Dee Barnes, who became one of the first women hip-hop journalists to have her own show in the 1980s with Pump It Up, is currently homeless and says she’s “facing extreme financial hardship.”
On March 25, Barnes told HipHopDX that she’s “officially homeless” and recently launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds. “This page was created as an emergency fund to stop the process and the subsequent legal fees,” she wrote. “Even though I am facing extreme financial hardship, I keep my head up. I know who I am, I know my worth and I know I’m not alone.”
Barnes’ career was significantly derailed after she was assaulted by Dr. Dre while working at Pump It Up. In the early 1990s, after N.W.A. got upset over an interview Barnes conducted with them, Barnes said Dr. Dre confronted her at a party, slammed her head against a wall, and threw her down a flight of stairs, an incident that was later omitted in Straight Outta Compton and shrugged off by Dr. Dre. In an editorial Barnes wrote for Gawker in 2015, she stated that after the incident, she was effectively blacklisted by the industry. “Nobody wants to work with me,” she wrote. “They don’t want to affect their relationship with Dre. I’ve been told directly and indirectly, ‘I can’t work with you.’” “Instead of doing journalism, I’ve had a series of 9-5 jobs over the years to make ends meet,” she added.
The consequences Barnes faced for simply being a black woman hip-hop journalist doing her job and holding a powerful artist like Dr. Dre accountable haven’t gone away. Frequently, male hip-hop journalists dodge questions about artists’ misogynist behavior that would likely be asked by women, and women journalists can be edged out of industry events in the subtlest of ways. One example: After OkayPlayer music editor Ivie Ani asked on Twitter if women journalists were invited to a J. Cole listening session earlier this year, she was met with responses to “fuck those bitches,” as if the idea that inviting women writers was a joke.
As of this posting, Barnes’s GoFundMe page has raised nearly $14,500 of its $5,000 goal.