1. When it comes to the issue of new racism, how do you think hip-hop culture and the use of the word “Bitch” and the “N-Word” further oppress or build up individuals and society? Consider some songs using these terms as endearment however, state your particular stance and opinion.
In general I think hip-hop/rap mainstream culture can serve to present a harmful and unrealistic image that perpetuate stereotypes and serves to oppress. This is not to say that there aren’t artists who put out a positive message and image, both male and female, who are great examples of empowerment and strength. As far as “bitch” and the “N-word” go I am of two minds. First, men calling women “bitches,” don’t do it; white people using the “N-word,” don’t do it. Secondly, I’m more torn on people using either word to “reclaim” them; I think when it comes to using words mindfully as a way to reclaim them that’s a personal decision that people need to make on an individual basis.
2. Particularly, how do you think the exploitation of women, primarily African-American women influences the new racism?
I think a huge part of the new racism is, as bell hooks often points out, capitalism. I think exploiting African American women for gain, by setting unrealistic standards that encourage women to purchase endless numbers of beauty items that can often cause them physical and financial pain. Even though capitalism often has a negative influence on men as well, women’s bodies seem to be the larger site of exploitation in the new (and the old) racism.
3. How do you think the media plays a role exploiting the new racism and issues that deal with this particular topic?
The media is a part of capitalism and whatever “sells” will be exploited and drained to the last drop. The media often wants us to accept simplistic and unrealistic images; such simplified views often contribute to racist or prejudiced views because they are too dualistic. Again, there are some media outlets that do better than others at presenting a balanced view of people and issues.
4. How does Hip-Hop today differ from generations of the past? Use examples to distinguish the characteristics defining the differences between time periods and the evolution of Hip-Hop culture.
As we talked about in class and learned from the “Hip Hop: Beyond Beats & Rhymes” documentary, Hip-Hop went from starting as an underground artistic movement that crafted lyrics and beats that were thought provoking or told a story or addressed an important issue within the African American community. One song that isn’t old-old-school but is from the late nineties popped into my mind. Love is Blind by Eve. The song addresses domestic violence and the helplessness that a friend or family member feels when they see a cycle of violence they are helpless to stop. At the end of the song, Eve turns to fictive violence to redress the violence done against her friend. Even though the song discusses violence, it doesn’t really promote it our laud it the way some songs today do; instead, it speaks to the reality of violence and the reasons that some people feel they have to resort to violence. I am admittedly out of the loop when it comes to popular music today; with the proliferation of so many ways to listen to music I rarely hear a lot of the Hip-Hop that is out now. (Plus, since we don’t have cable, I listen to NPR in the car to try to keep up with the news.) From what I do hear however, I don’t see nearly as much use of popular hip-hop as a platform to discuss issues of concern.