Turn The Beat Around, aka Hip-Hop Isn’t Your Dog Whistle

By now, unless you’re fiercely protective of your sanity or just
disconnected from the world at large, you’ve heard more than
you ever wanted to know about the latest scandal involving the
Republican presidential candidate & reality-show business magnate
Donald Trump. Mainly, a recording from 2005 when he basically
told Billy Bush on Access Hollywood of how his stature allows 
him to “grab them by the p***y” when it comes to women. The
leak of the off-air footage has laid another round of napalm on
his political aspirations, has led to Bush now being dismissed 
from NBC and sparked another wave of outrage. In the wake of
all of this, there have been those of his followers who are so 
desperately loyal to him that they are grasping at anything to 
try to deflect. It’s something that has worked before. The latest 
attempt? Blame rap music and hip-hop culture on a whole as 
being MORE misogynistic than what Trump uttered. One key
example was Trump’s spokeswoman Katrina Pierson flatly stating
Hollywood & rap music were the ones to blame for bolstering
rape culture, not Trump. Another person caused Twitter to go
up in arms by making this claim, and citing a slew of artists who
last had serious relevance in 2006 like Dem Franchise Boys as
if she just went to someone’s Myspace page for proof.

Let’s bring things to the forefront — does rap music have artists
and songs that are denigrating and offensive to women. Yes, it
does. There’s ample evidence of that and of others like Tipper 
Gore and others taking rap musicians to task over it. There’s also
quite a number of women of color who have also made it their
mission to combat the misogynoir that comes as a result of this
strain of rap music. I’ve got women who are close friends of mine
who love rap from a distance for those reasons, who choose 
certain eras where that air wasn’t as pervasive. I won’t sit here
and deny that it is a problem. What bothers me is two-fold. One,
the distinction between rap music and hip-hop culture HAS to 
be not only stated but reinforced time and time again when they
are discussed because the conflation of the two leads to others 
outside of it labeling it however they want for their own misdeeds.
Two, the real hypocrisy comes from these partisan political 
observers who want to use rap as an obvious deflection and 
pandering move to a base of followers who mostly have shown
countless times that they lap up anything racist, sexist and outright
crude when it comes to their nominee.

It’s ridiculous to believe that rap music is the sole progenitor of 
rape culture in this society, and it’s dangerous. Dangerous because
this argument is much like a “Willie Horton”-styled attack from
back in the day.

Whenever this topic comes up, I find it amazing how the tools of 
deflection can work so quickly. It leads someone to immediately paint 
Black people as “thugs” and “rapists”, which ties into what racists
have been peddling about us since the days of D.W. Griffiths and
the Ku Klux Klan making parades down the National Mall while
Woodrow Wilson was president. It ignores the effects of other 
genres of music throughout the decades. For those who want 
examples, this Tumblr page has a hefty collection. Kenny Rogers,
Elton John, even Dean Martin — all guilty. I don’t even have to 
fully speak on how this misogyny and rape culture has been 
mainlined into society’s system through TV. It’s even more preposterous
when you consider that those trying to go “yeah, yeah it’s all rap
music’s fault” are the biggest purchasers of the music and have 
been for quite some time. And feel emboldened to be even more
disrespectful and ugly because of it. Corporations who now are
in control of many music labels have profited off of this for years 
and in turn have stifled records from artists and groups who don’t
make misogyny their bread and butter. A couple of these same 
corporations also try to influence politics through lobbyists and 
donations. Same page, different paragraph.

Using hip-hop and rap music to try to defend someone who has
shown without a shadow of a doubt how crude, how narcissistic,
how abusive and how unfit for leadership he is, is nothing more
than a dog-whistle to the willfully ignorant and their cavalry of
bystanders. It also may be a dog-whistle since his opponents have
effectively been able to have rap artists support their campaigns
and the rise of a more diverse voting base looks to be a prime factor
in this election. This is nothing more than a bad record skipping
due to warping in one spot. Thankfully, those who possess some
common sense and a sense of how things really developed can
change that record.