On Jan. 8, Crenshaw rapper and entrepreneur Nipsey Hussle came under fire for a problematic Instagram post that ignited discussions of homophobia in hip hop yet again. The picture uploaded featured dozens of black men and boys lined in formation, smiling, fitted in suits inside a ballroom. They were attending the first annual banquet for the Crenshaw Rams Football & Cheer Organization hosted by Developing Option, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the Crenshaw community.
"They gone feed us every image of our men and boys but this one. No hyper violent… No homo sexual… No abandoners…. JUS STRONG BLAC MEN AND YOUNG Men," the caption read.
Social media took offense to his statement — including activist and Black Lives Matter figurehead DeRay Mckesson — claiming they were bigoted and hypocritical to his own message of discrimination.
"In his comments are the idea that to be a gay black man means one cannot be strong…" This incited a short exchange on Twitter between McKesson and Hussle where Nipsey clarified he is not homophobic, but believes there is an agenda against straight black males in the United States. “I don’t look down on gay people I love all Gods children foreal. I take issue with the larger agenda. and I’m VERY WELL INFORMED contrary to my appearance. And my conclusion is there’s AN AGENDA…” Nipsey replied on Twitter.
By the end of the exchange, reconciliation was never formed and offshoot debates formed in smaller boroughs of Twitter.
This hip-hop moment brought forth a slew of controversy for those who defended him (one being Punch, President of Top Dawg Entertainment) and raised multiple questions: Are the Crenshaw rapper’s comments homophobic? Are black fathers underrepresented, and if so is It part of an agenda? Teachers and students at Florida A&M University weighed in.
“I thought the message was pretty positive. The media tries to belittle African-Americans and their achievements [and] he’s trying to showcase those achievements,” senior biology major Michael Maduka said. He did not see the controversy in the caption.
Florida A&M professor Michael C. Labossiere found Hussle's inclusion of homosexuals troubling. “The ‘no homo sexual’ comment is problematic, since it seems to imply that a homosexual cannot be a strong person.” Nipsey’s latter comments clarifying his stance can be easily lost to the overwhelming coverage his initial post caused. His “error” was grouping homosexuals in between two other stereotypes that portray black men negatively in mainstream media, but not clarifying homosexuality is not wrong.
The misunderstanding only fueled more ammunition for those who argue against hip-hop’s ties to homophobia, the most prominent and recent example being last March where rap group Migos was questioned on its stances with the gay community after commenting on iLoveMakonnen coming out of the closet.
On whether there is an agenda to undermine black fathers Labossiere added, “Black fathers are underrepresented in the media. The conservative news tends to demonize black men; usually bringing in the stereotype that black men are absent or bad fathers.”
In previous decades, television shows like “Good Times,” “Sanford and Son,” and “The Cosby Show” were cultural landmarks in media while having positive representation of black fathers. In recent times, the two shows with the most exposure that have active black fathers in them are “Everybody Hates Chris” and “Blackish.” In a climate of inclusion, it is unfortunate black fathers, the people with a vital role model in the upbringing of black youth are underrepresented.