I can’t remember a time in my adult life when I wasn’t working on justice issues on behalf of people in my community. I’ve worked for the benefit of women who shared my views and some who, but it’s rare that I’m embarrassed about something women are doing.
Lately, I’ve taken the time to view a lot of videos on various rappers and tried to give them the benefit of the doubt. I understand the argument about what they do is the life they live. Some say it’s their reality. Well, my life ain’t been no crystal stair, as the saying goes. I’ve had my ups and my downs, but I’ve always wanted to do better and I’ve tried to help others do the same.
We’re better than a lot of what I see. I’ve sat for hours viewing videos that made me sick, but I had a purpose. I didn’t just want to say, “Rapping is the style and some young people who do the really hate-filled and vulgar stuff don’t know any better or aren’t capable of doing something reputable to make a living.” Then I began viewing videos that explain how people of other races lure young people into contributing to their own oppression because they’re so caught up in being a star! They’re lured into horrible things, given money, flashy cars and everything they could ever hope for except decency. They’re introduced to drugs and crime and spending on things they’ll never need — but it becomes a part of their lifestyle.
Then one day they think they’re a star, and get “uppity” enough to ask for their own money instead of having things issued out to them. They then find that other people have gotten rich on them while the rapper, with few exceptions, is actually in debt.
I see beautiful and smart appearing young women resorting to a low life of which their parents never taught them. I identify with them simply because they are Black and women. I cringe and become drained when I see a group like the one called City Girls dancing and prancing and shamelessly using vulgarities in front of white men who appear to be shocked by the sight of what the women are doing. I keep saying to myself, “We’re better than that.” I ask myself if this is why our ancestors often died to gain opportunities for all of us, including our sisters to be able to be free to do anything they want to do.
Some argue with me saying they’re exercising their freedom of speech or freedom of expression. I think you will agree those are not freedoms that advance any of our righteous causes. Please go to your computer and look up City Girls Act Up. Look up Cardi B, Nicki Minaj (and I am not yet asking you to look up some of the men who encourage drug use, murder, rape, etc.). Just look up the young women rappers I’ve named and ask yourself if this is what the Essence Festival should be promoting as the essence of a Black woman.
This year, City Girls are invited to the Essence Festival along with first lady Michelle Obama! On the one hand, they’ve invited a woman of substance; on the other, a group with no class. Essence Festival leaders need to hear from you about their choices of who represents Black Women.
Lately, J.T., a member of City Girls, has been forced to experience “success” of her group behind federal prison bars for a case of fraud. Her lawyer is actually trying to get her out on good behavior. Look at the City Girls video and see if you can find the good behavior.
Williams is president of the National Congress of Black Women.