Ignorance and Hyper Masculinity in The Breakfast Club – BBD
The Breakfast Club is an American Syndicated show based in New York City whose main content is based on Hip Hop culture. The hosts consist of Dj Envy, Angela Yee and the controversial Charlamagne Tha God. They’ve conducted of a lot of interviews from the likes of spoken word/ hip hop artists like Floetry to major pop stars like Kanye West, Cardi B, even Hillary Clinton made an appearance. The interviews are usually constructed around the most ignorant comments either Dj Envy or Charlamagne Tha God are going to engage the artists in while Angela Yee is left cleaning up the sloppy mess of sexism, homophobia, transphobia, misogny, colorism, etc. The hyper masculinity that overwhelms the program is a minstrel show that perpetuates the devaluation of Black and Latinx people. Charlamagne Tha God is constantly talking about beige rage when referring to his co-host Dj Envy and other light-skinned Blacks. Which is clear that he has his own self hating demons that’s wrestling with. He even went so far as to tweet “Would be dope if a young black or Hispanic “WOKE” woman used social media to create a Platform to be a voice like Tomi Lahren did.”
Tomi Lahren the alt-right extremist tried to attack Beyonce and Jay-Z by saying “Your husband [rapper JAY-Z] was a drug dealer. For 14 years, he sold crack cocaine. Talk about protecting black neighborhoods. Start at home.” She also tweeted inflammatory statements like “Meet the new KKK they call themselves “Black Lives Matter” but make no mistake their goals are far from equality.” #Dallas #bluelivesmatter. The Breakfast Club not only invited this miscreant on the show to spread her racist agenda but degraded Black and Latinx women to uplift yt supremacy.
A banal comedian named Lil Duval was on the Breakfast Club and was asked by Charlamange to “tell him she ain’t pretty” referring to the Janet Mock’s picture on her book that was propped up in front of them. Lil Duval replied “Nope…that nigga’s doing his thing.” The whole studio is laughing even though right before that disgusting comment Lil Duval said “If one did that to me I’d probably be so mad I’d want to kill him.”
Rick Ross was another guest on the show and was quoted as saying dehumanizing comments about why he wouldn’t sign a female rapper to his label because “…he’d end up fucking the female rapper…I’m paying so much for a photo shoot I gotta fuck a couple of times.”
The legendary comedian Mo’nique was given “Donkey of the Day” by Charlemagne because she called Netflix out on “gender and racist bias” due to her anemic contractual offer.
Charlemagne again tried to degrade the Black woman’s worth by saying that she didn’t deserve to be making as much as Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle, and Amy Schumer. He stated ridiculous reasons like Mo’nique was outdated and she wasn’t selling out arenas. Angela Yee chimed in with her two cents and stated that she heard Mo’nique was difficult to work with and maybe that’s why she was not offered six figures. This narrative of the angry Black women is old and needs to be laid to rest once and for all. The idea that Black women need to play the role as mammy in order to be allowed through the door is detrimental to not only the Black woman but the Black family. Audre Lorde stated that “Anger is an appropriate response to racist attitudes.”. I would like to end on a positive note before I reach my conclusion Charlamagne was interviewing Master P when he disrespected one of his artist Mercedes “I always wondered, how did you set up promotion for your projects? Because it was a time that No Limit was dropping project every week. It was a No Limit product in stores every week. Except for Mercedes, we never saw that. And I always wanted to see that because she had a fat ass pussy.” To which Master P responded “See there bruh…don’t disrespect Mercedes like that.” Charlamagne tried to change the subject and Master P quickly said “Naw, let’s go back to this dog. Let’s respect. Because I’m not going to talk about your sister, your mom or nothing. That’s the first thing. I know you do your radio thing and I respect that; but at the same time, Mercedes is a…she a female.” In conclusion, we have to interrogate the media’s agenda and role in maintaining the myths of our colonizers. We have to ask why hip hop has never been held accountable for its lack diversity and inclusion. We have to look at how we consume entertainment and what part of ourselves are we willing to compromise in order to be entertained. Is it our integrity, our ethics, our future? Complacency destroys progress.
My particular beef with The Breakfast Club is with Charlamagne tha God, one of the Black male hosts of the show who can be so rude, ignorant, and disrespectful to people’s identities and experiences (primarily those of women of color) that it’s hard to listen to him speak without rolling your eyes and going “here we go again.” I’d like to focus on a particular interview he and the other hosts of the Breakfast Club did with Afro-Dominican singer, dancer, and TV personality featured on Love and Hip-Hop Miami, Amara La Negra.
This interview starts out with Amara expressing her appreciation for being on the show and the very first thing that Charlamagne says to her is not “happy to have you” or “how are you?” but “what are you?” a question that, as harmless as it may seem, perpetuates an exotification and “othering” that is unsettling and uncomfortable for anyone who has ever been put on the spot to answer that question. And the question itself is a set up: Charlamagne has a history of challenging Afro-Latina women on their identities, questioning the validity of being both Black and Latina and downplaying their struggles. He has done it to actress Dascha Polanco who proudly asserted herself as an Afro-Dominican, and to Marjua Estevez and Venessa Marco, two Afro-Latina activists.
When Amara La Negra answers that she is an Afro-Latina, both Charlamagne tha God and co-host DJ Envy feign ignorance asking, “what is an Afro-Latina?”, forcing Amara La Negra to explain and justify her identity. Angela Yee, another host of the show and the only female one, mentions the previous interview with Dascha Polanco who had explained Afro-Latinidad to them as well, subtly reminding her fellow hosts that this conversation’s been had and let’s stop questioning Black Latina identities. Charlamagne even admits that the concept of Afro-Latinidad has been explained to him several times… so then why is he still asking??? (obviously because he doesn’t agree and feels the need to challenge the identities of these women, and does so in a way that tries to make himself the sole authority on Blackness and Hip-Hop culture) This is problematic because not only do they keep insisting and suggesting that they thought “Afro-Latino was half Black and half Latino” even though they know better, but they are doing it in the attempt to silence Amara’s voice and validity as a Black Latina woman and trying to discredit her when she speaks about her experiences as a Black Latina woman– and a dark skinned one at that.
When Amara, being a dark skinned woman, discusses her particular experience in getting roles and opportunities in the Latino acting/music industry and the colorism she’s experienced, Charlamagne dismisses the issue as unimportant saying that he “doesn’t know if it’s worth talking about.” and insists that she doesn’t even struggle with colorism… which is just dismissive and uncaring about the Black female struggle. He continuously questions whether or not she experiences discrimination based on colorism throughout the interview and consistently downplays her experiences and struggles. In the Hip-Hop culture that already objectifies, pushes aside, and disrespects Black women, there is no need for more of that– especially when The Breakfast Club can and should have the space to be much more progressive. This makes a much larger commentary on the personas of Black male ignorance that are performed in Hip-Hop. Ultimately, the main issue of the Breakfast Club is that the hosts (particular Charlamagne tha God) ridicule, make jokes about Black struggles, and deny the validity of those struggles, particularly those of Black women.
Young M.A is a female hip hop artist that has once appeared on the radio show, The Breakfast Club. During the show there have been multiple counts of ignorance and hyper masculinity coming from the men of the show: Charlamagne Tha God and DJ Envy. Third host of this show is Angela Yee who sometimes counter acts these nuances from the men.
Now for Young M.A’s interview they start off by getting to know her a little bit by asking about what made Young M.A get into rapping in the first place and emphasizing the fact that she’s a girl. The problem I see immediately here is the tone of voice and attitude of DJ Envy asking this question. He implies that it’s strange to be a woman in the rap scene. Now immediately the Charlamagne and DJ Envy. Charlamagne points out “There were no girls ever” and starts to laugh as if this is a complete joking matter when in fact this is a serious problem in the hip hop world. And Angela Yee even says she’s offended already. Women aren’t taken seriously as rappers and as top notch Hip Hop artists and it looks like Charlamagne and DJ Envy aren’t taking Young M.A’s start up in Hip Hop seriously because she is a woman. Now what I do wonder here is how would this conversation go about if instead of DJ Envy bringing this up, Angela Yee brought this up?
The next problematic sentence that comes out of DJ Envy’s mouth is: “Usually females are into Barbie dolls and toys but you’ve got tattoos….” And he gets cut off by Angela Yee. This statement DJ Envy makes is perpetuating gender roles onto the female population and assuming that every female growing up is supposed to be feminine. It’s disrespectful to assume that someone such as Young M.A has to not be into girly things to be a successful rapper. He points out her tattoos as if having tattoos is a masculine form of expression when in reality there are thousands of women (including myself) on this earth that have tattoos.
After DJ Envy’s remark about Barbie dolls, they learn that Young M.A’s mother would only buy her Barbie’s instead of Ken dolls and Charlamagne asks if Young M.A’s mom was a single mother and she was so Charlamagne says that because Young M.A’s mom was a single mother, that is why she never bought her daughter Ken dolls. This interaction right here is a prime example of one of the stereotypes of single mothers. He’s implying just because she is a single mother- that she doesn’t want her daughter to be involved with or interacting with men. This is a huge assumption on the feminist community and any female that represents and supports women.
Football is the next subject to come up during this interview with Young M.A. She tells them that her friends growing up were all boys and they all were on the football team except her. She was the only one who didn’t get on it because she was a girl and then they all made it happen for her and eventually she was the first female to join their football team. Charlamagne, once he realized that she was part of an organized team and not just a fun football game with the boys, he acted very surprised as if this isn’t something young girls can do. It just goes to show that men are taught to think that women don’t belong in certain spaces such as a football team.