Boycott Hot 97

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My beautiful Black brothers and sisters recently, radio station Hot 97 did something to make Satan himself say “Oh my.â€? In their apparent desperation for ratings, they created The Tsunami Song.  I’ve presented it here for your information, but please be forewarned: these lyrics are highly offensive.

There was a time when the sun was shining bright
So I went down to the beach to catch me a tan
Then the next thing I knew, a wave twenty feet high
Came and washed your country away
And all at once you could hear the screaming chinks
And no one was safe from the wave
There were Africans drowning, little Chinamen swept away
You could hear God laughing, "Swim, you bitches, swim!"
So now you're screwed, it's the tsunami
You better run or kiss your ass away, go find your mommy
I just saw her float by, a tree went through her head
and now your children will be sold to child slavery (2X)

Outraged. Disgusted. Dismayed. Ashamed. Saddened. None of these does justice to the way this song made me feel. Emmis Communications owner of Hot 97 and other stations, then tried to minimize the public outcry by shifting blame to a grunt and offering a paltry letter of apology, but within the same letter, assumes that it can buy its way out of this mess with a few paychecks worth of donations to the relief effort.

In a few paragraphs they managed to objectify and dismiss people who lost generations, who were wives, husbands, daughters and sons. Little children died afraid. People drowned, slowly and horribly. I noted though, that they used the word Africans? Hmm.

Emmis is sending several messages here: First that it is okay for Black people to make fun of other people of color. Even if it’s their death that’s part of the joke. There are people dying right now, thousands upon thousands in this unjust war in Iraq. Why no lighthearted ditty about that? Imagine the public outcry if a song about the 911 victims was aired less than a month after the disaster took place. Imagine a song about the Jewish holocaust. It simply wouldn’t happen. The level of prescience that these DJ’s exhibit always amazes me. They know what to make fun of and what not to. The other message is that while it is understood that anybody brown is fair game, anybody American/white and/or Jewish is off limits. And these buckers and jivers follow that memo to the letter.

But ultimately, this is bigger than Miss Jones, who is in fact the scapegoat for a more insidious culprit. If they don’t know better, then they deserve the hell they’ve inherited at this point. People like her inhibit forward movement and growth for our people. When one of her co-workers, Ms. Info, refused to get involved with the promotion of the song because she was Asian and felt uncomfortable, several others in the studio verbally attacked her at the time. One, an unidentified male, then muttered something in the background saying “I’m start shooting Asians�. The only reason Miss Jones argued with the Asian sister is because she showed that not only did she identify with people who looked like her, but she was more of a woman for standing on her own as opposed to blindly following the herd, and that she had more empathy and decency for such a massive loss of life. She demonstrated a humanity Miss Jones clearly doesn’t have.

This song is not an isolated incident. Hot 97’s programming notoriously promotes violence, foul language, misogyny and apathy in general. Remember Slap Fest? With a listenership of mainly young people of color, who are impressionable and many of whom live relatively impoverished lives, this radio station does nothing but stereotype their culture and dumb down their intellect.

What is needed now is repercussions and consequences. Apologies are empty and useless. Besides, based on the kind of humor (or lack thereof) implicit in the song, those of us with common sense will know that such apologies are insincere. 

The paltry earnings of a few underlings is not enough to undo the hurtful energy that the song generates. There is no dollar amount that would suffice for that. After all, this is an issue of morality not monetary worth. But there is a dollar amount that would make Emmis Communications very very sorry they didn’t monitor their own racism better.

Miss Jones needs to be fired, as well as all her squad of knuckle draggers. Emmis needs to donate all of the revenue they received from their sponsors during the time this travesty was aired and afterward to the survivors of the tsunami disaster.

In addition, there needs to be a forceful drive from the public to see Hot 97’s whole modus operandi transformed into something that does not feed off of the community and show us distorted pictures of ourselves at our worst; rather, a true representation of all of the people that make up so-called urban communities. We need to make them do away with slap fests and profanity on the radio. There are no checks and balances with these culture pimps.

We’re better than that. We need to make Emmis do better by us.

Revolution…then peace.

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