So understand this– there’s no more talking to those who perpetuate or enable rape culture. There is only us talking to your money.
— dream hampton (@dreamhampton) April 11, 2013
When we first broke the story about Reebok dropping Rick Ross I had mixed emotions. I was excited that rape culture was being talked about and taken seriously. I thought that Reebok’s statement about why they chose to drop him was extremely on point. I’ve appreciated that their motives were not aimed at the lyrics themselves, but his refusal to take the issue seriously as reflected in the initial half assed apology. (He has since released a full apology, which can be found here, and is appreciated.)
But I was also struggling with the idea that Ross was being exploited in the first place, and how quickly disposable he is as rapper selling shoes for a company. (Even before he was dubbed Rape Ross he was promoting harmful definitions of masculinity and rapping about selling cocaine and Reebok was happy to have him. I find that problematic as well but I digress…) And as it pertains to rape culture I’m concerned with the message that we’re sending out when we ONLY talk to a celebrity’s money. Rick Ross (also known as Officer Ricky) understands that 72,000 people upset about a lyric in one of his verses can get him dropped from a major endorsement deal. But what has he learned about rape culture and his role in it? And is that why people should care about and understand rape culture? To keep their jobs?
Prior to his most recent statement, it was made extremely clear, for me at least, that Rozay (I know, the monikers are never ending) doesn’t have the slightest clue what rape culture is. And while I do agree with my fellow writer and feminist Dream Hampton that threatening to uproot the money tree is an effective way to get people’s attention, we have to have follow up plans and follow up conversations.
In fact, I believe in the power of these conversations because of the transformative exchange I witnessed last year between Hampton and rapper Too $hort after he released a video giving young boys advice that included sexually assaulting young women. And now it seems as though Ricky Rozay has also learned a thing or two. But I hope that we remember that a broke rapper rapping about rape is just as harmful as one who has his endorsements in tact.