While the word “ho” was seldom used on KFI, the same can’t be said for black America where the word is in heavy rotation on a daily basis. From the barely bleeped-out lyrics that we listen to on the radio, the videos we watch on television, and how we speak to and about each other – there’s not a day that goes by where I don’t hear this word. And it’s usually coming out of the mouth of another black person.
Just one scan of the most requested songs on Los Angeles hip-hop radio station Power 106 proves my point. The 2012 Best New Artist Grammy nominee J. Cole’s “Work Out,” features the lyrics, “She bad and she know it. Some niggas save hos, I’m not that heroic.” Nice.
Add to that, this year’s Best Rap Album Grammy nominees Jay-Z and Kanye West and their “Niggas in Paris,” which, if you can get past the title, uses the word “bitch” four times. It is topped by Tyga’s “Rack City” which manages to use that word 22 times in a little over three minutes and says, “All the hos love me you know what it is.”
I could go on and on, from city to city, radio station to radio station and still come up with the same examples.
But it’s not just radio that helps to keep the word ho alive in black America. Thanks to CD players and iPods where censoring is not even an issue, much worse is played in the cars and homes of many of the same black people offended by John’s and Ken’s characterization of Houston.
So while these hosts were undeniably wrong in their demeaning choice of words about Houston, the reality is that they are two white guys on the radio in Los Angeles who have a majority conservative white audience they play to. And even if they used the word ho everyday to describe black women, they still wouldn’t come close to the damage that continues to be done on a daily basis in the black community with our own use of the word.