been replaced by grandiose expressions of nouveau riche wealth and prestige, the collection of sexual conquests, violence against women, death to the police, colourism, and the degrading of women as, ahem, female dogs and hoes. In case you cannot tell at this point of the article, I have a very low opinion of rap music – more on that later.
Recently, I went on YouTube, as I love watching content there, let’s be honest. I noticed that I was hearing more and more commentary about Nicole Arbour. When I searched for her on Twitter, I realized that she was making waves on the platform with her recent comments,. In case you haven’t heard of her, Nicole is a YouTuber and comedienne from my home and native land, Canada.
She has brooked controversy on numerous occasions in the past, with her, ahem, divisive and problematic commentary on fat people, black people, and other groups, as well as her remake of Childish Gambino’s This is America music video. As I had not been on her channel in quite some time, I paid her a quick visit. Her content tends to follow the same thread: poignant, blunt commentary on social issues, masked as comedy, with all intentions to offend. I personally don’t find her funny, but I can appreciate her cold hard take she offers – not normal for a Canadian at all, She seems to stoke the outrage fire about every two years, and lives for the drama. I guess it keeps her relevant. If she likes it, I love it.
What was the drama this time around? Please see exhibit A and B below:
While her tweets themselves have little engagement, people are finding ways to discuss her on Twitter and YouTube without speaking to her directly. You know, the whole point of a conversation. Nicole expressed a simple opinion – a true opinion, if you will. She declared that she would not acknowledge rappers’ opinions on politics until they respected black women. She also mentioned that black women should go on a rap video and big booty strike. The only thing within this statement that I can get offended by is the derrière reference. Leave the badonkadonk out of this please.
This topic honestly belongs in that third rail post that was recently posted. I have never understood the appeal of rap. Then again, I grew up with mostly no television or secular music. (I had a very religious upbringing, mmmkay?) There are a few rappers out there whose work I can appreciate, but I wouldn’t normally go out of my way to hear their music though. However, that said, are we all listening to the same music? Does it not disturb you that the men in our entertainment community speak better of their cars than their women? That the lyrics describing a black women, and actions towards them, with decency, love and tenderness are nonexistent? Do not even get me started on mumble rap, which is literally glorified gargling.
All memes in this article were made by yours truly. Share with credit, please!
It boggles my mind that people always want to highlight the power of confessions, good vibes/energy, manifestation, positive affirmations and the like, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with listening to this drivel ad infinitum. I am a big believer in garbage in, garbage out. Why do we highlight a music genre that devalues us?
If you still think that this is “just music,” then consider this. A lot of these men do not even add value to the community. Many of them started out gangbanging, selling drugs in the community, and committing crimes. Throughout their career, several are plagued with domestic violence, assault, and other criminal charges, not to mention cheating on their wives and embarrassing their families.While I will admit that there are conscious and uplifting rappers out there, they are few and far between. This cycle is allowed to continue, as many black boys growing up want to be rappers or basketball players. (Speaking from personal observation.) They see a lifestyle that is glorified on television, and want to emulate that in real life.
The impacts of rap do not even stay within our community. You have white people, Asian people and Hispanic/Latino people thinking it is cute to say the N word, because it is in their favourite rap song, à la Gina Rodriguez. Or you have George Lopez berating a biracial (then perceived as black) woman in 2017. (TL;DW -too long, don’t watch- George Lopez makes a joke on how latinos have two rules: don’t date blacks or park on Latinos’ lawns. A blatino girl stands up to share her life as an add to the joke. Lopez tells her, “Sit your blank down or get the blank out.” That video was brought you by the letters A and F, respectively.)
I watch A LOT of black women who travel abroad, particularly in Japan or Korea. I have heard countless ladies recount their experiences. Even on the other side of the world, black women get propositioned for sex or treated/approached in a more sexualized manner overseas. Coinkidink? I think not!
Why are we treated so poorly in our own community and by outsiders? Because we are beasts with no nation, if you will. Our own people treat us with disrespect, and monkey see, monkey do. If people see our men disrespecting us, they will recognize that we probably have no lines of defence, and are ripe for the picking.
Enter the white feminist, modern day champion of the weak and downtrodden. Christelyn wrote about a similar situation, with Ashley Judd back in 2011. Read it if you have the chance. TL;DR (too long; didn’t read) version: Ashley Judd released a memoir called All That Is Bitter and Sweet. Within the text, she offers a refreshingly scathing review of the hip hop industry, “As far as I am concerned, most rap and hip-hop music – with its rape culture and insanely abusive lyrics and depictions of girls and women as ‘ho’s’ – is the contemporary soundtrack of misogyny.” That is possibly the most eloquent put-down I have ever heard in my entire life. *chef’s kiss*
Following major backlash, she later apologized and withdrew her statements, stating that she wished to “take a stand to say that the elements that are misogynistic and treat girls and women in a hypersexualized way are inappropriate.” For that, Ashley Judd will always have a special place in my heart. Even though she apologized, she still had the guts to stand up for truths and rights at one point in her life.
I always think it’s interesting that black women will complain about the intersectionality of feminism, or the lack thereof, and critique the lack of cohesive sisterhood within the ranks, but spit on any attempts at solidarity. While first and second-wave feminism didn’t always have our best interests at heart, third wave feminism has searched every rock and crevice to include everyone under the sun. And frankly, despite the racism of the previous feminist waves, with civil rights attached, we have received some benefits that are owed to feminism. (This coming from someone who doesn’t really ascribe to the label “feminist” …but I digress.)
I am noticing a bizarre double standard in our community. Like Nicole mentioned in her “Dear Black People” video, we like to pick and choose which stereotypes and behaviours to stand behind. Back in 2013, when Seth MacFarlane and The Onion dared to diss 9-year-old “Beasts of the Southern Wild” actress Quvenzhané Wallis during her time at the Oscars, black people were outraged – both at those who dared to slight her, and to the white feminists who remained conspicuously silent. Rightfully so for the first two: anyone who jokes that a child is almost old enough to date a then 52-year-old (George Clooney), or worse, calling her the “c” word in a tweet, is just vile. I’ve seen these reactions time and time again when anyone disses the big three black female entertainers – Beyoncé, Rihanna or Nicki Minaj. However, when white female allies stand up to defend us in terms of rap music, a problematic artist or another destructive behaviour or sterotype we love, we are quick to shout them down.
What in the Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is this? If we as black women want to elevate our image and status worldwide, we need to promote positive images of ourselves and strategically leverage our allies. If people want to support us, let them speak up. You may not always agree with the messenger, but a strategic temporary partnership can work wonders. If you keep shutting down people who could help you, there will come a time where they will not support you at all. I, for one, have never heard Ashley Judd speak up about black female issues again.
Now before you start leaving comments about respectability politics, cooning, Aunt Sally and Aunt Ruckesha, just know that I was sharing my opinion of rap and reasons why we should not support it. I did acknowledge there was some good to be had, but the majority of it belongs at the bottom of a birdcage. I know that deep in my heart of hearts that many people will disagree with me and problematic faves will always have a successful fan base. Just like I know that some of you will be so triggered that you won’t even read all of this and just race to leave an angry comment.
While rap music will probably outlive us all, black women need other imagery out there. I think that programs like the Pink Pill and other positive promotional strategies help, but we need to balance the scales A LOT more. Until then, we always have Tip Drill. (Warning: video discretion is advised. You will need brain bleach, eye bleach and holy water to recover. Not safe for work or children. I’m still traumatized after Kendall showed it to us a few years back. You still want to see it? Okay then. Remember though, I warned you.)
Nicole ended her second tweet by telling us that we have more power than we know. Frankly, she is right. It is too bad that many black women will be too busy defending the culture than fighting in their own best interest. Like the young people say, “They finna drag you, lol.” All the best out in these streets, Nicole! It’s rough out there. Keep your chin up.
Apologies for the long article ladies. Brevity is not my strong suit. One step at a time. I would love to hear your thoughts below, or on our social media channels. If you have heard of a trending story, and you would like our take, please find us on our social media platforms. Beyond Black and White is on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Follow us for more relevant content!