Sex and the
hip hop generation:
A facilitator’s guide for
viewing and discussing
The Jeff Johnson Chronicles
Hip Hop is a fast-growing, fast-paced
popular culture that has permeated the conscience
of today’s youth. But the popularity of Hip Hop youth culture for all
young people—urban and rural; youth of color and white youth—raises
questions about social responsibility, especially about sex and gender
roles. In its recent series “Sex and Hip Hop,” The Jeff Johnson Chronicles explores Hip Hop
culture and its influence on today’s younger generation—fertile ground for frank and powerful
discussions about gender, sexuality, and sexual health issues.
These materials will focus on Hip Hop products that young people consume, such as music,
television, fashion, and movies, and the way young people interpret and apply the messages they
encounter. This guide has been developed for parents and adult facilitators to provide practical
methods and strategies for discussing the themes presented in “Sex and Hip Hop” with youth
between the ages of 15-24. By examining important issues such as sexual identity, role models,
sexual decision-making, and gender stereotypes—and how they are represented in Hip Hop—
youth leaders can foster open dialogue among youth peers and between youth and their parents,
and help them develop life-long media literacy skills that engage youth as active viewers and
interpreters of messages, not just passive recipients.
The activities presented here can be used in a group setting in conjunction with viewing Parts I
and II of “Sex and Hip Hop,” or can be modified so that viewing of the episodes is not required,
as indicated in the Tips section. Because of the sensitivity of the issues addressed, it is especially
important to ensure that a trusting atmosphere of openness and respect is maintained by the
group at all times. Setting common ground rules such as one person speaking at a time, the right
to “pass,” confidentiality, and respecting other people’s values and opinions is essential. You may
consider dividing your group by gender to facilitate a sense of trust and common experiences for
Funding for this discussion guide
was provided by the
Content and design for this guide
was produced by Topics Education.
© 2006 Black Entertainment Television
TOPIC 1: Hip Hop Culture and its effects
on self-esteem and role expectations
Concept: Hip Hop music, videos, and artists influence how young people feel about themselves, their self-
esteem, their peers, and their role expectations.
While Hip Hop music and videos are seen and heard around the world, the Hip Hop culture itself began as
means for impoverished youth in inner city neighborhoods in the 1970s and 1980s to express themselves,
to communicate how they felt about their environment and the difficulties they experienced related to
racism, poverty, drugs, and lack of employment, among other social issues. As a result, Hip Hop culture
has its own values, beliefs, symbols, and language. There is a brewing debate on whether Hip Hop has
become a way of life or a way to escape it. Regardless of the debate, Hip Hop plays a critical role in
establishing norms in attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors, particularly among youth.
While many factors influence self-esteem and role expectations in young people, this generation is the
first to experience its formative years under the constant influence of Hip Hop music and videos. With the
expansions of the Internet, cell phones, and iPods, music and images are pervasive, accessible any time
and practically everywhere. The prevalence of Hip Hop music combined with society’s reliance upon sex
appeal to influence behavior has created a complicated environment in which young people develop, grow,
Producers and artists tell us they sell fantasies about gender, power, and sexuality as entertainment.
Yet young consumers may see and internalize much more. Many young men and women recognize
that Hip Hop is a sexualized culture and feel an intense pressure to conform to the roles it represents.
They internalize these hyped notions about what makes young men and women successful in life and
relationships—if you’re male, being a dangerous (violent), mega-rich “playa”; if you’re a female, being
well endowed, flawless, and open to sexual advances.
Many young teens measure themselves against these stylized role models day after day. The outcomes
can be feelings of inferiority, low self-esteem, and superficiality. Young women may emulate the video
girls to get young men’s attention—wearing provocative clothes,
dancing suggestively, and accepting labels such as “bitch” and
“ho.” Young men may consider selling drugs, joining gangs,
acquiring trappings of wealth such as cars, grills, diamond
necklaces, and watches, and keeping a “stable of women” to
establish their status. By aspiring to attain the lifestyles portrayed
by video vixens and male rap artists, they may embrace some of
the ideas that the culture celebrates: the need for women to find
a man because they cannot be independent; the need for men to
have many female partners to establish masculinity. These gender
roles and perspectives on relationships can result in risky sexual
behavior and serious long-term consequences.
TOPIC 1, continued
What youth leaders can do:
To connect with young people on these topics, adults need to understand the history of Hip Hop
culture and its prevalence in the world of today’s youth. Adults can plan activities to help young people
(1) understand how Hip Hop music and videos influence self-perception and behavior, (2) identify and
describe traits of healthy role models, (3) understand that what they see in videos may not be reality, (4)
discuss whether videos and music are influencing behavior or affecting their behavior negatively, and (5)
discuss ways they can become master builders of their own realities as opposed to living vicariously in a
fantasy world that can pose real harm.
Panel of Experts: Assign youth into four groups to watch The Jeff Johnson Chronicles: “Sex
and Hip Hop,” each group with an eye to one of the following questions:
What are the motives of artists and producers as they create music and videos?
What are the main messages presented in Hip Hop videos and their lyrics?
What messages/images are presented about how males and females interact in videos
and lyrics, and what are your feelings when you hear and see them?
How do images created by artists make you feel about yourself? About your peers?
After watching the video, have four to five volunteers from the first group sit up front and
become the “panel of experts” on their topic. They should discuss their thoughts on their
question and respond to follow-ups from the larger group and leader. Repeat the panel with a
new group for each of the questions. Record major points and review points of agreement and
disagreement at the end.
Stir It Up: Have participants brainstorm all the influences on self-esteem, both negative and
positive, they can think of and write each on a scrap of paper. Stir the scraps up and pull
them out individually, asking the group to discuss whether each is a positive, neutral, or
negative influence on self-esteem, including why.
30,000 Mile Check Up: Have young people complete a 30,000-mile “self-esteem” check-up.
They divide a page into two columns and identify aspects in their own life that either support
their self-esteem or diminish it. Ask them to plan one change they can make to improve how
they feel about themselves.
TOPIC 2: Hip Hop and Media influence
on sexual decision making
Concept: In a culture that is reluctant to talk openly about sexuality and sexual behavior, media has a profound
influence on sexual behavior and decision-making among young people.
Sexual behavior is a nearly universal human experience. Yet Americans are among the most reluctant
people in the world to talk about sex except in the context of humor and entertainment. When it comes to
parents talking with their children about sexual activity, there is even more reluctance. That leaves many
youth dependent on peers and the media for their information.
Given that among the top 20 most-watched shows by teens 70% include some kind of sexual content and
nearly half (45%) include sexual behavior (yet only 1% of all television shows with sex have a primary
thematic emphasis on sexual risks or responsibilities throughout the episode), it is important to address
the messages about sex and sexuality that young people are consuming. 1
Young people generally adopt one of three sexual lifestyles—a soul mate (looking for a complete
relationship and a long-term partner), a player (seeking sex for recreation and pleasure), or a user (using
sex as a weapon or power tool to exploit others). Hip Hop culture typically places emphasis on the latter
two lifestyles in its music and videos. Misogyny (negative feelings toward women) and homophobia are two
additional threads often woven into Hip Hop music. These multiple and sustained messages send signals
to youth about what their own attitudes and sexual relationships with others could or should be like.
To their credit, some artists and media leaders have used Hip Hop television, music, events, and
commercials to convey messages about some of these issues, like testing, communication, decision-
making, and condom use to prevent the spread of STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) and HIV/AIDS.
Results of a survey conducted by the CDC indicate that recent condom use among African American
males in grades 9-12 is higher (81.2%) than among white males (69%), which is a significant change
from a generation ago.2 Yet HIV/AIDS still affects African American and Latino communities more than
the general population, adding a huge burden to many who are already
What Youth Leaders Can Do:
Adults working with teens can help point out family members,
community leaders, athletes, and stars who have high quality
relationships and explore the ways these relationships have benefited
the individuals, institutions, and communities in our society. Young
people can then use these benchmarks to evaluate the messages
1 Kunkel, Dale, et al. Sex on TV 2005: A Kaiser Family Foundation Report. Kaiser
Family Foundation, November 2005.
2 Centers for Disease Control. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Youth Risk
Behavior Surveillance. Vol. 53 / No. SS-2. May 21, 2004.
TOPIC 2, continued
presented in media, projecting the outcomes of living life as seen through these images. Together, adults
and youth can explore the characters presented in music and videos, substituting themselves or their
own sisters/mothers/daughters or brothers/fathers/sons to see if the behavior and attitudes represented
are credible within their personal context. Young people can rehearse their “moves” (including use of
condoms and HIV testing) with an eye to their real goals and aspirations in life, as well as role-play those
presented in Hip Hop images in order to better understand the difference between fun/fantasy and reality.
Watch with a Question: Ask three groups of viewers to each pick a lifestyle type and then
watch the “Sex and Hip Hop” episodes looking for evidence of people being soul mates,
players, or users. Have students profile each type, examining dress, language, attitudes
between men and women, whether they exhibit love or lust, and any other characteristics
identified by the group. (Note: Young people might have difficulty differentiating between
players and users.) Discuss the profiles each group has created.
Too Strong for Too Long: Ask youth to work together in pairs to identify people they know of
(from family members to rap stars and athletes) who have their relationship act together and
what characteristics they observe that lead them to this conclusion. Have pairs report and list
their findings, both people and characteristics. Ask: who benefits from good relationships?
Probe for a discussion of the people themselves, their children, families, neighborhoods,
countries, and ultimately the world.
Should Love Hurt? Discuss the following statement made by Lil Scrappy: “Love hurts. Sex
feels good.” Help young people process the differences between love and lust, leading them to
discuss when love doesn’t hurt and when sex is more than a physical experience.
STDs: Protection and Testing: Reshow the segment where Jeff Johnson discusses the
statistics on youth and unprotected sex. Ask young people to consider what they want from
sex and what they don’t want. Ask them how they can get what they want while avoiding what
they don’t want (focus on STDs and HIV). If the group is comfortable doing so, have them
create scripts to role-play prevention strategies that include saying “no”; discussing, getting,
and using a condom with a partner; and getting themselves and potential partners tested.
TOPIC 3: Empowerment
through Media literacy
Concept: Young people with media literacy skills can interpret Hip Hop and other entertainment using techniques
that help them make informed choices about their own health and relationships.
Let’s face facts. Media’s purpose is to make money by selling a product. It uses every method at its
disposal to draw the largest possible audience for selling material goods, services, lifestyles, and ideas.
Young people are media’s most prized target. If they can be won over, they will be lifetime consumers
worth billions of future dollars.
Producers and artists are under intense pressure to find ways to break ahead of the pack and
draw massive audiences to their product. When Hip Hop culture was pulled from urban streets into
entertainment media, it scored an unprecedented success with youth not seen since the advent of rock
and roll. Hip Hop often integrates sex, violence, rebellion, music, and images, and then goes for the
entertainment jugular—outrageousness and shock effect. And while it can be seen as fantasy for many in
the entertainment and media world, young people who consume Hip Hop without media literacy skills and
some skepticism may not understand the motives and strategies behind the messages.
What youth leaders can do:
An effective antidote for the problem is helping youth acquire media literacy. It enables young people to
look critically at the media they consume rather than taking it at face value. Specifically, viewers with
these skills are able to identify who created the messages and why. They observe what creative techniques
are used to grab their attention and understand why these techniques are so effective. They can describe
what values, lifestyles, and points of view are both represented and omitted from the messages, and how
other people might understand these messages differently.
Youth can practice media literacy by deconstructing their favorite music to identify the scenarios
presented, confirming what is realistic to their lives and what is farce and fantasy. They can then analyze
the tone or pitch of the message, identifying its use of humor, sexuality, violence, opulence, or other
strategies. With practice at the first level, teens become “critical
viewers,” able to question the legitimacy of what they hear and see.
At a more advanced level, they are able reconstruct and substitute
messages around the central truths and values they hold while still
enjoying the music or video’s entertainment value.
TOPIC 3, continued
The Message: Have participants bring in their favorite videos, music, or song lyrics. Ask the
group to pick three for analysis (one of each kind, if possible.) In small groups, have them
identify: What is the main message(s)? Who (artist, company, media holding company) created
this message? Why did they put the song or video out? What techniques were used to grab and
hold my attention? What values, lifestyles, and points of view are presented, and which ones
are not? Who might understand this information differently than me and in what other ways
might these messages be interpreted? Look for common threads among all three media.
Is it REAL? Examine the same three media pieces again, asking participants to watch or listen
closely and consider whether what is being portrayed is “Tru to Life” (very real to their own
life), “Half-and-Half” (real in some ways but not others) or “Hype” (pure fantasy/exaggeration.)
As the group discusses, identify the components and write them on a flip chart or board in one
of the three categories: Tru to Life, Half-and-Half, or Hype. Ask “why” often while processing
this activity, and ask the group to summarize at the end what they discovered.
TOPIC 4: Delving deeper into
Fantasy, Farce, and reality
Concept: Differentiating between fantasy and reality in entertainment media helps people form more mature
decision-making and relationship skills.
Most people in the entertainment business, from the megastar icons to stagehands, have real lives that
are nothing like the music or videos they make. The posturing (language, dress, behavior, and implied
sexual activity) is as unreal for them off camera as it is for the fans who watch them perform. But as
“Sex and Hip Hop” points out, “sex sells.” Often, the dress and language used in videos and music
is specifically for this pop effect, and would be unrealistic and even offensive if used in real life with
partners, families, employers, and friends.
Young people need to understand that in their real lives, artists and musicians struggle in their
relationships and in decision-making, just like everyday people do. How they approach their own
relationships and how they treat sex off camera may be more like everyday people as well. Contrary to
what some Hip Hop media might portray, men with negative attitudes toward women and who treat them
badly are often rejected by women with high self-esteem. The negative scripts about interactions with the
opposite sex, as portrayed in many Hip Hop and rap lyrics, can result in strained relationships between
the sexes. Offensive terms used to refer to women are difficult to make positive under any realistic
conditions. Conversely, in real life “gold digging” women usually end up working one or two jobs to keep
themselves up and are rarely supported financially in ways that videos suggest. In reality, few people live
out the outrageous fantasies presented in entertainment media, and many who do soon find them boring
What Youth Leaders Can Do:
When it comes to music and videos, young people may be “tunies” (hear only the music) or “wordies”
(active listeners who hear and understand the words.) They need
experience in dissecting popular music and media for attitude and
behavior cues. They should speculate what it would be like living in a
world where such attitudes and behaviors were the norm, and then think
about what the future might be like in such a world. (A note of caution: for
some young people, some of the behaviors and images depicted in videos
are the real world for them, and youth leaders need to be cognizant and
sensitive to that.) Young people can enjoy the challenge of reconstructing
lyrics to the same music using more positive themes and messages.
Fashion-conscious youth might enjoy modifying attractive styles seen
in videos into clothing they would be comfortable wearing to their own
special occasions. To further explore healthy behaviors, young people
should also role-play more empathic relationships between the sexes,
demonstrating more positive long-term outcomes.
TOPIC 4, continued
Video Biopsy: Have the group select another favorite Hip Hop music video. Participants
divide into six groups according to their interests—behavior, language, dress, attitude, set/
environment, and relationships (how to treat people, how to approach potential partners, how
to handle conflicts, etc.) After watching the video, each group deconstructs the component
they chose and examines it under a microscope, comparing what the video presents against
their own realities, values, and culture. Each group should then do a two-minute presentation
of their findings with time for Q&A. The activity can also be conducted with groups comparing
what most consider to be a positive, generally uplifting Hip Hop video against a more negative,
sexually exploitive one.
Video Reconstruction: In the same groups, have participants decide if their component could
be/is worth trying to change. If it cannot, have them join other groups. If it can, have them
work on a new script, language, dress, etc. using their own skills to reconstruct it to their
standards and realities. To further extend the activity, re-cast and film participants playing
roles in more realistic plots and healthy relationships.
TOPIC 5: Media and
Concept: Most citizens expect high profile entertainers to be socially responsible and accountable for the art they
A basic right that Americans have and value is free speech. Yet there is a quickly growing concern that this
right has been overreached in popular media. Hip Hop’s rap music in particular has been most criticized
for transgressing the boundaries of civility. Its breakthrough into mainstream entertainment brought
front and center the celebration of life in the urban street culture, but also put a spotlight on some of its
not-so-subtle nuances. Many of those elements run counter to mainstream ideals: nightlife on the streets
instead of daytime work; acquiring “easy” money through drugs, sex, entertainment, and criminal activity
instead of “legitimate” work; aggressive or abusive language instead of communicating with empathy and
without profanity; posturing and taunting rather than showing true emotions and feelings; and flagrant
expressions of sexuality, misogyny, and homophobia as opposed to sexual maturity, restraint, and respect
for others. Most parents are disturbed that these images are marketed to their children and worry about
the effects on their values, attitudes, and behaviors.
Artists counter that they produce what their audiences wish to buy and that their artistic pursuits are
driven by creativity and what they observe in the culture. There are also stakeholders higher in the
food chain, huge media conglomerates loaded with corporate debt and demands for profits from their
stockholders. Social responsibility seems to rank comparatively lower in importance in their drive to
achieve market share—profitability is their bottom line, not social responsibility.
As a result, various citizen-driven responses have been initiated. There have been boycotts of the most
egregious artists or companies. Some youth-oriented religious groups have spun their own versions of
the music in the styles of contemporary culture including Hip Hop. Others called upon the industry to
establish a rating system for music and videos similar to those for movies. Educators try to communicate
with parents about taking responsibility for controlling the amount and types of media in their children’s
diets. Others are working with the youth themselves in media literacy projects.
Still, the fundamental challenge remains. Should artists and their sponsors
be socially accountable? If so, how can society make it happen while also
protecting free speech? Does an artist’s fame obligate him or her to be a
better role model? What are the limits—the boundaries that artists must not
cross? And as Jeff Johnson poses in his series, should artists feel compelled
to use their medium to portray how things could be different or better?
What youth leaders can do:
These topics and questions are ripe for debates, and young people like
to argue a position! A useful strategy is to encourage them to make the
case from both perspectives, taking time out to pursue the consequences
for society of each position. They can also be encouraged to propose
compromises, to find middle ground or to seek majority consensus about
TOPIC 5, continued
these issues. Young people can propose ways of dealing with apparent problems related to social
responsibility and media in their own lives and community. In settings where there is high trust, examples
of media that seriously push the boundaries can be viewed as a backdrop for such debates and used as
the general context for discussion.
The Language of Hip Hop: (Note: This activity is for more mature participants.) Select a
popular song with lyrics that most agree push the boundaries of acceptable behavior and
language. (Suggested songs include: Gimme That, The Whisper Song, Candy Shop.) Ask the
group how many have heard the song and know the lyrics. Play the song/view the lyrics. Pose
the following questions: What do they think of the song, and how many think it is over the top?
Why? Why do they think this song is so popular? What message(s) does it give about the roles
and attitudes of men and women? If the song contains derogatory slang terms, ask the group
to define what they think these words mean. Read the dictionary definitions of these terms,
if available. Make a running list of additional definitions from the group. Are any of them
positive? Pose the following questions if they apply: Should a group be mad if another group
refers to them in derogatory terms even if they do it to themselves? What sexual lifestyle
is being portrayed in the lyrics (soul mate, player, user)? Who wrote the song? How does
the artist treat women/men in the video? Explain the term misogyny and ask if they think it
applies to the song. Is there any evidence that the artist feels the same in real life? What kind
of power is there in abusing women, verbally and/or sexually, with their consent? What does it
say about the men who do it? The women?
A New Attitude: In groups of four, have participants create a public service campaign
redefining the images of boys/men and girls/women in the Hip Hop Generation. Post the
results for critique and take suggestions for improvements by the whole group. Laminate
and post advertisements for this new interpretation in the building, church, or school (with
permission), or submit them to a creative or non-profit group who might be interested.
Window to the Wall: Designate the right wall of the room “strongly agree,” the left wall
“strongly disagree,” and the middle “unsure.” Tell participants you are going to make a series
of statements about media, artists, social responsibility, and accountability. They are to move
to a position in the room that best represents their opinion about the statement. Make each
statement, have participants take positions, and then ask them to explain or defend their
Artists and their sponsors have no reason to be socially responsible or accountable.
An artist’s fame obligates him or her to be a positive role model.
There are certain boundaries that artists should not cross.
Young people should be able to view and listen to anything they want.
Artists should be compelled to use their medium to portray how things could be better.
My life and concerns are well represented in Hip Hop media.
The government should censor media with no redeeming value.
I would be comfortable singing <insert name of song here> in front of my mother,
grandmother, or my children.
TOPIC 6: Media icons
and other role models
Concept: Youth look to a variety of role models and emulate them in their search for identity.
It is hard to imagine that there are people living today who grew up when families did not have
automobiles, radios or televisions, Internet, email, cell phones, iPods, and satellite television with
hundreds of channels. Before mass communication, role models available to youth were local, more
plentiful, and predictable. Young people looked up to their parents, relatives, neighbors, teachers,
coaches, counselors, youth leaders, local business people, and their faith community. Most held the same
values and beliefs, so messages were similar and consistent.
As young people gained broader exposure to technologies, information, and entertainment, however,
their role models and influences have changed. Parents and guardians still have significant influence, but
sports figures, pop stars, and media icons now garner a tremendous amount of young people’s attention
and interest. Three consequences have resulted from this shift. First, role models now express more
diversity, providing choices that vary from the young person’s family of reference. (This is not always
a negative consequence.) Secondly, young people are now constantly and repeatedly exposed to the
distorted realities that entertainment artists typically convey in their music. Finally, when young people
are in crisis, needing guidance, assistance, and help in finding resources, the stars and entertainment
icons they look up to aren’t much help. The network of support for young people today is more fragile,
narrowed primarily to friends and family when available.
What youth leaders can do:
The most important role youth leaders can play is to become a support person and role model to the
young people they serve. It means keeping in touch outside of programs and after they are over. It
means joining youth at school lunches, supporting them in recreational pursuits, working with them in
community-based volunteer experiences, taking them on outings, and in general just being there for them.
Since a large number of young people live in environments of limited resources,
leaders can devise activities to help them figure out what constitutes a desirable
role model and practice identifying and pursuing relationships with the models
they need. Leaders can also work with parents or guardians and youth to forge
more effective communication within the family. Parents need to know how to
provide experiences that expose their children to good role models outside the
family while limiting exposure to poor ones. Youth leaders can help young people
find shadowing, apprenticing, and part time work experiences, encouraging
youth to work alongside a same sex adult. And as much as possible, teens need
authentic experiences offsite rather than bringing people in for programs.
The Role Model Debate: Divide the group in half. Ask one group to
prepare an argument that Hip Hop artists are good role models, and
the other group to prepare the opposite position. Inform them that
TOPIC 6, continued
at the midway point of the debate, they will be asked to swap positions and argue from the
other side’s position. Give participants 20 minutes or so to prepare their arguments. Set up
the debate allowing each side to make points or counterpoints. Using two columns on a board
or flip chart, collect the major points. Close the session by asking participants to put together
a list of characteristics that make for a good role model and ask for ideas about how young
people can (a) find them, and (b) establish relationships with them.
Makin’ It Real: Ask young people to each identify two local persons whom they would be
interested in having as a role model. Prospects should have many of the characteristics
identified in the previous activity. Plan an event where the teens and the role models complete
some task together that involves work or play. Examples might include participating in a
fundraising event, volunteering at a shelter, going shopping for less fortunate people, working
at a community-based organization, cleaning up a park, attending an athletic event, or having
a field day event. Make sure the outing provides opportunity for interaction, food, and some
physical activity. Schedule two or three extra adults so that every young person has someone
to interact with. Ask everyone to attempt to arrange another opportunity to do something with
their role models within two weeks.
Fish Bowl: Place five chairs in a small interior circle and arrange all the rest of the seating
on the outside in a larger circle facing toward the smaller one. Have all participants sit in the
outer circle. Explain that you are going to ask them some questions and would like for them
to voice their opinions about the answers. But to do so, they must go to the small circle in the
middle to talk. Request that every participant go to the small circle (into the fish bowl) at least
once during the session. No one can talk from the outer circle, only listen—they must go into
the fish bowl to speak. Get feedback on the following questions:
How old should a person have to be to drive?
How old should a person have to be to rent an apartment and have no parent rules?
• How old should a person be before he/she can date?
How old should a person be before he/she has sex?
How old do you think a person needs to be before he/she can be sexually responsible
and be a consistent condom/contraceptive user?
How long should a person date someone before they have sex?
What kind of relationship would you want with a person before you have sex?
How old should you be before you have a baby?
How old should you be before you get married?
Close with processing questions such as: What do Hip Hop music and videos tell you about
these events? What would your local role models such as your parent or guardian, older
siblings, youth leaders, neighbors, etc. tell you? What will you tell your own children when you
are the parent?
Tips for parents
Tips and significant adults
Listed below are several strategies and tips for parents and significant adults who would like to address
some of the issues presented in this guide with their young adults or teens, without requiring them to
watch The Jeff Johnson Chronicles: “Sex and Hip Hop.”
If you’re not familiar with the Hip Hop music and artists your children are listening to, conduct
your own personal research about the Hip Hop generation by going to an online search engine
and inserting terms like “characteristics of the hip hop generation,” “influence of hip hop music
on kids,” and “popular hip hop artists.” This will give you a frame of reference to work from when
discussing some of the topics presented in The Jeff Johnson Chronicles: “Sex and Hip Hop.”
If possible, preview The Jeff Johnson Chronicles: “Sex and Hip Hop” Parts I and II to get an
overview of the issues presented. If you don’t feel comfortable or are unable to view the shows
with your children, you can still initiate some of the suggested activities that don’t necessarily rely
on having seen the episodes. These activities can be modified for fewer participants and include:
Stir It Up; 30,000 Mile Check Up; Too Strong for Too Long; Should Love Hurt?; STDs: Protection
and Testing; The Message; Is it REAL?; and Makin’ It Real. For activities that require watching one
or more music videos, you can access free music videos to watch together online and/or purchase
them for download through online stores such as iTunes and MSN.Video.
If you haven’t already done so, establish a ritual or routine with your young person that gives him/
her one-on-one time with you—no interruptions (this means that both of you turn your cell phones
off.) It can be before bedtime in their room, walking together for exercise in the evening, travel time
to recreational events, or a regular breakfast/lunch/dinner out for just the two of you. Use this time
to share feelings and thoughts, past, present and future. When you can talk about the everyday
stuff, the hard stuff is easier! Once you have established a routine, you can pinpoint specific topics
that you’d like to focus on (one topic per outing). Keeping the activity casual and following your
established routine will help facilitate discussion and keep stress and anxiety levels low.
When discussing issues around sex and the Hip Hop culture with your teen, resist the temptation
to get upset, be judgmental, or make blanket statements about the artists, music, and videos
that are part of the culture. Remember—there are also Hip Hop role models who convey positive
messages in their music. Always try to remain calm during your discussions—even if you feel
strongly about a topic at the moment, affirm that you’ve heard your teen’s opinion and encourage
them to continue talking. Several days or even weeks later, come back to
the topic again and express what you think, encouraging them to hear
why you feel the way you do.
Have dinner with all the family members as much as possible on a
regular basis. Research indicates that this is an essential component
in successful families’ lives. Use this time to discuss current events
and what’s going on in the entertainment world, and use “teachable
moments” to talk about sex, drugs, violence, and other issues as they
Collect a list of terms from an adolescent or college sexuality text (depending on the age(s) of
your children) or book from your local library and keep it with you. When you are traveling long
distance with your children, pull out the list, invite them to select a term, and have a discussion
among all the occupants about it. Scratch that term off and continue to process the list. This
activity helps your children see you as an askable parent/guardian.
Build a home library of age-appropriate books and videos about relationships, sexuality, decision-
making, drugs, and other topics. An excellent resource to begin with is The Underground Guide to
Teenage Sexuality by Michael Basso (Fairview Press, 800-544-8207, or www. Fairviewpress.org.) This
book is written in a very approachable, understandable style that speaks directly to young people
about the physical, social, and emotional changes they undergo in a simple and honest way.
Listen to the media that your children purchase or borrow from friends. You have the right to
set limits as their parent and gradually wean them from parental control to self-control. Having
mature discussions about media and sex is part of the process.