The women who took Rick Ross down — for a lyric about drugging a girl and “enjoying” her — were longtime hip-hop fans, still raw from the verdict in the Stubenville rape case in which two high school boys had sex with an unconscious girl in front of a crowd of classmates. Source magazine alumni dream hampton and Kierna Mayo used their platforms (Twitter and EBONY.com, respectively) to call for Ross’s head in their battle against “rape culture”; and it was an article on EBONY.com by Jamilah Lemieux, another woman raised on hip-hop, that caught the eye of Nita Chaudhary, founder of the women’s rapid response political action group, Ultraviolet — which ultimately launched the most visible action against Reebok, including a protest at their New York flagship store. Chaudhary, 33, grew up in a Harlem neighborhood she references wryly as “featured prominently in the gunfight scene in ‘Juice,’” the film debut of Tupac Shakur. Chaudhary went to high school in the Bronx and counts herself as a hip-hop fan.
“For us and our members,” she said this week, “this is not a hip-hop problem. This is an American problem.”
Chaudhary said that she and her colleagues marshaled 100,000 signatures for their petition, over 10,000 phone calls to Reebok, thousands of Tweets, and at least 100 protesters at the Reebok store. Though Reebok didn’t return any calls or communiqués, within a day of the protests, the company jettisoned Ross as antithetical to “the values of our brand” and their customer base. Chaudhary noted with pique that Reebok marketed especially to women, “holding up sports as a form of empowerment.”