Rap & The Tea Party: Musing on Violence and Rhetoric

I have been thinking about the resistance to the idea that words influence actions in general violence in particular.

In reality, the repetition of words is arguably one of the most powerful forces on earth.

Is there a connection between the ways in which rappers and Tea Party members use violent words, and how these words normalize violence against specific groups of people? It is certainly a question worth thinking about.

For example, last December, I along with Crunktastic, Crunk Feminists rep hard, wrote blog posts about Jay Electronica joking about choking women during sex during his concerts, his twenty thousand dollar bet with rapper Nas on whether “all women liked being choked during sex”, his silencing of dissent around the topic at his concerts and how this kind of rhetoric serves to normalize the conditions under which sexual violence occurs to women.

I had to block two people after I wrote that. They were incensed that I made the connection. On the other hand, many Americans don’t feel that there is a connection between Sarah Palin’s words and the violence that occured in Arizona recently either.

Go figure.

Interestingly Davey D wrote on a post on this topic as well in a post titled “If Rappers Can Take the Heat for Inflammatory Rhetoric, Why Can’t Sarah Palin.” I am not certain that rappers “take the heat” for their language. At least  not in a public and sustained way since 2 Live Crew. Oh wait, there ways Nelly and Tip Drill

Take a look at The Washington Post, Huffington Post or The New York Times for examples of the tension around whether words influence actions.

In trying to figure out why people think about defending positions they know or suspect are dead wrong, I ask myself, “what is their investment in the argument?”

Some people identify with rap music or The Tea Party so, to criticize either feels like you are criticizing them personally.

When talking about ideas and how they shape violence, what we are really talking about is our own willingness to acknowledge how we are complicit in that violence.

Words are powerful, and if you think they aren’t watch what happens when a grown White man calls a grown Black man a “Nigger.” #ummhmm.

Honestly, it was refreshing to see a conversation outside of the feminist blogosphere, where folks were talking about the harm of violent rhetoric.

What responsibility does a person, who has a large speaking platform,  have for their language?

Why is it so easy for young men and women to see it as an issue when it comes to race but when it comes  gender (men and women) they short circuit?

Real Spit. #Oakland

I am so Glad my mother is alive today.

Some shit went down in Oakland that I can’t get into and I think that much of the subtext of distress/anger I been feeling this week has to do with the fact that it is only by God’s grace that a bullet ain’t strike her.

That she is still alive.

As many of you know I was working on a proposal to study the impact of Crack on Oakland specifically but cities in general.

In one of my classes, one of my peers asked me the “so what” question.

The “so what” question is basically “who should give a fuck about the fact that you are doing this” question. It is reasonable. Right?

But peep game, this woman’s project was four condom. Meaning that she censored herself out of desire of be published.

People without heart need to stay out my face. #OnEverything.

Trust. I want to be published however, I am not gone compromise my heart to do it. I am the person that has to live with that shit every day, not anyone else.

And if I do compromise myself to do it, I ain’t gonna be up in people face ‘taumbout the “so what” question.

In class, a colleague spoke up for me, because I honestly was in shock and ain’t know what to say.

She said that my project has meaning for people who are interested in:

Drug Reform

Violence? as a Public Health Issue

Drug Policy

Race, Gender and Drug Policy

Race and Public Policy

Modern US? City History

The Crack Epidemic and the Global Economy

Etc.

For me. Violence is a feminist project. Violence is a huge part of my work because so much of where I come from is marked by it.

My mother’s experience reminds me.

I am glad she is alive. I almost ain’t have my mother, and it kinda got me fucked up.

Thank you for reading.

~Renina

Black Men x Love x Domination

Carry Out the Four Modernisations of the Fatherland (2007) by Kehinde Wiley

I have been thinking a lot Love + Domination + Black men.

Two weeks ago, I had a fever and couldn’t sleep so I was up dumb early, and I decided to re-read bell hook’s “The Will to Change” and I found that it offered a straight forward analysis of why Love is the opposite of domination and how patriarchy is the glue that holds this domination puzzle together.

hook’s main argument is that when we raise our boys not to feel they grow up to become men who do not know how to Love. #ummp.

I will provide some excerpts from the book below, along with some comments.

Men and Change

Men cannot change if there are no blueprints for change. Men cannot love if they are not taught the art of loving.

Consider this blog post and the other post, on Black masculinity as an effort to open, and continue a conversation about Black people, Black boys + men and feeling.

On Love and Domination

To know Love, men must be able to let go of the will to dominate. They must be able to choose life over death. They must be willing to change.

Game for Free on Women’s Unwillingness to Deal with Men in Pain

We cannot heal what we cannot feel, by supporting patriarchal culture that socializes men to deny feelings, we doom them to live in states of emotional numbness. We construct a culture where male pain can have no voice, where male hurt cannot be named or healed….Most women do not want to deal with male pain if it interferes with the satisfaction of female desire.

This kind of hit me in the gut because I asked on Twitter about men being allowed to feel. And MZ (if I recall correctly, I didn’t screen cap it:/) stated that men can express their feelings to women, but women may not be receptive nor willing to hear it.

This floored me.

This forced me to think about the times in which I did not want to deal with the man when he was in pain.? I then asked myself, did I create the space for such an expression to occur. I stay thinking about it, not just with men, but with my whole crew and with myself as well.

Defining Patriarchy

Patriarchy is a political social system that insists that males are inherently dominating, superior to everything deemed weak, especially females, and endowed with the right to dominate and rule over the weak and to maintain dominance through various forms of psychological terrorism and violence.

Gives a whole new meaning to listening to “Bitches ain’t shit but ho’s and tricks.” #ummhmm.

bell hooks on Loving a Man But Resenting His Feelings

He was right. It was hard for me to face that I did not want to hear about his feelings when they were painful or negative, that I did not want any image of the strong man truly challenged by learning of his weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Here I was , an enlightened feminist woman who did not want to hear my man speak his pain because? it revealed his emotional vulnerability.

Feminist need to reflect on how we treat people too. We human. We make mistakes. We grow. #Ummhmm.

Men Women and Power

We claim our power fully only when we can speak the truth that we need men in our lives whether we want them to be or not. That we need men to challenge patriarchy, that we need men to change.

Wow. Talk about we are in this together.com. I Love when writers remind me of this.

The idea that how we raise our boys shapes the kind of men that they will be is incredibly interesting.

Isn’t this a more useful discussion than “why heterosexual middle class Black women can’t find a ‘good’ man?” #ummhmm. Peace to Negro men and women who talk about Black women to pay they mortgages and car notes.

Why is it that we force little boys to suppress their feelings then we are surprised that they turn into men who can’t feel and simply want to dominate?

For men readers, have you shared your feelings with a woman recently? Was she receptive? How did it turn out?

For women readers, to you give the men in your life space to be in pain and show emotions other than rage/anger? How does this work.

REALLY looking forward to your feedback.

Violence and the 2008 Presidential Race


There are two stories that I have arisen in the past two days
that have me thinking about violence in the
presidential election.
The first is the story related to the
above image of Michelle Obama. It
was allegedly created by an
Obama supporter who is apparently completely
ignorant of
the legacy slavery, lynching for African Americans.

Professor Kim
wrote an informative piece on it. This quote sums
up my perspective on the the image,

Two final layers. This image flips and merges two of the most emblematic images in our tragic racial history: the black (usually) male victim suffering unjustly at the hands of white racists, and the fragile woman (historically white) being violated by brutish (black, and often imaginary) men. In a provocative 2001 book, Playing the Race Card: Melodramas of Black and White From Uncle Tom to OJ Simpson, UC Berkely professor Linda Williams argued that racial melodrama sets the terms of our debates over equality. What we may be witnessing in part, is just how poorly those terms fit our current situation.

Last thing. As I pondered the image, I thought about Sen. Obama’s recent call for an end to the attacks on his wife. Bowling Green Daily News columnist Kathleen Parker derided his comments, along with his recent gaffe when he called a woman reporter “sweetie.” But look at that image again, and think of another historical echo. During and after slavery and Jim Crow, black women were routinely sexually violated by white men — and their husbands, fathers and other family members were powerless to defend them.

On another note, there is something about the notion of “defending them”
that strikes me as being uber patriarchal. I think I would reframe it as
“no way of seeking justice” instead.


I was also reminded of violence when I heard Hillary Clinton’s
statement that she is she is staying in the race because her
husband didn’t win California until June, and that Bobby Kennedy was
assassinated in June. On its face, it seems to be a careless comment,
but then again, Bobby was a young senator who was assassinated.
Obama is a young senator as well.
Given this countries history of violence, what does the fact that she
said
this intentionally or unintentionally say about her?
Was she tired? Is the statement in exusable even if she is tired?
I immediately thought, If she is insensitive enough to say this, if she is lacking
in judgment to the extent that these words could come out of her mouth,
we are left to infer, what else is she capable of saying and doing?

Don’t get me wrong, last year,in March of 2007 I mentioned how
Obama may be great, but the prospect of him being murdered makes
his viability questionable. I now realize that this reactionary thinking
that has no place in what he is trying to accomplish for if fear was the
determining factor, MLK would have been just another Cadillac driving,
Negro preacher tauting prosperity gospel.

Hillary has apologized, but has the damage been done?
How does one view her apology?