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Author argues that few writers, feminists, and culturalcommentators have actually understood why gangsta rap artists vilify women,especially blacks, with demeaning lyrics, often decrying words that wound aspatriarchal oppression. Such critiques deny access to the deeper, morerepressed sources for the murderous rage and corrosive hatred that suchartists appear to have for black females. Rather, the author posits that thesource of such rage and hatred is childhood cruelties of black infants andtoddlers in the earliest years of their lives by black parents, especiallyfemales. That cruelty gets repressed, surfacing again as nearlyautobiographical lyrics because these artists unconsciously need to revealthe truth of their cruel sufferings to others, and they need others likeenlightened witnesses to validate their lyric-based personal histories,without at the same time directly confronting their cruel mothers.
In \"Blacklash,\" Orlando Patterson would argue that suchvilifying tropes by rappers like Bust Down confess the nearlyunspeakable--the myth of the much vaunted, oft-professed black mother-sonlove. (12) Do \"Nasty Bitch\"'s lyrics attack black womenunjustly Or are they \"antimaternal,\" revealing a corrosive hatredand a murderous anger toward black mothers (13) Based on \"The BodyNever Lies,\" Alice Miller would argue that rappers' lyrics, likeother creative endeavors, contain unconscious biographical fragments, whichmeans rappers like Bust Down are leaking their \"repressedtraumata.\" (14) But what is the trauma's source Hinting at thesource, Patterson tells us that an internal crisis exists between black menand women. But psychologically and developmentally, the source must be theearliest possible interaction between black males and females--childhood!During early childhood, are black mothers emasculating their male infants andtoddlers (15) If so, does such emasculation leave little boys doubtful abouttheir authenticity (not sexuality), causing them later to purge any offensivetoxins that may have suppressed their natural, normal impulses (16) How didblack mothers curb such impulses (17) Apart from blaming slavery, Pattersonhas an answer: \"the parenting practices of the black lower classes havebecome increasingly abusive,\" (18) which leaves black children with\"hurtful and even traumatic memories.\" (19)
Alas, the crux arrives: do complex traumatic memories, especiallyrepressed ones, cause black men like rappers to embrace what Patterson calls\"misogynistic irresponsibility\" (20) As Lloyd deMause notes,childhood trauma leaves us with no evidence of emotional memories, except foran overactive amygdala. (21) Social evidence would be deplorable outcomeslike disproportionately high black addiction, suicide, dropout, murder,poverty, and incarceration rates. (22) Based on culture, religion, and priorchildhood abuse, black mothers' parenting practices have severelypunished their children, especially black boys, \"as the best means toeducate kids in values of social responsibility and respect forparents.\" (23) Yet, complex trauma resides in bodies; (24) teenagememories, as Miller would say, are tainted by parent-told excuses:\"white racists would do worse, so obey!\" Obeying perforce embracesrespect. Did real, bodily memories resurface in Too Short's lyrics like\"You fuck with us, bitch, something gettin' broken\" Ifrappers really do love their mothers, why do they vilify black women, who maybe mothers If asked, mothers like Dr. Mahalia Ann Hines abstractly says:\"Of course, I love him. As mothers, we always love our children.\"(25) Likewise, her son, Common, dutifully says: \"she is a mother, agrandmother, my best friend.\" (26)
And so, I proffer a rather disquieting thesis. I argue that adultchildren like rappers unconsciously want to assault their black mothersbecause such mothers subjected them to \"cruelty as love,\" becausethey brutally beat and emotionally neglected them, because they gave them notlove and tenderness but morality and performance, and because adult rappersunconsciously need to tell their traumatic childhood histories throughlyrics. By so doing, these rappers also seek enlightened witnesses who canhelp them understand why they live with hatred and anger. (34) Yet, rapperscan't tell their histories openly, even if they had complete recall. Itremains verboten to vilify black mothers. (35)
In this chapter, I advance this thesis by analyzing gangsta raplyrics through Alice Miller's framework, so that as Bessel A. van derKolk and Alexander C. McFarlane would argue, I can show that black males likerappers are verbally and symbolically, and in the worse cases actually,harming black women as reenactments of their own earliest childhood cruelty.They also engage in self-destructive behavior that links to \"painfulencounters with hostile caretakers during the first years of life.\" (36)In \"Free From Lies,\" Miller argues that without helping orenlightened witnesses, such children can become destroyers in later life,(37) and so the deep, dark secret of the black community's crime,violence, and instability has as much to do with cruelty in the infant yearsof little black boys as with regressive social policies.
By unconsciously reacting to a repressed past that's nolonger present, black mothers cannot connect their cruelty as love to whyblack men like rappers write lyrics about their deepest need for vengeance.Today, we know that scholars have extensively documented the link between\"childhood abuse and subsequent victimization of others.\" (52) So,mothers who were abused hurt their infants and toddlers, and to cope withwhat happened to them, those adult children who become rappers findthemselves unconsciously reliving their earliest, childhood past. If theserappers were dissed, or disrespected, thus reducing them to mere objects,they'd reduce women to disrespectable objects. And so, rappers like TooShort in \"Freaky Tales\" on Born to Mack plays a \"realpimp/Laying on my back with my dick in her mouth.\" If these rappers werenot touched lovingly and held tenderly by their caregivers, especially duringtheir infant and toddler stages, then they'd compensate, as Janovsuggests, by becoming hyper-masculine. (53) And if so, then rappers likeN.W.A., in \"Findum, Fuckum, And Flee\" on Efil4Zaggin treat women asrepositories for their dicks. (54) Too Short's and N.W.A.'s lyricsreek not only of vengeance but also of misogyny, thus reducing black women tomere exploitable objects. On this point, Gwendolyn Pough, quoting from andciting to Imani Perry, writes:
As Diane Weather editor of \"Essence\" does, we can simplyview Too Short's and N.W.A.'s lyrics as \"astonishing, brutal,and misogynistic,\" (56) but we'd have to ignore the childhoodcontext out of which it inexorably flows. Although patriarchy promotesmisogyny, Weather's view must overlook the subtextual complexity if sheignores depth psychology. (57) By so doing, Weathers must perforce faultwhite men and dominant norms, while she vouchsafes black mothers who actuallyand symbolically murder their little black boys, which limits Terri Adams andDouglas Fuller's analysis in \"The Words Have Changed But theIdeology Remains the Same.\" (58) In that piece, they argue that misogynyand racism have long histories in the United States, and thus misogynisticrap roots itself within capitalist patriarchy. (59) Without patriarchy, wecould credibly argue that rappers, especially female artists, perhaps wouldnot view women as the socialized \"other,\" thus making themunacceptable targets for venting their repressed trauma's hatred andanger. In that vein, rappers, including females, would not objectify butre-present the black body as beautiful. (60) Yet, by bracketing black mothersfrom judgment and by faulting white racism and sexism, writers and scholarslike Weather, Adams, and Fuller implicitly reinforce the myth of blackmother-sons' special \"love,\" (61) which has been driven askewby white racism or patriarchy. (62) That lie must fall under the weight ofclinical literature that says cruelty toward children does not cause trauma,but repressed cruelty does. (63) That repression occurred in the earliestperiod of infancy when he cannot speak, when he's not ego separated fromhis caregiver, and when he's forced to ignore his cruelty, so that hecan feel safe, which later causes black little boys to become hateful andangry toward their mothers.
Despite the obvious misogyny in Snoop's lyrics, we can get abetter, clearer glimpse of the potential childhood context out of which suchlyrics might flow by replacing \"hoe\" and \"bitch\" with\"little black boy\" and \"little nigger man.\" By so doing,we can suddenly hear black mothers not only rationalizing the need tobrutally control little black boy, but also the cruel methods by which theydid so. Consider Ralph Ellison's words. In \"Richard Wright'sBlues,\" Ellison observed that to protect black children during Jim Crow,black mothers severely beat them, and justified such cruelty by citing JimCrow, which required abused children to associate familiar people likeparents not with safety and comfort (64) but with accepting severity andapparent tenderness. (65)
As such, rappers hurt, demean, violate, and humiliate not theirblack mothers but \"innocent surrogate objects,\" (76) and so asChuck D aptly pointed out, black animosity toward black women keeps black menemotionally blind, so that they just can't get to the truth. Ifthey're hurting others, and if they're writing vilifying lyrics,which symbolically represent violence, rappers might believe that they areproperly discharging their anger and venting their \"impotent fury.\"(77) Or worst, they're engaged in a kind of cultural critique of Americaas a hyper-aggression nation. In this way, Jadakiss states: \"Killing isalways there since the beginning of time. A lot of it is exaggerated, butit's based on a true story I guess. I don't know what it is.\"(78) That's true. However, Jadakiss and other rappers haven't beenaround since the beginning of time. As infants, they had no sense ofAmerica's objective history. Based on how they're parents met theirprimal needs in infancy, they'll have a personal, subjective history.(79) As Sue Gerhardt points out, that history's foundation is emotions.We now know that \"feelings come first,\" and then \"ourrationality, which science from its inception prized so highly, is built onemotion and cannot exist without it.\" (80) Moreover, neurologists likeMichael Meaney argue that early nurturing builds better brain architecture.Paul Tough would argue that black mothers who traumatize their children causecortisol to damage an infant's prefrontal cortex. (81) Given suchpersonal, subjective histories, are rappers who project vilifying lyrics atblack women really attempting to cope with the rage and anger they sufferedat the hands of black mothers (82) 59ce067264