- An Interview with Moya Bailey
This interview was conducted by telephone on March 21, 2006, between Atlanta, Georgia and Laurel, Maryland.
CARPENTER: I wanted to talk to you about the "Take Back the Music" event that started at Spelman and all the controversy surrounding Nelly. Let's start at the beginning. Nelly was supposed to come to Spelman and do a bone drive—could you lay that all out and talk about your experience?
BAILEY: I was President of the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance at Spelman and, over Christmas break I saw Nelly's video "Tip Drill." When I came back, it was something that a lot of people were talking about. So, FMLA decided to have a forum about it. Unbeknownst to us and to the rest of the campus at that time, the Spelman Student Government Association was planning to have Nelly's Foundation, Jes Us 4 Jackie, come to campus to do a bone marrow drive.
CARPENTER: Now, exactly what is that—Jes Us 4 Jackie?
BAILEY: It's a foundation that works in coordination with other organizations, like the Red Cross or whoever is in the local community, to try and promote bone marrow registration. So, they come to different events with the Red Cross to work on that.
CARPENTER: So it's not directly affiliated with Nelly?
BAILEY: It is in the sense that Jackie is his sister. So, he started the foundation, but they really rely on the resources that are already in a community, like the Red Cross or like Spelman, so they have a site to do it. You see what I'm saying?
CARPENTER: So, Jackie had bone marrow cancer?
BAILEY: Right, she had leukemia.
CARPENTER: Okay, and she passed away? [End Page 753]
BAILEY: Yes. So, Jes Us 4 Jackie was talking with SGA about working to have a bone marrow registration drive on campus. I ran into Asha one day who, at the time, had just recently seen the video—Asha was President of the Student Government Association—and she was kind confused saying, "I don't really know what to do. He's coming. We've already said that he could come. I feel kind of conflicted after seeing this video and just in the context of everything he's doing." We had two classes together on that day. One class met, and then the second class with Dr. Beverly Guy-Sheftall where she brought it up to the class. There, we decided that there needed to be some kind of action on that Friday—some kind of action to let people know that we were concerned about the issue of bone marrow registration in the black community and that Nelly couldn't just come to campus and the images in the videos not be addressed.
We decided to start planning for this action which was going to take place on that Friday. We put up signs around campus with some of Nelly's lyrics on it to advertise for a planning meeting that we were going to have to decide what action we were going to take on that Friday. We also named Nelly our "Misogynist of the Month" for that month [laughs]. And so, we had another meeting where we showed the video again so that people could see it, but by the time that meeting happened, Asha told us that the Jes Us 4 Jackie organization had been to campus and seen our flyers calling Nelly the "Misogynist of the Month" and they had wanted the Spelman Student Government Association to say that there wouldn't be protesting at their event. Our SGA stood behind us and said, "We can't guarantee that there will be no protestors. This is a campus and if students feel compelled, etc." But at that time, it wasn't technically a protest—we were still in the planning stages of what was going to happen on Friday. Even though we found out that they had cancelled, we still wanted people to know what was going on. So, we still went through with an action on Friday. A lot of people had been hearing about something...