Rap, Gospel Music Ban In Portland Public School Buses Draws Cries Of Racism, Oppression

Rap music and gospel music are rarely ever considered part of the same problem. However, according to Director Teri Brady of the Portland Public School transportation system, both have been deemed offensive, alongside talk radio, in a memo for bus drivers.

A list of radio stations considered acceptable for students on the school’s buses was given, a collection of five which appeared to show some favoritism when scrutinized. The rap ban, in particular, drew the heaviest outrage, as it’s often a staple of black culture among the young population, even though artists and fans aren’t always black.

Realistically, there is nothing inherently wrong with rap music. It can be positive, like much of the Beastie Boys’ classics (“So Whatcha Want?”), and some from Digable Planets (“Cool Like Dat”) and Queen Latifah (“Unity”). However, much like any form of media, rap has also had a tendency to glorify rape, violence, drugs, and gang activity. It depends on what the artist wants to focus on whether it’s positive or offensive.

The list of acceptable options on the rap music ban notice included a country music station. Country can be positive and negative as well, with messages ranging from a lonely man longing to see his family again, to a man at a bar drinking away his bad decisions.

Colleen Ryan, the mother of a student riding the bus, agrees.

“Country music is offensive. It’s about date rape, liquor, and drugs – all kinds of things! It’s just as offensive as rap music can be.”

According to Oregon Live, Ryan added that Latin music wasn’t even mentioned in the memo against rap music.

Gospel music tends to be generally positive, though not everybody believes in God or any of the related religions. For followers of Allah, Muhammad, or even atheism, music about God could be offensive.

Talk radio isn’t often enjoyed by younger listeners and often covers current event opinions adults usually crave more. Rush Limbaugh and other conservative soapbox figures often say things that anger the liberal crowd, while Howard Stern was known for his highly controversial subject matter.

Rap music, however, was the focus of a wave of anger over the Portland school’s decision to ban certain radio stations. Kim Sordyl was one of many parents who wrote a letter of protest to the school after reading the memo.

“Why would rap music be singled out as offensive and country music and pop music was not? It appears to me this equity spending is just a big waste of taxpayer money when we’ve got somebody sending out Archie Bunker-type letters to school bus drivers.”

According to Fusion, Ryan said that the rap music ban couldn’t have been focused on the vulgar language often associated with the music. When radio stations play rap, they often play a censored version with the curse words warped, bleeped out, or replaced with safer words. Of course, that doesn’t matter much when the curse word rhymes with something else in the same verse, making it easy to figure out what the word originally was.

The Washington Post says that the Portland Public School’s rap music ban is being reconsidered in light of the outcries of racism. They have responded with a promise to revise the list.

“We regret the way this was communicated. Our intent was to limit student exposure to religious teachings, profanity, and violent lyrics. The transportation department will be revising its guidance to bus drivers shortly to be more inclusive of different genres of music.”

Even though Portland, Oregon, is the whitest major city in the United States, parents still feel their school bus rap music ban was a racist decision.

[Image via Mark Makela/Getty Images]

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