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pedophiles oh sorry ephebophiles racism rape culture victim blaming

Four men say they were molested as boys by Afrika Bambaataa. Where’s the outrage?

The Zulu Nation is distancing itself from founder Afrika Bambaataa
The Zulu Nation is distancing itself from founder Afrika Bambaataa

A musical pioneer who played a central role in defining a genre of music that now dominates the airwaves has been accused of child molestation by four men, who say the man abused them when they were boys in the 80s.

Where’s the media outrage?

The answer to that question tells us a lot about the racial divide in the US — and the racial divide in our mass media.

The allegations against Afrika Bambaataa, the hip hop DJ whose early tracks, particularly the Kraftwerk-swiping Planet Rock, helped to define and popularize both hiphop and electro in the early 80s, have been covered on black-oriented radio talk shows, in the hip hop media, and in black-oriented publications like Jet and The Root.

But the story has barely made a ripple in the mainstream — that is, white-dominated — media, with the notable exception of the New York Daily News, which has broken key elements of the story.

The details of the allegations are certainly troubling enough. Vulture — one of the handful of other outlets in the mainstream media to cover the story — sums up what we know so far:

Last month, Ronald Savage, a former New York State Democratic Committee member,accused Bambaataa of sexually abusing him in 1980, when Savage was 15 years old.

Since then, three more men have come forward with similar allegations: A man named Hassan Campbell told the New York Daily News that Bambaataa repeatedly sexually abused him when Campbell was 12 and 13, calling the DJ a “pervert” who “likes little boys.” Two other men whose identities were not fully disclosed also say Bambaataa abused them when they were minors — a former bodyguard also claims Bambaataa abused “hundreds” of young boys since the early 1970s. Bambaataa has denied all of the allegations.

[NOTE: The reference to the early 70s is puzzling. Elsewhere in the interview quoted in the NY Daily News, the apparent former bodyguard simply referred to “the 70s,” so I’m assuming he was misspeaking when referring to the early 70s. Bambaataa was born in 1957; he started his career as a DJ in 1977.]

The leaders of the Universal Zulu Nation, a sort of hip-hop advocacy group that Bambaataa founded in the 80s, first responded to the allegations by dismissing Savage, the first accuser to step forward, as “mentally challenged,” and denouncing the Daily News as a propaganda organ “compromised and controlled by U.S. government intelligence.”

But on Friday the group reversed itself, issuing a statement announcing that

ALL accused parties and those accused of covering up the current allegations of child molestation have been removed and have stepped down from their current positions.

If the allegations against Bambaataa are true — especially those coming from the man who says he was the hip hop producer’s former bodyguard — we’re talking about abuse on a Jimmy Savile scale. So why isn’t this story getting written about in the New York Times or talked about on CNN? Because the alleged victims were black boys? Because white people see Bambaataa more as a one hit wonder than a cultural icon?

Maybe Hannibal Buress needs to start talking about Bambaataa in his standup. That might get this story the attention it deserves.

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peaches
peaches
5 years ago

I saw this a couple of weeks ago and was furious. I was a big fan of Time Zone’s World Destruction as a teen, and this made me wish I had my old remix 12″ so I could destroy it. Why is this not getting more press? Rolling Stone, where are you? Or are you not covering sex abuse any more?

AsAboveSoBelow
AsAboveSoBelow
5 years ago

…we’re talking about abuse on a Jimmy Savile scale.

WOW. Horrifying. I hadn’t heard anything about this until just now.

varalys the dark
5 years ago

Oh damn, I have some stuff of his I really like and now they’re tainted. The lack of outrage is very telling I guess for the reasons stated. At least in the UK we were able to lock up the scumbags even if justice and belief in the victims stories was far too long delayed.

Imaginary Petal
Imaginary Petal
5 years ago

I’ve followed this. As a fan of hip hop, I’ve had massive respect for Bambaataa as a pioneer and in many ways godfather of the entire movement. But there’s no way you can hear these people tell about their experiences and not believe them. It’s a sad, horrible thing, but I’m happy that it’s finally being uncovered.

WeirwoodTreeHugger
WeirwoodTreeHugger
5 years ago

And there’s not a woman to blame, so you’re definitely not going to see it covered by AVFM or talked about on the men’s rights subreddit.

youthful indescretion
youthful indescretion
5 years ago

Oh, how awful. My sympathies to all victims. How are we seemingly so unable to stop shit happening?

Patricia Kayden
Patricia Kayden
5 years ago

Loved Babaataa’s work so am very disappointed to hear this news.

This needs to be as widely covered as the Bill Cosby rape scandal.

Scildfreja
Scildfreja
5 years ago

I don’t really know his stuff personally, so I have no difficulty in thinking him a horrible human being. My heart goes out to the men he abused.

This always seems to catch people off guard. It doesn’t usually surprise me – people attracted to power and attention can have or develop other catch-ups about control, and abuse fits that like a glove. I get why people are surprised about it, halo-effect and all, mind you.

And, yeah, I wonder if any of the MRA voiceboards will call out on this? No women involved, so there’s not much to complain about, rite? And if they do call it out, I wonder how racist it’s gonna be?

What was that? 100% racist? Yeah, you’re probably right.

Button
Button
5 years ago

I suspect it’s just that Bambaataa isn’t someone that the editors of white media are familiar with/think their audience will be familiar with. (And, yeah, I fit that stereotype. Never heard of the guy before.)

They generally publicize black football players accused of abusing black victims – that one who beat his kid, for instance, and the one who knocked his girlfriend out in the elevator.

100% agree with WTH: black boys as victims + no women involved = no chance of being addressed by the MRM.

Scented Fucking Hard Chairs
Scented Fucking Hard Chairs
5 years ago

What was that? 100% racist? Yeah, you’re probably right.

I’d say 75% racist and 25% homophobic*. Yeah, best for the victims if the MRAs stay as far away from this horribleness as is possible without leaving the atmosphere.

*We understand that sexuality and paedophilia have nothing to do with eachother, that plenty of straight men rape young boys, but the MRAs don’t.

Potential Human Bean
Potential Human Bean
5 years ago

🙁

Why do people think violating another’s agency and autonomy is OK?

WickedWitchOfWhatever
WickedWitchOfWhatever
5 years ago

I don’t believe that the awfulness of an artist is any way connected to the quality of their art – Polanski has made quite insightful films about the damage sexual violence inflicts without it in any way seeming to moderate his behaviour or public remorse. I don’t think anyone should feel guilty for having liked the art. It still sucks to know that it’s possible for people to have inspiration and insight and all these admirable qualities and still cause such pain to others.

Imaginary Petal
Imaginary Petal
5 years ago

AVFM are currently too busy spinning the anti-trans “bathroom bill” as gynocentric misandry. Who cares about real problems when you can rant endlessly about made up nonsense?

Bina
5 years ago

This is like Jimmy Savile and Bill Cosby combined.

And yeah: No women. No whites. Therefore, no peep out of AVFMorons. They’d be all over it if this were a case of a woman raping males, though, because that serves their misogynous agenda perfectly.

pitshade
pitshade
5 years ago

@IP That article…

my brain hurts.

Moocow
5 years ago

OT, but Rodrigo Duterte is now president of the Philippines.

For those unfamiliar, he’s routinely compared to Donald Trump, and he might arguably be worse

TW for rape jokes reported in the article

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-05-10/rodrigo-duterte-wins-philippine-presidential-vote/7399658

History Nerd
History Nerd
5 years ago

R. Kelly is well known as a pedophile/hebephile but the press has either turned a blind eye or “forgiven” him. It happens his victims are all black.

bluecat
bluecat
5 years ago

Ugh. Sympathy for all the victims and props to those who are speaking out. I hope the investigation will be fast and fair and that everyone gets the support they need.

it’s odd what people will notice or not notice. I grew up in a school/parish/church community where everyone was very alert to the possibility of priests having sex with adult women parishioners. It did occasionally come to light: once a priest was suspended for it and the woman moved from her job, another time a priest left to marry.

What nobody seems to have been alert to was the possibility of priests and teachers sexually assaulting underage boys. Which, it turns out, was going on for about 40 years.

it’s astonishing what one finds out as time goes on.

Policy of Madness
Policy of Madness
5 years ago

I’m going to have to go against the grain here and say that sometimes the art is irrevocably tainted by the artist. There’s no way to fully separate the artist and the art, and, tellingly, nobody tries to do that until something like this comes up. But once something like this comes up, the urge is to want to continue enjoying something that one enjoyed before, and then we see this argument.

I don’t buy it. Roman Polanski is a horrific person and his movies are horrific because they are tainted by his involvement. Just as charities frequently give back tainted money, I have to “give back” the art produced by horrific people. I don’t want it and it makes me feel dirty to derive enjoyment from it. There are a shitload of movie and music options out there. I have a wide array of choices made by people who aren’t garbage and who certainly deserve my support and admiration more than child rapists.

Giving up a little piece of cultural entertainment isn’t a huge price to pay.

Big Kitty
Big Kitty
5 years ago

@WickedWitch of Whatever — Absolutely true, it’s really not fair — not to the artist, but to humanity — to judge the work of an artist by his/her awful personal character.

Polanski is a good example, but come on, the best-ever example of this is Richard Wagner. He was a thoroughly miserable, cruel, manipulative, abusive person, who mooched shamelessly off his (not-for-long) friends, whined incessantly about how ill-used he felt by the world, exploited his wife and warped his children; he was also a knuckle-dragging, shameless racist and vicious anti-Semite who arguably laid the groundwork, almost single-handedly, for the Third Reich’s disgusting hijack of German fine art in service of monstrous, genocidal evil. Hell, he was Hitler’s favorite composer for a reason.

And yet, he indisputably was one of the very, very greatest composers of the 19th Century, and wrote some of the most glorious music ever written.

Wagner’s artistry is right up there with that of Johann Sebastian Bach, another German artist who is arguably the most sublime composer of Western classical music of all time. And Bach was, as a person, Wagner’s polar opposite: a kind, humble, funny and loving man who was, according to all credible history, adored by pretty much everyone whose path he ever crossed, including his huge houseful of children.

Artistic genius is deeply, deeply unfair. And yet, there it is.

I would much rather have known Bach as a person than Wagner, but I would not want to be without either composer’s music.

Bina
5 years ago

OT, but Rodrigo Duterte is now president of the Philippines.

Ugh, that sucks. I hope there’s an uprising.

feartheminotaur
feartheminotaur
5 years ago

@Imaginary Petal

Who cares about real problems when you can rant endlessly about made up nonsense?

Ladies and Gentlemen, yoooooooooour, Republican Party!

pitshade
pitshade
5 years ago

Ladies and Gentlemen, yoooooooooour, Republican Party!

The irony is that the article is blaming the right for this terrible misandry…

greyskye
greyskye
5 years ago

Hip Hop artist B. Dolan said this about the whole awful thing shortly after the news broke as people rushed to defend Bambaataa because of who he is and what he’s done. I think it’s a really thoughtful and powerful statement about separating an artist from his art and who he is as a person, and about how important it is for the voices of victims to be heard.

“It doesn’t make me feel good to share this, but I feel like I should do so anyway…

As a rapper who has name-checked Afrika Bambaataa on record, and has been inspired by his music, message and mission through the years, I feel compelled to acknowledge it.

Especially since a lot of my peers will most likely stay silent on this or, as KRS-One did recently, make a mess of themselves trying to preserve Bambaataa’s legacy for the culture.

Hip Hop raised me in a very real sense, and I’m ever conscious of the debt I owe to the forefathers of rap music. One of those forefathers was Scarface, who I heard say “I follow no man, cause men be phony.” To me that means no matter how respected or important you were/are in this, Rap is bigger than you. One man’s actions don’t damn a movement, a culture or a ‘Nation’.

I think what DOES damn a movement is being unable to properly respond to moments like these. Victims deserve to be heard, and to feel that they are believed while the facts are investigated. More and more accusers and witnesses are now coming forward with similar stories. That information deserves to be known and the problems that enabled it addressed by the Hip Hop community.

Is there a voice in my head that hopes it all turns out to be false? Of course. But that voice is speaking from the place of a Hip Hop fan, and the other voice is speaking from the place of compassion for human beings and a desire to see justice where people have been violated… so I feel like my Hip Hop fan perspective needs to fall back in this instance.

Anyhow. That’s where I’m at on this if it matters to you. Take it for what it’s worth, and take care of each other.”

https://www.facebook.com/bdolanSFR/posts/10153579694970777?fref=nf

Victorious Parasol
Victorious Parasol
5 years ago

Every time I hear a story like this, my heart crumbles.

AsAboveSoBelow
AsAboveSoBelow
5 years ago

I would much rather have known Bach as a person than Wagner, but I would not want to be without either composer’s music.

Me, too. Wagner’s music is glorious. The man himself was very much the opposite.

Aerinea
Aerinea
5 years ago

This is horrifying and disappointing news. My heart goes out to his victims who, as others have said, will likely be largely ignored due to being male. It’s always disappointing to find out that someone influential and important to art in some way turned out to be someone who violated others.

Hu's On First
Hu's On First
5 years ago

Besides, if it weren’t for Wagner, we wouldn’t have Jim Steinman!

Bryce
Bryce
5 years ago

One reason male victims don’t come forward is out of fear people will assume them more likely to be offenders themselves as a result of the psychological impact of abuse, particularly if it occurred in early childhood. I have to admit I hadn’t heard of Bambaataa, but if he’s revered as a kind of creative icon, as opposed to a b-grade UK broadcaster such as Jimmy Savile, then that would have made it that much more difficult to come forward.

Handsome "These Pretzels Suck" Jack (formerly Pandapool)

This always seems to catch people off guard. It doesn’t usually surprise me – people attracted to power and attention can have or develop other catch-ups about control, and abuse fits that like a glove. I get why people are surprised about it, halo-effect and all, mind you.

Very, very sadly true.

Sascha Vykos
Sascha Vykos
5 years ago

“Time Zone – World Destruction” recently some renewed attention from being on Mr. Robot. (At least the version with John Lydon- not sure if that is the only one?) Before that I don’t think I’ve encountered that song in the wild for decades.

It’s not that I hate the song now, but this definitely makes it not fun to hear.

Also props to victims. I hope they have lots of support. And someone to deal with their social media accounts.

Paws
Paws
5 years ago

Wow, what a piece of trash. I hope the victims get the help they need. Whether female or male, the victims should always come first. Fuck these predators and the people who defend them.

Kat
Kat
5 years ago

Then there’s Dee Barnes’ account of what went down between her and Dr. Dre:

Here’s What’s Missing from Straight Outta Compton: Me and the Other Women Dr. Dre Beat Up

http://gawker.com/heres-whats-missing-from-straight-outta-compton-me-and-1724735910

Dee Barnes is currently writing her memoir, Music, Myth, and Misogyny: Memoirs of a Female MC. She is looking for a publisher. You can follow her on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

epitome of incomprehensibility

This is awful and frustrating. So many powerful people are able to get away with horrible things for too long (there was a similar case around here with film director Claude Jutra, although the abuse was brought to light after his death).

@SFHC:

I’d say 75% racist and 25% homophobic*. Yeah, best for the victims if the MRAs stay as far away from this horribleness as is possible without leaving the atmosphere.

Agreed.

OoglyBoggles
OoglyBoggles
5 years ago

This is truly the year of awfulness coming out in full force. I sincerely hope the hip hop movers and shakers won’t compromise their moral integrity in the face of notions of having their genre compromised.

GiJoel
GiJoel
5 years ago

Well this sucks. What the hell was about the 70s and 80s that allowed so many pedophiles get away with that shit.

Paradoxical Intention - Resident Cheeseburger Slut

And David is 100% right in that we won’t hear about this shit because American media doesn’t give a fuck about male rape victims or black people, and considering we have black male rape victims and a black male rapist, that equals roughly no fucks given.

Because it’s “intra community” violence, and the media doesn’t feel like that’s news apparently.

mildlymagnificent
mildlymagnificent
5 years ago

GiJoel. People have been getting away with a whole lot more for a whole lot longer.

When my kids were in primary school and the sex ed people came around, we had meetings with the presenters at the school. Mainly (I think) because they were using a new approach to deal with possible abuse. They’d abandoned the old “stranger danger” nonsense and were much more focused on keeping yourself safe, no secrets, understand your own feelings – sort of like a “Gift of Fear” for 8-10 year olds.

One really important thing they pointed out was the success of modern approaches to educating kids for child protection. Remember we’re talking 1990ish here. They had found in surveys during the 80s that men over 60 reported double the amount of childhood /teen sexual abuse that men under 30 reported. So this information was relevant to sexually predatory activity from the 1920s right through to the early 70s.

Depressing when you think about it.

OoglyBoggles
OoglyBoggles
5 years ago

@PI
It seems like the online news media outlets are the only ones who are covering this. I can’t say the same for old media, I just did a quick google search and I don’t see much of anything regarding this incident.

Paradoxical Intention - Resident Cheeseburger Slut

OoglyBoggles: Someone has to.

I just personally think that mainstream media isn’t doing its fucking job when I get all my news from social media or other online sources like this blog.

No offense David, but you aren’t exactly a media powerhouse. 😛

OoglyBoggles
OoglyBoggles
5 years ago

@PI
When the majority of TV viewers don’t trust old media combined with the decline of TV watchers, I’m still surprised they are even still around. I honestly believe that the much better media is in new media, they seem to actually do their jobs and press the questions. But my low opinions of television news is for another day.

Yeah I’ll be honest, David is to me around b to c list in internet media influence. Known well enough by anyone who is in the know, but outside you’re not going to hear David’s name on the tele about the rising extremes in right wing sexist bigots.

Alan Robertshaw
Alan Robertshaw
5 years ago

@ Bryce

as opposed to a b-grade UK broadcaster such as Jimmy Savile,

One of the issues in the Savile case was that during the 70s and 80s he was pretty much the king of television here in the UK. It was his perceived importance and influence that made him virtually untouchable even though it was ‘common knowledge’ that something was not right about him.

Ironically one of the few people who went public about Savile was John Lydon, who of course worked with Bambaataa. That leads me to believe that there were at least no rumours floating around about bambaataa, otherwise I’m sure John Lyndon would have said something.

Scented Fucking Hard Chairs
Scented Fucking Hard Chairs
5 years ago

Because it’s “intra community” violence, and the media doesn’t feel like that’s news apparently.

Media apartheid.

OoglyBoggles
OoglyBoggles
5 years ago

@SFHC
All media is equal, but some media are more equal than others.

marinerachel
marinerachel
5 years ago

I recall talking to a couple friends who grew up with The Cos on TV, really enjoying his comedy. Neither of them can laugh at his work anymore. It’s not a matter of the quality of his work having changed. It’s just been tainted.

I don’t know why it is – maybe because he’s not on screen – but I don’t have that problem with Roman Polanski’s work. I really enjoy some of his films and for whatever reason don’t feel they’re tainted by his wretchedness. Don’t get me wrong – I wouldn’t spend any money on his work. He’s a terrible person who should be shunned from the public sphere. I just don’t have that sinking, “uhg” feeling when his work comes on screen that others have when they see Bill Cosby’s face now.

As for this particular case? The Manosphere would capitalise on this only if the perpetrator were female. They’d LOVE that.

Ddog
Ddog
5 years ago

@POM I totally agree. For me the art does become tainted. I can’t enjoy art that’s come from such a terrible person. Polanski is a good example of this but in a different way that others say. I saw two of his films before I knew who he was, both featured rape and trauma as a result of sexual assault. The absolute arrogance of that man making those films whole not giving any kind of shit about real victims makes me so angry. I can’t separate the art from the artist because to me art always contains some of the artist. A rapist making films about rape victims is inexcusably disgusting.
Also I agree, no one ever talks about separating art and artists until they turn out to be gross people.

Imaginary Petal
Imaginary Petal
5 years ago

@David

Will there be a new open thread soon? 1 month since the last one, I think.

mockingbird
mockingbird
5 years ago

Well this sucks. What the hell was about the 70s and 80s that allowed so many pedophiles get away with that shit.

I’ll echo a few others and say that I think that the 70s/80s were only exceptional in that they were an intersection in time.

Before that, this abuse occurred and was both actively and passively “not talked about” – it was “just something that happened”, often hushed up as a shameful secret amongst those in a close community.

During, victims began to speak out and realize that their “shameful secret” didn’t have to stay so, that this was more widespread than just them and their abusers. Abusers – some of whom may not have realized the extent of the damage brought about by their actions, some of whom did and didn’t care – began to (rightly) be outed and shamed. Victims began to be encouraged to come forward, began to be told that they had done no wrong. (This, obviously, is not a mindset that has completely taken hold.) People began to talk about and process the abuse they had endured.

After, many of the older attitudes and norms persist at least in some quarters – abuse is still a shameful secret to some, especially when it involves close family members; victims are still blamed for leading on or encouraging abusers – but (in many, not all areas and many, not all communities) a critical mass of lack of acceptance of abuse has been reached. People are more likely to talk about it, enough so that (1) some of those who have been abused have gotten enough help to not themselves become abusers, (2) perhaps some who may have become abusers were not abused themselves, thereby breaking the cycle, (3) those who abuse are generally more careful.

There may also be something about the 70s and 80s being when worldwide mass media began to really take off – information regarding scandals could travel, at least between “developed” areas.

It will prove interesting to see what happens with this in areas in which mass media – or, probably more accurately, connected media – is currently making inroads.

Virgin Mary
Virgin Mary
5 years ago

@bryce

Agree with Alan. Savile was certainly not a b grade celebrity. He was the 70’s and 80’s King of prime time, and had probably more power and connections than what even Simon Cowell has nowadays.
I think this story has a lot in common with Savile, a hugely successful and influential DJ preying on youngsters. Savile too, though you might not believe this had a huge influence on Hip Hop. He was the first DJ to use two decks back in the fifties, and the first to wear colourful sportswear, track suits and bling whilst smoking oversize cigars!

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