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Who You Calling Bitches?


By Steven Barnes


Wednesday, November 1, 2006.


I was listening to the radio the other day and rapper 50 Cent was talking about his childhood. His drug-dealer mother ran away and he was raised by his grandparents. 


He went on to talk about how wonderful his grandmother was, and I said to myself: "what about his grandfather?" 


It suddenly hit me that, for all practical purposes, I had never heard a rapper talking about his father in positive terms. That is, if there was a father there at all. 


We’ve all heard rappers talking about mothers as if they were saints.  While these misguided souls who waxed rhapsodically about their mothers talked about other women as if they were toilets. 


They used them for sex, called them whores, told them to their faces that they meant nothing, but "come on home with me" anyway.  Bitch.


The rampant "Baby-Mama" phenomenon, which is now the norm in the inner city, is one of the most destructive patterns imaginable. It is destroying the black family, and if you wonder what it leads to, just listen to the values in any rap song:


1)  Dealing drugs, pimping or maybe singing about drugs and pimping in order to make a living.  No real jobs, careers, or contribution to our communities beyond that.


2) No family connections. No thoughts of father, no thought to make a nest for children.  How about a university education? How about thoughts of parents growing older?  The entire thing has gone crazy.


3) Body as toxic waste dump: for drugs, insanely casual sex, for violence (what is 50 Cent's chief claim to fame? That he was shot nine times. This single fact looms larger than anything else about him. Wow, there's a set of bona fides for you!




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It seems to me that rappers are tone-deaf to the melody of life as it is truly lived.  They claim that they are speaking the truth of life in the inner city, but this is a lie. 


Most people in the inner cities are raising families, working jobs, loving, caring for aging parents, dealing with hope and love and fear.  We often hear almost nothing about those things.


And there are almost no true emotions at all in their lyrics. No softness.  No sense of time passing, of responsibility for actions. 


Boys and girls need their fathers. Girls need them to get that male energy that combines with their female energy to create life. If they don't get it from their fathers in a healthy way, they'll get it in the street. 


I was raised by my mother and my sister. I was lucky that I was a dweeb, because none of the gangs wanted anything to do with me: I was just fodder for beating-up.  I was desperate for some kind of male role model. Some kind of image of what it was to be an adult male, to have the respect of other men, and the admiration of women. 


That sent me on a search through action-heroic literature and cinema. 


You know what I found?  None of the men there looked like me.  The men who looked like me were cowardly and stupid, for the most part or died protecting white people.  And so desperate I was that I read it anyway. 


As I put it once, I sacrificed my Melanin on the altar of my testosterone. The damage done to me from the simple fact of having no father, no elder brothers, no uncles is incalculable and lingers to this day.


Boys have something that rages like fire within them. They need to push, to have someone push back, to have a larger, stronger male figure show them their limits.  A single mother must be almost superhumanly strong to provide this without tearing herself apart. What is clearer is that Madonna/Whore complex thing; where mothers are saintly, but other women are sexual toilets to be exploited is a heartbreaking common effect.


Men not only learn how to deal with other men from their fathers, they learn how to treat women: How to be in relationships, how to take responsibility for their children and how to sacrifice dreams of glory for a lifetime career.


In other words, everything you don’t hear in rap music.


Steven Barnes is a novelist, television writer and art critic. He blogs as Darkush.


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