At tonight's 42nd Annual NAACP Image Awards, the nation's oldest civil rights organization will team up with some of America's largest corporations to celebrate hip-hop and R&B artists who proudly use the 'N' word, refer to women as 'bitches' and 'whores,' glorify violence, misogyny, and drug use. FedEx, Wells Fargo, Chrysler, Southwest Airlines, McDonalds, Walgreens, Bank of America, and AT&T are among a long list of corporations sponsoring this year's NAACP Image Awards. In a gesture that has shocked decency advocates, the awards show has nominated artists such as Kanye West, Jay-Z, Nicki Minaj, Diddy Dirty Money, and B.O.B. whose sexually explicit and offensive lyrics are clearly incompatible with the NAACP's mission and the diversity goals of the program's corporate sponsors.
According to Rev. Delman Coates, Organizer of the Enough Is Enough Campaign for Corporate Responsibility in Entertainment and Senior Pastor of the Mt. Ennon Baptist Church in Clinton, MD, 'It is a complete outrage that the NAACP and some of this country's largest corporations would endorse artists that degrade women, use the 'N' word, and promote values that are antithetical to the goals and aspirations of most Americans. Lyrical content, not commercial success should be the standard by which such nominations and sponsorships are given. At a time when we have witnessed social and political progress in America, it is disheartening to see established civil rights organizations and leading American corporations promote some of the most stereotypical and offensive images and messages in the popular culture.'
Concerns about hip-hop lyrics are not new. For over 20 years, activists and organizations have challenged derogatory and sexually explicit lyrics. That fact adds to the bewilderment felt by critics who wonder why NAACP leadership and corporate executives continue to promote artists who glorify drinking and drug use, sexually objectify women, and use derogatory terms that Blacks and women find highly offensive. Says Coates, 'A few years ago, Don Imus lost his job for using language that pales in comparison to the messages conveyed by some of these artists. The messages of the Image Award nominees are not any more acceptable because they are said by Black artists and celebrated by the NAACP. These are not images that any respectable civil rights organization or responsible American corporation should endorse. Tonight's program will have long term implications for the reputation of the NAACP and the corporate brands of the program's sponsors.'
The NAACP Image Awards, considered by the NAACP to be a 'multi-cultural awards show celebrating the outstanding achievements and performances of people of color in the arts…as well as those individuals or groups who promote social justice through their creative endeavors,' airs tonight March 4, 2011 on FOX. The Enough Is Enough Campaign for Corporate Responsibility in Entertainment is calling on the NAACP to (1) publicly explain how the lyrical content of the nominated artists is consistent with its mission and that of the Image Awards show, (2) make systemic changes to the Image Awards nomination process, and (3) encourage corporate sponsors to be more accountable for the content of the programs they sponsor.