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Hip-Hop Fridays: Jill Scott Takes A Stand For Respect by Shanna Flowers


I like Jill Scott -- and not just for her rich, soulful sound that celebrates life and love.

The young R&B singer has had enough of some other performers' pimp-my-ride-as-well-as-my-ho music and its accompanying degrading videos that portray black women as nothing more than scantily clad, booty-shaking vixens.

"It is dirty, inappropriate, inadequate, unhealthy and polluted," Scott said last week at the Essence Music Festival in Houston. "We can demand more."

The Grammy-award winning singer told the audience that if they are offended by the music's images -- such as disrespectful name-calling and video close-ups of backsides hanging out of shorts so short that they make Daisy Dukes look like knee-knockers -- they should vote with their pocketbooks: Stop buying it.

Without calling for an outright boycott of the music, Scott's diss comes after rappers Ludacris, 50 Cent and Ice Cube have unwittingly embarrassed themselves in recent weeks with their public put-downs of talk show queen Oprah Winfrey because they feel she shows no love for them or their music.

Winfrey has said she can't get with music that debases women.

She's right on target.

Maybe the fact that Scott, a relatively young woman of 34, is discussing the issue will help it gain some traction. She's less likely to be branded as an old fogy out of touch with today's urban music.

I have to agree with Scott and Winfrey on this one -- and so should anyone who cares about the negative impact on children, especially black girls.

Your daughter or sister may not be influenced by the images that go with the music, but too many daughters and sisters are.

Several months ago, I watched a behind-the-scenes TV show about a call for video extras. I was distressed to see young black women so willing to be treated as if they were pieces of meat.

As Scott said, we need to convey to young women and society at large that black womanhood is so much more than sexuality.

The singer spoke during a seminar that was part of a "Take Back the Music" campaign launched last year by Essence magazine, which has a large black readership.

"We're deeply concerned by the pervasiveness of negative images of black women and its effect on our girls," the campaign's mission statement says. "We're not trying to tell people what to think about this; we simply want to encourage them to think."

Scott said last week, "This is about choosing what we will allow in our lives. We can force things. We can change things. Challenge the music industry with your purchasing power."

Shanna Flowers can be reached at Shanna.Flowers@Roanoke.com. This article appears in The Roanoke Times.


Shanna Flowers

Friday, July 14, 2006

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