Blacks complicit in their own exploitation

William T. Robinson, Jr.

We are living in times where we are quick to defend the right to express one’s personal views, even when those views and practices are contrary to established, accepted traditional views. In fact, we generally encourage artistic creativity, especially in entertainment venues. We are constantly pushed and encouraged to learn to respectfully honor one’ right to disagree. But there are times when we must draw the line.

I, for one, will defend to the end the right to freedom of speech with the consequences that may unfold. But we must vehemently speak out and protest when one’s actions may be destructive and inflammatory to society, especially to the moral direction of a younger generation.

The things we say and do affect how we are judged and valued, regardless of how we may personally feel. In fact, too often the actions of a few contribute to negative perceptions and stereotypes that are attributed to a group. I am saying this to personally vent my frustration and indignation at the public display of what I see as blatant sexual exploitation in song and dance, especially by some Black artists in concerts, TV and movies.

I guess I can be considered a prude, but I can no longer keep quiet by not addressing the continuing sexual exploitation of Black women especially in song and dance. But I am even more surprised by the lack of public disdain by the Black community in accepting entertaining artists who aid in the exploitation and deterioration of our moral values and contribute to our depiction as negative Black stereotypes. Where is the outcry from Black churches, Black parents, Black communities, and Black businesses holding those Blacks accountable for bastardizing our worth as proud and respectful people? For the sake of making money and being entertained, isn’t anything sacred anymore?

I was shocked and appalled when we normalized ‘twerking.’ I even saw a three-year-old girl twerking on media, being encouraged by her mother. Excuse me if I don’t find seeing young Black girls twerking and sexually gyrating their bodies as entertaining. And some of us wonder why so many young girls are promiscuous and think nothing about parading around practically naked.

Mothers and fathers, you have an obligation and responsibility to instill some type of morality, integrity, self-respect, and self-worth in your children, especially your daughters. Our silence or lack of righteous indignation is aiding in our moral decline. We are failing our children by not speaking out and demanding better. The sexual exploitation being shown in dance and song by some Black rap artists is unacceptable and inexcusable.

Artists in entertainment venues such as music, TV or movies may have the right to display their artistic creativity—but they should be mindful they are influencing young credulous minds. Parents should be quick to change the TV channels, monitor the music their children listen to, and hold sponsors responsible for having certain derogatory artists representing their products. These are artists who have a history of tainting and soiling the minds of young children and young adults. When is enough, enough? When will the Black community stop accepting or tolerating this buffoonery by their own?

While to each his own, the number one song in many music venues is ‘WAP (Wet As P…sy)’ by Cardi B featuring Meagan Thee Stallion. If you can accept the lyrics to songs such as ‘WAP’ or BRS Kash’s ‘Throat Baby’ and find it permissible among our children and young adults, that says a lot about who you are and where we are headed as a nation.

Some artists make excuses or rationalize that they have cleaner versions of their sexually provocative, degrading and exploitative songs. But we know their faithful fans will find and listen to the original versions. These ‘xxx’ rated, vulgar songs belong in strip clubs where they have a willing, paying audience—not literally being forced upon mainstream America. Vulnerable and impressionable children are being exposed to songs and dances that help to normalize immorality and indecency.

I feel the Black community should reach out to Black artists contributing to the sexual exploitation of Black women and educate them as to how they are doing their race (especially young children) a great disservice. There are too many conscientious Blacks working tirelessly by example, trying to change the negative narratives so often attributed to our community.

Some would be quick to say that the older Black generation has failed the younger generation by falling short in offering guidance and instruction to help our youth navigate their struggle to persevere and grow with dignity and pride. For whatever reasons, this lack of direction (especially in not teaching our children Black history) has created a handful of self-serving young Blacks exercising promiscuousness carte blanche in influencing their peers. It is as if these young Black artists, especially in the music venue, are ignorant or just don’t care about the impact they have on how their race is perceived. If they were held accountable or chastised, perhaps they would feel they have a responsibility and obligation to present themselves in a more positive light.

Perhaps the worst assumption is that we are comfortable living in a world where the dark seems to have diminished the light and that we as a people are willingly gravitating and accepting indecency, immorality, vulgarity, and pervasiveness. I pray that there are enough soldiers of the light willing to speak out and change this downward, degrading, exploitative scenario.