Are Black Men Holding Us All Back?
Or is this all Nicki Minaj’s fault?
About a week ago, a black woman named Kimberly Foster wrote an article entitled ‘Why I Will Not March for Eric Garner’. In the article, she said that while she was sad about the death of the black man that was choked to death by the NYPD, she refused to do anything politically about it.
That is because she was tired of black men expecting her to stand up for them, but refusing to do the same when a black woman was hurt or abused:
I’m not settling for anything less than reciprocity. If you refuse to hear our calls for help, then I cannot respond to yours.
Predictably, this article made a lot of men upset. A lot of women didn’t like it either.
I didn’t know how to feel, so I decided to wait a bit, and think about it. And within a few days, somebody came along and made Kimberly’s point for her.
That somebody was Chuck Creekmur, the owner of Allhiphop.com.
Chuck wrote an open letter in which he attacked Nicki Minaj for appearing in a string bikini on the cover for her ‘Anaconda’ single. He talked about the (male) artists that had a positive influence on him, and then shamed Nicki for having a bad influence on women, and mimicking Lil Kim.
It’s a little ironic that Chuck would show respect to male artists and then bring up Lil Kim in his article, because if he’d done his research, he’d have realized that Kim refuted his entire article almost twenty years ago in an interview with bell hooks:
‘…we have people like Too Short, Luke Skyywalker [of 2 Live Crew], Biggie [Smalls], Elvis Presley, Prince, who are very, very, very sexual, and they don’t get trashed because they like to do it. But all of a sudden, we have a female who happens to be a rapper, like me, and my doin’ it is wrong. And ‘cause I like doin’ it, it’s even more wrong because we’ve fought for years as women to do the same things that men are doing.’
What’s more interesting is that Chuck seems to have a hard time saying what exactly is ‘wrong’ with Nicki Minaj displaying her sexuality. In a debate session on Huffington Post Live, he was tossed a softball question by the host, which he completely fumbled:
Host: What are you worried that [Nicki’s] influence could do, worst case scenario, for your young daughter?
Chuck: Uh, ah, eehh, ah, that’s a good question. But I do feel that, um, uh, there are issues surrounding promiscuity, not, uh, you know what I mean, that’s, that’s a little more touchy, I don’t…hm, I don’t feel confident discussing that…but I think there are a lot of issues.
So there are a ‘lot of issues’, but Chuck couldn’t seem to name a single one, other than a vague, seeping dread that Minaj’s exposed buttocks might one day cause his daughter to have sexual intercourse.
That is, Chuck seemed to feel very confident in telling a 32-year-old woman what she should and should not do with her body. But he wasn’t able to articulate why.
Could this perhaps be because he knew that he had no place talking about this?
On a certain level, I can sympathize with Chuck.
It’s a little hard to make a coherent moral statement about hip-hop, or anything, really, when so much of the music you push doesn’t support your statements.
I mean, I’m in a similar situation. I’ve also made money off of hip-hop. When I was still DJing regularly, I played everything from Too Short to Nicki to Jay Z in the club — because the customers asked for it. And I got paid in (Hennessy and) cash. Not nearly as much as Chuck gets, but enough to help with rent.
And I listen to a lot of things I wouldn’t play for my mother, or my daughter, who is currently still a twinkle in my eye. I tell myself that this is because I’m an adult, and able to make my own decisions about what I listen to.
But it will never be my place to tell a grown woman what to do with her body, especially if she’s providing me with a livelihood.
This is why I’d encourage Chuck to quit throwing stones, because he’s liable to bring his whole house shattering down on top of him.
A lot of people had never heard about Chuck before this.
And as soon as they read his attack on Nicki, they wondered where he was when Rick Ross put out his verse on UOENO, where he rapped:
‘Put molly all in her champagne/ She ain’t even know it/ I took her home and I enjoyed that/ She ain’t even know it’
That is, Rick Ross was bragging about drugging and date rape — which is something that has far more potential to harm his daughter than two ass cheeks on a computer screen.
Chuck retorted in the interview, and online, that he had written about Rick Ross.
This is true. Chuck did go in on Rick Ross once — for an ambiguous line that referenced Trayvon Martin. That is, he is adamant in standing up for young black men, but when it comes to black women, he prefers to police and attack them.
And while Chuck didn’t write an article about UOENO, he insisted that his site, Allhiphop.com, had taken it up. This is also true.
In a brief, 138-word article, a staff writer named ‘illseed’ said that the song would only upset ‘smart women’, but that he knew that ‘the ratchet chicks are going to think this is cute! They gonna be like, “OH….oh…he like me….he wanna slip me a molly.”’
So, to summarize:
Chuck ignored the topic personally, and his site handled the topic by separating women into ‘smart women’ and ‘ratchet chicks’, and saying that the latter actually want to be raped.
So, while Chuck is penning vague, empty ‘apologies’, and asking Nicki questions like:
‘How will boys, already conditioned to sexualize girls at a young age, internalize this big booty of yours?’
he doesn’t seem as worried about how boys, already conditioned to sexualize girls at a young age, will internalize lyrics that condone rape.
I don’t get it.
A while ago, a Michigan State journalism professor
named Steve Freiss wrote a racist, sexist ‘open letter’ to a young black female student.
In the letter, he defended his right, as a white gay man, to appropriate her culture. He also suggested that she be thankful. When black women took him to task for this, he did the following:
- accused people of misinterpreting his article
- tried to talk about how he’d written about racism, and gone to black concerts in the past
- complained that he was being personally attacked
Chuck did the exact same thing. When the host in the HuffPo interview said people might think his article was ‘troublesome’, he
- said that ‘people are welcome to feel that way’
- tried to talk about how he’d written about Woody Allen, and had supported female rappers in the past
- complained that he was being personally attacked.
The similarities in the non-apologies of that white man and this black man are kind of startling, especially because at first glance, they seem pretty different.
The only thing they have in common is that they both seem unable to hear anything over the deafening roar of their own maleness.
See, what Chuck and other black men need to realize
is that this actually has very little to do with any one black man as an individual. This is about a pattern: a pattern of black males who are eager to attack racism, but ignore or don’t know how to respond to sexism.
Black men have always known that racism was a part of American society. We as black men need to learn that sexism is just as dangerous, and that if we are not fighting against it, we risk not only contributing to it, but alienating our truest friends in this fight.
After all, this isn’t limited to hip-hop.
This story also seems strangely similar to another black dude that screwed up spectacularly this week: ESPN host Stephen A. Smith, who blamed victims of domestic abuse for ‘provoking’ their attackers.
To his credit, Stephen apologized — but only for misspeaking, not for the clear intent behind his words. And it was clear, as he said it repeatedly on air, and then later took to Twitter to reiterate his thoughts.
Chuck has yet to apologize — he’s still being defensive. But that’s probably because nobody really cares: he doesn’t have any sponsorships to lose, and realistically, at this point AllHipHop is basically TMZ with a good tan, and we tend to make allowances for that sort of thing.
(Also, nobody takes hip-hop seriously. But that’s another conversation).
But it is disappointing that two black men that America has trusted with the responsibility of providing information in two of the only arenas in which black people have any illusion of equality — sports and entertainment — have failed us so miserably.
So yeah, it made me a little sad
when I read that a black woman had given up on waiting for black men, and that there were a lot of other black women that agreed with her. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t know where they were coming from.
Soon after the original piece on ForHarriet came out, another black woman wrote a response, saying that she will march for Eric Garner. Part of her reasoning was that there are plenty of black men that do care about black women. That was encouraging to read. Hell, I’m not perfect, but I’d like to think of myself as an example of someone that is at least trying.
In general, though, men (black and otherwise): as a group, we’re not making a very good case for ourselves right now. We haven’t been doing our part. Women expect, and deserve, an equal partner in this struggle.
But I hate to end on such a negative note.
So, I end with a ray of light:
This week wasn’t all bad for black men.
There is one black man that has risen to the challenge this week. One young man who has had the courage to address society’s racism and sexism together. A young brother who has not only succeeded where Stephen failed by addressing domestic violence, but also succeeded where Chuck failed by rejecting rape culture — all in one breath.
And, to make things even better, he is a rapper.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is a strange day indeed when the most direct, visible, and articulate man on the topic of black female sexuality, domestic violence, and rape culture is one Brandon McCartney,
otherwise known as Lil B.
But, well, here we are.