From an email convo I just had:
I live in Washington, a very non-racially diverse state. The other day I was talking to cousin from Southern California via Facebook. I randomly scrolled through her friends list and looked at a couple profiles. I don't mean this in a racially depreciating way, but I was slightly appalled by both what I saw on several African American young people's profiles and what seemed to be white adolescents imitating their African American friends. Where I live being primarily white, middle class, and "hipster", we have certain stereotypes we associate with "ghetto" or "hip hop" culture. But I found the photos of girls wearing low cut, midriff revealing hot pink tube tops and large hoop earring, too tight jeans, and 5 layers of pink sparky lip gloss on puckered lips while looking seductively at the camera while striking a sassy pose with one hand on the hip to portray a very negative image of that culture. Not only that, but the comments underneath:
"Daaaaaaayum, gurl, You look fine. Just holla anytime."
"Dis pic is hot, girl"
"sexy little shawty"
"id fuck that"
No spelling. No grammar. And guys comments on it looked no better. Every picture they had of themselves was of their shirt taken off, showing off their abs.
Maybe I'm just [not] used to this kind of thing. But it really doesn't seem like the image a community wants to portray.
Appalachia, where I live, is extremely white. Here young girls wear Confederate flag halters, blast classic rock from their boyfriends' pick-up trucks and call themselves "rebel girls". As you would say, it's not the image a community would want to portray. As I would say, it's not representative of the entire community.Her reply:
This isn't about "ghetto" or "white trash" culture; it's not a black thing which has somehow "infected" impressionable young white girls (which you're implying). What causes this behavior involves parental negligence and pop culture (mainly reality TV these days), resulting in low self-esteem and attention-seeking behaviors typical of adolescents.
Well, I do have similar issues with blacks [white] girls around here who bleach their hair blonde and get fake tans and try to imitate this very fake, slutty SoCal look. I'm not really attacking blacks as a race. People of all colors can be crude or trashy.So, naturally, I reply:
I'm just not a big fan of hip hop culture. Most of the people I know from the Pacific Northwest don't even have any black friends. All they know is that blacks write that hip hop and rap music.
It actually makes me happy when I see more white guys wearing baggy shirts and chains and white girls wearing poofy jackets with fur trim. Or black guys wearing skinny jeans and rock shirts. Or black girls wearing surfer clothing.
It shows it's really not about the race.
Keep in mind, you requested my opinion.You guessed it. She replies:
I also notice that this email is vastly different from your last email. In fact, the statement, "I don't mean this in a racially depreciating way..." comes to mind.
Secondly, you didn’t bring up these observations in your first email. Thirdly, if this is not about race, why exactly are you asking my opinion? What is this whole conversation about?
Neither e-mail is different.So...typical Moi, I ask her why she's asking me this. To which she replies:
The first e-mail I stated that I didn't mean for it to be "racially deprecating" in any way.
The second stated I was attacking a specific race as well. Also, the "white girls around here who bleach their hair blonde...".
Well, for the most part when I see people following hip hop or rap trends, it's blacks. Or emo or surfer trends, it's white. I just said noticing one race following trends not usually associated with their race is refreshing.
My main question is if you think that hip hop culture and the hip hop and rap icons you see in the media are a bad reflection of black America and a bad influence on today's youth?
I've seen a lot of social commentary on your blog about Blacks in today's society (with an emphasis on Black women). Also, you seem like an intelligent and reasonable individual.So then I reply:
Here’s why I asked you. You’ve made it clear that you don’t like/approve of hip hop culture. You’ve made it clear you see it as a negative influence. When a person clearly has made up their mind about something, they often ask for another person’s opinion in hopes of having their own confirmed.Questions? Comments?
Here’s the thing: “hip hop” and “rap” aren’t the problems. What you hear on the radio and see on channels like MTV or in poorly written, disastrously casted “gangsta flicks” aren’t real hip hop or rap. They’re commercialized hip hop and pop rap (it helps to be specific). To hear real hip hop and old school rap, you have to go underground. You have to track down all those unsigned rappers who quote scholars and philosophers and discuss social issues in their rhymes. Unlike mainstream rappers, they’re often college-educated, have little to no criminal background, and are regularly engaged in community service, like rapper/educator Asheru.
You will almost NEVER see them in popular media because they are a more accurate depiction of black people in America. Moreover, they represent us positively, and white America doesn’t want to show people that. They don’t want non-black (or even black) people to [see black people] that way. They want everyone to see us as “ghetto”, illiterate, promiscuous, and self-destructive so that they don’t have to take responsibility for – or even mention – the glaring inequality in our society.
Like I said…those girls on Facebook aren’t representatives of the entire black community. They are representatives of poor parenting and irresponsible commercialization – common in many communities.
So my answer is no…I don’t think the mainstream music scene is a negative reflection of black people, because it’s not even a reflection of black people. You say you’ve read my blog, then you’ll notice a recurring trend: white media is the dominant media; people of color in general don’t have a say. When we do, we don’t represent ourselves in this manner; it’s not who we are and ultimately says nothing about us – it only says what [some] white people prefer to think of us, and want other whites to think of us as well.