Hey Lovers have you heard? Yesterday Hot 97 reached a new low; even for Hot 97. If you didn’t see it, you can read about it here. Short story short, Hot 97 tweeted and later deleted the question: Do you believe Black women have an attitude problem? To add insult to injury, there was a picture of First Lady Michelle Obama. It’s shortly after midnight as I write this but I was so pissed I could not wait. Let’s discuss.
Of course when you get down to the nitty gritty Hot 97 is owned by a corporation and surely that corporation is controlled by White people or other entities that are controlled by White people. That said, Hot 97 still calls itself the place where hip-hop lives. If Hot 97 is the place where hip-hop lives and hip-hop is an art created by Black people, shouldn’t it be a safe space for Black women?
When I initially heard this story, I tweeted: if Hot 97 is against us, who is for us? Black women have been involved in this nation’s major social movements from abolition during slavery, to women’s suffrage in the early 1900’s, to Civil Rights in the 1960’s and most recently in the Black Lives Matter movement. It has been well documented that some Black women who are victims of crimes perpetrated by Black men do not report those crimes because knowing the mired history of policing and the Black community, they place racial solidarity over their own bodily integrity and safety.
Black women are constantly fighting for more accurate portrayals in the media. Just last month we had half the Internet telling us that Rachel Dolezal wasn’t a problem because she “helped the race.” The discourse around pretending to be Black was infuriating as well. Read my thoughts on that here. There were people, actual African-Americans, who told us that Black womanhood matters so little that we shouldn’t be upset when a random White woman hijacks it to get ahead in life.
While we have a Black First Lady, record numbers of Black women getting advanced degrees, rising through the ranks of sports and starting businesses, both scripted and “reality” TV shows are still reducing Black women to the same old one dimensional representations. Hot 97 fell right into this with their attempt at a “discussion” on one of the oldest stereotypes there is about Black women. If aliens descended upon earth it would appear that the only times when Black women are comfortably accepted are when we’re making biscuits or saying “ass fat…yeah I know” in a catsuit. By the way, here in America, the same woman wouldn’t be allowed to do both those things without criticism from somebody who feels that biscuits are sacred or that women who twerk clearly shouldn’t be allowed in a kitchen unattended.
What is even more insulting than the original Tweet is the fact that Hot 97 left retweets of some of the ridiculous responses. One person answered the question saying: Yes Black women do have an attitude that’s why he does not date us. Did we really need a Tweet reinforcing the old, tired notion that Black women’s attitudes are what make us undesirable to men?
I’m barely recovered from Andy Cohen giving Amandla Stenberg Jackhole of The Day for her perfectly reading Kylie Jenner for cultural appropriation and now I have to deal with this too? When do Black women get a break? Black women are raising the children of fathers incarcerated due to the Drug War. Black boys are fed images that the pinnacle of success means having a White woman on their arm. Black mothers are left to grieve as sons are gunned down police officers or neighborhood watch vigilantes. Black women are paid less than men and less than White women. By some reports Black women are 9 times less wealthy than White women. Black women’s beauty is either fetishized or condemned until it’s purchased, commodified and added to a woman who isn’t Black (see for starters: Kim Kardashian, Khloe Kardashian & Iggy Azaela). Last weekend Serena Williams was called manly by the NY Times after winning Wimbledon, her 21st Grand Slam victory, while a few hours ago, Caitlin Jenner who at this point, is legally still a man in a dress, was celebrated at the ESPY’s for courage.
Of course the Hot 97 apologists and fake Twitter pundits defended this mess. Ebro claimed they were not playing up a stereotype but merely having a “discussion.” This was not a discussion. This was trolling of the worst kind. Let’s imagine if Marc Maron, Rush Limbaugh or Howard Stern had done the same thing. We’d have Reverend Al, Jesse Jackson, Melissa Harris-Perry, Cornell West, President Obama, Oprah and every other notable Black person writing think-pieces, giving interviews and calling for sponsors to drop them for being racist. Just because Hot 97 is “hip-hop radio,” a claim that is in it of itself debatable, that does not absolve them of their tactlessness. If those in charge at Hot 97 are unable to see how these kind of Tweets play into a false and harmful narrative, perhaps they should relinquish their position in our community. Remember, to whom much is given much is required.
Did you see or hear about Hot 97’s tweet? What did you think? Comment below and let me know!