Tag Archives: Harvard Crimson

How to Change the Image of Women in Hip Hop

19 Mar

How to Change the Image of Women in Hip Hop: from Powerlessness to Activism

Lately I’ve been hearing a collective complaint regarding the image of black women in the media: There’s nothing we can do about it.

In an interview with Clear Channel (a large mass media company), activists from an organization called FAANMAIL explained that people don’t feel empowered enough to change hip hop’s portrayal black women. People don’t feel like they can’t make a difference because of the large entities they are up against.

Yes, the task will be challenging.

When challenging misogyny and racism in the media, you’re up against powerful companies with billions of dollars, that control what airs on TV and the radio, and employ several destructively influential hip hop artists, reality TV stars, and insatiable businessmen that all act as a collective Goliath.

That’s why people don’t try.

But we need to get out of this powerless state of mind. It’s not the government, the industry, or “the system,” that suppresses our voice—it’s the belief that we can’t do it that stagnates progress. Our feelings of powerlessness are partly the reason the image of black women in the media is what it is: an uneducated, hypersexed, “big booty hoe” with no concept of manners or self-respect.

However, change is not impossible. People have already made tremendous strides. Several organizations, such as FAANMAIL and Truth in Reality, work to change the image of black women in the media. In addition, we’ve all heard about how one writer, Sabrina Lamb, started the petition that canceled the show All My Babies Mamas. This is just the first step.

More work must be done—and it cannot solely happen online. It’s great to raise awareness through petitions on Change.org and social media, but armchair activism cannot replace live effort.

Activism online is too easy, and as the Harvard Crimson puts it, “Effective activism that creates lasting change takes effort and is often very frustrating. In fact, if an action is shiny, prepackaged, easy, and does not require any research or other sort of effort on the doer’s part, that is probably a sign that it is not going to be highly effective. If we hope to make a difference, it is essential that we are critical of such representations.”

In other words, real activism requires you to leave your computer screen and get your ass off of the couch (Ironically, I need to take my own advice. Blogging is a start; but, it’s not enough).

Here are some ideas on how to get active:

  • Connect with like-minded individuals.
  • Partner with organizations that are already doing the work
  • Host public rallies to show others there is a group that cares about the issue.
  • Use social media to its fullest extent
  • Involve local newspapers to spread the word
  • Get corporate sponsors (I know this may be easier said than done…yet still possible)
  • Try focusing on what changes you would like to see in the media (explaining what you don’t like is good, but giving examples of what you would like shows potential)

Of course, all of this will not happen overnight. But its the perseverance, dedication, and passion that gets things done.

“No work is insignificant. All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.”

~Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Recommended Link: http://faanmail.wordpress.com/2013/03/12/talk-back-our-conversation-with-clear-channel-about-community-concerns/

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