Social Question

Facade's avatar

(NSFW) Black culture issues: Put in your two cents?

Asked by Facade (22833 points ) August 4th, 2010

I was watching the Daily Show, and I heard a word I’ve never heard before: “Hottentot.” I did some digging and came across it’s origination. It’s basically a derogatory term, centuries old, which Europeans gave women of South Africa who had full-figured bodies and elongated labia.

I found this video. It tells the history of the Hottentot Venus and her treatment. The woman narrating it has harsh but true words to say about the goings on in some parts of Black culture.

I’d like you to watch the whole video and give your comments. I know the majority of you are not Black, but I imagine you have still seen some of the stupidity and ignorance that goes on in some parts of Black culture.

Since I don’t really know where or how to begin a discussion on this, it’s pretty much open.

So, watch the video and post your reactions. Again, it’s NSFW.

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38 Answers

CMaz's avatar

The cowardly lion said it too in the Wizard of Oz.

What makes the dawn come up like thunder? Courage! What makes the Hottentot so hot? What puts the “ape” in apricot? What have they got that I ain’t got?

syz's avatar

Oh, there’s no question that it was a shameful example of one people’s treatment of another (one of so many examples).

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Oh gosh, that video moved me to tears. Big time, I’m actually still crying. I can’t say much about the parts of modern culture that are degrading, since I am not a part of that culture and I have had no inside exposure. But I will say that it is not just black women that exploit themselves to the media, women all over the world do. It’s a tragedy no matter how you look at it. European women are often bought and sold like property, Asian women are frequently seen in some of the most degrading pornography (probably due to stereotypes being promoted by western culture), women of all races in America line up to be in Playboy and what not.
However, the name calling and degrading terms so openly used against women is not something that you really see anywhere but this particular culture, and that includes the white people that idolize and emulate all aspects of it. I don’t understand it, I never have. I can’t relate, because of course I am a white woman. My best friend happens to be a black woman and we have had more discussions on culture and race than I can really count, but this has never come up. Now I think I will ask her take on it. What is YOUR take, @Facade?

Facade's avatar

@TheOnlyNeffie I agree with what the woman in the video is saying. As you all probably know, I try to distance myself from the Hip-hop culture (I think that’s better than Black because there are many, many very educated Black people out there). I do this because I think that whole…thing is stupid and ignorant. It’s also as disrespectful as it gets. I think it’s a damn shame that so many women fall in line with this line of thinking. The line of thinking that says it’s ok to be a groupie as long as you “get yours.” It’s ok to go to the club and grind your ass on some random man’s dick. It’s ok to call call each other bitches and niggas because you somehow own those words…
Concerning the woman who was called “the first video vixen” in the youtube video, I feel bad for what she and many women today have been subjected to because of their appearance. In that woman’s case, she was made to be a spectacle because of her breasts, hips, ass, and vagina. She was put on display like some zoo animal. Currently, woman who look like her are still being put on display. Look at any hip-hop video, and you will see that the women have big asses and big breasts. Why? Because that’s what most Black men like. While there’s nothing wrong with that– women with that body type are indeed beautiful– using them to make a profit and using them to satisfy people’s lustful desires is degrading. And the sad part is most Black women welcome this type of treatment! If a dude walks up to her on the street and tells her she has a phat ass and wants to put her in a music video, she would most likely gladly accept. She would be praised by her friends and family. It’s very, very sad.

@ChazMaz I never noticed

wundayatta's avatar

What we are talking about is “selling out.” You will take the money because it is a lot of money even though it goes against your values. This leads to cognitive dissonance. You have two choices: turn down the money, or change your ideas about selling out. What used to be selling out is no longer because you now claim it as a virtue.

What blacks are hiding from themselves is that they are not making a culturally self-respecting living.

Maybe.

L’il Kim and her ilk may get all the press, but what about the rest of black America? There can only be a few famous actors and singers. But they get to set the image for the rest of the people they represent.

Maybe most blacks really aren’t like this. Maybe many of them do aspire to getting an education and getting into the middle class. Sure, there may be more poor blacks than there are poor whites or other races, but what is the general cultural idea about how to succeed in your culture?

There are problems, I know. One analysis I have heard goes like this. Black women make most of the money in black households. Men, of course, are shamed by this. So they take on these attitudes that demean women as compensation for the shame they feel. Certainly, this is not true of all black men, or even a majority of black men. But enough black men act this way that they influence the cultural image of black men: tough, vulgar, jobless—not to mention their reputed sexual attributes.

You didn’t ask me to judge, I don’t think, but I do find this sad and frightening. It makes me wonder what all the civil rights and feminist movements have done over the years? Has it all been given back, only now everyone thinks there is no more racism or sexism? Where is the pride that people used to have in struggling to make things better? It’s as if people don’t even care about injustice any more. All they want is money. Bling. Ho’s. Bitches. Nigga’s.

I’m sorry, but it makes me a bit ill. Or a lot ill. It seems like people are disrespecting their own selves. Like they take pride in being uneducated, because it’s not white man’s thing.

Honestly, I don’t know what to say. I don’t understand it. Selling out. Maybe I should. But it seems to me that blacks have even sold “keepin’ it real” to the highest bidder.

BoBo1946's avatar

CanNOT comprehend how Sara must have felt. My mind cannot grasp that. Sad story.

There is plenty of ignorance in all cultures. I’ve some relatives that would be the “star of the show!” Hopefully, someday that will all change.

whitenoise's avatar

Your description of the word Hottentot is wrong. It refers to an old Dutch name for an African tribe, named Khoikhoi. They were named that way by the Dutch, since there language sounded like stuttering to the Dutch. It roughly translates to “stutterers”.

Nowadays it is considered inappropriate to refer to this tribe as Hottentots.

whitenoise's avatar

@TheOnlyNeffie what do you mean with “European women are often bought and sold like property? That is definitely not common and certainly illegal. Please explain.

Facade's avatar

@whitenoise I read that too…Care to say anything else about the actual matter
@wundayatta It makes me ill as well, GA

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@Facade I definitely agree that it is sad.
I don’t know, maybe people feel stuck. Like that may be their only way to “make it.”
Of course, I don’t believe that is true, there are plenty of resources.. but I wonder if it is a self perpetuating cycle. The same applies to gangs and gang violence. I think that many children growing up begin to feel like it is their only option. The rest of the world (even their own mother) may be telling them that they can be anything they want, do anything they want… but it’s a lot easier to listen to your peers. I think once you get sucked into the cycle, it’s hard to get out.

@whitenoise google Ukrainian mail order brides. And yes, human trafficking IS illegal, and unfortunately usually involves children – but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen.

Facade's avatar

@TheOnlyNeffie I think it is a self-perpetuating cycle. A lot of poor Black people are told to get out any way they can. This includes demeaning yourself. A lot of the time, this is all they know. Personally, I don’t see that as an excuse.

Blackberry's avatar

I’ve strayed from the rap culture, but that was because of the lack of quality. I understand the degradation the women in the songs and that was another reason why it was hard for me to identify with it. I slowly realized that I did not have the experience or desire to follow a rappers lifestyle so I slowly took myself out of that aspect of the culture and just listened to more positive hip-hop (I still wish I could breakdance).

The degradation of Saara is another example of primitive humans not knowing how to treat other humans respectfully. It is the similar (not the exact same but you know what I mean) to a person different from the majority being exposed to a brand new culture: both cultures are fascinated and/or hateful because there is something foreign amongst them.

This would not happen today, but in the past, stupid people were even more of a majority than now.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@Facade Powerful. All I can offer is on apology on behalf of my 18th and 19th century shipowning ancestors who ran the rum-slaves-molasses trade.

@whitenoise Eastern European women are major victims of trafficking and sexual exploitation. The organization I volunteer for has substantial documentation of this.

mammal's avatar

She reminds me of the effigy of a Celtic fertility Goddess, something fascinating, potent, stimulating but alas frightening/threatening to polite society, so lets make a whore out of her, tuck her away into the dark recesses of the civilised community, usual patriarchal clap trap.

CMaz's avatar

I wont apologies for the past.
But, I will apologize for Snoop Dog.

I have always seen that behavior as disrespectful to all facets of humanity.

whitenoise's avatar

I just had to first go watch the movie too.
There often are no words to describe the awful injustice man can inflict upon fellow man. The story of this black woman that was taken to France is no exeption. Here fits only shame of what our ancestors have done and the time it took us to at least partially correct that misdeed.

With reference to the later part of the clip, I hope that it will be heard. Not only by black women, but by blacks and all people in general. I have often wondered why specifically black American culture seems to be so self-degrading.

People have died for freedom and a right to dignity… Now get up and grab that right.

Facade's avatar

@whitenoise I wonder that as well. I’ve been told that self-depricating jokes are made to make each other more comfortable with insecurities. Example: “Your dumb ass can’t even read. How do you know blah blah…?” The only thing I can think of is that that concept has been taken to the extreme by some parts of Black culture.

wundayatta's avatar

@Facade I’m guessing that besides being sad, it makes you angry.

What, if anything do you think should be done about it? And is there any role for non-black folk?

whitenoise's avatar

@Facade I sometimes feel it is out of a sort of twisted protection of self-esteem.
When you decide you don’t ask for respect, then you can kid yourself into feeling OK with not getting it. In that sense it is a sort of inauculation.

tinyfaery's avatar

I’m not really sure what to say. Laurence Fisburn’s daughter is purposely releasing a sex tape to further her career. I’m not sure if this speaks more to black culture (Women are degraded and demeaned in all cultures. Though, I do recognize the unique position of black women in America.) or to the fact that our culture values celebrity, money and power more than self-respect, education and community. The myth of individualism and it’s resulting attitudes is still alive and well in America today.

I’m not sure that those of us who are disturbed by this trend are in the majority anymore. Values are changing.

jo_with_no_space's avatar

Wow, what an intense video. I had no idea about this either, though unfortunately it doesn’t come as a surprise, knowing already to some extent how people seen as “other” have always been fetishised and subject to the most inappropriate inspection (through studying anthropology). I guess being black was seen as the most radically “other” a person could be apart from white. There has been so much wrong done in history and I don’t doubt that there are a great number of similar, unspoken cases.

As for today’s implementation of this regrettable history, I’m going to say outright that I don’t know a whole lot about hip-hop/R&B culture, as I prefer not to connect with the majority of it. I think it’s probably the case that, for certain women, a life with a rapper is seen as “empowerment” or a step out of something worse than that. I hope I’m not over-simplifying to say that it seems that pretty much all women are objectified through porn, some music videos and some aspects of rap culture. I’m aware though that the way porn is talked about is still heavily racialised, with Latinas and black girls seen as the fetish of the day.

whitenoise's avatar

@TheOnlyNeffthe and @stranger_in_a_strange_land
I know that about Eastern Europe, but that is in no way common practise or condoned by society as the Hottentot Venus was and current degradation of specifically women but also man overall in many black culture seems to be.

josie's avatar

It is a bit of a leap from Sara Baartman’s torment, which was imposed against her will, and the attitudes and behaviours of some contemporary American black women, which are acts of volition.

Facade's avatar

@wundayatta Education is the main thing. People need to somehow realize that this shit is horrible. I certainly think there is a role for non-Blacks. This shouldn’t be confined to one race of people.
@whitenoise Exactly. some people decide that they don’t care about true respect. They may feel that because they make money doing whatever they’re doing, they have respect, but the exact opposite is true.
@tinyfaery When I heard about that I got sick to my stomach. How the fuck did this young girl come to that conclusion? How can she not see that what she is doing is digusting? How can she be so blind?
@jo_with_no_space I’d say you’re correct. Women of color are seen as exotic things to be ogled at and used for people’s amusement.
@josie A leap? OK, but the same train of thought is being implemented.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@Facade I don’t know how to put this politely, but I’m not really sure that the black community would be all that interested in hearing what I have to say about the hip hop culture. I’m just guessing, but I really don’t think it would be well received from a white person.

Please do correct me if I’m wrong.

Facade's avatar

@TheOnlyNeffie People with open minds would welcome thoughts and opinions from others no matter what their race, but a good portion of Black people (as you said) probably would not want to hear it. People in general, I have found out, don’t like to be told they’re wrong, let alone being told their whole culture and way of life is lacking in quality.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@Facade oh of course, absolutely. I certainly hope that it’s understood that nothing I say is a blanket judgment over an entire race. (I assume, anyhow, that was a given. But better safe, than sorry.)

And you are right. People do not like to hear that they are wrong. Particularly when it is aimed at a culture that has every right to be on the defensive side as it is, I would be wary that attempting to start a revolution from where I’m standing would be pretty damn hard. However, if that revolution started within the community and had room to grow…. as a woman I would jump on that bandwagon really quickly.

Facade's avatar

@TheOnlyNeffie Right. I wouldn’t suggest someone outside the race start a movement because that wouldn’t go well. But I think joining in on something that has already been started would be great.

mammal's avatar

The commercialisation of the music industry is an integral part of managing the more radical attitude, the ruling economic elite are adept at assimilating and marketing provocative music. The misogyny in contemporary American Hip Hop is fine, if it were ultra feminist however, alarm bells would be ringing, Black Rappers have made latent misogyny in white boys totally cool, almost liberating, suddenly it’s ok that your mom, your sister and any other troublesome female is nothing but a hoe. Suddenly being black is bad-ass. But most of all it sells.

Luffle's avatar

I think all types of people can be beautiful. It’s a shame that some men degrade women but I disagree with the narration of the youtube video. Women of all ethnicity have been degraded before. Some women are forced into prostitution or making money through sex appeal. Some women grow up not knowing any better. Others choose that path in life because sex appeals to people.

I didn’t hear anywhere in the video that Hottentot Venus was forced to do those things. She went willingly and could have left. If are victims of our own ignorance, we can only blame ourselves. You have to respect yourself before anyone else can.

mammal's avatar

Anyways this is for Sara Baartman. Much too late but nonetheless.

whitenoise's avatar

@mammal lovely song, nice video, awful comments. You might want to look for another link to that song

SeventhSense's avatar

It had a general racist meaning as well because here’s a toy by Unique called Hott an’ Tott Musical Band from the 1920’s
These are fairly uncommon. This one was in excellent condition with box and sold for 1400.00.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Ugh, I’m of the mind hip hop/rap culture has made it “cool” for people of all walks of life and ethnicities to embrace prison and city street gang culture and set society on a graceless course.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I agree with you @Facade – I’ve seen an interesting art piece around Venus shown in the Global Feminisms exhibit here at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. I am against fetishizing of women’s bodies, especially of women of color – it points to racism and sexism trying to outdo each other and what’s happening in some pockets of black communities is just the very thing – when feeling disenfrachized, black men turn on their women and the women turn in on themselves – it is nothing new, the same was done during the civil rights movement with the pushing out of ‘female issues’ for the ‘sake of the brothers’ and ‘the cause against whites’.

Trillian's avatar

@Facade This kind of goes along with what I was saying the other day. It is not only black women who are lending validity to the negative ideals and images that so many men seem to have about women. One sees this with females of all races. The lure of a few dollars is very powerful. But it is not only the dehumanization and glamorizing of being shown up like a whore. Because ask yourself this; What causes a female to be drawn to this kind of “male approval”? ,which is what it is when you strip away all the externals. There are some deep underlying dynamics that have been played out in endless variations all across our counry to have so many young women vulnerable to this allure. This goes much deeper. There is a glorification of the dollar that the woman in the narrative mentioned but did not really get into. If you look at the videos of K-rino and Trey you’ll see images of them with little kids holding up big wads of cash and nodding to the music. I know one song in particular the artist mentioned ‘taking care of his kids” and I wish I could remember all the lyrics. The implication was that the kids live with their mother, but he shows up every so often and forks over a bunch of money. It also implies that he has several women who are his ‘baby mommas’, and he gives them money, so he’s a stand-up guy.
What this girl in the link is talking about is one symptom of a much larger problem. I’m glad to see her concern, and the fact that she is a young person gives me hope. If enough young people see this as a problem, there is a better chance of it being addressed in a way that will have an impact. Coming from someone my age, I’m afraid it would just be dismissed.

augustlan's avatar

What a powerful video that was. Having grown up a white girl in a diverse city environment, I was listening – along with all of my friends of every color – when the first rap burst onto the music scene, and loving every minute of it. I wonder if artists like The Sugar Hill Gang had any clue that it would evolve into the hip-hop culture of today, where disrespecting women and glamorizing gangsters and prison life is the norm? Somehow, I imagine not. The whole thing makes me so damn sad.

Facade's avatar

@Trillian You brought up a great point concerning what some Black men feel it means to take care of their children. That attitude is why so many kids grow up messed up. All they know about their fathers is that they come around once in a while, and that they might give them a gift of some sort.
@augustlan Yes, rap and hip-hop has changed for the worst (for the most part) over the years. To hear a good artist these days is rare and a treasure.

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