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April 23, 2014

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IMUS: PIMPS UP HOS DOWN

Comments (1645)

In the wake of Don Imus' recent racist and derogatory comments about the Rutgers women's basketball team, where he called them "nappy-headed hos," several journalists, commentators, and hip hoppers have also pointed the finger at rap music as an advocate for this type of behavior.

As a self-proclaimed hip hopper I have to agree. But I don't simply blame greedy rappers who make money off of rhyming about hos while helping to craft a global image of women of color as such, there are also the greedier corporate forces (across mediums) that can share in the blame. And consumers like myself who don't take a consistent, steadfast stance.

Don't get it twisted, Imus is who he is, rap music didn't put a gun to his head and make him say these comments. I'm sure if he wasn't familiar with the word "ho" he would have found a creative replacement. But his actions point to a bigger picture, one that T. Denean Sharpley-Whiting attempts to analyze in her new book, PIMPS UP, HO'S DOWN: HIP HOP'S HOLD ON YOUNG BLACK WOMEN.

Through a mix of narrative, reportage and academic analysis, Sharpley-Whiting is on a mission to prove that the negative display of black women in media, particularly music videos and television, is vital to the mass media appeal of hip hop culture. As a result, as seen with Imus' comfort in calling women hos, the derogatory images of women provided by hip hop have become normal, acceptable and entertaining around the world. She delves into how this impacts the emotions, self-esteem and attitudes of young black women.

I'm in the middle of the book and have to say that it's made me think further about how mass media views me. Sharpley-Whiting is an academic, a professor of African American and Diaspora Studies and French at Vanderbilt University, but she's also of the hip hop generation and speaks honestly about her relationship with the culture. She's an insider who cares enough about hip hop to critique it.

MTW Extras:

Does Hip-Hop Hate Women?

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