Give Up Your Bitches

I was at a friend’s place flipping through channels to see what I’m missing out on, since I don’t have cable. I came across BET and it was showing a rap video. I honestly can’t tell you whose video it was, or even the song.

But, we know the scene all too well: women, money, extravagant cars, expensive champagne, and envy from those who don’t have it. For the few seconds I was watching, it seemed like a soft porn video with the lovely ladies groping the artist and each other. What caught my attention was the expression on the man’s face. It was pride, as if he had reached some pinnacle of success simply because of the two women with him.

It made me think of the whole Don Imus fiasco, and the reaction older black men had toward him. How they felt his remarks were a reflection of rap music. I think it’s easier for older black men to use hip hop as a scapegoat for misogyny, than it is for them to examine what they taught young boys about women through their example.

The psychological ramifications of slavery have left black men struggling with their identity and self-worth. Throughout the Reconstruction Era, black men continued to be emasculated. They were denied work or not paid enough in order to survive. Meanwhile, their lives were in constant danger.

I think we not only carry the blood of our ancestors in our veins. We also carry their history. I think black men are still carrying a lot of anger from how they were treated. That anger manifests itself in different ways.

Boys learn about manhood by watching other men. It is interesting to me that, in order to earn their rite as a man, they must get laid. Yes, some are taught the importance of integrity, respect and responsibility. But it is clear in this society that a man ain’t a man unless he got some. And, men get bonus points for their first time if she had more experience and a bunch of tricks in her repertoire.

So many black men don’t understand that their identity is largely based upon black women. But black women know it better than anybody. How many women dim their light so her man can shine? How many women have the solution to a family crisis and don’t say anything, so she won’t overshadow his “leadership?” How many women sacrifice their life purpose and manage their man’s dreams in an attempt to give him parts of himself back that are taken by this white supremacist society?

In “The Fire Next Time,” James Baldwin speaks about how black men were an “immovable pillar” in the white man’s world. Once “he” (black men) “moves out of his place, heaven and earth are shaken to their foundations.” When black men began demanding to be treated like human beings, it created an identity crisis in white men. The “top” only exists if there is somebody at the “bottom.” Black men experienced the same thing when women stood up for themselves. And black women experienced a backlash for it.

bell hooks speaks about it in her book, “Salvation: Black People and Love.” She cites the 1966 essay, “Who Will Revere the Black Woman,” written by Abbey Lincoln. It states: “But strange as it is, I’ve heard it echoed by too many black, full-grown males that black womanhood is the downfall of the black man in that she (the black woman) is ‘evil,’ ‘hard to get along with,’ ‘domineering,’ ‘suspicious,’ and ‘narrow-minded.’ In short, a black, ugly, evil you-know-what.” Bitch? Ho? She wrote this essay in the 60s! Black women were experiencing these issues with black men long before rap music ever came into the picture.

In my opinion, in order for black women to receive the respect they rightfully deserve, black men must be willing to sever the fabric of their manhood and identity from women. But, in order for this to work, all black men, not just rappers, must give up their “bitches” and “hoes.”

Our black male elders gotta give up the “ride or die bitch” that works in their office, knows their dirt, but because she believes in his cause, she keeps her mouth closed so he can maintain his public persona. Our black male “leaders” must give up their “hos” – you know, the Black Liberation mistresses and groupies at the book signings, panel discussions, rallies, town hall meetings – whose sexual availability and prowess strokes his male ego and makes him feel like a “real man.”

It’s not fair for black elders to talk about rappers, when some of them enjoy the benefits of celebrity (groupies and hos). All African-American men have got to give her up in order for women to receive the respect and honor they deserve.

I’m dreaming of a day when black men know that their value in this world has nothing to do with what title we give them, the people around them, or what material things they’ve acquired. They will know that they have the presence and power of God within them. They have all they need to light up the world.

Envisioning you with much love, light and fulfillment. See you next week.

Yaminah Ahmad is editor-in-chief of The Atlanta Voice and contributing editor to Collective Voices, a newspaper published by the non-profit, SisterSong: Women of Color Reproductive Health Collective. She can be reached at

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May 13th, 2008 at 1:53 am cagedbird says:

I see a lot of truth in this I think men find their confidence in the wrong things should be loving their kids and being responsible should make them proud not having 10 bitches on their arm and driving nice car while they kids don’t have no lunch money. they minds ain’t right

May 13th, 2008 at 2:18 am young clean bastard says:

this makes sense about the older generationbut I guess erbody got groupies n’ some way or ‘nother. either way it aint cool to manipulate women for gain.

May 13th, 2008 at 2:22 am PRETTY PLUS says:

You’d better quote bell hooks!
I love it!
So true.
Let’s take the veil off the hyprocrites and educate our youth and ourself.

May 13th, 2008 at 5:02 am kamalp says:

theres truth in this, but i know plenty of women who don’t stand back to let their men shine, they shine along with ‘em or over ‘em, plenty, just about every female i know, so i agree with older men doing right by example and that hos come in all forms, but women holding back to prop men up, thats some other generation shi*t.

May 13th, 2008 at 5:30 am rodney phillips says:

agree with kamalp

May 13th, 2008 at 6:14 am A Barette says:


May 13th, 2008 at 6:43 am SweetSis says:


May 13th, 2008 at 7:20 am Friendlee says:

Agreed that she’s going deep on this one. I need to find that Abbey Lincoln esaay for real.

May 13th, 2008 at 8:12 am holdyourhead says:

i been waiting for someone to say this. black men have got to realize that we are better together than apart. our children are better when they see their men support, love and positive words to their woman. we can’t rise as a people until our women are elevated to their rightful place

May 13th, 2008 at 8:42 am queendom says:

some may see this as bashing. I SEE IT AS PLAIN OLE TRUTH. if we can’t be honest with each other. men and women, how will our children have any direction. come on

May 13th, 2008 at 9:25 am loverly says:

Your James Baldwin reference was right on point

May 13th, 2008 at 9:32 am stonefoxx says:

im speechless. can’t beleive somebody actually wrote what i have been thinking for years. digging this for men don’t be mad. ain’t nobody clowning, we just want better.

May 13th, 2008 at 10:42 am thelma says:

sis ain’t playing. speaking truth and takin names! but, we also have to think that some of these women in the videos are there voluntarily. ladies if we stop feeding it maybe this mess will stop

May 13th, 2008 at 11:44 am culturepop says:

in the 60s and 70s you had brothas putting sistas down. you still have it today. i teach the boys in my life that there ain’t too many things more precious than a black woman. you treat it like gold and you will be happy all your days. you treat it like trash, the blues will be your friend til you die.

May 13th, 2008 at 11:49 am gotyourmadness says:

dang! this is pretty deep. i hope people esp blk men know we love them just wnat them to stand up for us

May 13th, 2008 at 11:54 am brightshiny says:

wow i have to read this again before i say anthing else its deep but i wonder if blk men understand

May 13th, 2008 at 11:55 am Tina says:

Amazing! I was looking on you tube yesterday and was amazed at how many videos are bashing the African American woman. I was shocked to see that our brothers were some of the main people doing it. You are speaking the truth sister!

May 13th, 2008 at 11:56 am peacekeeper says:

BET ought to be shamed but not all their fault - they only do it cuz we watch it. if they wasn’t making money off of us then they would do something else.

May 13th, 2008 at 12:00 pm impalalove says:

women do this to themselves then want blk man to save them. if they don’t want to be in the video don’t have to

May 13th, 2008 at 12:08 pm Stephanie says:

Woohooo this is deep. I love my black man, love him and it makes me sad when I think of how they sometimes treat us and don’t show us the same love and respect. So sad!

May 13th, 2008 at 12:36 pm pmatters says:

umh this IS deep. This is why I diversify. I date all kinds of guys. If I don’t get the respect I deserve from one guy then I just step to the next guy. I do agree with impalalove our fellow women have an option and do not have to be in these videos. I don’t know about wanting brothers to save us, that is another entry.

May 13th, 2008 at 12:43 pm nicq says:

seems to be a lot of women on here getting their bash on

May 13th, 2008 at 4:55 pm Regina Holloway says:

Well you reeled me in with that explosive title. And you really illuminated a point I hadn’t thought about on the church elders and the so-called leaders who keep their submissive woman in tow. I’m not sure if it’s exactly the same as the whole total degardation thing that comes with hip hop, but I get the point and it’s something to think about certainly.

May 13th, 2008 at 9:23 pm missme says:

Quoting baldwin? This is how UTC gets down? Jeah!

May 14th, 2008 at 11:08 am Friendlee says:

Speakin truth here!

May 14th, 2008 at 1:43 pm peacekeeper says:


May 14th, 2008 at 4:52 pm Jacquetta says:

I see exactly what you are saying, it needs to be said. Speak that truth out!

May 14th, 2008 at 9:11 pm hisherness says:

if you want men to elevate women, for leaders to give up “hos”, you’ll be waiting for that day for some time. it’s not up to Man to elevate Woman. he can put her on a pedestal, and she will sit there with ankles just as primly crossed as when she sat at his feet; she must stand on her own. respect is not a gift. the alpha role is not a gift.

i know i’ve alarmed at least one person here with my screen name, His Herness. i wonder if anyone understands the homage i’m paying with that name? another blogger wrote about Cleopatra, but my screen name refers to Hatshepsut, a woman pharaoh with more power than feminine wiles. if Woman is displeased with the manifestations of this blood history in Man, if she wants to be respected and valued, she has ample blood history of her own to draw upon. when she understands that she doesn’t need Man’s respect and honor to be respectable and honorable, when she knows on a fundamental level that her own value has nothing to do with Man’s value of her, then he will respect, honor, and value her. Man can give her these things until the proverbial cows come home, but they mena nothing until she *takes* them. Man need not be willing for this connection to be severed. Man need not even be consulted. the issue is not to convince Man to respect Woman, but to convince Woman to be respected.

May 15th, 2008 at 12:08 am missme says:

A - good blog yaminah
B - hisherness i always wondered about the name + i’m glad you shared the powerful origin. really riveting + inspiring. thanks for sharing!

May 15th, 2008 at 8:35 am ecarey32 says:

I think these are valid points that effect all races. Gender superiority and gender roles are so entangled in religion, media, and education people get confused about who they really are and what their purpose is. It takes all types of people for the world to go round and we are all in different stages. If you don’t have a sense of self worth, patience, and forgiveness life will always be a struggle. If we work hard to make corrections in self versus corrections in our brothers and sisters, then our example would be a much better “teacher” than we could ever be. Black folks are on the rise and that is why we are constantly being attacked. Know your place and leave the rest to God:)