Tag Archives: hip hop

Bigot of the Week Award: April 12, Brad Paisley and LL Cool J

12 Apr
Bigots of the Week

Bigots of the Week

The musical merging of Brad Paisley and LL Cool J is strange enough as a concept. Sadly, it also results in a horrific song. The title, Accidental Racist, is bad enough, demonstrating a blatant race to innocence and ignorance of privilege. The lyrics are even worse. Paisley defends wearing the Confederate battle flag as a simple expression of “southern pride” while implying that the way people may look down on Southern whites is somehow comparable to centuries of institutionalized racism.

I’m proud of where I’m from but not everything we’ve done
And it ain’t like you and me can re-write history
Our generation didn’t start this nation
We’re still pickin’ up the pieces, walkin’ on eggshells, fightin’ over yesterday
And caught between southern pride and southern blame

Paisley doubles down by name-checking Lynyrd Skynyrd, the band whose Sweet Home Alabama famously celebrates George Wallace.

We’ve noted Paisley’s behavior previously, notably his overt homophobia. More surprising is hip hop star LL Cool J joining in the song. He engages in some tragic overidentification with the oppressor, rapping

If you don’t judge my do-rag
I won’t judge your red flag.
If you don’t judge my gold chains
I’ll forget the iron chains.

So trendy street bling somehow neutralizes militant defense of human slavery and a long history of racist laws that were designed to define “whiteness” and oppress black folk? That’s a seriously offensive and dangerous message. Even in the controversy, however, both artists continue to defend the song, with Paisley stating, “I wouldn’t change a thing.” I’m sure you wouldn’t, Brad.  I’m sure “some of your best friends are black, or gay.”  Wow, his obliviousness to his own unearned power and privilege make me rather ill.  While, I don’t expect any better from Paisley, I am rather disappointed in L L Cool J–who is not so cool!

Dishonorable mention this week goes to Rep. Paul Broun (R – GA). The arch-conservative, who is running to replace retiring bigot Saxby Chambliss in the Senate next year, was responding to a proposal (currently shelved, by the way) to include gender reassignment surgery in Medicare and Medicaid coverage. The ever-delightful Broun commented:

I don’t want to pay for a sex change operation. I’m not interested. I like being a boy.

Apparently he also likes being a bigot and an idiot. Don’t want a sex change, Rep. Broun? DON’T HAVE ONE! But don’t use your power to prevent others from receiving reasonable medical care.

A Matter of Civil Rights…

6 Oct

Thank you to my dear friend Eva for inspiring me to post this.  Get a kleenex folks–you will need one.

Hero of the Week Award: July 6, Frank Ocean

6 Jul

Hero of the Week

It’s been quite a week for LGBT celebrities. Coming out rumors and confirmations have abounded, with Anderson Cooper getting the brightest focus. A young hip-hop musician rises above the crowd, however. Frank Ocean put to rest rampant speculation in advance of his first solo album, Channel Orange, with a powerful and touching statement.

4 summers ago, I met somebody. I was 19 years old. He was too. We spent that summer, and the summer after, together. Everyday almost. And on the days we were together, time would glide.

Ocean continues the story of his first crush noting that the other man was in a relationship and unavailable. He built on that crushing experience and the joy that preceded it to frame his coming out message, which he dedicates

To my mother, you raised me strong. I know I’m only brave because you were first, so thank you. All of you. For everything good. I feel like a free man.

Given the extra challenges faced by being out and African-American and the notoriously homophobic nature of hip-hop culture, Ocean’s actions are especially bold. (So much so that Billboard ran a special piece on his message.) Ocean goes a step further than a coming out message, too. The songs on his new album include romantic lyrics clearly directed to a male subject, something out singers in any genre rarely do. Hip-hop and rap godfather Russell Simmons, a strong marriage equality advocate and LGBT ally, sums up this bold young singer perfectly.

Today is a big day for hip-hop. It is a day that will define who we really are. How compassionate will we be? How loving can we be? How inclusive are we? […] Your decision to go public about your sexual orientation gives hope and light to so many young people still living in fear.

Hero of the Week Award: May 18, Jay-Z and Argentina

18 May

Heroes of the Week

Thank you to my friend Jennifer Carey, LGBT ally and social justice advocate, for inspiring me to write about Jay-Z. This week we were lucky enough to have a tie for HWA, with two very disparate events that both merit celebration. What a nice surprise!

Hip hop superstar and businessman Jay-Z earns his share of the award with his staunch support of marriage equality and of President Obama’s supportive statements. Having just celebrated his own wedding anniversary, he reflected

I have always thought of it as something that is still holding the country back. What people do in their own homes is their business… It is no different than discriminating against blacks. It’s discrimination, plain and simple… It was the right thing to do. It’s really not about votes. It’s about people. So whether it cost him votes or not, I think it was the right thing to do as a human being.

Given the rap industry’s history of homophobia and the black community’s uneasy relationship with LGBT rights, this strong support from a highly visible member of both camps is powerful indeed.

Meanwhile in Argentina… In a unanimous vote the Argentine Senate approved a law that makes it very easy for citizens to change their gender on legal documents in that country. Activists who track gender identity laws said that no other country has gone so far to embrace gender self-determination. In the United States and Europe, transgender people must submit to physical and mental health exams and must generally begin a physical transition to qualify to even petition for a legal change of gender. With this bold yet simple move, Argentina has become the most trans-friendly nation in the world, building on the progressive LGBT tradition begun two years ago with legal marriage equality. When will the U.S. catch up?

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