Commentary: Ashley Judd Sets the Record Straight

The actress/activist sits down with Russell Simmons to clear up comments about hip hop and "rape culture."

Posted: 04/11/2011 06:09 PM EDT
Filed Under Ashley Judd

Ashley Judd

Actress Ashley Judd is doing a bit of damage control. On Friday, Judd gave an exclusive interview to Russell Simmons on Global Grind hoping to ameliorate her statements on hip hop found in her newly released memoirs. The one paragraph statement calls out Diddy and Snoop Dogg and likens rap culture to “rape culture.”

Simmons was a sympathetic outlet for Judd to plead her case as he considers her a close friend.

“My intention was to take a stand to say the elements that are misogynistic and treat girls and women in a hyper-sexualized way are inappropriate.” Judd said. “I so regret that my indictment of rape culture as a whole has been with that paragraph interpreted as me blaming rap and hip hop exclusively. That was absolutely not my intention, and I so regret it has had that effect on some people. That community is incredibly important to me and to the cause of social justice.”

While some in the hip hop community have probably chalked Judd's statements as a sloppy generalization that can be explained away, others are taking it to heart. Roots drummer ?uestlove addressed the situation via Twitter recalling earlier interactions.

"hmmm. at least i got my answer as to why ash judd didn't give us so much as a nod on her last visit. im a criminal [sic]...EVERY genre of music has elements of violence," he wrote in response to a fan's comment regarding the matter. "It speaks MORE volumes that in rap only a certain side gets promoted."

I guess I can give Judd a pass on this. She has worked with a number of hip hop's finest. She even finds some time during her interview to drop a few names to speak to her point including 50 Cent and Diddy.

“I write about being friendly with and enjoying Curtis Jackson's company, then being confused when on stage his .50 persona comes out. I know Sean [Diddy] as a lovely, gracious guy who always remembers my husband's name, with whom I have had heartfelt talks about the role of pop culture in improving social norms and eliminating discrimination,” she told Simmons.

What bothers me about the interview is that Simmons went out of his way to assure people that despite her comments, Judd is not a racist. At one point, he goes out of his way to state that the actress is not a racist. Who ever said she was? Ashley Judd has been a tireless global advocate against HIV/AIDS and sexual exploitation, which takes her to all corners of the globe and brings her into contact with different types of people.

Judd called out hip hop, not because of a race issue, but because of a societal issue. If anyone's going to try to take Judd to task, let's be sure they have their stories straight. If anything, Judd's beef is similar to that of Oprah Winfrey, Al Sharpton and Bill Cosby, people who have historically focused only on the negative aspects of the genre and not the potential article of change it has and can be.

What do you think of Ashley Judd's explanation? Does she get a pass? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

 

(Photo: Leigh Vogel/Stringer/Getty)


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