originally published May 1999 / THE SOURCE
When I was in the 5th grade, my homeroom teacher, Mrs. Ellison came to class wearing sunglasses.
No one asked about them. She didn't take them off. Smart ass Dwight in the back of the room, who’d flunked 5th grade twice, offered and as an answer to the equation on the board, “I dunno, but who rocked your eye?” His punk ass boy snickers. I was waiting for Mrs. Ellison to send him to Mr. Jackson's office, to hell, home, anyplace where punishment was slow and long. But Mrs. Ellison looked at the ground; something she never allowed us to do. She was silent for a long time. When she spoke, she lied, “I bumped into a door.” The boys in the back of the room howled laughing. I cursed Mr. Ellison, a man I never seen before.
I didn't know then what domestic violence was. Had never heard about the “systematic de-masculinization of the Black man.” Could care less about “displaced aggression.” And most importantly, I couldn't think of anything or word Mrs. Ellison could have done or muttered to justify her pain and humiliation.
The week of Valentine's Day, ‘91, someone from The Source saw Dee Barnes from “Pump It Up” video show in Russell Simmons’ office wearing a pair of sunglasses; confirmation of the widely circulated rumor that Dre of NWA had physically assaulted, attacked, beat the hell out of, the 5’ 3” hostess at a Hollywood nightclub. I opened up the New York Post and Flavor Flav of Public Enemy had been arrested for beating the mother of his three children, Karen Ross. I open a magazine and Ice Cube is rocking a coat affectionately named “Bitch Killa.” And as the ongoing debate continues, “bitch” is still synonymous with “Black woman” in the hip-hop vocabulary.
It broke my spirit to hear female rap artists call themselves bitches and hoes. It bothers me to know that Karen Ross won't press charges against Flavor Flav and that she wishes to reconcile, to “forget about it.” It infuriates me that witnesses reported that Dr. Dre's bodyguard held the crowd back as Dee received multiple blows to her womanhood. I find it intolerable when brothers ask “so what did Dee do?” I will be outraged to learn that Dr. Dre is not underneath jail when this is published. Historically Black women have been reluctant and intimidated to confront their abuse because of the “division” it will cause within the race and because of the racist, classist institutionalization of the judicial system and the white women's liberation movement.
Violence against Black woman by Black men did not begin with rap music. Sexism did not begin with it with the black community. These minor revelations are not enough. Sexism exist in the hip-hop generation. Manifestation of sexist behavior is first verbal and mental abuse, (BBD, Big Daddy Kane, Too Short, HWA) it evolves into its’ inevitable counterpart, physical abuse, (Dee Barnes, Karen Ross 1 out of 4 Black women between 18 & 25. Hip-hop music must take responsibility for eliminating the perpetuation of the destruction of the Black community, i.e. the abuse of the Black women. It has no place in revolutionary music.