NAACP Asks Entertainers to Respect Women

Civil rights activists across the county are calling for an end to demeaning language and portrayals of African-American women. As Houston Public Radio's Laurie Johnson reports, the NAACP is launching a year-long campaign called STOP.

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The STOP Campaign will target music, TV and film industries as well as the African-American community. Southwest Regional Spokesman Dallas Jones says there's a need for balance in the media, but all too often entertainers crudely stereotype the portrayal of African-American women.

"Get those folks in different levels of the media to participate in the campaign through joining the coalition and adhering to what the coalition will form called the Stop Guidelines. Now these guidelines are vital to the success of this campaign in the sense that it's almost as a ratings system that will be devised by folks in and outside of the industry, stakeholders in the community as well as the media. The guidelines will say what is and what is not acceptable within the African-American community."

Jones says the campaign will ask participants to stop defaming women, stop degrading the community and stop accepting disrespect as a normal behavior. The campaign was sparked by recent racial and sexist remarks made by former radio host Don Imus. But Jones says those remarks are just a small part of the problem.

"That was the straw that broke the camel's back and yes, absolutely, created a dialogue that needed to happen around this country and as you can see, it is happening on many different levels. And we're looking to make sure that this dialogue is not something that is only limited to the next couple of weeks while the Don Imus issue is a hot media topic, but rather this dialogue is something about impact."

The NAACP is asking entertainers and media outlets to formally pledge to support the campaign. DeMaris Pool is the president of the Texas Southern University chapter and says she refuses to use certain derogatory words in her conversations and expects others to uphold those standards as well.

"It affected me. I'm sure it affected my fellow classmates. It's very hurtful and no matter, even in songs and raps, when someone uses that term directed toward a black woman, it doesn't affect one black woman, it affects us all."

Campaign organizers say they want the industry to voluntarily stop using negative language and stereotypes, but they are also willing to boycott certain entertainers and artists who persist in using racist or sexist language.

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