COLUMN: Ludacris to bring misogyny to campus

By John Bambenek

The black community is unfairly targeted in many locations, including this town, because the color of their skin is interpreted to be a sign of criminality. This targeting by an apparent minority of local police officers is indefensibly wrong. The idea that just because someone is black means that they are a criminal is immoral in the first degree.

That is what makes Ludacris’ act so invidious. His music, and those of “artists” like him, glorifies criminality and misogyny. The seeming majority of rap music, arguably the largest contribution of black entertainment in this country, goes far in creating and solidifying the harmful stereotypes that the black community wants to get rid of.

I know many black people and not one acts anything remotely likely the jokers who parade around on B.E.T. Many are honest and hardworking people. It is those people who suffer the most when Ludacris helps enforce harmful stereotypes against black people.

Let’s analyze some lyrics to prove the point. One song titled “Move Bitch” includes lyrics such as the following: “But I’ma tell you like this bitch, you better not walk in front of my tour bus.” Then there are songs like “Pimpin’ All Over the World”.

In fact, one of the few songs he’s ever done that didn’t talk about pimping, being a criminal, or murdering someone was when he did the theme song for the John Madden 2000 video game.

The problem is, with rap music being as ubiquitous as it is, it serves as one of the few points of contact between whites and blacks. Segregation still takes place but it is bilateral, and often the result of self-segregation. Because of this segregation, people like Ludacris end up being “ambassadors” from their community, and they aren’t painting a very good picture.

The objectification of women in rap music is a well known phenomenon. In fact, many black women are starting to speak out against it. Music from white people suggesting that women are nothing more than sexual play toys for men would never be tolerated, for obvious reasons. When Oprah had the audacity to call Ludacris to task for his music and objectification of women, almost the entire rap community cried foul. I know for a fact black men do not, as a class, look at women as they are portrayed in rap music. It’s too bad rap music enforces that stereotype despite reality.

Of course, some will immediately label my criticism as racism. First, these sentiments aren’t any different than those voiced by Oprah Winfrey or Bill Cosby. Second, using the charge of “racism” as a club to beat back legitimate speech serves only to undermine the cause of those who are truly suffering from racism. It’s called “crying wolf.”

As a demonstration of how ludicrous the charge has gotten, I point to the song “Ridin'” by Chamillionaire. The short list of the crimes depicted in the song is: murder, driving under the influence (drugs and alcohol), drug possession, reckless driving, weapons violations and bribery. The point of the song is that the police are racially profiling, not actually trying to enforce the law against shooting up the neighborhood. There is a deep irony in the song and I’m afraid it was probably unintentional.

If the black community wants to get rid of racial stereotypes, why is it the idols that come from that community are all singing about their glorious thug lives spent pimping and killing? The days of Aretha Franklin are long gone, apparently.

Ludacris, it’s like this. Like it or not, you are a representative of the black community. While you’ve been making songs that suggest how awesome you are and how much play you have gotten, you’ve been doing damage to the community you’ve come from. Perhaps it is time to give back to that community. Use your stage to defeat the harmful stereotypes of the black community, not enforce them.