Is hip hop promoting racism and sexism? Or is capitalism promoting racist and sexist music? My favorite (paraphrased) questions from a great piece over on salon.com which I think highlights the importance of the questions we pose (and how we pose them) in shaping debate.
Is rap racist?
Don Imus' shocking comments about the Rutger's women's basketball team were problematic enough on their own, but after the shock jock was fired from both of his jobs, the conversation has evolved -- on talk radio, cable TV and water coolers the world over -- into a discussion of hip-hop culture and rap. The I-Man defended himself by saying that rappers "routinely defame and demean women" and slander them "worse than I ever did." So now, a controversy centered around one man's bad judgment has turned into a public debate about the possible harmful effects of rap music, and whether it is to blame for keeping racist and misogynist imagery and language alive in the public sphere.
We surveyed the cultural commentators we most wanted to hear from to answer the question everyone suddenly wants to ask: Is rap music responsible for promoting racist imagery -- and if so, should there be consequences?
Here's what they had to say.
-- David Marchese
And the lovely Lauryn Hill performing "Motives and Thought" on Def Poetry Jam: