Brandon McFarland on Thursday, Mar. 15th
Last month, a controversial video was posted on the website XXL with Oakland rapper Too $hort offering some questionable (and not to mention illegal) advise to young boys once they “start feeling a certain way about girls.”
The video was quickly taken down, and an apology was issued from the editor of XXL as well as Too Short himself. But not before it flurry of online critique from feminists and hip hop progressives to call him on the carpet. Hip hop journalist and Turnstyle contributor Davey D writes about it at Hip Hop and Politics.
Last night (March 14th 2012) the Oakland chapter of 100 Black Men and Safe Passages, an organization from Oakland that is in the forefront of dealing with domestic violence and sexual assault, hooked up with members of the hip hop community to hold a town hall meeting inside City Hall. The topic was Misogyny, Teen Violence and the influence Rap Music has on our behavior.
What took place last night was riveting, honest, powerful and inspiring. It wasn’t a gripe session or a finger-pointing rap bashing occasion. It wasn’t an event where the hip hop and civil rights generations found themselves at odds blaming one another. Instead, what happened at the Oakland Town Hall was a community who clearly understands there are important issues at hand impacting young minds and we have to go in another direction.
However, the recent controversy around Too Short giving explicit ‘fatherly advise‘ to middle school age boys in an online video hosted by rap publication XXL had put him on the hot seat.
Short said he takes full responsibility for his actions and wanted to be part of the conversation to help rectify and repair the damage and disappointment he caused. Many felt he was candid and forthcoming with his remarks and the evening ended with him noting this is just a starting point and him appealing to other artists in the room to change direction, expand their horizons and re-define the legacy of Oakland rap.
In addition to Too Short, other key stake holders including elected officials, community activists and local artists came together with a spirit of love, a desire to heal and eager to find ways to bring about brighter tomorrows. Some of the most powerful statements came from the young survivors of rape and sexual assault who shared their perspectives and solutions.
During the meeting, Alameda County supervisor Keith Carson along with a couple of members of 100 Black men set the tone, by discussing the harrowing statistics around sexual assault. Carson noted that every couple of minutes a woman is sexually assaulted. He said over ten million kids had witnessed domestic violence and one out of five teenage girls has been assaulted. He also pointed out that since 2005 over two million boys have been sexually assaulted themselves.
Dereca Blackmon, who is part of the We Are 44% Coalition, gave a great presentation on the commodification of songs celebrating sexual abuse and degenerate behavior. Afterwards she sat down with Too Short and had a 20 minute revealing discussion about the music industry, the role artists should take in turning things around and his own personal journey to understanding some of the issues being addressed. He talked about the XXL controversy and eye-opening the conversation he had with writer Dream Hampton.
The evening concluded with a panel discussion where we heard some power statements and solutions from young activists and artists, some of who are survivors of rape, sexual assault and violence.
Here is video footage from the town hall meeting with Too Short: