It's My Beat

(Beta Max)

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Dear Mr. Leach

My name is Moya Bailey and I am a graduate student at Emory University. More importantly, I am black woman. As such, I am very concerned with the state of the music and videos your company produces.

This isn’t a message of hate or even anger; it’s a message of exasperation. I’m out of ideas on how to reach you and your clients, how to let you all know that a lot of the stuff you're making is toxic, that it is literally killing black women and girls in this country and around the world.

These images and lyrics, that suggest that black women are only hypersexual objects for male enjoyment are broadcast globally and are the primary images and representations of African-American women that people see. It reinforces stereotypes that white Europeans had about black women since we were “discovered” on the shores of Africa.

But you know this and it hasn’t deterred you because it’s a profitable industry. You all seem to say that “sex sells” and the ends justify the means if it means you get paid. I just wonder if at some point you’ll be rich enough to stop and think about what this says to the world about black women and black people. Black men are portrayed as violent, brutal, equally hypersexual, and materialistic. Doesn’t this bother you?

As I said before I’m not sure what to do but I’m offering up a plea for some kind of parity in terms of what is being said on the radio and played on MTV. It makes it seem as though black musicians can’t rhyme about anything other than sex, money, and violence. I’m tired of trying to defend hip hop when it becomes indefensible. I’m tired of hearing music that assaults my very humanity. I’m tired of hearing girls complain about being assaulted in clubs, or by boyfriends, or guys they know or don’t know, of being called a bitch and a ho, of being cursed out because I didn’t want to give someone a number, of trying to reason with record companies and artists and convince them their actions impact the daily lives of black women in this country and abroad.

I feel like I’m talking to a wall here but I’m not going to give up on your humanity and I hope that will remind you of mine. Couldn’t you put a black rapper on that raps about studying, or sunshine, or food, or something else equally random but not so destructive?

I feel like I'm rambling now so I’ll take my leave of you. Please do something to promote a more balanced (if not positive) perception of black women in this country. You have that power. Use it.


Moya Bailey