Former ?video vixen? discusses women in hip-hop culture

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CSUN’S Hip-Hop Think Tank (HHTT) hosted an educational lecture featuring former music video performer-turned New York Times bestselling author Karrine Steffans on Thursday in the Lake View Terrace room.

The HHTT brought Steffans, author of ‘Confession of a Video Vixen’ to discuss her involvement in the hip-hop industry, hip-hop’s expectations of women and her three publications. The HHTT represents the merge of hip-hop culture with academia and exists to facilitate, provoke, and realize positive movement through academic analysis, research and critical discourse relative to issues which impact and/or emanate from the world of hip-hop.

The event was well-attended and filled the Lake View Terrace room to capacity. Students and professors in attendance had high expectations of the event, including assistant Pan African Studies professor Anthony Ratcliff.

‘(I hope) this will be a lively, informative and respectful dialogue,’ said Ratcliff. ‘I want to hear what her voice adds to the discussion on hip-hop and how it challenges hip-hop to be more respectful to women.’

James B. Golden, a graduate student and a member of the HHTT, expected students who fail to think outside the box to disrespect her.

‘I was nervous because I had gotten negative feedback from some students,’ said Golden.

Steffans began her talk with the story of her life before she became a New York Times bestselling author. The high school dropout discussed growing up on an island with her grandmother, her relationship with her abusive mother, the rape in her pre-teens, her life as a runaway 16-year-old and how she came to have an eviction notice on her door.

‘I had no idea of what I was doing when I began this journey in 2005,’ said Steffan, who added what she did know was she wanted to write.

‘I was born and then I wrote,’ she said.’ She was compelled to write and share her story because she felt ‘(she) had to tell someone.’

Steffans shared how she shopped her story around to publishers for a year and worked hard on her own to conjure up publicity for her story. She eventually received an e-mail from publisher Harper Collins one morning while packing to move her belongings into storage.

She made the decision to publish her first book, ‘Confession of a Video Vixen,’ with Harper Collins, a book that 90 percent of the audience admitted to have read when asked by Steffans. Although her book brought her success, she admits she would never write the book again yet does not regret doing so.

Steffans captured and held the attention of students and professors for almost two hours. Students were intrigued by her life experiences and the advice on life she dished out to the crowd. Wasiu Animashaun, a real estate and marketing double major, said he thought the event was great.

‘I came in there with preconceived notions of her and she broke them down. She brought up good points and she was very entertaining,’ said Animashaun.

Vanessa Mosi, a biology major, admits that she did not like Steffans at first.

‘I was one of her haters until I read her book,’ said Mosi.’ ‘It changed the way I think of her.’

‘She was intelligent, articulate and I was impressed on how she took control (of the crowd),’ said Jayme Alilaw, a graduate student in the HHTT.

The HHTT faculty advisor and PAS professor Karin Stanford, who helped organize the event, said, ‘We wanted to merge academia with hip-hop. (Society) needs to understand hip-hop’s influence.’


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