Members of “The Respect Me Coalition” marched in front of the headquarters of Interscope Records on Colorado Avenue in order to seek a shift in the current music culture that disrespects women, particularly African American women.
The march and press conference were prompted after repeated attempts to engage Interscope’s chairman, James “Jimmy” Iovine, in a community dialogue on the issue were ignored.
“We’re not here to fight nobody. We’re here for them to change the lyrics,” stated Brenda Marsh-Mitchell, the organizer of the Coalition and president of Mothers in Action. “We’re not talking about the artists. It’s the lyrics. Interscope distributes the lyrics.” These lyrics are “causing killings in our communities” and “disrespect in our communities. There are artists they won’t even talk to that do clean rap. People need to hear good, reinforced, supportive lyrics. There needs to be a balance. We don’t want to stop rap. We want some positive rap.”
In response to a question about what the Coalition wants to say to young people, Marsh-Mitchell responded, “Be more conscious about what the music is saying. What if it was your mother or grandmother? How would you feel about that?” She then stated, “We believe young people are buying this music because of the beat. You can change the lyrics but keep the beat. Do the rap but change the lyrics to respect us as mothers and daughters.”
Marsh-Mitchell then led the group of about 40 women to the doors of Interscope’s headquarters and tried to enter to demand a meeting with Iovine, but was turned away by security guards. The women then marched in a circle chanting, “What do we want? Respect! When do we want it? Now!”
The parent company of Interscope Records, Universal Music Group (UMG), responded, “UMG values the right of its artists to express themselves, even if that means that some of their music will not appeal to all listeners. At the same time, we do take our corporate responsibility seriously. That’s why we display warnings to provide customers, especially parents, the ability to make appropriate choices. Moreover, we thoroughly and voluntarily cooperate with television programmers and broadcasters to edit music and videos to comply with their content standards and practices.”
Glenda Gill, executive director of the Rainbow Push Entertainment Coalition, explained that the “coalition of various women’s groups in the L.A. area came together during the [recent] Imus debacle” because the women felt “it’s time for us to have a voice.” Don Imus was fired from both his radio and TV shows after making offensive remarks about the Rutgers women’s basketball team.
A Coalition press release stated, “A nationwide effort is currently underway by prominent civil and human rights groups who are working to hold federal hearings on the issue.” Coalition spokeswoman Karen Lewis told the Mirror that the movement is growing and the African American “community is joining forces to include all women.” She also mentioned there are male supporters as well.
Another protest was held in front of Interscope Records on Wednesday, June 6, as the Mirror was going to press.