Last month, the editors of Essence magazine, the nation's oldest magazine for black women, announced a campaign to encourage the mainstream hip-hop industry to rethink its use of misogynistic lyrics and images. The "Take Back the Music" campaign includes a yearlong exploration of the topic in the magazine's pages, studies of the effects of the economics of the industry and the impact of music videos on young girls, and a town hall meeting at Spelman College between students, artists, industry executives and others February 25.
"We are mothers, sisters, daughters and lovers of hip-hop," Essence editors wrote. "Perhaps that's why we're so alarmed at the imbalance in the depiction of our sexuality and character in music … an entire generation of Black girls are being raised on these narrow images. And as the messages and images are broadcast globally, they have become the lens through which the world now sees us. This cannot continue."
National Public Radio's "Day to Day" was among several media outlets covering the fledgling movement (Note: the broadcast, which can be heard online here, contains explicit language). The magazine's campaign was inspired partly by another widely covered story: how some students at Spelman College, an all-female historically black college, threatened to protest rapper Nelly's planned appearance on campus to promote bone marrow donation unless he was willing to discuss his explicit music in a forum. He cancelled, but the students held their own bone marrow drive and registered 300 donors.
Predictably enough, I think the magazine's campaign is a good thing. As a Christian, and a communicator by trade, I believe in the power of words and their capacity to create realities. God spoke our world ...1
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