Reebok Dropping Rick Ross Isn’t Enough

30 Apr


After Reebok terminated their endorsement deal with Rick Ross following his lyrics that supported rape, Emmitt Till’s family began to pressure Mountain Dew to stop sponsoring Lil’ Wayne, in response to his lyrics “beat that pussy up like Emmit Till.”

They mimic women’s activist group UltraViolet* and their strategy, which pressured Reebok to cancel their deal Rick Ross.

Kudos to UltraViolet. They protested (real protests, not the lazy and trendy internet protests) outside of the Reebok flagship store in New York with anti-rape signs, and eventually impelled Reebok to make a move.

They demonstrated that real activism does make a difference. They found a way to target rapper’s wallets (since money replaces morals in commercial hip hop). They teach rappers to watch what they say. Their actions are inspirational and should be celebrated.

Yet, dropping Rick Ross is not enough.

Please don’t believe that all rape-promoting lyrics will henceforth be banished from hip hop. Another line like Rick Ross’ will spring up from another source (I’d bet within a year). Ross is only a widget in a well-oiled, money-making machine.

Apologies are also not enough. Prior to Reebok’s decision, several groups demanded Rick Ross to apologize. The Till family and others have been waiting for Wayne to apologize for two months now. But why are we demanding apologies from rappers? They’re not sincere—clearly, since Wayne doesn’t give a damn and Rick Ross didn’t apologize until after he lost the endorsement.  I don’t want a forced, half-assed apology. I want punishment.

Rick Ross loosing Reebok was a good slap on the wrist. But why not make the punishment more severe, and light up the pockets of those wealthy CEOs at record labels and distribution companies, like Epic Records and Sony Music, who produced and distributed the violent lyrics in the first place? If they suffer—everyone in the business suffers. When losing money is an incentive for them to correct their ways, we will see more satisfying changes.

I understand this is more difficult, as no one has found a way to target those that sit high up in the industry, not yet anyways. But there are organizations that are advancing in the right direction, like UltraViolet and FAAN Mail.  In addition, there are a few radio stations that have banned Rick Ross and Lil Wayne.

In the meantime, can we at least get Wayne and all those rappers that stood behind his words to watch Eyes on the Prize? Maybe then they’ll understand why everyone is so upset.


*UltraViolet is an equality-demanding activist group. I’m just familiarizing myself with the organization, but so far, I am a fan. You can get more information about them from their website I signed their thank you letter to Reebok. If you want to sign as well, click here.

P.S.: I apologize for my April break. I had to finish my thesis, study for finals, and graduate. But I’m back to my weekly post routine and aim to bring meaningful ideas to A Womyn’s Worth each week. Hope you enjoy.

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