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One group of women frustrated by the use of words like "ho" in hip-hop are students at Atlanta's Spelman College. In 2004, female students at the college made headlines when they protested a scheduled performance by rapper Nelly at their school. At the time, students said they were upset at how the rapper treated the women in his videos. "I feel that, as with the Don Imus situation, there's a lack of accountability. As rappers, I feel that accountability should be taken into consideration—as well as with Don Imus—from a racial standpoint. Rappers from a sexist standpoint," Keli, a student at the school, says. "It all needs to be addressed and we need to quit talking around the issues."

All seven women on the Spelman panel say they have been called a ho and that the negative stereotypes in some hip-hop songs are being applied to all black women. "I've heard a lot of rappers say that they are speaking about the 'hos from the street' and the hos from their experience," says Leona, a student. "But they have to understand that men don't make distinctions between those hos and us. When we go to a club they don't say, 'Let me see your school ID' and distinguish whether they're going to call us a ho or not."

Common acknowledges that there is a problem and it is deep-rooted in society. Asks a student named Devon, "Is it okay to continue it?"

No, says Common. "Let me say to the sisters from Spelman we acknowledge there's a problem and we [the hip-hop community] want the help. When I talk to cats on the street, they don't want to be in that situation. We don't want to be in this painful situation," Common says. "And we are apologizing for the disrespect that does come from the mouths of men to women."
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FROM: After Imus: The Hip-Hop Community Responds
Published on July 13, 2009

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