Bad rap

In addition to Don Imus himself, the hip-hop community has felt the heat for, many people claim, setting up a situation that would make the...

In addition to Don Imus himself, the hip-hop community has felt the heat for, many people claim, setting up a situation that would make the ousted shock-jock think that it was okay to use the now infamous slur against the Rutgers women’s basketball team.

Today, Russell Simmons and his group, Hip-Hop Summit Action Network (HSAN), released a statement saying that forums and coalitions should be created to establish standards and open the lines of communication, and “b***h,” “ho,” and “n****r” should be omitted voluntarily by the recording and broadcasting industries because they’re offensive. However, he doesn’t outright condemn the language because he doesn’t want to step on the First Amendment. This, says Simmons, is in keeping with the level of CSR that the industry should maintain.

What about the level of responsibility hip-hop should maintain? In other words, keep saying what you say, hip-hop artists, and let the onus for change fall on the industry. This is a way for HSAN to respond to criticism of hip-hop without offending the artists that the group calls friends and colleagues; a way to sit on the fence. We acknowledge that these words hurt women and people of color, they're saying, but go ahead and continue to say whatever offensive nonsense you want because it's freedom of speech. We know that something’s gotta buy that bling.

Certain hip-hop artists, like many other artists, continue to use strong language to make a point about very real social and cultural issues, or in ways that aren't meant to demean others. But that’s not the case with many of the artists that populate MTV, BET, and other media. My hope is that the backlash against the hip-hop community continues until each artist begins reaching for a level of personal responsibility to meet the corporate social responsibility HSAN claims to be seeking.

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