Original Spelman “Protestor,” Moya Bailey, Responds To Nelly’s ‘Tip Drill’ Comments

November 15, 2013  |  


Yesterday, I wrote about Nelly’s Huff Post interview with Marc Lamont Hill. Though he talked about a variety of things, the conversation didn’t get juicy until Hill brought up the Spelman/”Tip Drill” controversy. Naturally, since it concerned his sister Jacqueline’s life, Nelly was still very passionate about that event. I noticed that some of you said Nelly should be over this by now. Umm… his sister died. That’s not something you don’t ever fully get over. But I digress. Yesterday, after watching Nelly’s interview I understood his point. I understood his frustrations and outrage, (with the exception of wanting to kick someone’s, presumably a woman’s, a$$), over the perception that the women of Spelman’s Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance were putting their protest over the life of Nelly’s sister. It seemed that the women of this group were so hellbent on calling out a black man that they were less concerned about the life of this black woman. And if Nelly’s interview were the only account of the incident, I would be happy to stand by that stance, my original stance.

But yesterday, one of our commenters let me know that the women of Spelman did indeed conduct another bone marrow drive. And when I asked her for a link to corroborate that statement, she directed me to an open letter written by Moya Bailey, one of the members of the feminist group, addressed to Nelly. In the letter, which was published on the Black Youth Project she answered all of the questions I had about the incident, after Nelly’s interview, and exposed some of the holes in his argument. Here are the highlights from the letter below and you can read the entire thing on the next page.

What the organization originally hoped to do 

My group raised questions about the misogynoir in the video and lyrics, and when we heard that you were invited to campus by our Student Government Association, it seemed fair to us that we could ask you about the dehumanizing treatment of black women while you were asking us for our help. You declined our offer to talk about your music and lyrics. Instead, you chose to go to the press, which made our alleged threat of a protest an international news story.

Who canceled the bone marrow drive

Let’s be clear: No student or faculty member of Spelman College canceled your bone marrow registration drive. In fact, we held our own drive after you and your people chose to cancel the bone marrow registration drive for fear that there might have been a protest.

Black Feminists 

People railed against censorship as if our efforts were an attempt to get you banned from the airwaves, when all we really wanted was to have a conversation about the representations you produce and their potential impact on our communities.

Often Black feminists are represented as advocates for censorship. People often portray us as sex-hating, stick-in-the-mud conservatives concerned with respectability. That couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, we like sex so much (NSFW) we dare to think that women should enjoy it and not be subjugated to images that define our sexuality in limited ways. Music videos and lyrics, including yours, often portray women as silent partners and objects of male attention. This silence, Nelly, is not unlike the silence you expected from us regarding your visit.

 On Nelly blaming Spelman’s feminist group for his sister’s death

You continue to not so subtly blame us for the transition of your sister even though Spelman still had a bone marrow registration drive–one that actually had more attendees than were initially signed up for your event. All of the “protesters” made the decision to register to ensure that the goals of the drive were honored. A few of us were already on the registry. If after all this we are still to blame for your sister’s passing, can we blame you then for the misogynoir that we face daily?

What she did agree with…

I will say that I did find something compelling in your interview. You are right: We should protest strip clubs, but not for the reasons you think. Any strip club or business that doesn’t provide benefits, unions, safe working conditions, paid sick leave, child care, etc., deserves our collective outrage.

I’m still a little fuzzy about a few things.

What is the distinction between strippers in the club and strippers in the video?

Is the degradation lessened, or does it even exist, if the women sign up and sign on?

And when exactly these women host their own bone marrow drive?

But all that being said, I do agree, like I mentioned yesterday, Nelly’s lyrics and the treatment for the video are demeaning. And whether the women agreed to be a part of this or not, we have to ask why Nelly himself thought this was ok. And not so much why he thought it was ok, because we know patriarchy is real, but why he was so hesitant to admit that he’d made a mistake.

Generally, Bailey’s letter explains her version of what happened during that time and I’m inclined to believe her. Her arguments illustrate that Nelly essentially just didn’t feel like answering questions about the video when he was attempting to do something noble for his sister. And because the women of Spelman’s feminist group were not willing to adhere to his terms, he decided not to show up.  Which is certainly his right. But then he should stop presenting the story as if these women were the ones who prevented him from saving his sister’s life. If there is any blame to be placed for his sister’s life, and I don’t believe there is, it’s not unreasonable to assume Nelly’s pride and unwillingness to have a discussion may have been more to blame– if these women could have potentially saved her in the first place. After reading her letter, I certainly stand corrected.

You can read the full letter on the next page. 

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  • cstack

    Black people are their own worst enemy

  • bkenya

    In the end Nelly was going to him for help, they had the right to say, “We don’t agree with how what you do makes us as women feel and your portrayal of us” and the right to say No, if he felt the need was dire, he should have spoke with the group and came to an understanding /compromise. Its what adults do. Plus, from the article it sounds like there was a registration drive that was successful, just not in Nelly’s name.

  • FromUR2UB

    “You are right: We should protest strip clubs, but not for the reasons you think. Any strip club or business that doesn’t provide benefits, unions, safe working conditions, paid sick leave, child care, etc., deserves our collective outrage.”

    She had me until that part. Either you’re against objectifying women or you aren’t. The practice shouldn’t be validated only when there are benefits and IRAs attached to it. That seems pretty close to people OKing some ratchet behavior because someone is “getting paid” to do it. Let’s not forget that there seems to be little difficulty in finding a woman who willingly allows herself to be objectified. We’re not talking about minors, but adults who make the conscious decision to go along with it. Her reasons for doing it are irrelevant; the result is the same. So, to take issue with men who exploit women, but not the women who make themselves available to exploitation is disingenuous.

    • Straight Up

      Uh, sorry FrmUR2UB, but it’s not the same thing. Comparing the media’s constant exploitation of BLACk women (i.e., video hoEz) is not the same as a private sex club. The former is much more dangerous in that small impressionable children and teenagers are exposed to this filth. What is crystal clear to this intelligent young sister and her supporters seems to be flying right over the heads of most of these black female posters on MN.

      You guys are grasping for straws with this comparison. While you’re at
      it, I guess she should be protesting against prostitution too? Get

      Her group was taking a stance against the perpetual defamation of the black woman in rap and hip-hop culture. In this case, this is being perpetuated by a BLACK man no less….so who better to solicit answers from? Nelly is the Jack azz here, and it is really disappointing that so many presumably black women on this site are supporting Nelly and bashing this obviously strong black woman.


      • Taj

        Enough with the name calling, can you state your opinion without putting someone else down? I mean you speak about being a strong black woman, but in order to be that, you dont have to insult people. One thing I will agree, is that I respect her for taking a stand. I always give respect that stand up for what they believe in. Even you. But out off all your post, you managed to insult and name call. Show your intelligence by showing respect to all opinions. So like I’ve been saying, I agree with Nelly. You called me pathetic and low self-esteem. But guess whst? Idc. I hope you find enough respect for yourself so you can stop disrespecting other. Straight up!

        • Straight Up

          Sorry, but Nelly IS a jack azz. I can’t respect a man that makes a living degrading black women ( even though his sorry azz was raised by one that worked at Rally’s of all places to make sure he ate regularly)…..what’s worse is that artists such as Nelly are publishing this filth to the community at the behest of and to enrich white people..and some of you blacks on this site are okay with that going unchecked. So…who really has the low self-esteem here? Not only are you okay with it, you excoriate the sisters for daring to call him to the carpet for his lyrics and videos. What’s sad TAJ is that you all don’t even see the bigger picture. Thank God these strong sisters at Spelman see it. Black people truly are a broken people.

      • FromUR2UB

        Oh, get off the stan wagon. You people who always think that someone is in support of someone just because they point out the flaws in the argument of the other side need to put on your big girl panties. Life is not that simplistic. It’s hypocritical to condone sex clubs, as long as they provide benefits, yet go after individiuals who present women behaving the same way in videos. I’m pretty sure some prostitution is going on at those clubs too, thus the name “sex clubs”. A strong black woman doesn’t promote weakness in other women. It does no service to the women who participate in those videos to reduce them to helplessness. BTW, what are kids doing watching these kinds of videos and some of the other junk that airs through the media? No supervision? Therein, lies the real shame.

  • Ann

    He canceled the drive not them that is a fact. He made the choice to put his pride over his sister life when he made the choice to cancel instead of just speaking to some women for a few minutes. They just wanted answers they did not have to like the answers. I am sorry his sister died and blacks in general have a very high rate of death from blood cancers due to lack of donors BUT in the end he canceled not the women so how can he really blame them for his choice to cancel the event. Especially when they still did it in spite of him. THE FACTS he ran away AND CANCELED….I just do not get how he can just be like I don’t want to talk soooooo I am not having the drive at all. The women should have had some tact and better timing yes they really should have but why did he just cancel the event instead of fighting for it if it was that important to him……it is easy to blame when you are in pain but you are the one who ran away. No you should not have to fight for life but this is the real world and you have to fight to survive and for the ones you love… If I where him there is no way I would have backed down with my loved ones life in balance and all they want is some stupid discussion, I would have fought tooth and nail for her life despite what those few women thought. Why does nobody see that he literally just walked away. Plenty of people face similar situations and yet they still stick to the mission. And if he is really so passionate how about he keeps doing drives like that one considering like I said blacks are way more likely to die of blood cancers than other races due to a huge lack of donors.

  • Uncontainable Spirit

    Really? smh…

    “Glad to know if you had it do over again you would have “kicked some A$$.”
    Just name the time and place, sir. I’m ready.”


  • KeepingItReal

    I can see both sides of the argument. The take away for Nelly is: with actions…there are CONSEQUENCES. Therefore, before you depict images showing any group of people in an unfavorable light (even if the people of said group agreed to participate)…ask if those images may cause harm??? The women of Spelman protesting didn’t cause his sister’s death…her illness did. However, how many women may have been sexually assaulted or raped as a result of some men taking the images from that video seriously? In case you haven’t realized..people aren’t too smart nowadays and think tv is reality. Just saying….

  • block

    she and the ones who followed her are a bunch of hypocrites i bet if you check their ipods or phones you will find that song or see them dancing to that song in the club

  • flyguy

    It’s good to see some people agree with Nelly…HE WAS TRYING TO SAVE HER LIFE PEOPLE ARE YOU ALL CRAZY? And they wanted to talk about a video. His sister was getting weaker everyday and these women should be ashamed. one day you will have someone you love sick and because of some red tape or insurance problem they can’t get treatment then you will know what you put Nelly through. Some people don’t get it until it’s them.

    • BabyBlue

      With Obamacare nobody will have “insurance problems”

  • Millz

    Many people are protested at colleges/ events look at President Obama, people have rallies against him daily. He still sticks to his mission. As a student at Spelman College during this protest. We DID IN FACT WANT AND CONTINUED THE BLOOD DRIVE. Nelly was all about his sister he would did the blood drive anyway. Is he still doing blood drives I doubt it! Spelman College is still empowering and uplifting black women 365 days a year. Nelly thought he was entitled to our blood and then degrade us in the same aspect. Nelly I am sorry for your loss but you can not blame Spelman College.

  • GUEST1

    I, at first, questioned Nelly for not wanting to have the conversation. His defense that these women were out in the clubs doing the same thing was problematic. However, after viewing that tumbler page, Ms. Moya, included in her open letter to Nelly, I’m like WTH? Nelly was right. How can you self-righteously sit there and accuse Nelly of “dehumanizing Black women” when you so clearly have issues yourself, Ms. Moya? Certainly, you do not think those images you are putting out there for mass consumption are in any way empowering women. Give me a break.

  • Whit

    Thank you for being open to “herstory” too, before I was very disappointed that a “Black women’s lifestyle guide” could privilege his voice so blatantly. The inclusion of a different perspective gives me hope!

    • Nelly Sit Down

      Hi Whit! I know you 🙂 thanks for providing the link to this letter! It was quite refreshing to see this correction posted.

  • BabyBlue

    When commentors said “get over it” I don’t think they were implying to get over his sisters death. The comments that I’ve read sent their sympathy. What they were saying was that Nelly should get over the fact that Spelman didn’t just want to do the drive but a Question and Answer. In my opinion I think it’s wrong that MN gave that interpretation. We must’ve read different forums

  • Ms_Sunshine9898

    I still have to agree with Nelly on this one. That was not the time and place to say we need to talk about this. I won’t even say his pride played a role, because the reason for him coming was his sister not his music. Why use his sister’s situation as an excuse to say “well since you’re here let’s talk about how you make other black women look”? Furthermore, it’s my understanding that he was invited so that he could host this event for his sister. My interpretation of the the blame game above is they were going to use this opportunity then to call him out. Can’t say I blame him when he’s coming make this event about his sister and not him and they say “yeah we were gonna help too but we were also going to talk about your problems while you’re here” . . .

    • keke

      Well he could have pulled them aside and asked can they set up a date and time to talk about the music video….he didn’t have to completely pull the plug and say my way ot the highway either. Everyone is grown, these women are educated and can understand reasoning. I’m pretty sure it could have been resolved in a peaceful way.

      • Ms_Sunshine9898

        I agree, there could have been a better way to handle it. but you know how it goes, whether than start drama, sometimes you just have to walk away from it. . .

        • Nelly Sit Down

          well if Nelly decided to walk away, don’t blame others for his sister’s death. He needs to take responsibility for walking away. Apparently his sister’s life wasn’t worth a simple discussion to him.

          • Ms_Sunshine9898

            How does him choosing to do business elsewhere determine his sister’s life? So essentially you’re saying had he done the drive at Spelman she’d have been spared. You’re really reaching. . .

            • xxdiscoxxheaven

              That is what he said

      • mike

        we give college students way too much credit for being “grown and educated”. they are still 18-25 year old adults. there are exceptions, but that age group will be ardent about there cause, no matter how detrimental. they are still learning to voice concerns without attaching feeling to it in a loud or forceful manner. in this case, being perspicacious, or the ability to notice and understand things that are difficult or not obvious hasn’t been grasped.

    • Straight Up

      This is why black women are always portrayed as the wh*res of the entertainment industry. Instead of you lauding these intelligent black sisters for standing up to misogyny, you side with Nelly aka Tip Drill. Sorry NElly, but these Spelman sisters were 100% in the right. Keep in mind, Nelly was using his celebrity to advance his advocacy for his sister…so you can’t separate Nelly from the event.

      He can come to campus to ask for Spelman’s help, but he can’t answer questions? How backwards does that sound?

      • Ms_Sunshine9898

        And what are theses “sisters” doing now and have been doing since that event? exactly, nothing. There is a time and place for everything, and that was neither the time or place. . .

        • Taj

          Thank you sunshine, who is this straight up person? Clearly they’re another one who talks a lot but probably don’t do much.

          • Straight Up

            Sunshine and Taj…what are you two doing besides posting on MN? You two are probably the main ones talking about the stereotyping and objectification of black women, but attack these intelligent sisters for refusing to accept it. I’ll answer your question about what these sisters are doing….they’re doing a hellava lot more than you pathetic blk women with low self esteem. Even if these sisters never do another damn thing, they’ve already done more than most and are certainly not co-signing the exploitation likes some people (i.e., Ms Sunshine and Taj)

            And just curious, when would have been the proper time to get answers from Nelly Ms. Sunshine? When his next sister needed bone marrow? Riiiight…..you wait on that.

            I’m glad they did what they did…and Nelly’s weak azz backed out. At
            least not all black women are suffering from low self-esteem.

            • Taj

              Straight up is it? At least I’m using my real name, and please dont worry about what I’m doing. Just like you im also posting my opinion on a site. JUST LIKE YOU. And the only person on this site I see with low self-esteem is you. We didn’t say anything to disrespect anyone. But you have the nerve to accuse us of having low self-esteem, pathetic individuals, who sit around and do nothing just because we don’t agree with you or the women that protest. Sounds to me your looking in the mirror making these accusations. Get your mind right.

              • Starr:)

                I don’t agree with your stance, but I do agree on what you said about straight up .

            • Ms_Sunshine9898

              There’s standing up for yourself and then there’s putting on a show. Nelly wanted to come and make the event about his sister not him. How could you possibly in you itty bitty small mind think it was appropriate to discussion the degradation of black women at a time when he’s trying to save one? Why not at a later date in the future? Are you really that slow to see that this was a power play of these particular Spelmanites not to stand up for image of powerful black women, but rather to show the world that some black women don’t put with foolishness. How do you think it would have looked in the minds of people to see a controversial black hip hop figure show up at a highly educated black women’s institution and they not say a word about his brand of hip hop? If Nelly never asked for the donor drive, I guarantee you, not a peep would have been heard out of them as not one word publicly decried any previous controversial hip hop artist before the days he even ask to do a donor drive there. Take off you marching boots and put on a bra long enough to see the social politics behind this. Again, I don’t blame him for walking away to place that would focus on his sister and not him in a place where social view compared to real life situations is more important. Let’s not forget they still had a blood drive anyway, so whether he had one there or else where the goal to have one at Spelman was still accomplished whether for her or other women with the disorder. But that doesn’t matter you. You only see the small picture where he chose to do business else where because he wanted to make the event about his sister, and not him thereby perpetuating your ideas that it was pride that got in the way because how dare he not talk to you unless he’s guilty. Have a healthy dose and logic and reasoning for breakfast tomorrow. . .

              • cstack

                thank you for being logical

        • jmjg

          It is none of your business what these woman are doing now and it is not your place to decide for grown folks the time and place for anything. It just isn’t.

          • Ms_Sunshine9898

            If they can hoop and holler in their defense, they can demonstrate what they have accomplished toward their original goal toward changing the woman’s perception in hip hop – which is nothing, but make a big scene at a time it as convenient. If he had not asked to do the donor drive, none of these same women would have made such a huge public outcry. Maybe privately among friends, but let’s be honest, they weren’t just gonna let a then controversial figure of hip hop just show up and not say anything at a time when black women were humiliating themselves for entertainment. It’s all about power play, and they were not about to look weak to world not doing so. That’s what you fail to realize. . . .

            • cstack

              you nailed it …again

        • SomeBraveApollo

          I’m quite sure they are doing infinitely more than you have done, or can ever do.

          Nelly has how many albums on the charts now?

          • Ms_Sunshine9898

            And you base that on an opinion? Must be a slow day in your brain today . . .

        • Ladies Please

          1) All of these sisters have college degrees, an accomplishment in itself
          2) If you bothered to even read the response, Moya Bailey lists her current work and affiliations as a part of the Crunk Feminist Collective among other groups
          3) These are the type of women fighting to have black women have a fair chance in life
          4) Don’t come to a school’s campus and then tell the school’s students that there is a time and a place for intelligent discussion on social issues and the media. Now stop what you’re doing and give me your bone marrow, and remember it must be your a** cause it aint your face.

          • Ms_Sunshine9898

            That’s common sense – oh wait it must not be, because clearly it hasn’t reached you. Somethings are better left in a right time and place. He didn’t demand anything of Spelman, he asked if they’d be willing to help and these particular Spelmanites determined that since he was coming, a discussion was necessary. That’s like asking the girl who was shot in the face’s family while they’re taking blood donations to help her survive, let’s talk about how you raised her to be a drunk and smoking weed when you do your blood drive. Not that that happened but why would that be necessary at that particular time and place? Furthermore, why did the discussion stop solely with Nelly if these women were looking to make a change in Hip Hop? They were looking to make a scene and they found it point black period. . .

            • Straight Up

              Again Ms_Sunshine…You still haven’t answered the question….when would be the right time/place to your liking? when another one of Nelly’s family members needs a transplant?

              Since you keep harping on the proper time/place….please ellucidate us and tell us when this is.

              I hope the “9898” in your handle means you were born in 1998, because right now your rationality is that of a 15 year old.

      • louvres

        nobody “IS PORTRAYED” , you PORTRAY YOURSELF!!!

        • SomeBraveApollo

          That includes when black men portray themselves as criminals on the 6:00 news?

        • Straight Up

          Sounds nice, but in reality that’s not the case. Those with the power and resources have to platform to showcase any portrayal they chose to. What is going on with the women on this site?

          • louvres

            personal responsibility is going on!

  • Taj

    I’m so sorry, but her open lettter should have been kept closed. If Nelly cancelled or not, is not the issue. The issue is that his sister was dying and he needed help. Nelly or anyone should nor have to beg a plead for trying to save a life, or answer questions that doesnt concern that. And that comment about we would protest strip clubs for no bennifits and sorts, please how ignorant do you sound. So in other words it’s ok if you strip in private, but not on national tv for a music video they chose to be in? Are you mad that you weren’t chosen. People kill me sometimes. They definitely should have tried to have the “conversation” at a later date, or better yet just turn off the TV. I don’t see anyone protesting the songs out now by some artist. And why just Nelly? He wasn’t the first won’t be the last. And clearly if they did another bone marrow drive it was too late. They should have thought about their actions first.

    • Ms_Sunshine9898

      personally, I think just as you said they weren’t protesting anyone else then nor are they now. they saw a controversial hip hop artist was coming at a time when he had a controversial music video out and decided to run with it in spite of what his reasons for coming were. . .

      • bkenya

        What I see are some educated women standing up for themselves and not giggling and jumping on the bandwagon just because he is famous.

    • guest

      Feminisim is an ideology, and like any ideology once it becomes dogmatic, rational thinking goes out the window.

      • Uncontainable Spirit

        BINGO! And dogmatic it has become.

      • SomeBraveApollo

        It is in one’s rational self-interest to protect one’s self from harm. Remember, Nelly was asking for a favor. When you want a favor, you meet the conditions…or not.

    • Straight Up

      You are everything that is wrong with black people in 21st century America….plant a seed and grow a clue.

    • Shay

      No, these young women had every right to question Nelly. All he had to to was answer their questions, and then the bone marrow drive could have continued as planned. He’s the one (by his own admission) that chose to cancel the drive, so if there’s any blame, he should look at himself. If my sibling was dying and needed help, I am going to answer whatever you want to ask me if it means that you are going to help me save their life. I applaud the young women that took a stand against the filth that was ‘Tip Drill’. If anybody should have thought about their actions first, it was Nelly’s ignorant self.

      • Taj

        To Shay and straight up you two are entitled to your opinion as I am with mine. However to straight up, I stand up for importsnt things that actually effect the black community in the 21 st century. A song or video that may be degrading is not going to effect my day to day life. But the economy is, helping people in need in my community will.I could care less about a video because I didn’t and won’t stay up after hours and watch, nor will I let any person, male or female even think about disrespecting me. I’m so above that. Take that comment as you will. And to Shay, everyone has the right to question anything yes, but people have that dame right to refuse. They degraded him for not looking at the bigger picture. Cleary if this man was such pig, do you think he would help his sister, a woman? I don’t think so. And he as well as other artist give back greatly. So in closing. Stop depending on media entertainment to get your knowledge in a sence. Protest RHOA. They degrade themselves all the time. Do something productive in your community.

        • jmjg

          Once again, it is not your right or mine to decide what other Black folk feel is important to address or be concerned about. Black folk in general owe me, you not Nelly anything. If we want others to feel obligated to us, we’d better take a look at how we treat folks out here. If I am optional and an after thought, you will be too.

          • jmjg

            “Nor Nelly”

            • Taj

              And once again I’m not deciding nor do I represent all “black folk”. I’m just simply stating my opinion. People have rights to say, feel, protest about anything. And I have the right to disagree and state my opinion. This is not a we are the world, lets all get along thing. Here is fact. Do I agree with Tip drill, no, do I careto protest, no, do I feel other people should, not for media entertainment. Do I feel that protest was unsuccessful and waist of time and energy, yes. But that’s how I FEEL. But like I said, we will agree to disagree.