Think critically about hip-hop

Hip-hop’s hold over popular music can be quantified in Billboard rankings and record sales. Anyone walking around campus on a Saturday night is more likely to hear the most current rap hits than any other genre of popular music. An art form built upon the black experience is now consumed by the masses. In his Tuesday column (“Straight Outta Excuses,” Sept. 8), Aaron Sibarium correctly points out that many rap artists glorify violence and misogyny. Nevertheless, the argument departs from reality by making the claim that all problematic hip-hop lyrics are simply written off by those within communities of color.

The fact of the matter is, communities of color have been working to dismantle the industry practices that promote such harmful content. Sibarium fails to understand that the misogynistic content of popular rap music is an issue the black community must face head on without the threat of being vilified or denigrated by those outside of the community. No attempt is made to engage with the black-led “Straight Outta Misogyny” or “Straight Outta Rape Culture” campaigns that attempted to address the problematic subject material in this summer’s most popular film. He fails to cite the fact that Diplo’s own “chauvinistic epithets” also shared the same Spring Fling stage as Ja Rule in 2014.

Sibarium continues with the all-too-familiar practice of completely stripping black artists of their individuality. On one level or another, every major rapper is expected to not only represent themselves, but also their entire art form and the entire African-American race. Any written piece that attempts to lump together the works of The Beatles, Madonna and Bob Dylan alongside the works of Katy Perry, Florida Georgia Line and Taylor Swift would be, at best, considered irresponsible and, more likely, infuriating. So how is it that one can expect to get away with lumping together the sounds of “Fuck Tha Police” and Immortal Technique with those of Ja Rule?

As a result of logical acrobatics, protest anthems like “Hell You Talmbout,” “Alright” and “Sound of Da Police” immediately face white erasure as they are lumped together with the party sounds of an entire generation. Meanwhile, Taylor Swift can pass unquestioned whilst producing content that glorifies the colonial conquest of Africa. Where is the op-ed that attacks Maroon 5 for producing highly misogynistic content that glorifies stalking?

I would like someone to provide evidence on this campus that has displayed and reproduced harmful content like Chief Keef’s lyrics to the extent that this institution has displayed and reproduced racist content. I can easily produce snapshots of stained glass windows in dining halls depicting slaves picking cotton. On the outer façade of Calhoun College stands a placard commemorating the great secession state of South Carolina. Not to mention the particular blend of emotions that arises from being a student of color and having to eat in a dining hall under the unapproving scowl of John C. Calhoun’s portrait. These are all depictions of racism just as apparent and hurtful to students as the term “master” could be. If we must stoop to comparing the importance of these two campus issues, then let’s at least do our due diligence in displaying their effects on students in a realistic manner.

In short, Mr. Sibarium, no one was giving you excuses.

Yonas Takele

The writer is a junior in Calhoun College.