With impending Congressional hearings on hip-hop, BET’s recently-televised controversial panel Hip-Hop Vs. America and the growing spotlight on hip-hop focusing on the portrayal of women, a new organization was recently founded to rectify the situation. Dedicated to a more positive portrayal of women in the entertainment industry, Women in Entertainment Empowerment Network (WEEN) is comprised of a coalition of powerful women of all races & ages committed to supporting, promoting and defending the positive, balanced portrayal of women in entertainment and in society.
It is an umbrella organization of the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network (HSAN) - founded by Russell Simmons
& Dr. Benjamin Chavis in 2001 to harness the cultural relevance of
hip-hop music to help at-risk youth, fight poverty & injustice, for
education advocacy and for other societal concerns.
Their official twelve month goal of WEEN is to enroll 1 million women, as well as create a Pink List to spotlight albums, publications, radio and TV programming and films that support women - which WEEN members will hopefully support in return. Womens Empowerment Summits are also planned for 2008. "Do your part by logging onto weenonline.org and enrolling as a member of WEEN!" exhorted Court TV's Lauren Lake, one of WEEN's four founding members & part of the Senior Advisory Board, along with HSAN Executive Director Valeisha Butterfield, journalist Kristi Henderson and teacher Sabrina Thompson. R&B star Mya and President of Motown Records/ Executive Vice President of Universal Records Sylvia Rhone were on hand to help announce WEEN’s missions, goals and vision which will target three core areas:
- corporate social responsibility
- media/artist responsibility
- community programs/outreach
A standing room only crowd of stars and industry execs sipped Nuvo - a new sparkling vodka liqueur that donates proceeds from each bottle sold to Keep-A-Breast Foundation - & helped celebrate the official launch at the Soho branch of the trendy furniture store Bo Concept, including HSAN Chairman Russell Simmons, HSAN President/CEO Dr. Benjamin Chavis, Warner Music Group Executive Vice President Kevin Liles, Radio One founder Cathy Hughes, and former RIAA head Hilary Rosen. The hip hop community was well represented with Palestinian rapper Belly, BET 106 & Park’s Rocsi & Terrence J, Power 105’s Egypt, Hot 97’s Raqiyah Mays & DJ Cocoa Chanelle and producers Lil X and Bryan Michael Cox. “Last night was evidence of the fact that the entertainment industry, particularly hip-hop, accepts the leadership role it has been given in society,” emphasized WEEN founder, Valeisha Butterfield. “The leadership of women will be increasingly important to the future of America.”
Join WEEN today at WEENOnline.org.
- Lesley Scott