After Imus, Hip-Hop Debates Skew Focus

By Malena Amusa Apr 30, 2007

Hip Hop godfathers Russell Simmons, KRS-One and many others have come on air, TV and radio, to defend and critique a Hip-Hop culture that’s blamed for suppling Don Imus with his hate speech that led to his firing. The arc of the post-Imus conversation on Hip Hop hasn’t reached very far as it continues to locate the discussion of violence and misogyny in Hip Hop culture outside of America’s long history of violence, racism and sexism. The lack of context has been muddling. One heavily linked example is CBS’s 60 Minutes segment on the ‘stop snitchin’ campaign in Black communities. Stop snitchin’ is a movement to chastise anyone who tells the police about crimes in the neighborhood. Journalist Anderson Cooper took on the issue last week with real journalistic vigor. But Coup Magazine blogger is skeptical. Why do Black norms bear the brunt of dissectionand not ones perpetuated by whites and white institutions? Who’s talking about the stop-snitchin policy of the Bush administration and mainstream media outlets that continue under-reporting the failures of this administration? Further:

As always, I’m also kinda annoyed that it’s only black appropriations of standard cultural mores that get such intense scrutiny. I mean, didn’t Al Pacino win an oscar, as well as adulation and poetic justice for an eight-minute rant against snitching like fifteen years ago? And while the cops feel increasingly frustrated by witnesses who refuse to turn informant, there isn’t a police department in the entire country that doesn’t enforce the blue wall of silence. Not to bite Imus’s defense, but rappers didn’t invent the words "tattle, " "rat," "snitch," or any other pejorative for people who tell, and therefore incriminate others. Granted, crimes that are somewhat protected by "stop snitchin," like murder or drug trafficking, may be wreaking more havoc on black communities than others, but i have a hard time joining in on this public outcry. Especially when it’s just the next event in a long history of pathologizing black people’s behavior while leaving their white counterparts unexamined.