I have my preferences, sure; but I like all kinds of music. I can find the appreciation in all of it and never do I remember turning my nose up at a particular style. My 15-year-old son and I enjoy our trips together and he picks the tunes, which is usually something between techno, remixed, hip-hop, or metal.
But I had a music experience recently that left me angrier than I’ve been in a long time. My family went to see you at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. I knew what to expect at a hip-hop concert so, even though you and your dancers were doing some things that made me shake my head, I stuck it out. We love the hip-hop sound. But somewhere about the third song into your set, I saw something I never, ever expected from you; something that even caused my 20 year old daughter – the coolest girl ever – who lives in NYC, to turn to me and drop her jaw.
You had your dancers get on their knees with their backs facing the audience; their hands flexibly postured in a prayer position behind their backs. You walked along the line of girls, touching their faces, grabbing their chins, stroking their heads as if inspecting your merchandise. It looked as if you were a solicitor trying to decide which girl you were going to use for the night, as if they were some kind of animals. My heart broke.
After all that people like Oprah have done to shine light on the rap and hip-hop video industry and its horrendous abuse of hip-hop dance girls, this scene, in my opinion, set us back 10 years in teaching our kids how to respect women. I watched Oprah interview a beautiful former hip-hop video dancer who testified that the only way she could get ahead in the industry was to follow the pointing finger. “If you want to be on this video, go see the producer in that trailer. He’s waiting on you. When you get done giving him what he wants, we’ll talk.”
I have people on my team who are working with investigative organizations that are kicking down doors, literally, in corporate America to rescue young girls from the sex-trafficking industry. It has become an epidemic, not only in places like Asia, but right here in the USA.
I don’t know if you will ever read this, but I had to try. I believe you’re better than this. My heart was moved for you today when I saw your comments on the Today Show about your son fighting diabetes. You’re a father. You’re a mentor on nation-wide television. You’re not some young punk artist anymore. I’m appealing to you from the heart of a daddy and a pastor, please consider changing the image you’re portraying concerning how to treat our girls while you’re on the stage. And please don’t say, “It’s just an act on a stage.” It’s much more powerful than that. If you know the power of music – and I know you do – then you’ll know you’re making a massive impact on the young ones watching. Young girls who might not have fathers to show them how a young lady should be treated see that and think, “If Usher treats us that way, that must be how it’s supposed to be.”
I don’t judge you, Usher. I implore you. After your fourth or fifth song, you went back to your power ballads and your smooth dance moves, and your dancers showed there was legitimate talent in those feet that don’t have to resort to cheap sex acts on the stage to make the crowd go wild, and you finished strong. Our kids are our invaluable treasure. I know you know this because you love yours. Please love ours too. I’m praying for you, my man, that you will have the unction to do the right thing, and for your son to be healed. Be blessed.
(P.S. To my readers, I’m not looking for hateful remarks. I will reject comments in that spirit.)