Does their position as validators, legitimizers and apologists for a destructive culture harm young women (and young men) and drag down the Race? I don’t think there is any question that their role is and has been harmful. The question is…. how harmful has it been and can their influence be curtailed?
There is all sorts of data that suggests that the Rap industry and the Rap culture are problems for "Black America". (1) (2) (3)
Even Black youth see it as such. Yet the Black culture, especially its women, continues to embrace it, even though it is a culture that degrades the image of young Black women (and literally dehumanizes Black men to the point where they are seen as animals).
Over the last several years I have noticed the trend of famous Black women…. Women who are role models to thousands, who seem to be attracted to Bad Boys…. Those who represent a negative Black male image. An image that only helps to perpetuate negative stereotypes. What has this done to the Black image as a whole? Black women in particular seem to be afflicted especially hard by this sickness (The Bad Boy disease). I don’t believe that this is a coincidence.
This is a part II of a commentary from back in 2006 entitled "Why Are Women Attracted to Thugs". I think we are now far beyond the question of whether this is a problem. Clearly there is a certain narrow image of the Black male that has been mainstreamed. So I want to raise the questions of how and why it has happened.
The image of the Black Bad Boy “thug” has become enormously popular over the last decade, largely due to the impact of the Black celebrity culture and its acceptance by the larger American celebrity culture. But something else has catapulted this negative Black male image into mainstream acceptance- Black women…or “women of color”. (Can’t forget about those like Jennifer Lopez who blur the lines and straddle two or more worlds at once). But this is a problem instigated especially by Black celebrity women. These celebrities (more than any other group in my opinion) have popularized the “thug” male image, and the “Rap Culture” with its negative & damaging value system.
The vast majority of Black female Pop stars & actresses either currently date Rap stars or have dated them at some point in their careers. It has pretty much become the norm to see Black or minority female stars dating the hot rapper of the moment, or the producers or the so-called “moguls” of the industry (translation- thugs who happen to have the most money in the industry). In fact, it is rare for Black celebrity women not to be with someone who personifies the “thug”. I’d say many of the women do it for the same reasons that Gold diggers seek the financially well-off alpha-male- they see them as a meal ticket perhaps. In the case of celeb women…. These men could represent some sort of boost to their careers. Sometimes, simply for the controversy and publicity created from the public relationship. This is not the case for all…but I suspect that it is the case for some. I have a term for these women.... but I will refrain from using that language here.
But who pays the brunt of the consequences for these celebrity relationships? Certainly the celebrity women themselves don’t carry the weight of all the social problems created by the trends that they set. These women have the money and the means and all the safety nets to avoid the pitfalls that come out of the “thug life”. And actually…I have read that many of the so-called “Bad Boys” are really not as bad as the images that they portray…and they too have the safety nets to avoid the real pitfalls that come from the lifestyle that they promote. So who is paying the price? Ordinary, everyday young Black women (and young men) who end up emulating the thug image personified and perpetuated by their superstar role models (and yes, these people are role models whether we like it or not…that argument is a dead one). Lakisha doesn’t have the safety net. So why in the Hell are Black celebrity women promoting this lifestyle?
The impact of this phenomenon is twofold:
#1. These women help to sanitize & validate this negative Black
Male image. They send the message to the rest of the so called “Black Community” (I hate that term because it suggests that Blacks are a monolith…but for the sake of discussion) that this Black male image is harmless, is acceptable and in fact, it should be seen as the ideal. This is why thousands of Black boys from urban communities & beyond, aspire to be rappers, and why young minority women want to embrace the Hip Hop/Rapper thug culture and aspire to be with men who carry this persona, despite the damage that it has done to Black women. That in itself is fascinating to me.
#2. These women help to establish the ideal image of Black men and set the trend for young Black women in the wider community. Black youth, especially young Black women- emulate what they see in the celebrity world. …everything from fashion, makeup, hair, music, and what kind of male is hot or ideal. Black men are almost like a fashion accessory for some women, particularly a certain kind of Black male. This is particularly the case in a Black culture where parenting is lacking and where youth are being raised by the Television and by the Rap culture.
Some may say (usually apologists for the degenerate Black Rap culture) that the “Bad Boy” is also popular in society in general. There are many White women who prefer these men as well. And I will agree with that to a point. Women have been attracted to s---heads since the beginning of time. It’s biological. “Bad Boy” traits are often mistaken for strength, power, & confidence…all markers that women pick up on that suggests a strong male. But women often can’t make the distinction between good examples of male strength & confidence and bad examples of the same. Their hormones cause all kinds of confusion. This is how women go for criminals, drug dealers, playboys, etc. The comment that I often get from women is that these men make good protectors. But these women fail to realize that these men can’t protect them or be good fathers from the grave or a prison cell.
Yes the wider society has this problem but it does not have the same impact on the larger society- particularly on the White society, as it does for “communities of color”. The larger white society has many more positive images of white men & women (white men in particular). There is much more of a balance in terms of images. In contrast, the negative Black male thug image has become the predominant image of Black men, both within so-called Black culture & within the wider society. When people see me walking by (esp. Whites) & they don’t know me…they don’t see Dr. Ben Carson, nor do they see any positive potential I may have. Instead, they see the “Hip Hop” TV image & everything negative that has become associated with the Black male. This is the case even though there is nothing about me that says “Hip Hop”, criminal, thug, etc. I don’t dress Hip Hop, nor do I speak Hip Hop. I have come to despise the Hip Hop /Rap culture, yet, because I’m Black, I cannot escape being associated with it in terms of perception.
(I don't want to read any nonsense about Kim Kardashian being White... i'm well aware of that fact).
The fact that these women help to perpetuate, sanitize, & legitimize this image drives me crazy. It seems as though most of the negative stereotypes that harm Blacks today are perpetuated by those of the same ethnic group. Black Hip Hop culture has become a laughing stock nationwide, providing fodder for non-Black Americans who enjoy seeing their racist predispositions reinforced by the images and lifestyles that they see promoted in popular culture (mostly by Blacks.... not whites... there is no need for Blackface minstrel shows today...Black folks have that job covered). Basically these women are helping to perpetuate their own degradation in many cases, and certainly the degradation of the image of Black women as a whole. By bolstering the status of men who symbolize the thug or Bad Boy, these women send the wrong message to their counterparts in the general community.
Now this undercuts the arguments of Black women who complain about the treatment that they get from such men. On one hand, they complain about maltreatment from the thug/Bad Boy community, yet these are the kinds of men who these women (for the most part) seem to pursue time and time again. In the world of glaring contradictions, this one is near the top. Like the Black women who complain about their negative image in the degenerate Hip Hop culture, yet they continue to court men who are steeped in that very same culture, and continue to buy the music that supports the rap entertainers who they are complaining about.
This represents one of the fundamental underlying problems that I have with Black women & women in general. In High School & College I never bothered to pursue the opposite sex. I noticed that the young women around me (particularly Black women) always seemed to go for the jocks, thugs, the troublemakers, the gang members…and the wannabe Rap stars. Any guy who was concerned about actual schoolwork, came to class everyday, took notes, etc.. was most often seen as boring and socially unattractive. That seemed to be the easiest way to ensure that you would be ignored by young Black women in school- carry lots of books. It acted as a repellent to Black women, although I didn’t intend it to be as such. It wasn’t until years later that I got a better understanding of this or realized why it happened. I saw the same pattern in adulthood, only worse. I also came to realize that if I ever wanted a partner, that I may have to look outside of the Race….even though that is something that I don’t necessarily want to do as a purpose driven thing. But it may become necessary. It may be my only option once I start to date seriously (after I reach financial viability… only God knows when that will be). As much as I want to love Black women…. I have too many issues with the culture….so many that I don’t see Black women as the most dateable. It goes back to the issues that I have mentioned… Black women who are racing to the bottom with the kinds of choices they are making, particularly with men….ultimately dragging the Race down the tubes.
This is why I call this phenomenon “The Race To The Bottom”. Women (especially Black women) seem to be making exceptionally poor choices in terms of what kinds of men they seek. And it’s not all women out there. But it is certainly a large portion - I will go out on a limb and say that it is a majority, although it may be a slight majority. Many women, particularly in minority communities, seem to be after the lowest common denominator. The impact is that it is slowly but surely harming the Race. These kinds of bad choices are a main factor, in my view, behind the breakdown of the “Black Family”- lack of fathers in the home, the out-of-wedlock births, low marriage rate, etc.
This situation of men choosing the “Bad Boy” image (because they think this is what women like), and women choosing to be with these men is such a normal practice that it’s as if this is a Right of Passage.
A few months ago a horrible mass murder of two young Black women & their babies took place in Indianapolis, Indiana. The incident became known as “The Hovey Street Murders”, and is famous nationwide (Look it up for detailed background or follow the links provided below).
One of the young women was a resident in the home, and the other was simply a visitor, at the wrong place at the wrong time, although I’m sure that she knew what was going on at the home. A group of armed thugs barged into the house through a bedroom window and brutally gunned down the 4 victims in cold blood…as the women begged for their lives and the lives of their babies. The motive? The thugs were hoping to steal money and drugs from the home. The house on Hovey Street was a known drug location. One of the victims resided in the home with her drug dealer boyfriend who was not there at the time. This young lady was apparently aware of what was taking place in the home, and was likely a willing participant in the drug activity along with her boyfriend. (link 6) (link 7)
Read the Official Police Probable Cause Affidavit /Investigative Report on this case (names of officers & witnesses have been blacked out).
I felt sick inside after reading about this case. Of course I felt sorry for the victims, especially the children. But I also noticed that there was a lot of misdirected blame taking place…. That only the home invading monsters had a hand in the demise of these 4 victims. I simply wanted to suggest that the blame for these incidents (which play like a broken record in “Black Communities” all across the Country) can’t be laid at one doorstep. I simply wanted to mention that, although they were victims here and didn’t deserve this ending, the young women shared at least some blame for the positions they placed themselves & their children in.
When I raised the issue of choices & personal responsibility on a fellow bloggers site, suggesting that the adult female (I’m purposely leaving names out) who lived in the Hovey Street home bore at least some responsibility for putting her life & her baby’s life in such danger, as well as the lives of her friend and the other child, I was absolutely vilified. Vilified for even making the suggestion that Black women shared any responsibility whatsoever (not for being harmed…but for knowingly putting themselves in such dangerous positions where the risk of harm is high). One of the Black bloggers (a female) stated that “The victim was just doing what she had to do… we shouldn’t blame her for that”….and she was part of a chorus of Black women who dismissed my statement as an attempt to blame the victims and to side with the thug animals who targeted the house- an idea that couldn’t be farther from the truth….anyone who has read my postings long enough knows better. If you’ve read some of my creative suggestions for dealing with criminals, thugs, & rappers…you would probably get the urge to contact the authorities. But I swear…all of these measures would be legal and just (if I were in charge). (Just kidding). But many of the responses were discouraging. But it wasn’t surprising that the attacks came from Black women.
I raised the issue because I hear/read about such tragic stories constantly. It seems as though there is a similar story played out each week, either locally in my hometown (The St. Louis Metro Area) or nationwide. Frankly I’m tired of reading about the same stories over and over again. I knew ahead of time that I would be attacked by Black women for bringing up the issue of choices that women make which place them (and their children) at serious risk. As I have stated, this lifestyle has been so accepted & embraced and has become so much of the “norm”, particularly for Black communities, that it is a Right of Passage- so much so that many young women see nothing wrong with the choices made by the Hovey Street victim who placed herself, her child, and her friends in danger. They (Black women) don’t even recognize and/or refuse to acknowledge that raising a baby in a drug house is even an issue. Half of the young Black women who responded to my comments about choices saw no problem whatsoever with the idea of a young Black woman dating a known drug dealer & raising a baby in that kind of environment. (A Right of Passage).
To most people in the wider non-Black society, such a situation - a baby being raised in a drug house- would be viewed without question as appalling, deplorable & unacceptable. They would balance their rage- expressing empathy for the victims, but also calling into question the choices made by at least one of the women. That’s the normal response to such a tragedy. And this is all I wanted- a balance…an acknowledgement that this was not right. But no. Not according to at least half of the Black women who participated in the discussion. They immediately made excuses for the women….and demonized ALL Black males…as animals. Somehow I allowed myself to be personally offended by that…. Because I get enough of that in the general society….simply for being a Black guy.
According to these women, the young lady from Hovey Street bore little if any responsibility for the increased risk she found herself in. I believe this condition of normalization & acceptance of this kind of lifestyle…the mainstreaming of it, has had a numbing affect on these women. They can’t even recognize that the situation was wrong, that the choices were harmful and they can’t even empathize with the babies on that basis. The women in this case (and similar cases) are seen by Black women as helpless victims, not smart enough to make good choices, as women who should not be expected to be held accountable for anything. First we had the pre-women’s Suffrage era, when women were essentially seen as helpless, unintelligent, dependant on men, and even seen as the private property of men. Then we went through the Suffrage era of the late 1800’s - the 20’s and 30’s when women gained more independence, more legal rights, gained control of their own bodies, and gained the right to vote. Then we went through the Women’s Liberation Movement of the 60’s and 70’s. Then to the empowerment, independence and equality that women worked to establish in the 80’s and 90’s. And now in the 2000’s we are back to Pre-Suffrage times, when women were not responsible for their actions, were helpless, were taken care of by men and couldn’t make their own decisions. At least that is what some people would like us to believe. On one hand, women (especially Black women) want to be seen as strong, independent, smart, and responsible, but on the other hand they want to be seen as helpless damsels who can’t possibly be responsible for the decisions they make. What is really happening here is that these women want it both ways.
What I am getting at is that this issue is like the elephant in the room.
People want to ignore the issue of legitimization and validation of this negative Black male image, and the role that some women are playing it in. People want to gloss over the consequences that this is having on Black youth and on society as a whole. And it’s an image that is just as harmful to Black men as it is to Black women. Black women are helping to create & prop up this negative image…of the kind of man that they claim is harmful to them.
Do you believe that Black Hollywood (particularly its women) are playing a harmful role in encouraging young women to seek the wrong image in a mate? Do they promote the wrong image of Black men? Is this trend harmful to the “Black Family”?
And why are Black women so reluctant to criticize other Black women on this issue? Why are they so reluctant to point out the negative role that some Black women are playing in the deterioration of the Black social condition? This kind of criticism seems almost taboo. Instead, Black women (some, not all) seem to defend & make excuses for certain behaviors of other Black women that are helping to destroy the Race.
I understand that there is a need to love these women as a way of helping them, but you can’t get to the point of helping them when no one wants to point out what the negative behaviors and choices are. Without identifying them, and acknowledging them, the problems cannot be corrected. Black folks are in a serious state of denial on many of these issues.
UPDATE: R. Kelly Getting Support from Black Women, Even His Victims.
Child rapist R. Kelly gets support from an unlikely (but somehow not surprising) source- Black Women. It seems that the victim in this case, along with her mother, have been bought out by R. Kelly. The victim now claims that she is not the girl on the tape. Obviously, with all the time that was allowed to elapse between the videotaping and the trial, R. Kelly has been able to influence the victim.
As if that's not bad enough, Kelly has a loyal group of cheerleaders who attend the trial, some being so "supportive" that they disrupt the proceedings. Who are they? Black women. The scene described in the Courtroom literally mimics the Boondocks episode which featured the trial....with mindless Black folks rooting for Kelly.
So now it is o.k. to rape underage Black girls....as long as you are wealthy and you can buy the girls and their mothers? When did Black women (and Black families) begin this practice of literally putting their daughters up for sale?
Hear an NPR report about the proceedings