I know it’s your business where you spend your money, but I can’t help but wonder where many of us would be today if our ancestors like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Fannie Lou Hamer, Amelia Boynton Robinson, Medgar Evers, John Lewis, Rosa Parks and a whole lot of our warriors for justice would have taken the position that they were not going to risk their lives for the good of our community so long as they were personally benefiting.
What if they had taken money from guilty parties and kept quiet about racist and disrespectful acts against the rest of us? What if somebody gave them a few dollars to back off and not participate with any groups or make any objections to what was hurting our community? What if somebody told you they would continue spending their money with corporations they know are spending the company’s proceeds (your money) to knowingly do damage to your community? I’m speaking of companies knowingly using their advertising dollars to make it possible for hateful rhetoric that encourages violence, kidnapping, gang rape and random shootings in our community. Much of this hateful language is especially against Black women and it denigrates our entire community. This must stop. We need your help to stop it.
I think any sensible and caring person would say, “I won’t allow my dollars to destroy my community.” I trust that that’s where most of us are. The National Congress of Black Women, under the leadership of my predecessor, Dr. C. Delores Tucker, has been working to rid our community of this filth called gangsta rap for many years. We’ve continued to make the lives of our young people better. Recently, we’ve been blessed to be joined by Bob Law, chairman of the National Black Leadership Alliance, and Kwabena Rasuli and Bernard Creamer of Clear the Airwaves. Some will tell you these performers are just talking about their reality. To that, I say, “Your breath smells bad when you wake up, but you brush your teeth to change that reality. Those who want to change/better their reality don’t do gangsta rap.”
In our continuing effort to put an end to the filth and the damage it creates, we recently invited some of the biggest offenders to meet with us in New York so that we could help them understand what the ads they pay for are doing to destroy our community. While we had representatives from many groups attend, not one of the biggest offending advertisers invited (McDonald’s, Subway, J.C. Penney, Kohl’s or Adidas) attended. After at least five contacts with each company, not one had enough respect for the Black community to send a representative, forcing us to take action. Our call to action is against “hateful rhetoric that encourages violence against Black women.” Our movement is called Respect Us and, to be clear, this is not about free speech. It’s about getting rid of hostile environments. All of us appreciate righteous, conscious music, and we would urge offenders to spend their advertising dollars to promote that kind of music.
Since the named corporations have chosen to disregard our willingness to hold a reasonable discussion about the matter at hand, we have been forced to ask every conscious member of our community to refrain from spending your dollars at the offending companies named in this article until they respect our community enough to withdraw their advertising dollars making the offensive gangsta rap possible. Our starting targeted areas are New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C. Others may be added as necessary.
For more information or to express your support for Respect Us, call 202-678-6788 or 347-675-0710, or go to www.respectus.store.
Williams is president of the National Congress of Black Women.