Topics included the effect of rap videos on adolescents
By Imani Dawson
The Associated Press
Updated: 1:59 p.m. ET March 24, 2005
NEW YORK - A volatile topic inspired heated debate as several hundred people gathered to discuss the impact of misogynistic rap on black women.
Rapper Remy Ma, underground emcee Jean Grae, author and radio personality Karen Hunter, Essence magazine health editor Akiba Solomon and DJ Beverly Bond were featured on the panel, titled "Images of Women in Hip Hop," on Tuesday night at the Fashion Institute of Technology.
Hip-hop's treatment of womenMore than 300 people filled the auditorium to capacity, spilling onto the stage and into the aisles. Attendees listened raptly as panelists debated hip-hop's treatment of women before vociferously voicing their own deeply held beliefs.
The talk began with moderator Thabiti Boone, co-founder of the Hip Hop Political convention, condemning rapper Nelly's infamous "Tip Drill" video, which featured the artist swiping a credit card through a stripper's buttocks. Though nearly everyone agreed that the salacious video crossed all tasteful boundaries and blatantly disrespected women, the dialogue soon became chaotic.
Heated bickering between the panelists and the audience ensued, much to dismay of moderator Boone. On multiple occasions he was forced to quell catcalls, jeers or claps as the conversation addressed topics including parental responsibility versus community involvement in child rearing, the effect of rap videos on impressionable adolescents and even hip-hop's designation as a culture.
Remy, the lone female member of Fat Joe's Terror Squad clique, has many oral sex references in her raps on such hits as "Lean Back" and "Take me Home." During one exchange she declared, "I'm not here to raise anybody's children." Audience member and teacher Radha Blank retorted, "If you don't believe hip-hop is affecting young people, join me in the schools where junior high school girls are (performing fellatio) in the hallways."
Panelists occasionally interrupted or argued with each other. And the audience was equally divided _ younger people repeatedly claimed that hip-hop's depiction of women accurately reflects the behavior of some females, while older folks insisted that rap's content negatively affects the behavior of both young men and women.
Program ended abruptlyThe program ran almost a half-hour long as panelists and audience members battled to articulate their opinions. It ended abruptly, with little solution-oriented discourse, leaving some frustrated and unsure about next steps.
"I really didn't think much was accomplished," complained Tanysha Chaffin, a youth specialist and caseworker. "It was an attack on hip-hop that didn't solve anything."
Others remained optimistic. "The campaign's goal is to open and further a dialogue on a sometimes unpopular topic," said panelist Solomon. "We observed tonight that this is an issue the community feels passionate about."
The panel was sponsored by Essence magazine and the Center for Communication, a nonpartisan forum designed to familiarize college students with the business of media. Inspired by the 2004 Spelman College protest of the "Tip Drill" video, Essence launched a yearlong "Take Back the Music" campaign in January, featuring articles in the magazine and town hall meetings around the country tackling stereotypes about black women perpetuated by hip-hop.
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