Action Network releases a statement on the objectionable lyrics (April 23, 2007) Following a recent appearance on The Oprah
Winfrey Show, where the topic was the role of hip-hop music in
perpetuating derogatory images of black women, Russell Simmons (left) and
Dr. Benjamin Chavis released this statement on behalf of the Hip-Hop
Summit Action Network:
The theme of the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network (HSAN) is “Taking Back
Responsibility.” We are consistent in our strong affirmation, defense, and
protection of the First Amendment right of free speech and artistic
expression. We have recently been involved in a process of dialogue with
recording and broadcast industry executives about issues concerning
corporate social responsibility.
It is important to re-emphasize that our internal discussions with
industry leaders are not about censorship. Our discussions are about the
corporate social responsibility of the industry to voluntarily show
respect to African Americans and other people of color, African American
women and to all women in lyrics and images.
HSAN reaffirms, therefore, that there should not be any government
regulation or public policy that should ever violate the First Amendment.
With freedom of expression, however, comes responsibility. With that said,
HSAN is concerned about the growing public outrage concerning the use of
the words “bitch,” “ho,” and "nigger." We recommend that the recording and
broadcast industries voluntarily remove/bleep/delete the misogynistic
words “bitch” and “ho” and the racially offensive word "nigger."
Going forward, these three words should be considered with the same
objections to obscenity as “extreme curse words.” The words "bitch" and
"ho" are utterly derogatory and disrespectful of the painful, hurtful,
misogyny that, in particular, African American women have experienced in
the United States as part of the history of oppression, inequality, and
suffering of women. The word "nigger" is a racially derogatory term that
disrespects the pain, suffering, history of racial oppression, and
multiple forms of racism against African Americans and other people of
In addition, we recommend the formation of a music industry Coalition on
Broadcast Standards, consisting of leading executives from music, radio
and television industries. The Coalition would recommend guidelines for
lyrical and visual standards within the industries.
We also recommend that the recording industry establish artist mentoring
programs and forums to stimulate effective dialogue between artists,
hip-hop fans, industry leaders and others to promote better understanding
and positive change. HSAN will help to coordinate these forums.
These issues are complex, but require creative voluntary actions
exemplifying good corporate social responsibility.
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