Students object to Spring Fling artist

With Spring Fling just two weeks away, some students are objecting to one of the acts — the Ying Yang Twins, whose lyrics opponents call misogynistic.

A handful of students, some of them members of the Afro-American Cultural Center and the Yale Women’s Center, are criticizing the choice of the crunk rap duo the Ying Yang Twins for Spring Fling, though neither group has registered any formal protest. The students from the Af-Am House also said the Ying Yang Twins cast a negative light on the African-American community.

Yale College Council events coordinator Mathilde Williams ’11 said the artist, once contracted, cannot be changed, but she has contacted the rap duo through a booking agent to notify them of the campus controversy. The YCC has not yet heard a response, she added.

Diana Ofosu ’12, who is helping to organize the opposition, held a meeting Friday at the Af-Am House to discuss the potential implications of the Ying Yang Twins’ performance.

“It’s paradoxical and problematic that in the 40th anniversary of co-education and the Af-Am House, we bring an artist who promotes violence and misogynistic messages,” she said at the meeting, which drew only three other attendees.

In an interview, Ofosu said she was surprised by the meeting’s low turnout given that she had received e-mails about the event from 10 to 15 people . She added that her group’s goal is to secure an alternate act that would perform at the same time as the Ying Yang Twins on April 27, and also organize a publicity campaign sometime this week to highlight the offensiveness of the group’s lyrics.

She said students are exhibiting “implicit racism” in accepting the Ying Yang Twins’ performance.

“If we are accepting their performance on the basis that we know that what they are saying is wrong, but we still think it’s funny,” Ofosu said, “then we are approaching it as a modern-day minstrel show.”

The Women’s Center board thinks it is important to bring hip-hop artists and artists of color to campus, but the Spring Fling Committee could have chosen a less offensive rap artist, said Rachel Achs ’11, public relations coordinator for the Women’s Center. She added that the Women’s Center has e-mailed information about the protests to its panlist, but the center has not played the primary role in organizing it.

Williams said the YCC wanted a hip-hop artist most students would know. Of the artists eventually booked, the Ying Yang Twins were the first to be suggested at a Spring Fling Committee meeting, Williams said.

But she said she agrees that the Ying Yang Twins’ lyrics are misogynistic.

“It’s not a reflection of YCC agreeing with them at all,” she said.

(Yale College Council President Jon Wu ’11 deferred comment to Williams.)

Pete Croughan ’12, co-chair of the Spring Fling Committee and candidate for YCC president, said it would have been difficult to find a hip hop group that did not offend someone. Though the committee recognized that the acts might be objectionable to some, he said, the Ying Yang Twins were “an unbeatable option” because of their price and fame.

Still, Ofosu said there are other rap groups with more “socially responsible” lyrics, pointing to rap artists Mos Def and Talib Kweli as examples of “poets who make good music and celebrate things that should be celebrated.”

Williams said she does not take issue with the protests but hopes they take the form of a discussion of modern societal values rather than an alternative concert.

Elisa Gonzalez ’11 (a staff columnist for the News) said she does not think that the YCC, in choosing the Ying Yang Twins, implied that they agree with the lyrics. But the Spring Fling Committee showed a lack of consideration for those offended by the duo, she added.

Sam Spaulding ’13 said he thinks there is more support than opposition to the Ying Yang Twins performing, though he said he was surprised the YCC was able to book them, after a similar minor controversy over Ludacris four years ago.

“If you don’t like it, then you don’t have to hear them,” Spaulding said.

Last year’s Spring Fling Committee decided against pursuing Akon despite the hip hop artist’s popularity among students, because of his music’s misogynistic reputation.

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