Rev. Al Sharpton launches hip hop cleanup campaign in Detroit


I take it you still remember Don Imus.

With that as a given, I have to say I’m glad to see Rev. Al doing follow-up on the nappy-headed hoe issue and focusing the spotlight squarely where it needs to be from this point forward, namely on the music industry that has promoted the ugliest, most cartoonish aspects of what is in many ways a very political and creative medium.

I have to admit that as an old school cat from the age of EWF and Chaka Khan, I needed a considerable amount of education on the origins and intentions of hip hop. It will never be my favorite music, and that’s just the way it is, but I have no problem defending those rap and hip hop artists who have been making phenomenal artistic contributions and statements for years but who have rarely received the same amount of publicity, acclaim – and dollars – as their sewage-spewing brethren. It should come as no shock to those of us who prefer to remain awake throughout the decline of western civilization that politicized, meaningful artistic statements simply do not rake in the dough like gutter glitter. Trash sells and thus it has ever been for quite some time now.

So say what you want about Rev. Al, and I know quite a few folks have always had quite a bit to say about the man, but personally I can’t think of too many other high-profile African American leaders who either could or would take on this issue with any chance of success and be able to attract at least some measure of much-needed attention to the matter.

The fact that he recently launched the campaign in Detroit  is an added bonus because, as he pointed out, Detroit has one of the most widely renowned and celebrated musical histories of any city in the nation, and possibly the world. Everybody knows about Motown, but there are also so many remarkable jazz, blues, gospel, rock, techno, and you name it musicians from this city that it only makes sense to ring the bell for the opening round against trash rap right here in Motor City. Because music is serious business in this city, and black music is particularly serious business, so any attack leveled against the more self-destructive elements of the business that are dragging the rest of the ship down should definitely have its place of origin in Detroit soil.

Because if there’s one thing we know in Detroit is when the music’s right, and when it needs to be swept off the stage.


 I’ve said it before, but I don’t mind saying again that I was never a fan of Im


~ by Keith A. Owens on June 4, 2007.

17 Responses to “Rev. Al Sharpton launches hip hop cleanup campaign in Detroit”

  1. This is a move in the right direction, but I hope he goes after everyone. To really make an impact, you have to hit the pockets of the music companies producing the music. If sales drop, then at some point the artist will be dropped also (that’s what happened to Imus).

    Hip hop has it’s place in society and I also appreciate the artists, who are trying to make a difference. They need more playing time on the radio stations and more support from the community as a whole. I’m interested to see where Rev. Al is going to take this. Good post and keep us up to date.

  2. Hey Theo! Thanks much for dropping by, and I’ll definitely be following this issue since I’m also very interested to see where this leads. I agree with you that it’s the right direction, we just need to keep the fire burning under this one.

  3. […] Read the rest here… […]

  4. I was really hapy when I first heard about this. The NAACP also has a similar campaign. I think Imus was the last straw. I’ll be glad when I can actually play hip hop infront of people without hearing the n-word or cursing even in radio edit versions. Even conscious artists use the n-word so I hope they are quick to drop it now. Really is it so hard to say Black man, or cat, or dude, or Black men, nubians or something rather than the n-word? Here’s a great quote from Sharpton. There is a “racial double-standard — that the use of “hate speech” is only defended as “free speech” when it describes Black people.

    “No, it should be ‘hate speech’ for us, too,” he argued. “It allows people to not only sell self-hatred for profit, but to use self-hatred for the desecration of their community. We cannot fight Imus outside the community and not fight the same sources of hatred inside our community.”

    I’m glad that these groups and even Oprah are not dropping this. Oprah did a show about self-hatred in Black people and another one about role-models and mentors who are helping Black communities all in the same week!

  5. You know what would be really, really cool? I’ve actually had brief experiences when a bunch of us Americans, just Americans. Different colors, different ethnicities and genders; oh ya, there have been SEVERAL genders represented. Age even added to the variety. But I really liked the different faiths and beliefs and philosophies and principles and customs. Though hyphens weren’t actually banned, they probably didn’t hang around cause there wasn’t much concern about any THEM’s. And the WHOLE POINT of the hyphen is so you can have US’s and THEM’s. If a decision DID have to be made about something like, is saying ni**er o.k.? Well the answer would just be either yes or no. Though the only time I remember talking about it, we were discussing a situation very similar to the more recent Michael Richards comedy club confrontation. And we were able to put all the US and THEM CRAP aside and ALL talk about how SOMETIMES words like ni**er and sp1c and cvnt and hebe and others are used for reasons that have nothing to do with ANYONE but the person you are looking at. And whether right, wrong or indifferent, it has NOTHING to do with ANY THOUGHT YOU HAVE EVER HAD about “blacks”, “Hispanics”, “women” or “Jews”. And there is NOTHING about it that should be EXPLOITED to make it HARDER for ALL OF us to get along. Hell, we could even talk about whether adulterers, liars and thieves should really be called “Reverend” or not. Like the liar who has NEVER taken responsibility nor even TRIED to make amends for the INJUSTICE and damage he caused essentially violating #9 on God’s Top-10 list, “bear(ing) false witness against (his) neighbor” about a claim of RAPE. And the adulterous thief who violated #7, that one about adultery, which produced a kid he helped raise by keeping her and mom quiet with money he STOLE from CHARITY (misappropriation may SOUND nicer, it’s stealing), so add #8.

    And since it has ABSOLUTELY nothing to DO with race, no one got called A RACIST!!!!!!
    Wanna live together peacefully and with MUTUAL respect? I’d LOVE to. But CRAP IS CRAP; mine AND yours. But if you can’t even treat people “equally” regard the utterance of a WORD, we WILL have problems with this equality thing; and I ain’t the one CAUSING it.

  6. Bronze Trinity,

    Really appreciated your comments, and I feel pretty good about what’s going on as well. I especially like what Rev. Al said that this stuff should STILL be considered hate speech, even when it’s us spewing hate speech about us. Why should e feel better about being called ugly names when the perpetrator looks like us?

    Bwahler, thanks for sharing your views and for stopping by. I’m not sure I’m real clear on the exact point you’re trying to make, but I do agree that people should be treated equally. And you’re right; sometimes labels do divide.

  7. Bronze,
    First, THANK you for a respecful and considered reply. In brief, my point would be that I have been frustrated by the complications to getting along when the OTHER wall goes up also. I KNOW that crap has happened; but I didn’t do it. And I KNOW that I can never “understand” being black. A friend once explained he knew I wasn’t racist, because I didn’t act any different when I met the guy on the phone, in person; and that BOTHERED me, Not his conclusion, but that a moment I didn’t remember because it had NO importance, was SO significant and meaningful to him (and apparently often disappointing). But I HAVE to be ALLOWED to criticize someone who is black without being called a RACIST. I guess THAT is my point. i.e. I have serious problems with the injustice that Al Sharpton has NEVER taken responsibility for DOING; NOT to a “white” man, but to another PERSON.
    What I would ask YOU to do for me is STOP being black-Americans and be Americans who are black. If there is NO US’s and THEM’s, there is NO FIGHT. Won’t MAKE peace, just make peace POSSIBLE. This is not an excuse, blame, justification or minimizing of anyone ELSE’s wrong; it is a request from a person, just a person, named Bob.
    The last 2 minutes of the South Park about changing the flag says everything I want you to “understand” about me. Sorry for so many words wrestling to say what shouldn’t need to be.
    Thank you for being “FAIR”.

  8. Bwahler,

    Thanks once again for stopping by, and now I’m much clearer on what the point you’re making. BTW, that response to your earlier comment was from me, not from Bronze Trinity.

    But anyway, I definitely appreciate your desire to build a world where people view each other simply as people. Plain and simple. And we should all be allowed to criticize one another without getting too damned sensitive, particularly when we can see – once we calm down – that the other person isn’t trying to attack but merely to understand and be honest. The biggest problem with intra-racial communication is a serious lack of honesty.

    Will we ever be a colorblind society? I have to be honest this time and say I seriously doubt it in America, but I’m getting older and more jaded. And I started getting jaded early ):). But hope for a better world is important, and I’m glad there’s folks out there like you struggling to keep it alive.

  9. I’m glad to see that Al Sharpton is continuing the dialogue in a very public manner. I’m old school as well so I simply don’t listen to it much. However, my three children get their fill of it from a variety of sources. As such, I have a parental interest in the lyrics.

    Props to Sharpton for keeping the issue alive in the post-Imus world.

  10. Hey Villager!
    Good to see you in the house again, and thanks for your comments. I can definitely see how you would feel a connection to this issue as a parent of a young villager. Sharpton is being as good as his word that he would follow up on this, and I’m glad to see it. We need to keep a tight focus on this in the Afrosphere, even if the mainstream media drops off, which they are most likely to do.

  11. Yes its time we take control of how we are represented by everyone and in every environment. Really, isn’t it about time, 2007, for us to have a positive image already? All those years of being put down and demonized and its still going on today, and some of us are so used to it we don’t even see the harm in it. I think all Black kids need something like a Black bahmitzva. When they turn 12 or 13 they have to learn their history and great leaders so that they can understand where they came from and learn pride instead of just getting messages from pop culture. I don’t think it would be too hard for parents to set up their own curriculum for that and maybe have a great party after…hmmm I like that idea…

  12. Bronze,

    Your idea of a right-of-passage for black kids is an excellent one that actually had some traction about 10-20 years ago if I remember right. My mind os going sketchy on me, but I do remember that idea being fairly popular, particularly among the nationalist set, for a while. I never actually attended a ceremony, but I was aware of them.

    And as you point out, it would make such an incredible difference in the lives of these young kids if they just knew a little bit of history. Just the seed, you know? It’s become a cliche, I know, but knowledge – particularly knowledge of self – has such transformative powers.

    Don’t get me started…

  13. Yeah and I remember in Roots that it was traditional to have that happen. It was only for boys and took a few years but people could have a modern version for all children. So it would actually be like a traditional thing that we have just stopped doing. So many other children go to a cultural school on the weekends (Chinese School, Greek School etc.). It would be really beneficial if Black kids had that even if its just done by the parents.

  14. Dear Tea Mowens (or is it Mr. 313?),
    Since you have been willing to converse, I would like to ask a question.
    I have never understood (not judging, just don’t “get it”) the interest in “heritage” or “legacy” or a SEPARATE “culture”.
    I have very little knowledge of my own; it was never given much importance. Dad’s parents came one from Slovakia and the other from whatever the Czech Rep. was called back then (while western Europeans have held onto “culture”, most eastern Europeans came to assimilate and even the language was lost by the 2nd generation). My mom’s parents from the Tenn. Smokey Mtns.; some still don’t have indoor plumbing. I don’t know much of anything beyond grandparents. Also, didn’t have any “right-of-passage” more than dad gradually treating me like a grown-up.
    If it can’t be explained, I’ll accept that. We do have different “realities” and some things don’t translate. But if there is a brief answer to “why” this has such significance, I am honestly curious; because it IS “different”.
    Thank you again for your courtesy.

  15. Hi Bwahler, I think that it is important to some people like me because people of African Descent used to only get our history from people who enslaved and hated us so they told us things about ourselves to make us think we were inferior. Later on we found out that the things they said were not true. But it was sort of too late because by that time the whole world was convinced that the lies they said were true. If people in the world generally accepted that people from your parent’s ancestral countries were inferior, meant to be slaves, subhuman, achieved nothing in history, or should be exterminated or sent away wouldn’t you want to fight against those negative things and protect your children from hearing those things? If people are not saying those things about your culture then I can see why it wouldn’t be something important to you, just like it isn’t important to other people. But it is important to us because our children have been brainwashed into thinking they are inferior, have ancestors who did nothing, and that they will never achieve anything. If a person believes all that they they won’t try to achieve, they won’t believe in themselves, or be productive. People who think they are nothing don’t try to be anything so that’s what we are trying to prevent by teaching history. For some people its not necessary but some of us think its necessary for some people.

  16. TeaMo, thank you again. First, importance to you, is ALL that IS important. And if you prefer I stay out of it, tell me; I will respect that. But being “old school”, you may remember the benefits of letting assumptions be challenged. And that is all I mean to do.
    See, our children are being convinced they are SUPERIOR (to everyone, not just you), and EVERYTHING rather than nothing. And they too, don’t bother trying to be or do anything. The effect on any potential for coexistence is pretty much the same.
    Plus, those who really DID achieve things, from cotton harvest to heart surgery, had been taught the same thing by society; could anything be learned from their success? I hurt for those who have no hope; especially children. I’m fighting to keep my own these days. But those, regardless of “appearance”, who kill, harm, damage, steal, lie, destroy, or deliberately take from others SHOULDN’T have much self-esteem or sense of self-worth.
    In my insignificant opinion, this misdirected “fussing” over a WORD has FAR more to do with “thought” than speech. Whether art or grafiti, “bitches and ho’s have no purpose but to f*ck and s*ck your d1ck, then go get you a beer, take a smack in the mouth and go away” ain’t a problem because it is EXPRESSED; it’s a problem because it is BELIEVED. And if “white” was wiped from the face of the earth, their world would still be pretty crappy.

    PLEASE teach your children that they are important. If it has any meaning at all, tell them at least one tired old white guy KNOWS they CAN do great things; I’ve SEEN it. Teach them that we NEED them; need them to be good and decent people so they can help us try and climb out of this cesspool we are ALL in.

    If your response is, “we’d rather handle this amongst ourselves” I will still wish you luck; and leave you alone.

  17. Bronze, I apologize. I just noticed the mistaken assuption of who wrote that message. When these eyes were younger, people typed much larger; at least I think they did 😉
    And while this color scheme is “beautiful”, I do personally have trouble reading with it. Sorry again. And thank YOU for the response.

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