Skip to: Content
Skip to: Site Navigation
Skip to: Search


Whitney Houston 'crack ho' slur on LA radio: Look who's talking

Black people everywhere, who have never even heard of the 'The John & Ken Show' in LA, are in an uproar about the two white radio hosts who called Whitney Houston a 'crack ho' on air and made other offensive comments. Far worse is the everyday use of the 'ho' word by blacks.

By Jasmyne A. Cannick / February 22, 2012

Whitney Houston strikes a pose during her performance at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles in April 2001. Two white radio hosts in LA have apologized for offensive remarks about the late Houston, including calling her a 'crack ho.' When was the last time a black rapper apologized for the everyday use of this word in lyrics?

AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill/File


Los Angeles

The suspension last week of two popular radio hosts in Los Angeles over offensive remarks about the late singer Whitney Houston has sent shock waves through LA and, thanks to the Internet, the nation.

Skip to next paragraph

Black people everywhere, who have never even heard of the “The John & Ken Show” on KFI AM 640, are in an uproar about the two white men, John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou, who called Ms. Houston a “crack ho” on air and made other derogatory remarks. Now there’s even talk in Los Angeles about a day of protest against the show and station.

The men said that the star who struggled with drugs was “cracked out for 20 years,” and remarking on her death they wondered: “Really, it took this long?”

As a black woman who listens to the conservative KFI religiously Monday through Friday, and who is not one of the millions of people mourning the death of Houston, even I had to do a double take when I heard this slip of the tongue live last week. I remember thinking, did they really just say that?

Coming off of the Don Imus 2007 controversy and his on-air “nappy-headed hos” comment about Rutgers women’s basketball players, the suspension of John and Ken wasn’t that much of a surprise. We’ve been there and done that.

For the record, white people calling black women derogatory names is nothing new. And even though I listen to The John & Ken Show, as a black woman, at the end of the day I know exactly where I stand with them and what they think about black people.

Are their comments enough to justify national outrage from blacks? Maybe.

However, I’d argue that before a single finger is pointed at John or Ken, most black people need a quick reality check.

While the word “ho” was seldom used on KFI, the same can’t be said for black America where the word is in heavy rotation on a daily basis. From the barely bleeped-out lyrics that we listen to on the radio, the videos we watch on television, and how we speak to and about each other – there’s not a day that goes by where I don’t hear this word. And it’s usually coming out of the mouth of another black person.

Just one scan of the most requested songs on Los Angeles hip-hop radio station Power 106 proves my point. The 2012 Best New Artist Grammy nominee J. Cole’s “Work Out,” features the lyrics, “She bad and she know it. Some niggas save hos, I’m not that heroic.” Nice.

Add to that, this year’s Best Rap Album Grammy nominees Jay-Z and Kanye West and their “Niggas in Paris,” which, if you can get past the title, uses the word “bitch” four times. It is topped by Tyga’s “Rack City” which manages to use that word 22 times in a little over three minutes and says, “All the hos love me you know what it is.”

Read Comments

View reader comments | Comment on this story

  • Weekly review of global news and ideas
  • Balanced, insightful and trustworthy
  • Subscribe in print or digital

Special Offer


Editors' picks

Doing Good


What happens when ordinary people decide to pay it forward? Extraordinary change...

Endeavor Global, cofounded by Linda Rottenberg (here at the nonprofit’s headquarters in New York), helps entrepreneurs in emerging markets.

Linda Rottenberg helps people pursue dreams – and create thousands of jobs

She's chief executive of Endeavor Global, a nonprofit group that gives a leg up to budding entrepreneurs.

Become a fan! Follow us! Google+ YouTube See our feeds!