An open letter to Slim Thug
In a recent interview, rapper Slim Thug unleashed a very disturbing attack on Black women, here's an excerpt:
...Most single Black women feel like they don’t want to settle for less. Their standards are too high right now. They have to understand that successful Black men are kind of extinct. We’re important. It’s hard to find us so Black women have to bow down and let it be known that they gotta start working hard; they gotta start cooking and being down for they man more. They can’t just be running around with their head up in the air and passing all of us.
I have a brother that dates a White woman and he always be fucking with me about it saying, 'Y’all gotta go through all that shit [but] my White woman is fine. She don’t give me no problems, she do whatever I say and y’all gotta do all that arguing and fighting and worry about all this other shit.'...
While many people dismissed it as a publicity stunt or the rant of an ignorant rapper, I felt compelled to respond to him in the form of an open letter.
A few days ago, you made comments in Vibe magazine that have caused a great deal of controversy. While I appreciate your willingness to offer your opinion in public, you made several statements that were not only unfair and untrue, but deeply damaging to our community. Normally, I would reach out to you privately, but since your comments were made in a very public place, I feel compelled to respond in the same manner.
As an artist who is respected by millions of fans, particularly young ones, I found your comments to be hurtful and irresponsible. For good or for bad, our children follow the lead of you and other artists for everything from fashion and slang to self-esteem, body image and relationships. Imagine how a young black girl feels to hear from you, her role model, that her “standards are too high” and that she should “bow down” and “settle for less.” Consider the pain that our beautiful brown skinned babies feel when Yung Berg says he doesn’t date “dark butts.” Think about the self-esteem of our community when Nelly refers to our mothers, sisters, and daughters as “Tip Drills.”
As celebrities, your public comments are not just your own. Instead they influence the choices, beliefs, and lives of an entire generation of young people who look to you for direction.
Of course, you have every right to say things that you think are true. The problem, however, is that there was very little truth in your comments.
In your interview, you talk about how much better white women treat their partners than black women. If what you’re saying is true, why do Whites have the highest divorce rate of any group? Do white men get tired of being treated like kings? In reality, it seems that you are buying into (and selling) a stale but dangerous ideal that constructs White women as ultra-feminine, loving, queens, and Black women as angry, selfish, and untrustworthy hoes.
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Even more disturbing was your comment that “Black women gotta start being down for their man more.” Since slavery, Black women have had to withstand rape, torture, and humiliation (from both white and black men) in order to sustain their families. Now, in 2010, 1 in 3 Black men between 20 and 29 years old are incarcerated or otherwise under criminal supervision. Every day, Black women are raising children without men in the house, working multiple jobs (for less pay!), and supporting brothers as they finish their prison bids.
With Black male unemployment as high as 50 percent in some cities, sisters are often holding down households without child support or other financial assistance. Black female incarceration rates are skyrocketing, partly because Black women are “riding” for their men, hiding guns and drugs, operating as mules, and refusing to snitch to authorities. In addition, Black women are the group most likely to be victims of domestic violence and the least likely to be married. Still, in spite of all this bad news, Black women are less likely to date outside their race than Black men.
How much more “down” do you want Black women to be?
I agree with you that both brothers and sisters have work to do. Over the last year, we’ve seen countless TV shows, movies, and bestselling books telling Black women how broken they are, how ugly they are, why they don’t have a man, and how they need to behave. Instead of adding to this pile of pain and ignorance, I would encourage you to turn the mirror on yourself. How does the image of the pimp/player/baller/dopeboy promoted in your music help to create the “gold diggers” that you badmouth in your interviews? How might your own admitted failures at monogamy undermine the type of loyalty that you find missing in Black women? Criticizing the vulnerable is easy. Working on yourself is the difficult part.
I hope you don’t take this letter as an attack, but as an act of concern and love from one brother to another. Through your fame and wealth, you have tremendous power. You can use it to hurt or to heal, to injure or to inspire.
The world is watching. What will you do?
Marc Lamont Hill
Marc Lamont Hill is Associate Professor of Education at Columbia University. He blogs regularly at MarcLamontHill.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.