Don Imus’s Firing and the Hip-Hop Culture

At the Hip-Hop Summit Youth Council ( we are outraged by the remarks made by Don Imus about the Rutgers Women’s Basketball team. We respect his apology, but have to commend the team for being mature enough to take the high road and accept it. If he is sincere about his poor choice of words, we can show him how to salvage his career and reputation by working with the Hip-Hop Community to address racism. We believe it is the root cause to a host of problems that affect Blacks and other minorities such as poverty, drugs, gang violence, unemployment, poor healthcare, an inadequate education, AIDS and the Prison Industrial Complex.

Recently we’ve learned that those responsible for the firing of Don Imus now want to take on Hip-Hop Artists and their labels knowing that Artists have a constitutional right to say what they feel. The artists have a “Freedom of Speech” that shouldn’t be tampered with.

Today’s Hip-Hop artists make music about real life experiences in their ‘Hood. This may offend some people, but parents and the FCC should determine who should purchase and listen to the music. We don’t mean to offend anyone, but we have to tell it like it is for those that don’t understand the Hip-Hop Culture and how important it is for artists to speak the raw truth about their lifestyle.

Eighty percent of Hip-Hop Music is bought by white youths. They are fascinated by what goes down in the ‘Hood. Most of these kids will never experience life in the ghetto except through Hip-Hop music. Not only do they like the music, but they are in awe of how some artists have survived and become successful after living in such a poor, war-like environment.

To fix the problem of racism and sexism it will take a lot of dialogue between youths, young adults, parents, artists, record labels, managers, production companies, elected officials, community members, clergy and business leaders. In one of Dr. King’s speeches he mentioned that people should be judged by the Content of their Character, not the Color of their Skin. Mr. Imus may have done this country a huge favor by opening up a door that has been closed since African-Americans were kidnapped and brought to America over 400 years ago. It’s sad when only the State of Virginia has apologized for a moral crime that the rest of the country has confessed to. You would think that after admitting to this crime our country would at least say I’m sorry to its victims. On the other hand maybe America is too arrogant and really does not care. We hope this is not the case because it sets a bad example for our children and the way we are viewed by the rest of the world.

The moral problem of slavery has been handed down from one generation to the next and is like a cancer that is out of control. Citizens who have families that took part in the slave trade should know that most Blacks don’t directly blame them for their father’s mistakes, but they do have a moral responsibility to be bigger than their forefathers and help fix this age old problem. America is a “Faith Based Culture” built on morals, ethics, principles, values and a belief in one God. Those involved with slavery should think about what they are going to do when they leave this life and go before the Creator and are asked why they did not apologize for humanities most unspeakable moral crime.

At one time the word BITCH was just as bad as the N-word, but now it is mentioned on TV and Radio with no complaints. We need to be teaching our children its meaning because to some families it is worse than the N-word. I’m curious as to why I don’t hear any talk about banning that word from Radio and TV; except in the Music Videos of Hip-Hop artists. Something smells foul here and young people that represent the best generation ever will see right through this discrimination which targets their music.

At the Hip-Hop Summit Youth Council we are now using one of the forgotten Pillars of the Hip-Hop Culture to educate and empower our members and that is “Spiritual Enlightenment”. This happens to be the single most important element behind the creation of the Hip-Hop Culture. Breakdancing, Graffiti, DJ’ing and MC’ing are the physical Pillars which derived from a “Spiritual Wake Up Call” in the Bronx. Brothers and Sisters were tired of gangbanging, killing each other, using drugs and going to jail. Hip-Hop was the antidote to a problem they inherited by just living in the ‘Hood. Within the Spirit that gave birth to Hip-Hop Culture were the laws of Love, Unity, Respect and Peace. Through the Hip-Hop Summit Youth Council and our affiliates we will now use these laws and the Don Imus incident to teach about the forgotten attributes that helped to create the Hip-Hop Culture. It is our hope that we can use the “Spiritual Power” within the Hip-Hop Culture to address the problems of racism, sexism, and gender equality so that we can all work together to address real issues that are destroying our communities.

Unfortunately the media rarely reports on the positive work within the Hip-Hop Community. Labels like Bad Boy records have made a significant effort to take the lead and become more socially responsible. We have been working with them for over a year in schools and communities across the country to enlighten our youths about issues they are confronted with daily and the dangers of “Art Imitating Life.” We will be working with executives and artists like Yung Joc, Diddy, B5, Cassie, Fat Joe, Jim Jones, Kevin Liles, Lyor Cohen, Russell Simmons, Chris Lighty, Daymond John (FUBU) and others to give young people a better prospective of what the other side of Hip-Hop is about-the social, political, economic, educational and spiritual empowerment of a people no matter what race, color creed, religious or ethnic background.

If we are mature enough to finally go down the road and address the issue of racism and its ugly symptoms, you know the Hip-Hop Community is ready to ‘Spit the Truth’ and set things straight. If not, let’s just leave all this alone and let the Don Imus firing be the end of it.

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Charles and Randy Fisher are founders of the Hip Hop Youth Summit.