President Barack Obama invited several entertainers to the White House for a “youth empowerment” program — including rapper Rick Ross, who was just indicted for assaulting and kidnapping two workers he caught throwing a party at his 235-acre Fayetteville, Georgia home.
In 2013, the rapper lost a valuable footwear endorsement after he boasted in a song of spiking a woman’s drink.
The April 15 White House event, ironically, was meant to help encourage young people to stay out of the criminal justice system.
The various musicians invited by Obama included Alicia Keys, Nicki Minaj, Busta Rhymes, Ludacris, Chance the Rapper, Wale, DJ Khaled, J. Cole, and Janelle Monae. The group was invited to the White House to help Obama formulate strategies for Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper,” which Obama hopes will encourage black youths to stay on the right side of the law.
Ross, whose real name is William Roberts, was arrested last June for the assault. He was indicted on the charges last month. The rapper was arrested for allegedly pistol-whipping a man who had been doing repair work on his house. He was also charged with kidnapping for preventing the alleged assault victim from leaving the property.
The irony was highlighted when Ross’s ankle monitor went off during his visit to the White House.
Ross/Williams has other entries in his police record. In 2008 he was arrested on gun and marijuana charges. During his arrest the rapper claimed affiliation with a gang in Miami Beach, Fla. Also in 2008, a YouTube entertainer named DJ Vlad filed charges against the rapper for assault and battery and alleged that Ross attacked him at the 2008 Ozone Awards. Also, in 2011, Ross was arrested in Shreveport, Louisiana, for possession of marijuana.
In 2013, Ross apologized for using rap lyrics that seemed to endorse slipping a drug into another person’s drink. In his “U.O.E.N.O.” song, he sang, “Put molly all in her champagne/ She ain’t even know it / I took her home and I enjoyed that/ She ain’t even know it.” In 2013, he apologized for the song, saying:
Before I am an artist, I am a father, a son, and a brother to some of the most cherished women in the world. So for me to suggest in any way that harm and violation be brought to a woman is one of my biggest mistakes and regrets. As an artist, one of the most liberating things is being able to paint pictures with my words. But with that comes a great responsibility. And most recently, my choice of words was not only offensive, it does not reflect my true heart. And for this, I apologize. To every woman that has felt the sting of abuse, I apologize. I recognize that as an artist I have a voice and with that, the power of influence. To the young men who listen to my music, please know that using a substance to rob a woman of her right to make a choice is not only a crime, it’s wrong and I do not encourage it. To my fans, I also apologize if I have disappointed you. I can only hope that this sparks a healthy dialogue and that I can contribute to it.
Because of the lyrics, shoemaker Reebok ended its endorsement deal with Ross.
Obama’s White House has repeatedly decried what it claims to be a rape crisis at American universities. “An estimated one in five women has been sexually assaulted during her college years — one in five,” Obama claimed in 2014. “Of those assaults, only 12 percent are reported, and of those reported assaults, only a fraction of the offenders are punished,” he claimed.
For anybody whose once-normal, everyday life was suddenly shattered by an act of sexual violence, the trauma, the terror can shadow you long after one horrible attack. It lingers when you don’t know where to go or who to turn to. It’s there when you’re forced to sit in the same class or stay in the same dorm with the person who raped you; when people are more suspicious of what you were wearing or what you were drinking, as if it’s your fault, not the fault of the person who assaulted you. It’s a haunting presence when the very people entrusted with your welfare fail to protect you … It insults our most basic values as individuals and families, and as a nation. We are a nation that values liberty and equality and justice.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org