Monday, February 21, 2005

Take back the music.

Every now and again, I find myself in a home or hotel that has cable television. Since I don't have cable in my home (or satellite or dish) in my home, I miss out on a lot of the music videos that garner so much attention these days. But when I happen upon music videos, I'm convinced that's a good thing. Music videos have changed a lot since the days of "Friday Night Videos", and in many ways, not for the better.

In response, Essence magazine ("The magazine for today's black woman") has launched Take back the music week, February 21- 25. Readers and other concerned people are asked to "bombard the cable music networks with calls, letters and E-mails that tell them just how you feel [and] send your thoughts about how women are portrayed to programming executives." Here's how you can participate:

* Visit Essence to learn more about the campaign and to find a letter you can send to all three networks with the click of your mouse.

* Write BET at, call them at 1-800-711-1630, FAX them at (202) 608-2595, or send a letter to BET, 1900 W. Place, N.E., Washington DC 20018.

* Write MTV at, call them at 212/258-8700, FAX them at (212) 258-8100, or send a letter to MTV, 1515 Broadway, New York NY 10036.

* Write Fuse at, call them at 212/324-3400, FAX them at (212) 324-3445, or send a letter to FUSE, 11 Penn Plaza 17th floor, New York NY 10001.

This is an important issue, particularly considering the amount of violence against women that occurs these days. Voice your opinion and hold these networks accountable for the programming they air. Let's take back the music!


Karama said...

Personally, I think a more effective approach is to boycott the music and musicians who make music that offends you. If the club is playing a song whose lyrics who don't like, DON'T DANCE! If enough people clear the floor, then the DJ's will stop playing the music, and the musician will rethink their lyrics (and videos). DON'T BUY music from people who write lyrics or have videos that offend you. If sales go down, musicians will rethink their lyrics and videos. If a radio station, plays music that offends you, write them, call them, email them to let them know. They exist because you buy the products advertised on the stations. If you stop listening or stop buying, the musicians will reconsider their lyrics and videos.

Karama said...

This just in from


Spelman College hosted Essence magazine's "Take Back the Music"
community meeting, kicking off a campaign addressing misogyny in rap music. Who should take responsibility for a culture of exploitation -- and what role do you play? Read our four-part series examining misogyny in music:

1) Beyond rap: misogyny across musical genres
2) Is the hip hop industry dominated by misogyny -- or is it just a bad rap?
3) Have videos gone wild?
4) What do teens think about sexism in music?

thelma of ohio said...

this is in reference to your article in march about "take back the music", speaking as an adult in their 50's, I know that this thing that they call music (rap or hip hop) is not real music. It does not promote any quailites that are uplifting, morally right, plant any incentive or wholesomeness nor positive behavior for our young people to emulate. I think BET should re-evaluate their programs and think more about standards that will help unify and uplift the attitudes of our black people and instill pride into our children for a healthier and wholesome way of living. Please lets stop this madness and this steady decline into debauchery behavior. Lets rise back too the place of integrity which we as a people have fallen from.

Karama said...

Hi Thelma,

I've heard lots of rap music and hip hop that is very uplifting, respectful and positive. It's not limited to rap, and it's not all rap. I agree with you though, we must reevaluate our support (conscious and unconscious) of negative, disrespectful, violent lyrics and videos of all kinds (narcocorrido, rock, rap and more).

Thanks for visiting, Thelma. I hope you'll stop by again soon and spread the word.

Anonymous said...

I've just finished reading the lastest installment of "Take Back the Music" in this month's Essence. Frankly, while the symposiums might bring the conversation out in the open, I don't believe that it will produce any results. African Americans seems to be the only group not to receive the memo entitled "Talk is Cheap!" If we want to make a change, we need to be proactive. Yes, by all means contact your elected representatives, but better yet deluge the FCC with complaints and begin boycotts of the sponsors of the commercials airing on these stations. Support the legislative initiative that would all the government to better control the decency standards on cable tv. In other words, we need to start hitting them in the pocket book. Between the Black Greeks, the Links, the National Council of Negro Women and other similarly situated organizations, there is nothing that African American women cannot do to take back their dignity. Flailing around at a symposium where no one with any real authority (read "holds the purse strings") attends, solved nothing. It produces a few headlines and then where back to the status quo.

Karama said...

Dear reader,

I agree with you, we have to get them where it hurts: their wallets. Most folks are in this for the money and if we don't but their music, watch their videos, support their advertisers, they'll change.

Black folks aren't the only ones who sometimes forget that talk is cheap. There are already folks who are working on different methods to change the way women are presented and discussed in music. But we can do a lot on our own. We have to be consistent in what we believe, what we say, and what we do.

Thanks for stopping by "So what can I do" and for offering your comment. I hope you'll come again soon!

Cass said...

Hey, Thelma of Ohio, I wouldn't generalize all of rap music in one sentence. I know many songs that are of rap origin that have a positive point. Need and example? 'Why' by Jadakiss, for one. Of court there are also millions of worse songs out there. But to be honest, Live and Let live. I'm a teenager, and I don't exactly enjoy having to watch slutty women run around TV, but I also realize that some people do. And those people can watch that music video, and meanwhile I'll change the channel and watch something I enjoy. As long as young children aren't watching the shows, I don't see a problem with it, and you shouldn't either. Us teenagers aren't stupid, and the stupid ones are the ones that get in trouble. We know what is fact and what is fiction. So please, keep that in mind before trying to petition to censor music/videos.

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Anonymous said...

the government gives us the freedom of speech, yet they won't allow us to use it. i think that is wrong. music is how some people express themselves. how are they going to do that if the government censors their music??

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