Megan Thee Stal­lion per­forms at Gla­ston­bury 2022 (Twitter@HelloItsLevi)

“My body, my moth­er f—kin choice!” That was the clari­on call by Megan Thee Stal­lion to the throngs of fans at the Gla­ston­bury Fest­iv­al in Gla­ston­bury, Eng­land in response to the US Supreme Court over­turn­ing Roe v. Wade. The Texas nat­ive knows bet­ter than most of the pain this decision will have long term con­sid­er­ing that Texas was one of the first states to essen­tial crim­in­al­ize abor­tion and provide no excep­tions to cases of rape and incest.

For­tu­nately, she was not alone in the world of Hip Hop in speak­ing out against the rolling back of repro­duct­ive rights. Artists and groups such as Questlove, Pub­lic Enemy, Rage Against the Machine, CHI­KA, Steve Rif­kind, Lizzo, and oth­ers took to social media to vent their anger. Some took it a step fur­ther by offer­ing con­tri­bu­tions to repro­duct­ive justice organ­iz­a­tions, which is what Lizzo did in the form of a $500,000 dona­tion to Planned Par­ent­hood, one of the United States’ largest health care pro­viders.

Kendrick Lamar, who is rid­ing high on the suc­cess of his latest mas­ter­piece Mr. Mor­ale & the Big Step­pers, added to his grow­ing lin­eage of speak­ing truth to power from the Gla­ston­bury stage by say­ing “God­speed for women’s rights”. At the BET Awards, Jazmine Sul­li­van issued a call to action to men dur­ing her accept­ance speech for Best Female R&B/Pop Artist. She said that she wanted men to speak up in sup­port of women.

“Stand up for us, stand up with us. If you’ve ever benefited from a woman mak­ing one of the toughest decisions of her life, which is to ter­min­ate a preg­nancy, you need to be stand­ing with us. This is not just a women’s issue. This is everybody’s issue.”

The Hip Hop Caucus issued the fol­low­ing state­ment:

The Supreme Court’s decision to over­turn Roe v. Wade is a full front­al assault on repro­duct­ive rights that will have dev­ast­at­ing con­sequences for mil­lions of people, espe­cially Black, Brown, and Indi­gen­ous women. Elim­in­at­ing the right to safe, leg­al abor­tions increases health risks and endangers lives, because abor­tions will still hap­pen. This decision weak­ens the found­a­tion for many oth­ers fun­da­ment­al rights that should nev­er have to be chal­lenged or debated. Justice Thomas has made it clear in his opin­ion that leg­al pro­tec­tions for birth con­trol, same-sex and inter­ra­cial mar­riage — and even the right to have sex — are now vul­ner­able under this offi­cial decision.”

“When it comes to our bod­ies, we have the right to choose and no one, abso­lutely no one, should tell us the decisions to make. Hip Hop Caucus and our com­munit­ies will fight until our repro­duct­ive rights are restored state by state and we will make clear to law­makers that they must respect our votes this Novem­ber and respect our choice.

As they point out, the Hip Hop nation is a mul­ti­gen­er­a­tion­al, mul­ti­cul­tur­al, and mulitra­cial move­ment who will bear the brunt of the anti­cip­ated exacer­ba­tion of inequit­ies when it comes to a lack of com­pre­hens­ive repro­duct­ive health care.

Accord­ing to a new study by Duke Uni­ver­sity, black women are more likely to die from forced preg­nan­cies as well as to have a high­er rate of mater­nal mor­tal­ity than the gen­er­al pop­u­la­tion. Fur­ther­more, these restric­tions will impact black women and oth­er women of col­or who are also deal­ing with a lack of health insur­ance and cul­tur­ally rel­ev­ant ser­vices.

The voices of these artists and organ­iz­a­tions carry sig­ni­fic­ance and could help spur a new move­ment with­in hip hop. While the cul­ture is known for its advocacy on mat­ters of racism, police bru­tal­ity, and mass incar­cer­a­tion there is not much his­tory on mat­ters of gender.

How­ever, let’s not for­get that Tupac Shak­ur fam­ously said that in “Keep Ya Head Up” in ref­er­ence to a woman’s bod­ily autonomy and hav­ing a baby “since a man can’t make one he has no right to tell a woman when and where to cre­ate one.” Salt N Pepa’s icon­ic clas­sic “Push It” speaks to a woman’s right to bod­ily autonomy and inde­pend­ence.  They also made it clear that if they wanted to do as they please it is none of our busi­ness.

There are seeds planted and now is the time for those seeds to blos­som. If Hip Hop has taught us any­thing it is to take some­thing out of noth­ing and win on one’s own terms. The poten­tial is there to form an effect­ive coali­tion to sup­port those in need of repro­duct­ive justice from the stage, to the record­ing stu­dio, to the vot­ing booth.

The col­lect­ive power of hip hop has rocked the world to its core and forced it to con­front long stand­ing issues that those in power largely want to ignore. This is no dif­fer­ent. It is just as urgent and as pro­found.

In the end, it is like a jungle some­times but we can­not afford to won­der about going under.

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Zachary Draves
I am a viol­ence pre­ven­tion edu­cat­or, act­iv­ist, journ­al­ist, aspir­ing film­maker, adjunct pro­fess­or of social justice and civic engage­ment at Domin­ic­an Uni­ver­sity in River Forest, Illinois. I am based in Chica­go, Illinois.

About Zachary Draves

Zachary Draves
I am a violence prevention educator, activist, journalist, aspiring filmmaker, adjunct professor of social justice and civic engagement at Dominican University in River Forest, Illinois. I am based in Chicago, Illinois.