Sometimes, it’s easy to ignore the fact that celebrities are human, just like us. We venerate people because of the impact their work and personalities have on our lives, and when they’re called out for doing something horrible, we have a tendency to get a little defensive. Do a quick Twitter search for Johnny Depp or Bill Cosby and you’ll see what I mean.
In the wake of sexual abuse accusations leveled against hip-hop pioneer and founder/former head of the Universal Zulu Nation Afrika Bambaataa, the Zulu Nation has apparently drafted yet another lengthy statement on Bambaataa’s actions and their restructuring. It came in the form of a Google Doc signed by chapter leaders from all around the world, which you can read here. They double down on their stance from the last statement, distancing themselves from Bambaataa and the former leaders who defended him while pledging to help victims and urging others to do the same.
Many of us didn’t want to believe that Bambaataa had been abusing his position of power to molest young boys over the course of three decades, but the accusations speak for themselves. Ronald Savage’s revelation that Bambaataa had molested him opened a neatly tucked away can of worms the Zulu Nation had allegedly been sitting on for years. Bambaataa and Zulu Nation heads tried to save face by claiming all the victims were out to assassinate his character, but before too long, UZN dropped Bambaataa and his yes men from their ranks.
These apologies are…interesting, but let’s start with the positives. It’s important that The Zulu Nation has taken steps toward scrubbing out the bad eggs and it’s even greater that they’re taking initiative on teaching kids about the dangers of sexual abuse.
However, by the time the Zulu Nation flew in to put out the PR flames, the damage had already been done.
Like it or not, The Zulu Nation, an organization supposedly based on unity and understanding, used its power and influence to silence victims who have no reason to lie about any of this. The resulting tug of war has left UZN fractured and scrambling to pick up the pieces while they become another drop in the victim-blaming bucket. It happened when Bill Cosby supporters waved off the 60+ women accusing him of sexual misconduct. Hell, it happened just this weekend when the world turned on Amber Heard when she dared speak out against abuse from her husband Johnny Depp. And while The Zulu Nation’s licking its wounds, their indifference here will live as long as Planet Rock does.
So what now? What can UZN do to get back in the world’s good graces? Be as good as their word. You want to teach young children about the dangers of sexual abuse? Do that. Remember when Bambaataa promised Hassan Campbell he’d build a shelter for abused boys? Whether it’s out of spite or not, build it. And will we ever hear from UZN’s more prominent members, who’ve stayed tight-lipped this whole time? Practice what you preach, with all your resources, and you might just make it out of this alive.