Category Archives: Uncategorized
This talk back is for the Scandal fans (and FAANS)! We explore why we love (and sometimes hate) the popular tv drama, Scandal. *Spoiler Alert*
FAAN Mail (Fostering Activism and Alternatives Now!) is a media literacy/activist project formed by women of color and based in Philadelphia. Together with our allies, we critique and create media with social change in mind.
“Put molly all in her champagne, she ain’t even know it / I took her home and I enjoyed that, she ain’t even know it.”
- Rick Ross of Def Jam Records, Universal Music Group
As the Steubenville case has recently reminded us, THIS is rape.
And it is in a rape culture where a top selling artist like Rick Ross, can glorify sexual violence and grace the covers of Rolling Stone Magazine at the same time.
Why do gatekeepers at UMG and Def Jam Records give these sexually violent messages a platform? Who else is responsible? When will this stop?
Universal Music Group was silent when we called out their CEO Lucien Grainge for promoting music that routinely degrades women of color.
Universal Music Group was silent when Lil Wayne’s sexually violent lyric about Emmett Till was released on the internet.
Will UMG stay silent now, as their artist Rick Ross promotes rape? Will Def Jam simply apologize and allow another artist to glorify rape three months from now? Will Rolling Stone Magazine continue to refer to Rick Ross as “hip hop’s most lovable don?”
Join us to demand that Def Jam and Universal Music Group publicly denounce sexual violence and make a commitment to ending the promotion of sexual violence in their music. Enough is enough. It is time to hold these labels, corporations and their artists — accountable.
Let hip hop activist Rosa Clemente’s response below inspire you as she calls on men to join us and speak out against rape culture.
We support the following petitions/efforts:
Recently, two members of FAAN Mail joined the Director of News and Community Affairs at Clear Channel for a taped interview to discuss our concerns about the onslaught of misogyny and lack of diversity and balance on mainstream urban radio. The interview aired last Sunday on POWER 99 in Philadelphia.
Tune in to the 10 minute podcast HERE.
Special thanks to Loraine Ballard Morrill from Clear Channel and Women’s Way for helping to facilitate this first step of dialogue. We hope to have more opportunities to continue this conversation with Clear Channel about what steps they will take to counter their misogyny with a more diverse and balanced reflection of our community, supporting their commitment to “treat people with respect, fairness and humanity”.
Check out our community dialogue on radio politics to learn about the barriers independent artists face and how we can change this by taking collective responsibility. Yes, audiences, artists and radio industry professionals have a role to play if we want to see change.
So please join us and tell Clear Channel your concerns in the comments below or tweet your concerns to @ClearChannel. We will keep you posted about our efforts and progress.
Rapper Lil Wayne’s music is in heavy rotation on most urban radio stations in the US. His misogynistic lyrics are generally (not always) tolerated and celebrated.
But when he released a track last week with the artist Future that trivialized the violent killing of civil rights icon Emmett Till, the misogyny and disrespect sparked public outrage. Although L.A. Reid, CEO of Epic Records (Future’s label, not Wayne’s) has apologized and promised to remove the offensive content from the track, Lil Wayne has been silent. The family of Emmett Till is demanding an apology from the artist.
We believe Emmett Till’s family and the black community deserve more than an apology — from Lil Wayne and the corporations that back him.
We want answers and real action from Epic Records, Cash Money Records, Sony Entertainment, Universal Music Group, Clear Channel, Radio One, and Viacom — media corporations that consistently provide a platform for misogynistic and hateful messages about black and brown communities.
We encourage others to join us and talk back to these corporations. How? Here are some ideas:
Share or create your own memes. Express yourself in an Open Letter and post it to your blog. Talk about this with your friends, film it and upload it to youtube. Make a PSA. Create a remix or mashup that gets people thinking. Use satire to critique what you see. Organize a petition. Organize direct action. Do something totally creative and unexpected to get people talking about this. Support the media that is reflective of who we are as a diverse people.
Together, let us TALK BACK – through our words and actions- and be heard.
Collectively, we are strong. The question is — are we willing to act?
“I now suspect that packaging me as an idolized star to the pop market in America cannot work; while one can dumb down his lyrics, what one cannot do without being found out is hide his historical baggage.” – K’NAAN
On December 8, 2012, Somali born Canadian hip hop artist K’naan wrote an Op Ed in the New York Times about how his record label (A&M/Octone Records) has pressured him to censor his message. In his powerful and honest essay, K’Naan questions the meaning of success. FAAN Mail responds to his words in this talk back.
Music credit: “People Like Me” by K’Naan. 2010 A&M/Octone.
Check out K’Naan here.
For Corporations, When Colored Girls are Degraded: An Open Letter to CEO Lucien Grainge of Universal Music Group
“All I want for my birthday is a big booty hoe.” – 2 Chainz, rapper
Well all I want for my birthday is for music corporations to be held accountable for routinely degrading women of color.
Four powerful corporations are behind the majority of music we hear on the radio and the videos we see on tv. Four Corporations are behind the artists who get rightfully criticized — and then quickly forgotten. But how often do these corporations get called out?
Let’s keep this in mind as we watch the recently released music video “Birthday Song” performed by rappers 2 Chainz and Kanye West. The song is owned by Universal Music Group (UMG), the world’s largest music corporation.
Okay, so most of us probably know rappers Kanye and 2 Chainz. And we definitely know what they want for their birthday. But let’s turn our attention to someone less familiar, someone else who helped get this song/video in front of your eyeballs and ears — because well, he and his team of senior executives produce, market, distribute and profit from it. Let’s meet Lucian Grainge, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Universal Music Group. He is regarded as the most powerful executive in the music industry.
Mr. Grainge, I will cut to the chase: Have you watched any of the videos, listened to any of the music you own lately?
Why do you (and your staff and board members) think it is acceptable to routinely exploit women of color in your music?
Do you ever think of the black and brown girls navigating the lifestyles and values that your music glorify?
Do you consider the historical and present day context in which your music circulates?
After all, women of color being degraded, dehumanized and reduced to ASS — is nothing new. We live in a world where black and brown women’s bodies have been exploited since slavery. Where 19th century European freak shows exhibited the “unusual” body of Saartjie Baartman, a South African woman whose remains were finally returned to her homeland in 2002 after legal battles with the French government. Mr. Grainge, your disregard for black and brown women’s bodies is the same disregard that enabled a history of forced sterilization, the shackling of birthing black mothers in prison. Mr. Grainge, your indifference resembles the indifference of a rape culture that overlooks the men who rape, while blaming the women and girls of color, who experience sexual violence at disproportionate rates. Research has proven that the objectification of women in today’s toxic media environment has harmful effects on women and girls.
It is in this greater context of sexual exploitation where the dehumanization of black and brown women has become standard in commercial hip hop. The “Birthday Song” is simply one example. There are countless others.
For decades, artists, fans, and scholar activists have been writing and making films about this exploitation, rallying against it, provoking dialogue, engaging community and offering alternative messages that are rarely celebrated by corporations like UMG. Even young girls are speaking up (see Spark Summit and Watoto from the Nile). Are you listening to them?
Together we are fighting this exploitation and the internalized oppression that it reinforces in communities of color and our greater society. In your mansion, Mr. Grainge, you probably never concern yourself with the struggles of black and brown girls or something called internalized oppression. But this reality is too close for many of us to ignore.
Mr. Grainge, as CEO of the largest music company in America, be clear that you, your senior executives and board members are contributing to a legacy of exploitation.
Now, I realize that considering questions and providing a moral response would compromise your bottom line. Your bottom line is more important than any black and brown girls and women who are internalizing the harmful messages YOU own and distribute.
Given this logic, it is clear that you will ONLY support change if your bottom line is at stake. And that’s why I’m writing this. I’m calling on advertisers & consumers to stop supporting your company, Universal Music Group, until you stop exploiting black and brown women in your music. It’s that simple.
I am also asking educators everywhere to help young people understand the role that corporations play in our mediated lives. Young people need to understand why it is that UMG’s music, songs like “Birthday Song” – flood our radio, youtube and music television. Educators, parents and peers need to have conversations about the meaning of popular music, unpack the harsh and complicated realities these messages reveal. Ultimately, it’s bigger than one corporation. One artist. One song.
Right now, you, your board members, your staff — are a critical part of the problem. I’m calling on you to be part of the solution. And I hope others join me.
What is your response?
Nuala Cabral, FAAN Mail
 Halliwell, E., Malson, H., Tischner, I. (2011). Are contemporary media images which seem to display women as sexually empowered actually harmful to women? Psychology of Women Quarterly, 35(1) 38-45.
Lupe’s latest video is causing a stir and lots of people are “talking back!” Check it out:
Media Literacy Questions for Bitch Bad:
What is the message of this song?
What values & points of views are represented?
Who is the target audience?
How may different audiences interpret the message differently?
What is omitted (left out) from this message?
In what context was this song created?
What messages do we hear about race and gender?
FAAN co-founder Nuala Cabral compiled a range of twitter reactions to the song/video in this storify. And then there are a series of pieces analyzing “Bitch Bad.” Here are some we recommend:
Blogger daintyblackpegasus wrote a sharp gender critique of the song on Tumblr:
Overall, the issue becomes one of reinforcing patriarchy by making it a man’s place to “protect” a woman by defining her. The surface message is that Lupe is trying to elevate his Black sisters by teaching them to be beyond reproach and more than a regurgitation of what they’ve seen. However, what it really does is place significant blame on women for ever internalizing these images while ignoring patriarchal issues like the men who support the internalization of being hypersexual by women while simultaneously shaming it. (More here)
Ebony’s Jamiliah Lemieux’s had this to say to music critics who dismissed the song as “half-baked conscious hip hop”:
“IT’S BIT ABSURD FOR TWO MEN WHO CAN ENJOY RAP MUSIC WHILE EXISTING ON THE OUTSIDE OF THE CULTURE THAT SUSTAINS IT TO DISMISS THE NEED FOR A CONVERSATION ABOUT “B*TCH.” (Read more here.)
Ádìsá Ájámú offered his concerns about men instructing women on their empowerment:
“I love the message in “Bitch Bad” more than the song. And I applaud any brother … But here’s my discomfort: With so much work for brothers to do on themselves within this patriarchal order I am still a bit uncomfortable with men instructing sisters on the finer points of womanhood, no matter how well intended.” (Read more.)
See Lupe discuss his intentions for “Bitch Bad” here:
What do you think? Weigh in. Talk Back. Comment here or go to twitter and tell @LupeFiasco what you think using the hashtag #BitchBad.
Check out these responses to today’s Light Skin v. Dark Skin Party at Adesso Night Club in Philadelphia. Feel free to circulate these memes. We want to provoke critical dialogue around this issue.
When we called Adesso night club, its manager asserted that the theme of the party is a “prank” and hung up the phone. But as one ally of FAAN noted, “If people are coming based on the promotion of the flier, than it’s more than just a ‘prank’. In the face of opposition, calling it a “prank” is probably their safety valve.”
These memes were created by FAAN Mail friends and allies. Special thanks to Race and Gender Studies scholar Dr. Yaba Blay of the (1)ne Drop Project for contributing insight as well as the Fuller quote pulled from her essay: Skin Bleaching and Global White Supremacy.
Watch this Talk Back video featuring high school students analyzing the memes above: