Since the 1960s and 1970s in what would today be called urban novels and movies, the persona of the pimp was presented as a model for Black males in the ghetto.
From Max Julian in the 1973 movie “The Mack” to the Brent Owens 1998 HBO “documentary” “Pimps Up, Hoes Down” the mystique has continued. Pimps and the “pimp game” were inserted into hip hop and videos. The word “pimp” was inserted into regular conversations.
“It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp,” recorded by Three 6 Mafia, was given an Academy Award for Best Original Song. It was ranked No. 80 on VH1’s “100 Greatest Songs of Hip Hop.” It was the main song from the 2005 film “Hustle and Flow,” starring Terrance Howard as a pretty poor pimp trying to make it in hip hop. The phrase was picked up and modified as a slang expression. Greetings on the street went from “What’s up brother?” at the height of Black consciousness to “Whut up pimp?” as popular culture was employed as the opiate of the masses–pushed to put people to sleep or into a sleepwalking fantasy. “Pimped out” was used to describe ostentatious displays of ghetto fabulousness and MTV had “Pimp My Ride,” which saw has-been hoopties transformed into hot rides.
But as its core the pimp, the acceptance of the word in common language, and sex trafficking isn’t harmless. It is part of an assault on Black females that devastates our mothers, sisters, daughters, cousins, nieces, aunts and neighbors. With the hyper-sexualization of American society and the old “Jezebel” stereotype, which equates the Black woman to an animal in heat, our women are the most victimized by sexual abuses, rape, and assault. Our girls are being lured and dragged into a kind of sexual slavery.
The glorification of stripper culture, career-launching or career-reviving sex tapes, toxic non-reality shows, and publicly disrobing on red carpets don’t help promote the proper view and value of womanhood. Legal prostitution further muddies the moral waters in a country steeped in immorality and willing to benefit from taxing sin.
The Urban Institute released a study, “Estimating the Size and Structure of the Underground Commercial Sex Economy in Eight Major U.S. Cities,” earlier this year. In 2007 incomes from sex work, legal and illegal, was estimated at between $39.9 million to $290 million in San Diego, Seattle, Dallas, Denver, Washington, D.C., Kansas City, Atlanta, and Miami, the report said.
“Pimps travel in circuits and utilize social networks to facilitate the transportation of employees to different locations for work. Pimps transported women and girls along circuits that connect different cities with active UCSEs (Underground Commercial Sex Economy). Law enforcement respondents reported local, statewide, regional, and national circuits,” the report said.
“Pimps and sex workers cited many of the same factors influencing their decision to become involved in the UCSE. Pimps described neighborhood influence, family exposure to sex work, lack of job options, and encouragement from a significant other or acquaintance as critical factors in their decision to engage in the UCSE. Sex worker respondents explained, and previous studies have also established, that street-based sex workers become involved in sex work for similar reasons such as economic necessity, family and peer encouragement, childhood trauma, and social acceptance,” it added.
“Though the majority of respondents stated that arrest is the foremost ‘risk’ of pimping, they also routinely reported that they believed pimping was less risky than other crimes,” the report noted.
There is also a tacit acceptance of sexually misusing Black women for profit: “If I am going through a certain kind of state and the Cadillac has only Blacks, police just let me through. White girls–doesn’t look right. If one of them come back as a known prostitute, they say they already know what you’re doing, you’re a pimp,” said one pimp interviewed for the study.
And, it’s not just grown women or voluntary, in California and perhaps in your city, young girls have been snatched off of bus stops and put to work servicing as many men as are willing to misuse their bodies.
Other times the girls are runaways–some who have already been sexually abused–or young and in love, willing to do anything for a male who has their heart and are groomed and put to work.
Violence and drugs are ever present tools and threats. Unlike drug trafficking, which may require some capital upfront or an advance of product, sexual slavery just requires a single woman to put out on the horror stroll and the money starts coming in.
That Black women are misused and victimized isn’t cool. It’s a sin and shame. It is a sin before Almighty God Allah who wants to take and place us, Black people, on the top of civilization. It is a shame that far, far too often the victimizers of Black women are the very Black men who should be their protectors and defenders.
But you can’t defend and protect what you don’t love. You can use what you lust for, but to protect someone at the highest level takes love. Self-hatred rules us. The more we accept the way of those who brought us here to destroy us and the more we embrace a decadent Western culture, which is dying and wants to take us with it, the deeper we languish in the mud. The bottom seems almost bottomless for us.
We don’t have to live like this and we must change. It begins with a proper understanding of self as a man. It begins with tapping into the divinity of self which awakens a spirit, a consciousness, that makes a man value himself and examine his actions. He begins to understand manhood is not below his navel but contained in his mind, and his ability to produce, not exploit. God doesn’t rob, cheat or steal and neither does a man who truly knows God. A man who knows God arranges his forces, visions his success, commits himself to the task and refuses to quit until the job is done.
He doesn’t prey on women nor exploit women. He knows his value and their value. Pimping becomes an insulting and unacceptable option. It is truly the punk’s way out. Real men conquer. Real men face the enemy. Real men respect women. It’s time that we accept the knowledge we need to become men. And it’s time we accept the responsibility to be men. It’s time for the pimp to die.
(Richard B. Muhammad is editor in chief of The Final Call Newspaper. He can be reached at [email protected]. Find him on Facebook at Richard B. Muhammad and follow him on Twitter: @RMfinalcall.)