The Spelman College vs. Nelly debate has resurfaced ten years later. In Nelly’s HuffPo Live interview the St. Louis rapper indirectly blames the death of his sister on the Spelman women who were against the misogyny in his infamous “Tip Drill” video.
In 2004, Nelly was slated to hold a bone marrow drive for his sister on Spelman’s campus. The Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance (FMLA) requested a meeting with him to discuss the degradation of women in the “Tip Drill” video. Nelly declined.
Since then Nelly has peddled the story that the women “protesting” cancelled the drive for his sister, and on his visit to HuffPo Live last week he let the world know he still isn’t happy about it.
“You [protesters] robbed me of a opportunity. Unfairly, my brother. Because we could’ve still had your conversation after I got my opportunity, but it could’ve been somebody that was coming to that bone marrow drive that day, that was possibly a match for my sister. That didn’t come because of that…”
He even went as far to say the only thing he would’ve done differently is “kick some a--.” Considering that Spelman is an all women’s college it appears Nelly thinks kicking women’s butts is acceptable.
Spelman graduates who were members of FMLA during the time say Nelly isn’t telling an accurate story. According to them, the bone marrow drive did happen despite Nelly pulling out.
"Our important message was to show the African-American community we shouldn't have to choose between these issues," Asha Jennings, former member of FMLA said. "They are all equally as important, we can do both. And so we fought, tooth and nail in order to, before I graduated in May of 2004, put on our own bone marrow drive."
Moya Bailey, the president of the feminist group during the time, wrote an open letter to Nelly to clear up a few facts.
“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.”
The letter also goes on to say that had Nelly talked with them he would see that there were no less than 10 “protestors,” all whom were planning to register to donate for the bone marrow drive.
“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?”
It’s unfortunate Nelly’s sister passed in 2005 from her battle with leukemia. It’s completely ok for him to still grieve her loss. But perhaps placing the blame on the women of Spelman is unfair.