Rick Ross is reeling. The rapper started a huge controversy recently after bragging about date rape in a new song, and last week Reebok ended its endorsement deal wit him. The move is a big win for those organizing against sexism in hip-hop. But over at Organizing Upgrade, Nation Institute fellow Dani McClain asks an important question: “How do we build a sustained effort that holds accountable the people who scout the acts, sign the deals, provide the platform and make the even bigger money?”
McClain draws on her experience as a former online organizer to help others thing long term about the sustained change they’d like to see in the industry.
From Organizing Upgrade:
Who’s your target? What business entity is responsible for the lyric and others like it? Pick a place that prides itself on having a family-friendly brand or claims to be committed to communities of color. Your goal will be to convince the company that it can’t afford to be associated with treating sexual assault nonchalantly.
What is one thing you want your target to do? That’s your ask. Ideally, there should be one ask and one target. The ask is something that could be accomplished within a short amount of time, not a way for you to state your values. Call on your target to do a specific thing that you know - through research - is within their power to make happen.
What are your tactics? Say you decide to bird-dog the person at Atlantic Records who manages Ross’ distribution deal. You’ve got a name and you know where he’ll be making an appearance. Get a journalist to ask him what he plans to do to avoid future mishaps like this one. Don’t know any reporters? Arm a fearless friend with a camera and ask her to corner him in the elevator. Once she has the exec fumbling for an answer, circulate the footage within your networks to spread the word that Ross’ bosses are shirking responsibility. In the video, include a phone number that goes straight to the executive’s desk. Ask people to call, stay on message with that one ask, and let him know they want answers.
Who’s got your back and do you have theirs? About those people you’re sending videos and phone numbers, do they trust you to give solid information and do you trust them to do what you’re asking? Your constituency may be your Twitter following, though often you’ll want to avoid broadcasting plans to maintain the element of surprise. Make sure you’re prepared to guide your folks through a series of tactics, keep them up to date on developments and engage their feedback. They’ll be on the front lines and can help you decide whether to keep up pressure, try something different or escalate to a new tactic.
What’s your media strategy? You got 500 calls into the bawse’s boss’ office and the receptionist said they’re aware of the problem and considering options? Announce that - to the folks who are part of the effort, but also to press. That shows momentum is there, the opposition is scared and you’re still pushing.
These are meaningful questions in an incredibly important conversation. Read the rest over at Organizing Upgrade.