Last year’s article titled “Erykah Badu, Afrika Bambaataa & Hip Hop’s Disturbing Stance On Child Molestation,” left me feeling angry. Not over “hip-hop’s disturbing stance,” but because hip-hop was once again being scapegoated.
To be clear, sexual abuse is not something to be excused, ignored, justified, or explained away. It’s a real and present danger in our lives, and an especially disturbing threat to our children. I, like many other people I know, was sexually abused as a child. (And like the majority of sex offenders, my abuser was a white man.)
As the hip-hop community deals with the allegations facing founder Afrika Bambaataa, it’s time to remind everyone that YES, this shit is a problem. But this shit is NOT a hip-hop problem, and it is also NOT a Black problem.
The Entertainment Industry Has a Sexual Abuse Problem
Hip-hop music is an easy target in the entertainment industry for accusations of general impropriety. But hip-hop is no haven for child sexual abusers the way, for example, the Hollywood film industry is. And within music, pop seems to have the bigger issue with sexual exploitation, highlighted by allegations from Kesha and the recent history of “Blurred Lines.”
Religion Has a Sexual Abuse Problem
Outside of the falsely-assumed immorality of entertainment, pedophilia and child sexual abuse have been exposed as a frighteningly prevalent problem in the Catholic church.
White Supremacy Has a Sexual Abuse Problem
If the racial legacies of sexual abuse are examined honestly, it’s impossible to deny that the sexual assault of enslaved Africans (and specifically children) was a huge part of slavery and white supremacy. As Akiba Solomon’s analysis of the sexual violence in 12 Years a Slave pointedly stated, “slavery lies in the DNA of rape culture.” And the conviction of police officer Daniel Holtzclaw points to the racialized sexual abuse of Black women that still persists today. To discuss sexual violence while ignoring or denying this context is to further the racist narrative that paints Black men as dangerous rapists, a narrative that’s played a huge part in many acts of white supremacist terrorism, from the early propaganda of the KKK to the words spoken by the terrorist responsible for the Charleston massacre. It’s irresponsible to imply that the genre of hip-hop is somehow to blame for rape culture, and it’s time for hip-hop media to do better.