Tuesday May 21, 7pm the National Black United Front is sponsoring a community forum entitled “Started with No Condom, Now We Here: Safe Sex & Hip Hop.” This is an very import issue challenging the Hip Hop generation because when one looks at the current state of hip hop culture in America, it is impossible to ignore the constant images and references made to or about sex. Whether the medium is song, video or magazine, sex is the topic of choice. The problem with the heavy influence of sex into hip-hop culture is that it helps contribute to the social ills that plague the Black and Latino community. One of these social ills is the sexually transmitted disease epidemic.
Data from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in 2011, revealed that in Washington DC, per every 100,000 people, 33 have syphilis and are Black. In 2011, 43.8% of all cases of syphilis reported to CDC were among Blacks. The largest rate increases of syphilis among black women during 2007–2011 occurred among women aged 20–24 years (from 15.7 to 18.9 cases per 100,000 population). In 2011, rates for black women aged 15–19 years were 30 times and 24 times the rate for white and Hispanic women of the same ages, respectively.
In 2011, the overall chlamydia rate among Blacks in the United States was 1,194.4 cases per 100,000, a 3.8% increase from the 2010 rate of 1,150.4 cases per 100,000. The rate of chlamydia among Black women in America was over six times the rate among white women (1,563.0 and 232.7 per 100,000 women, respectively). The chlamydia rate among black men in America was over nine times the rate among white men (787.7 and 82.3 cases per 100,000 men, respectively).
In 2005 Black people accounted for 49% of new HIV/AIDS cases. During the years of 2001- 2004, 18,849 people under the age 25 were reported to have contacted HIV/AIDS; out of that number 61% (11,554) were Black people. In 2006, 65% of children born with HIV/AIDS were Black. In the Latin community, at the end of 2006 there are 80,690 persons living with HIV/AIDS. Also at the end of 2006, 15% of all women with HIV/AIDS were Latina.
Many community leaders, government officials, and clergy members have spoken out against the constant use and negative portrayals of sex in the hip hop community. They have gone as far to accuse the hip-hop community of sexual exploitation and corrupting the minds of today’s youth. However, it is not the hip-hop community that is responsible for the irresponsible sexual experiences of today’s youth. To the contrary, hip-hop artists have tried to confront the issue of irresponsible sex. Hip Hop groups such Salt & Pepa produced the song “Lets Talk About Sex” and Boogie Down Productions produced the song “Jimmy” which was aimed at sexually responsibility. Dead Prez, a hip-hop group based out of NYC, produced a song titled “Mind Sex”. In the song, people are encouraged to get to know each other mentally, instead of engaging in reckless sexual behavior. In 1996 the various artists of the hip-hop community came together to produce the album A.I.D.S. (America Is Dying Slowly). Also, the hip-hop group Brand Nubian has produced numerous tracks promoting positive relationships among women & men, however music of this caliber is always un-noticed by mainstream America. Therefore it is not rap artists that are manipulating the hip-hop generation with sexual escapades. It is actually the infiltration of pop American cultural values (or lack of) into hip-hop culture, which exploits hip-hop with sex.
Pop American culture is based upon sex, material wealth and greed. This is a society that tells young men to sow their wild oats and to “conquer” as many women as they can. This is to be done without any regard for the value of the womb. In this culture it is not abnormal for women to sleep around either. As long as she is “on the pill” she is considered to be responsible. After over 500 years of struggling to resist these foreign behavioral patterns and customs, Black & Latino people have begun, at their own peril, to accept these values. In addition to the influence of pop American culture, one should look at who controls hip-hop financially.
Hip-hop has become a multi-billion dollar industry, in which Black & Latino people are the primary laborers and are the least financial benefactors. The corporate elites are the ones that spend millions of dollars promoting sexual misconduct to young Black & Latino people. The corporate elites are the ones that own all the major distribution channels of hip-hop culture. The corporate elites are the ones that pay (or under pay) Black & Latino youth to engage in their own self-destruction with lyrics and behavior that is uncivilized. With all that being said who is ultimately responsible for the mental and moral development of our youth? Malcolm X said it best.
In his definition of the social philosophy of Black Nationalism he states that the responsibility belongs to Black people to elevate the conditions and standards in their community. Black People have to fix their problems of illegitimacy that is brought about by loose sexual behavior, fornication and adultery. Black & Latino People cannot expect mainstream America to undo, what it purposely created.
It is incumbent upon Black & Latino People to use their traditional value systems to teach and mold their children. Traditional value systems cannot just be principles; values and/or holidays that people just talk about and celebrate, they must be incorporated into the daily lives of Black & Latino People. It is also important to encourage, endorse and financially support artists that promote positive images of Black & Latino People.