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Comments by YACCS
Sunday, June 25, 2006

You know, this might be a good argument...........except that it isn't

Oprah doesn't like you.

Rappers Aren't Feeling Oprah's Love

By Yvonne Bynoe, AlterNet. Posted June 21, 2006.

Oprah has refused to bring Ice Cube and Ludacris on her show. But it's not their music she hates -- it's their message of contempt for black women.

Ludacris was the first rapper to complain about Oprah. In the May 2006 issue of GQ, he said that Oprah only grudgingly invited him to her show because of his role in the Oscar-winning film "Crash." Ludacris called Oprah "unfair" and said that she edited his comments and lectured him about his music.

Then 50 Cent -- the infamous crack dealer turned rap artist -- joined the fray, telling the Associated Press that Oprah rarely invites rap artists on her show. Revealing his disdain for what he characterized as Oprah's older, female, and primarily white audience, he said, "[I] couldn't care less about Oprah or her show."

And now Ice Cube, the former frontman for controversial rap group N.W.A, has expressed his displeasure with Oprah. He told FHM magazine that he's been involved with three projects that were pitched to Oprah but has yet to receive an invite. "Maybe Oprah's got a problem with hip hop," Ice Cube said.

But contrary to what Ludacris, 50 Cent and Ice Cube have implied, Oprah has had rap artists on her show, but her tastes lean more toward John Legend and Alicia Keys than to Lil Wayne and Trina. To promote the film "Barbershop," Oprah invited rapper-actress Eve and comedian Cederic the Entertainer. Sean "P-Diddy" Combs was on before he ran the New York City marathon to raise money for local public schools. Incendiary rap artist-producer Kanye West, whose religious anthem "Jesus Walks" stirred up controversy among church folks, has also appeared on her show. Queen Latifah and LL Cool J have sat on Oprah's stage. More importantly, rap artist-producer Missy Elliott and "queen of hip hop" Mary J. Blige were both part of Oprah's Legends Weekend celebrating accomplished black women.

Earlier this month Oprah responded to her critics, explaining to MTV: "I respect other people's rights to do whatever they want to do in music and art. ... I don't want to be marginalized by music or any form of art. ... I feel rap is a form of expression, as is jazz. I'm not opposed to rap. I'm opposed to being marginalized as a woman."

In case Oprah's comments need some decoding, what she's saying is she believes rap artists should be free to record songs that call women "bitches" and "hos," and she should be equally free not to invite them on her show. Oprah does not have a problem with rap music -- she has a problem with rap that degrades women.

There's a particular arrogance that permeates Ludacris, 50 Cent and Ice Cube's statements, as if Oprah owes them a spot on her show. It's Oprah who has issues by refusing to celebrate black men who've made millions by demeaning black women?

If songs such as Ludacris' "Move Bitch" or NWA's "A Bitch Iz A Bitch" are not Oprah's cup of tea, then why should she be obligated to give them a platform? It doesn't seem to occur to these black men (or their supporters) that Oprah has the right not to use her show -- which is seen by 21 million viewers a week in 105 countries -- to promote performers whose work she feels is misogynistic or offensive. Oprah may not be kicking any black feminist credentials, but rather than blindly using her influence to "help the brothers," she is choosing not to support black entertainers whose work denies the humanity of black women.

In his FHM interview, Ice Cube claims he deserves an invite to Oprah's show because of his "rags-to-riches story." Sure, Ice Cube has made millions -- but his success was founded on songs like NWA's "One Less Bitch," and the extremely raunchy "Giving Up the Nappy Dugout" (a solo release).

What Ice Cube fails to understand is that Oprah herself is the prototype for the "rags to riches" stories she highlights on her show; her life has been much more dramatic than those of many rap artists. She grew up dirt-poor in rural Mississippi to unwed parents. At age 9 -- and repeatedly thereafter -- she was sexually abused by a relative. She endured years of bad relationships, drug addictions, weight problems, and a career-changing demotion that moved her from her news anchor seat to co-hosting a morning talk show.

Oprah credits her fortune to education and faith; her shows reflect her strong belief in self-transformation. For over 20 years, Oprah has featured "success" stories on her show. Most of these have been women who became influential through perseverance and creativity, as well as people who have overcome adversity, tragedy or abuse to create richer lives for themselves, their families or communities. For Oprah, success is not predicated on amassing large sums of money; it is based on the contribution a person makes to improving his or her world.

Oprah has her detractors, mainly because she uses her show to promote the subjects she cares about. Implicit in all of the criticism from rap artists is the idea that because Oprah is black, she is expected to push every black entertainer's latest film or album, regardless of her opinion. The underlying sentiment is that if she is unwilling to set aside her values, then she can't be down for black people.

This position assumes that what is good for black entertainers is good for all black folks -- a highly arguable notion. There are many media outlets that expose U.S. rap artists to the global marketplace. But Oprah is virtually alone in her ability, through her selection of guests, to provide the world with a broader view of black Americans and their achievements. For black women, who are so commonly equated with the stereotypes of half-naked, gyrating women found in rap music videos, an opposing portrayal is welcome.

If the brothers feel they need more media visibility, they should use their millions to finance their own talk shows, instead of jocking Oprah Winfrey.

I'm sorry but this is bullshit.

All the little lemmings on Alternet chiming in make me laugh. Because this ain't about rappers, but black men.

Ask yourself a simple question: how many prominent black men appear on Oprah period. Who did Oprah launch into stardom? Tavis Smiley? Carlos Watson?

Nope, Dr. Phil McGraw, a balding middle aged jury consultant. White as a football coach.

Does Oprah have on successful black businessmen like the heads of Time Warner and Amex? Aaron McGruder? Not that I can remember. Cornell West? Skip Gates? Only rarely. Al Sharpton, TD Jakes? Please.

Oh, she'll have on someone safe like Chris Rock or Terence Howard, people she can't ignore, but I am pissing my pants with laughter when she says she objects to rappers. Because that's just the start of black men she doesn't have on her show.

If I was Ludacris, I'd have suggested to Oprah that she save her mysoginy lecture for Alice Walker. After all, the Color Purple, now on Broadway, is a monument to demeaning black men.

I've seen some black men on Oprah recently. Her most famous guest of the last year was JD King, who wrote about being on the down low. Did she have an openly gay black man to refute that? No. She let him prattle on for an hour without being challenged. And the fall out has been serious, ask Michael Strayhan about that. Any black, male friendship is now potentially a homosexual one, and that came from one Oprah show.

Then there were the cheating husbands and the ones going broke. But positive black men are few and far between. She rarely shows them as responsible fathers and parents. Even when it comes to actors, she'll drool over Matt Damon, but the idea that Dennis Haysbert played the president for four years on 24 never seemed like a topic worthy of discussion. Tom Cruise can insult women on her stage and he gets a pass.

Ice Cube, who is a successful actor and married father , well, he doesn't make the cut.

Oprah has little to say about black men, unless they screw up.

So this idea that she doesn't like the lyrics of albums? Please. She doesn't like a lot of things a lot of successful black men do, isn't interested in mentoring them, and isn't really interested in having them on her show.

Ice Cube and friends are talking around the argument. Sure, you can argue mysoginy all day long. But what about Alice Walker and Terry McMillian, who dragged her gay ex-husband to be humiliated on Oprah.

When has Oprah ever had a male black author on to be lavished with the love and attention given James Frey. Who was revealed to be both junkie and liar. Has she ever defedned a black man with such passion?

So let's stop talking about rappers. Because I don't see a lot of other black men on there either.

posted by Steve @ 12:51:00 AM

12:51:00 AM

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