Rap's missing fathers

At a summit on black fatherhood, “hip-hop heads” talked about the image of manhood glorified in gangsta rap. Martha Bayles writes in Opinion Journal:

First, the panelists expressed dismay at the way commercially successful rappers like 50 Cent, the Game, Snoop Doggy Dogg, and Nelly depict young black men. In countless song lyrics and videos, young men are either embittered losers despairing on the street corner (or cell block), or extravagant winners disporting themselves in surreal mansions or tropical paradises, amid harems of sexy, available and highly disposable young women. Some songs and videos are more offensive than others, but all reduce manhood to the pursuit of cash, followed by sex, in a world that requires no responsibility of any kind, least of all that of fatherhood.

James Mtume, host of a popular talk show, said, “It’s too easy to say, ‘I can’t do it with that white man’s foot on my neck.’ What particular white man is keeping you from being a father to your children?”

Update: Bob Herbert writes movingly about missing fathers in the NY Times.

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  1. SuperSub says:

    If you have time to waste, take a look at the lyrics of rap songs in the top 40. I did it a few weeks ago for a paper… and all but 2 had explicit lyrics int hem. By explicit, I mean endorsing violence against others and describing it in detail, or descriptions of sexual activity (and associated violence) that wouldn’t make it into the pages of Penthouse. Many of these songs had sex or rape as their main theme. And people wonder why youths are messed up.
    I think its funny how the censors will only bleep out a curse word and miss statements like “bend her over and take her,” which are even more detrimental than cursing.

  2. I grew up on Star Trek and other sci-fi, so as a child my black role models were characters like Geordi LaForge: intelligent, kind, polite, respectful, hard-working, tough, and responsible. Then I see rap videos and movies like Barber Shop, and I wonder why a bunch of white science geeks are kinder to black people than black people are to themselves.

  3. SuperSub says:

    Same reason that slaves were common in Africa before colonization and that Africa is still mostly full of war-torn countries ruled intermittently by different factions.

  4. nailsagainsttheboard says:

    Clearly there is something wrong with elements of the African-American community from within (and not just the underclass)– cultural values produce behavior. Sad factoid–over a hundred years ago, former black slaves who settled a new African nation, Liberia, ironically ended up enslaving the indigenous population of the area. Racism is universal; so is assuming personal responsibility, once ‘de jure’ racism is gone from the very society that fought a long and bloody war to rid itself of slavery. The absence of a strong and moral father from the family has done more to harm blacks than any ‘de facto’ racism today. Sad when BET (Black Entertainment Television) showcases the cRAP musick culture over the incredible repertoire of black talent, past and present ie. Armstrong, Holliday, Marsalis, Wonder, the late Ossie Davis, etc. And that’s just music and film…not to mention biographies of great black leaders, thinkers, writers, politicians, doctors, etc. Why is the worst being celebrated by the younger masses, and not the best? Supply and demand…when demand for products from the cRAP musick culture diminishes, so will the supply. Values have to change for behavior to change. Black churches are a good place to start. And it doesn’t take a village…it takes two loving, moral and committed parents to raise a child.

  5. Mike in Texas says:

    How about the influence of professional sports? I read the other day the endorsement deals are rolling in again for Kobe Bryant. And Dennis Rodman made more money after he struck an official.