Nasir, A Black Female Perspective

The most recent Nas album is easily superior to the albums that debuted on or around its release. Though often lauded for a stream of consciousness that elevates discussions of women, money and material, Nas still very much meditates on these things. On the album we hear his raspy flow boast of the caliber of his crushes “my worst batch kills off your best cutie” and of how whites haunted his early mansions. Yet, nevertheless Nas’ lyrical talent and cognitive depth is evident. 

A King From Queens? 

On “Not for Radio” he presents fans with a number of facts they will not encounter in theNas-04 history books or a college classroom. On “Cops Shot the kid” Nas lyrically tackles the legal war against black bodies, over an infectious beat that espouses a past sound with a persistent problem. On “everything” he counters greed with a stream of consciousness about what fame and money, and living beyond perception and the demands of western culture. And on the “simple things” he leaves reader with the album’s most poignant song ending where he exhibits a the selflessness of a parent. Nas turns a compliment he received into a wish for his children, “ I just want my kids to have the same peace I’m blessed with.”  Peace being a common dream most parents have for their children. 

There is great beauty on Nas’s album, and as an educator and student of life, I have an appreciation for his attempt to feed the contemporary need for “feel” music. The season has seemingly arrived for a content he has always provided. Content that depicts the Nas  on record as exhibiting a desire for purpose not popularity. 

In acknowledging Nas’ album as fire, it is essentially that his feet are held to the fire. What I reference here is the Nas off record. Off record, Nas’ intellectual depth seems phantasmal as his actions depict him as manifesting the very evils he seems to confront in his music.

Cultural Appropriator + Cultural Icon 

A common occurrence in our contemporary climate, is the alignment of revered black Kanyewestdec2008figures with cultural appropriators. Perhaps the most notable reference to this deed is Kanye West. West’s contentious recording “All Falls Down” and “Jesus Walks” to name a few, separated him from the slew of mainstream rappers who veered away from analyzing their black experience to sell records. When he choose to settle down, he did so with cultural appropriator Kim Kardashian, This espousal not only gave Kardashian two black daughters of which she can live vicariously through, but entry into doorways held open by the stardom and creativity of West, ie The Vogue Cover. Most violently, West functions as Kim’s binary opposite. His behavior and comments paint her as a white savior, and not the horizontal heiress she is.

So when Kanye West stated that “slavery is a choice”, he speaks from the perspective of a slave who has chosen his own fate. The bodies stolen off the shores of Africa may have been enslaved, but many of them were never slaves. Mainstream hip hip makes slaves of its listeners and artists who are veiled consumers of white capitalism. They do not “produce” anything but the contents of white supremacist imagination. 

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Nas too is aligned with cultural appropriator called “restauranteur” John Seymour. Seymour co-owns the restaurant Sweet Chick— known for its chicken and waffles. Chicken and waffles was of course a dish invented by Wells of Harlem, a dish that combines northern and southern cuisine. A symbol of black displacement, chicken and waffles is more than food, it is symbol of blacks making something out of the nothing western culture tried to make of our bodies through centuries of disenfranchisement, For a white man to use this dish as a means to make a profit is one thing, to do so under the consignment of a black man is fatal. On “Adam and Eve” Nas speaks of purchasing the land plowed by his ancestors. Yet, his involvement with Sweet Chik, which has provided yet another means for white oppressors to functions as executives, speaks to seeking to co-own a plantation with your oppressor. 

Unlike his oppressor, Nas is not robbing his laborers of wealth. Rather, this venture has proved a gateway to creating more white collar jobs for his oppressors. I say this not to attack Nas the man, but to critique Nas the artist and image. Though this post is largely engaged with Nas, and his most recent project, my goal is not to make a collective issue singular. Nas and the “conscious” rapper need to be approached with the same grain of salt as their mumble rap contenders, both issuing diverse approaches to a similar poison.

Confusion: Salt in the Wound

The placement of cultural appropriators alongside cosigning  black bodies confuses an nas_july_2014_cropped.jpgalready confused demographic. To the confused, the cosigning black body seems to truly have a vestment in the black collective. This placement is a functional act of deceptions designed to burn a candle of consumerism on both ends. By this I mean that Nas and his fanbase both function as consumers, as both illustrate those who are trying to “win” at white society rather than exist in a black world they would have to create.

Nas’ latest album is a testament to mainstream rap, hip hop, or the latter, as a performative act designed to steer the black collective into a form of sleepwalking, where we eventually walk off the cliff.  Mainstream hip hip or rap, oversimplifies the black experience, it sensationalizes our struggle for white profit and white enjoyment. The caricatures of our conflict, deem the black experience a means for whites to play dress up with our detriment, while the confused dance, fornicate, and smoke to the soundtrack of our systemic asphyxiation. 

Though I am not quite sure one can listen without hearing the message consciously or subconsciously embedded in toxic tunes, I encourage those who listen to any seemingly conscious artist, with complete understanding that they listen to the inaudible voice that tells blacks that the closest we’ll ever get to freedom is beside a white man, or woman. 

May the many black faces that admire the systemically engineered image of the conscious rapper look at what they do, rather than listen to what they say.

Black Power ❤

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The MAC Aaliyah line, A Black Female Perspective

Admittedly, my heart dropped in happiness when I saw the late and great Aaliyah’s face in an email a few weekends ago. The email was from MAC, announcing their Aaliyah inspired makeup line. To many black female millenials like myself, Aaliyah was the epitome of natural black beauty. Her hair was long, black, thick, and gorgeous. Her skin was brown, her face youthful, her soul seasoned with the wisdom of an age she would never attain in number. Aaliyah was a beautiful girl inside and out, who seemed did not seem tainted or motivated by money or fame, Aaliyah seemed to genuinely love what she was doing. She was a young black woman who exuded  the essence of black female allure–a natural sex appeal, talent, and liyahgrace  not duplicated in or after her time on earth. She was one in a million, yet MAC attempted to counter this fact in resurrecting her memory for profit. 

Now, I anticipate that many will counter my response in pointing to Rashad Haughton, Aaliyah’s brother, cosigning the project. This, however, does not negate MAC’s motives. MAC’s motives are not to honor Aaliyah’s legacy or heal the wounds of her family. MAC’s goals are to make money off her memory, a memory enhanced with an authenticity only Rashad (or her parents) could bring to the project.

Thus,  the Aaliyah line by MAC is one of deprivation. Let us not forget that black women remain an afterthought to a beauty industry that sells, not lauds black beauty.   Black beauty brands like Mented, and Gold Label Cosmetics have come to claim the black consumer, an act MAC  retaliates in aiming to usurp the black producer. Specifically, MAC feels the heat and resurrects one of our angels to lure the black female body back into the lion’s den of consuming white products.

For those of us hurt, and acquainted with the harsh reality of mortality in hearing of Aaliyah-08Aaliyah’s death as preteens and teenagers, a chance to reacquaint herself with her essence seems tempting. However, her essence never left us. Buying a MAC lipstick won’t bring her back, and is not a means to pay homage to a starlet gone too soon. The videos and postings of beauty vloggers featuring the products support a veiled truth— Aaliyah was never the muse for MAC’s latest business venture. No, the muse remains the white female buyer that the company was designed to make beautiful. However, this pseudo homage to the 90s unveils that all the beauty industry creates is ugliness, an ugliness that continues to engender violence onto the black collective. aaliyahbandana.jpg

Simply put, this Aaliyah Mac line is a violent attempt to exploit another black body. It is yet another attempt to cast the dark body into a dollar sign. Simply put, the black female body will never be more than money to an industry that seeks to ensure that the white female body remains the standard of beauty. So when we say “one in a million,” all our oppressors heard was “million,” fomenting their effort to rock a boat heading towards a peace not granted in life, and as illustrated by this recent gesture, death. 

May this performative act of homage, function as a harbinger of the fear induced by black production.  

Black Power ❤

 

Apesh!t or Slave Ship? The Carters, The Poverty of Wealth, and Contemporary Slavery 

The Carter’s latest video “ApeSh*t” makes waves for its feature of hip-hop’s most revered couple Beyonce Knowles and Shawn ‘Jay-Z’ Carter. Though not their first collaboration, this project marks their first joint album. Their newly released joint album marks the first project after overcoming Jay-z’s very public infidelity. While Lemonade intertwines personal and collective anger, this joint project is anchored in love. Or what the Carters giphy12and their team would have the black collective believe, black love. Evidenced in their lyrics and visual accompanying, the love the album speaks of is a love of whiteness and all its tokens.  The contents of their song and video “Apesh!t”  expose the Carter’s anti-black agenda amidst ancient European art that foreshadows contemporary motives.

Haunted

There is an eerie vibe to the video. The evilness of capitalism and the materialism births, makes the video as haunting as the look in Beyonce’s eyes. The video also encompasses the repetition of the infamous number six, in a video that is exactly six minutes and six seconds long.  

giphy7The European art featured in the video functions as a means to connect contemporary pop culture to the enlightenment period, seeking to rewrite or insert the black family into “his” story. The Carter’s positionality to the paintings counters both the attempt to connect and insert their bodies into an excluding his story. Particularly, the Carters are beneath all the pictures of European art. This depicts them as what they are, subjugates. The Carters are the color in a hegemonic painting that features their hue but denies their personhood. This point is perhaps most resonant in Jay-z’s position below the painting of a slave ship. Particularly, in acknowledging the video’s attempt to bridge the past with the present, Mr. Carter’s position beneath the picture would place him in the water. Given the physical and lyrical performance in the song, it is easy to align both with manifestations of drowning. 

Monalisa, The Centerpiece 

Perhaps one of the most disturbing recurrences of this video was the recurring image of the Monalisa. The whitegiphy5 woman as the backdrop to hip-hop’s first couple is not accidental. Beyonce, easily regarded as one of the most beautiful women in the world, attains this accolade in her adoption and promotion of European aesthetics. Despite her prodigious talent, she is successful because she functions to steer black women to be more like the Monalisa than their African foremothers. Jay-Z, a caricature of the black male body, also functions to arouse the fantasies of the white woman, who do not wish to marry black (unless he’s wealthy), but who admires the black male persona from afar.  So just as their lyrics of materialism, objectification, and capitalism lead directly to the white bodies featured in this video, both Jay-Z and Beyonce are roads that lead to the white woman. This portrayal allows the white woman
to silently scream “#metoo” in the midst of what is supposed to be a portrait of black love. 

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We Ain’t in the Booth, we in the Back Seat

Essentially, what the Carters demonstrate is a move beyond music into message. Ofgiphy3 course music is always a message, but at the “height” of their success Beyonce and Jay Z no longer create music. What they create is specially programmed messages to control the masses. “Apesh*t” in song and video are a practice of hypnosis. The lyrics are fast, retrievable only in small doses, doses that speak of spending, vanity, and other tokens of superficiality. Viewers are invited to praise The Carters who “made it,” and make the crowd go “apesh*t” in their success. I admit that I found myself remixing the hook “watch the crowd going ape shit” with “Slave ship” as the Carters, despite their boasting, exhibit a contemporary form of bondage. 

The image that begins the video, where a number of black bodies lay like corpses in a giphy6coffin, evoke the conditions of a slave ship. The bodies are still, then move in congruence to that of a wave. Their faces are obscured and otherwise insignificant. It is their function that matters. These bodies later line up as if on an auction block. There faces are in plain view but their bodies are what captures the attention of viewers who are given no context, time, or encouragement to value the faces of the bodies. Faces, that to the black viewer, are very much like their own.  Instead we are coerced into anticipating what these bodies can do with or to the beat. This objectification is of course not new, but takes on a new form of evil given that those who engender said objectification are  of the melanated faction.

This act exposes the Carters as the house n*ggers of a plantation called Hollywood, where they are lauded for their social reproduction of the slave master. Thus, their mimetic function depicts the performance in the video, and their function in Hollywood as literally ape sh*t, epitomizing “monkey see, monkey do.”

Monkey Business

It also worth mentioning the recurring primate imagery that has proved consistent in giphy1hip hop. Rapper Nicki Minaj’s recently released song “Chun Li,” includes a lyric in which the songstress references herself as “king kong,” no wait, “Miss King King.” The line quickly proved catchy, inspiring many retweets, Twitter names, and picture captions, despite being an articulation of self-deprivation. The Carters exhibit a similar popularized deprivation with “apesh*t.” There are a mirage of other comparisons the Carters could have used. To use this one, is intentional. An intention that was most evident when viewers watch Beyonce move like an ape in the final seconds of the video. She’s beautiful, shapely, slender and a master of rhythm, so her movements inspire a mimesis which popularized this kneeling gesture of degeneracy.

Side note about Beyonce: I do not know whether to be disappointed by this watered down version of Beyonce’s tremendous talent, or impressed that she can be both full of talent and deliver such a masterful showcase of talentlessness.

All About that Money Honey

There is also something to be said about artists who flaunt their wealth to a fanbase whogiphy has either stolen and misappropriated the earnings of oppressed factions for centuries, or has had their wealth stolen and misappropriated by their oppressors for centuries. The entire song boasts of money and “things,” depicting JayZ and Beyonce as bragging about how much they went for on the auction block.  

Essentially, the song and video are as without substance, as the Carters are without riches. All the Carters have is what has been given to them. They have what can be taken away in an instant, making them more impoverished that their ignorant, capitalistic display wants anyone to realize. The Carters have been bought and sold, their integrity turned to gold and placed on the ears of those most likely to steal this song and album in observance of a privilege the Carters only pretend to have. .     

In the song “Boss” on the Everything Is Love album, Beyonce sings/raps that her “great great chirren already rich” overlooking that Whitney Houston once stood on the mountaintop she believes to be upon. They built Houston up to break her down in the worst way, and she now has no great great grand children—her money pulled from her palm, the palm of her offspring, and placed right back into the hand that poisoned her. This is not to cast a cloud of doom onto the Carters, but to suggest that we as a people realize that haughtiness  too often heralds a cycle so many have been bamboozled to perceive as linear.

All Lives Matter?

The Carter’s feature of historic paintings alongside images of black men kneeling and the giphy4one photo of a newly freed slave (toward the end of the video), suggesting a message congruent to the one articulated in their carefully curated lyrics. A message that paints the Carters as a bridging factor, as a means to connect the past with the present, the rich with the poor, the powerless to the powerful, and the black with the white. In short, though supposedly representative of the black matriarch and patriarch, the underlying message of the video is that all lives matter. This image then, is not progressive, but representative of the role of black female and male bodies as dictated by their oppressors. Blacks are consistently handed the burden of bridging factions they did not divide—which is precisely what we see in the visual representation of Apesh*t.

The bridging seen in this video is solely for the benefit of the white overseers to Bey and Jay’s career. Despite their claims of independence, and the portrait they attempt to paint of their “lavish” lifestyle, The Carters are the property of white hegemony. If not, then why, I ask you, use their title as the first couple of hip hop to concern themselves with his tory and not our story?     giphy2

The District of Columbia recently debuted their highly anticipated African American History museum. This seems a proper setting for a black family supposedly invested in blackness. There is also the Black Wax museum in Baltimore, that would have provided depth to an otherwise shallow song. These options were not selected because lyrics that speak of capitalistic dreams basked in materialism, appear far more dissonant to the thoughts and memory a black backdrop might provoke. These images would foment thoughts past diamond rings and large homes. The images could suggest how far we’ve come to the mentally enslaved, but to the intellectually curious, placing the Carters in the settings of their foremothers would illustrate that we haven’t come far at all. That despite a change in date, the last name “Carter” traces back to what neither spouse has been able to escape in their imaginary giphy10consummation of western whiteness.

It would have been a formidable backdrop to focus on the name Carter. To expose the white supremacist wrath that physically produced the lineage Jay-z shares with wife Beyonce, and passes on to his three children. This feature though would not incite the masses to purchase this album. To feature a past contemporary culture desperately tries to make sure the black collective forget, would not have received approval from the record label. What the white gaze seeks from Jay-z and Beyonce, is what they seek from all subjugates— that they will act in the best interest of the republic in their fabricated form of freedom.

That, they did.

Black Power ❤

The Black Female Body: A Contemporary Disappearing Act 

Introduction

If you are reading this post, please know that great deliberation has preceded the publication of this piece. My hesitation is one of ambivalence. On one hand, I do not wish to give any more attention to the unworthy. I do however, find it imperative to speak out on the very disturbing response and coverage of this this violent referenced as the “royal” wedding.

First, please allow me to state that there was nothing royal about this wedding. There was royalty on the day selected however. May 19th is the birthday of the late Malcolm X, whose dedication and love for black people consummates his royal status. It is no accident that this “wedding” took place on the same date of what would have malcom-xbeen Malcolm X’s 93rd birthday. 93 is 39 backwards, the age the Malcolm, the black prince of Pan Africanism, took his final breaths in front of pregnant wife Betty Shabazz and three of his four children. He would be visibly murdered by another physically black body, much to the satisfaction of his white oppressors.

Fifty-three years later, this British wedding fulfills a similar purpose–in employing “one of our own” (via partial genetics) to twist the knife of white hegemony. This union functioned to overshadow the legacy of he who the white world does not wish to remember, let alone resurrect, while resurrecting the very means of his demise.

The African Woman: An Absented Presence

In a previous post written just a few months ago, I delineated these nuptials as playing a role in detaching Britain from its slavery origins. I still believe this to be true, but I do not, however, see this detachment as core. What is most evident in Meghan’s nuptials encapsulated in its feature,  is what Katherine McKitterick called an absented-presence in her book Demonic Grounds. While McKitterick  speaks to the black female body displaced in Canada as both there presently but absent “his” stoically, her theory is evident for contemporary global treatment of the female body colored black. 

This absented presence is a global violence extended to the black female body. Perhaps, most notably in Brazilian treatment of the black female body, namely the black mother. In supporting of  multi-racial offspring,  the black female body, as sexually sullied by the white man, was held up in pseudo celebration by the Brazilian media.  Similar exhibitions have played out in the states, as seen in NYC mayor Bill Deblasio and black wife, poet Chirlane McCray. This union deflects  from the anti blackness that anchors his political and the personal platform, an identical function to the global function of interracial unions, not excluded from the now Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

Now you see her, now you don’t

Meghan Markle is both there and not there as a self-proclaimed “mixed” person. Similarly, her 39FEDA1500000578-3898232-image-a-14_1478117629314mother, Doria Ragland,  is both there and not there as a black woman who despite her melanin-dominant complexion and “natural” hair, received central treatment for actions reflective of a “processed” mind.

She, like Meghan—a descendant of the very bodies that made the British empire possible— illustrates contemporary enslavement in mirroring past actions in choice. Ragland is celebrated not for being a beautiful black Woman, but for taking ownership of actions reflecting a choice made for her, and birthing the poisonous apple gifted to the fractured identity to the black female conscious.

This poisonous apple—Meghan Markle—makes his story because she is “his” story. Her body is a map of white male conquest, from conception to reception. She identifies as “mixed” a category that does not exist, illustrating her as acquiescing to a certain type of invisibility that makes her everything yet nothing all. The media embraced her and made her a national icon with hopes of fomented her supporters to adopt said identity fluidity as a means to suffer as beautifully as possible.

Meghan is centralized with hopes of ensuring the mulatto, or what the contemporary world calls “mixed,” remains  the most revered type of black woman—despite neglecting to articulate an affiliation to blackness.  Markel’s popularity functions to induce the black female body into a collective state of absented presence. Her aggressive media placement is in hopes that the presence of melanin, but absence of blackness, will prove contagious. So that the growing number of colored bodies in population and feature, will only strengthen white supremacy. 

Inviting Idris 

Interestingly, this idea is perhaps most pronounced in the presence of Idris Elba and his new fiancee Sabrina Dhowre. Elba, a pronounced heartthrob to countless black women, was invited solely to appease the anticipated black female gaze. Elba’s presence does not necessarily serve the same demographic that lives vicariously through Serena Williams and Meghan Markle, as descendants from those enslaved by the very forces that enable the privilege and power of the men they marry. No, his presence reaches for a different crowd—which makes his presence confusingly strategic.

Elba’s invite stands out, because it was supposed to. His inclusion, was to save face. It was 2017 Toronto International Film Festival - "The Mountain Between Us" Premiere - Arrivalsto suggest that black love is welcome in the British empire. Though, Elba and his fiancee were most likely the only black couple in attendance, exposing their presence as filling a quota. Though referenced as “guests” they are tokenized, existing solely to answer the anticipated question of skeptics: Where are the black couples?

 Elba’s presence illustrates what this union omits—that Elba’s pending nuptials to a beautiful, young black Woman would never be televised in two countries let alone one. So while Idris Elba is the dark and shining knight to many black women, his nuptials do not matter because they are an exchange of vows between two black bodies. White dominance, needs black bodies, or bodies descended from black bodies, to become one with whites to ensure the mental and physically annihilation of black consciousness. Espousal to white ideology and white dominance, be it through marrying a “prince”, celebrating entry into white spaces, or servicing white hegemony whether through blue or white collar jobs, is necessary in maintaining global white dominance. 

In examining the Idris invite, it would be remiss to ignore a male body omitted from the ceremonies. Though potentially incendiary, I do not believe that illness prevented Mr. Markle from attending the ceremonies. It is simply that his presence was not necessary. Markle’s presence was not desired because while mother Doria Rangle  is praised for having sex with a white man, Mr. Markle is not thought of as highly for reproducing with a black Women. This image is solely consummated by actor Idris Elba. 

Past, Present, Future: A Triple Identity

In closing, this public spectacle encompasses the past, present, and the future of white supremacy. A past of empty gestures like Brown v. Board of Education where “integration” was a fancy name for another scar on our collective back as our oppressors continue to diversity the ways in which we were and are whipped by white supremacy. The present, where plantation dynamics are reincarnated and celebrated globally, the phallus of white supremacy contractually screwing us, and a future that looks exactly like the past and present. This spectacle illustrates that the past, present, and future hold a bleeding hand, in stagnancy. Time has not moved, and things have not changed, precisely because a key component of enslavement is believing that they have. Collaboratively, this union— a compilation of black past, and present, foreshadows a future where the reactionary functions as revolutionary, where integration functions as inclusion, and where melanin functions as “black.” If this sounds like the present, that is because it is.   The future is not “on its way,” it’s already here. 

The wedding is yet another portrait of white supremacy, namely, white male supremacy. Yet so many of the oppressed faction wished to be in Markle’s shoes. So many wished to trade places with her, a wish  identical to wishing to trade places with their foremothers who also laid in the bed of white men on their wedding night, hearing similar superficial comments, and even praise for the violation of their wombs. Battered wombs that would produce those who smiled and cried tears of joy during these nuptials, reflecting the persistent bamboozled state of blackness where one wants to be desired, more than they want to be free.

Black Power ❤

Dear White People, Season 2 Review

Despite not enjoying the first season of Justin Sieman’s series Dear White People, I did establish an appreciation for characters Joelle, Reggie, and Lionel and their masterful portrayals by talented by black actors.  This time around, my predilection was replaced by indifference. I only completely made it through the two episodes featuring the experiences of black female students Joelle and Coco—to which I was subjected to violent portrayals of my collective personhood. 

The title of the series “Dear White People” articulates a dedication to a specific audience—white people. This articulation makes the series unique, as it fulfills a similar agenda seen in Scandal, and other black authored series, but lets viewers know this from a title that most falsely conceptualize as revolutionary. Dear White People, like other series with black creators/ writers, gains traction for their so-called black authorship. However, said series fail to actualize said blackness, by intention.  In essence, the black authored series is content created for a white consumer  by a physically black producer , but donning a white mask manifested in their series and worn in an underserving badge of nuanced blackness and contemporary honor. Thus, the disappointment experienced by the visual consumer seeking black content by a black creator proves inescapable as even those who appear black  regard black as secondary—if at all. This is most evident in the following depictions on the second season of Dear White People:  

  1. Profane Dialogue 

It was very disturbing, and even ironic that the word “f*ck” is tossed around so frequently and unapologetically by the series’ black leads. I suppose this inclusion is supposed to be a commentary on the way post-millennials supposedly speak, but the dialogue depicted the black students of an ivy league school unable to shed their gauche exterior. 

Using the word F*ck is just as violent as any word in the English language, but the use is particularly jarring as its presence adds nothing to the statements being made.

It is also quite telling that the series also uses the n-word, religiously and unapologetically. Sam, the series pseudo revolutionary lead, uses this term to reference white boyfriend Gabe in a bizarre moment that exposed her already flawed enlightened persona as pure chicanery. 

  1. An influx of interracial love scenes

There is only a single demonstration of black love in the series, between Reggie and Coco.  The consummation of feelings that started at the end of season one, was the climax anticipated by any and everyone who mistook the series title to be pro-black. This consummation however fails to reach a climax, as their interaction is interrupted by Sam and never resumed. Instead, viewers are subjected to a graphic interracial love scene between Samantha and Gabe moments later.  Viewers watch lead characters Samantha, Troy, Reggie, Lionel, and Coco all engage in sex scenes with whites. These graphic depictions of interracial sex have become a staple in black authored sitcoms—burning the eyes of those who tuned in for something different but got the same old violent visuals. 

In an interview  Sieman stated that he does not think television should try to “fix race.” To this I agree, but this is not how the series presents itself. The series presents itself as exposing the often ignored dialogues surrounding race at institutions of higher learning. So while it may not function as a means to fix race on a global scale, it does seem to desire to fix race representation.  I do agree that television should not seek to fix race, but it should not worsen race representation—yet somehow it does. Sieman’s work illustrates that the error in race representation is in what I would call contemporary blackface. 

3. Resuming the Black Female Abortion Narrative

The topic of black female abortion has maintained traction in white media since 2010 after a soho billboard made headlines for its statement:

The most dangerous place for an African American is in the womb. 

Since then, Toni Braxton, Nikki Minaj, Chilli from TLC amongst others have come out with their abortion stories. Abortions were also part of the black female narratives conveyed on Scandal and Being Mary Jane—central in depicting the cost of success for the black woman. Dear White People authors a similar narrative. Coco, the ambitious assimilationist is determined to win. She is also determined not to follow in the footsteps of her family whose dreams were cut short by motherhood. Her actions are one of survival, not of vanity. She wants an abortion like she wants a weave—to cover what she feels needs room to grow—to mask what she feels is she simply not ready to give/show the world. 

The abortion narrative pre 2010, was seemingly an all white affair. Though black literature and poetry spoke of abortions, these stories failed to gain traction. Yet, abortion for the African woman maintains a prominent place in contemporary discussions. Namely, it has become a means to demonize the black female body. The image of the welfare mother, portrayed as a black “breeder” too lazy to work, is a contemporary fixture used to depict the sacred sanctuary of motherhood as incongruent to the black female body. The engendered abortion narrative fills a similar narrative, though with an even harsher connotation. The black female abortion narrative dispels a portrayal of the black female body as posing more harm to the black body than a white supremacist society. This implication foments the violent coercion of white supremacist thought onto the black and white mind alike. 

IV. Ugly Dark Girl Narrative

Joelle is the robin to Samantha’s batman—the designated sidekick an d partner in crime. She’s bright, and beautiful—qualities that appear dim in juxtaposition to Samantha, her lighter, thinner, and longer-haired counterpart, because well, this is America. 

Joelle illustrates a valid colorism conflict, compartmentalized by a recurring series reference to Kelly Rowland. Kelly Rowland, one third of Destiny’s Child—-a conventionally dark-skinned girl whose light was significantly dimmed next to Beyonce. 

My comments do not function to suggest that colorism is not a tried and tested issue within the black collective. My comments do function to state that this narrative has become somewhat banal. The ugly dark narrative is a prominent source of white propaganda, where the white psyche is afforded the symbolic profit of a black body oblivious to the treasure in their ancestral heirloom—melanin. Thus, the ugly dark girl narrative as it appears in the series does nothing to advance this representation of white hegemony. Rather, this depiction functions to ensure that white viewers learn to view the black girl as she has always been represented. 

V. One-Dimensional Dark Male Portrayals

It is problematic that men not passing the paper bag test are not awarded more than a single dimension on the series. The student from the continent, aside from a few comedic lines, has no depth in either season. Also, Joelle’s ethereal love interest Trevor, is not only deprived development but stereotyped by the Hotep caricature.

Hotep does not exist.

Are there some males who engender a problematic portrayal of what they label black consciousness? Yes. But it is imperative to note that these people are neither conscious or black, but melanated folks who use a myth of consciousness to create some kind of elitism. Hotep is a white supremacist caricature of black consciousness that presents those on a journey to enlightenment as mentally unstable and socially offensive. This caricature functions to depict a pending black consciousness, and not white supremacy, as a societal problem that must be solved.

VI. Black Female Sisterhood 

The sole silver lining in this series are the moments of sisterhood. In deciding to abort her child, Coco is able to lean on a fellow black woman for non-judgmental support. This, and the sister support Sam received when her father passes, is both beautiful  and heartwarming to see. Though, this is in sharp contrast to the cisgender black male relationships which are largely under-developed. This polarity in portrayal depicts the intersectional black male as more willing or perhaps more vested in depicting functional black female relationships than cisgender black males–substantiating my next and final point.

V. The issue with Intersectionality… 

The show, as a product of an intersectional creator, inevitably functions to fulfill an intersectional agenda. What this means is that the topic of blackness is tackled from an inherently anti-black perspective. Particularly, the intersectional author seeks to tackle blackness superficially from so many angles that he or she actually fails to analyze blackness at all. 

This series illustrates why the time of those desiring an elevated state of black consciousness is best spent reading, and why those claiming intersectional labels like “woman” or ones that pertains to sexual orientation, be restricted from speaking and writing authoritatively about blackness. 

Black Power ❤

Scandal: The Beginning of The End

Scandal (Shonda Rhimes; 2012), the series who for the first time placed a black woman in a leading role since 1974’s Get Christie Love—will go down in history for its seemingly groundbreaking representation of black femininity. Pope, the beautiful, intelligent, and confident series lead is seen to personify fearlessness, but actualizes the most socially accepted form of fear—conventional success. Pope is literally and figuratively the black girl who wears white—-the black female who consummates her journey to woman by her entry into white spaces. But despite her costly wardrobe and masterful silk press, Pope still enters through the illusive back door as a servant.  scandal-cast-olivia-pope.jpg

This point is eloquently articulated and countered by Eli “Rowan” Pope, who is the sole redeemable character of the series—redeemable in part not whole. Pope personifies the strong black male character in words, his skill of murder and mimesis of white supremacist violence maintains the very republic established in the blood of the ancestors. So while not directly answering to whites in power, Pope answers to the invisibility of white supremacy who through the hypnosis of niggerization, invites his mimesis and fervent protection of a country founded in his status as cargo. But even with his truth, one cannot deny that Pope ability to masterfully “talk that talk.” Pope, in singularity satiates the apex of the series’ writing and delivery, and while not black conscious in action—Pope is the pseudo revolutionary that can exist with comfort on prime-time television.

Nevertheless, Pope’s exit marks the end of an era—namely the conclusion of the central “black” woman, simultaneously marking the beginning of the era she was resurrected to engender. The black leading ladies of prime time television have already began to fade to black—evidenced by the cancellation of BET series Being Mary Jane, a series which debuted in 2013 that featured black actress Gabrielle Union as a black female lead.

History will remember Pope as the black female body who powerfully held the door open for her sisters, Mary Jane Paul (Being Mary Jane), Annalise Keating (How to Get Away With Murder), amongst other black female characters that rose to prominence as professional by day and mistresses by night. Pope, however,  isn’t powerful or groundbreaking, she is predictable. Popularized during the “hope” era of the Obama administration, Pope’s sole purpose was to engender predictability in action or appreciation amongst the masses. Pope lured black women into the lions den of feminism, behind the mask of a controlling image that is a medley of past tropes: mammy, jezebel, sapphire and the white male infatuation typically aligned with the tragic mulatto.  Thus, it is merely symbolic that Pope is going anywhere, as the white Woman she paved the way for in her masterful portrayal of inspirational intersectional agent, is happily existing at the cusp of a supremacy that issues the same old oppression under new management.

TONY GOLDWYN, KERRY WASHINGTON
SCANDAL – “Paris is Burning” – Olivia and Fitz face some very big consequences and Mellie brings in an old friend to make sure she gets her way. Meanwhile, Abby shows Olivia she is fully capable of handling working at the White House, on “Scandal,” THURSDAY OCTOBER 8 (9:00-10:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (ABC/John Fleenor) TONY GOLDWYN, KERRY WASHINGTON

As an intersectional agent, Olivia Pope also played a prominent role in sensationalizing black female-white male romantic unions. Despite referencing the Sally Hemmings/Thomas Jefferson feel of their union, the series romanticizes the relations between a powerful white man and his black servant. Olitz, the level attached to fans of the interracial romance, illustrates the success of the collective amnesia the series imbues— and the (not so) hidden desire of many melanated women to exist in whiteness.

As Franz Fanon writes in Black Skin, White Masks “she was not the girl wanting to be white—she was white.” This is the image that Scandal seeks to present as viewers are left with Olivia Pope walking away from the white house in a white trench coat, when a white man (Fitzgerald Grant III, Tony Goldwyn) pulls up in a black car and greets her. While seemingly a cliff hanger, viewers need not know the particulars. Despite suggesting that Pope’s white house departure is a stride toward freedom, Pope is without uncertainty taking significant strides towards whiteness, where she actually sees herself as a white person despite her location inside a black body—illustrating the height to contemporary enslavement  

Pope covertly teaches the black female gaze that just because someone looks like you, does not mean they are you–or that they are with you. Blackness is just something Pope possesses by way of her melanin, but was merely incidental in her feature on an otherwise predominately white show. This truth exposes Shonda Rhimes as not only working for white people, in the sense that she produces content for a white network, but that she produced significant opportunities for the most privileged demographic in the world. So in featuring series villain Cyrus Beene (Jeff Perry) lie, cheat, steal, and murder to claim access to the Oval office, viewers are entertained by the very politics that make the world go round, the politics that legalized the rape of our foremothers and the emasculation of our forefathers, that presented a black female body in a pretty package to mollify the ugliness that enabled her being. 

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To that, all I can say that this contemporary “wave” of feminism simply would not be what it is without the contributions of women like Shonda Rhimes, and characters like Olivia Pope. So the truth “scandal” is one of psuedo representation, as all this series succeeded in re presenting what the variants of white male and female supremacy narrated by a melanated woman. 

Scandal ends its series finale with Olivia Pope’s  painting on a Mount Rushmore-like setting — an image that alludes to an image painted a few scenes prior with Eli Pope’s “read” to a panel of white men– consummating Olivia Pope’s  ambitions to exist alongside those she spent her entire career lifting up. The series of course paints this feature as a victory, Pope painted similarly to the late Dido Belle, but as the main attraction. Though, Pope’s feature is compatible with featuring the notepad on which a novelist wrote a best seller—a token deemed significant solely in its product. Pope, in portrayal and invention, whether featured in an art exhibit or on the news, is merely a prop, primped and shined for the viewing pleasure of one of two demographics:

  1. Those who wish to occupy prop-like placement that mirrors Pope’s portrayal on the show
  2. Or those who find comfort and reap the benefits of blacks occupying  prop like placement.

The first point is epitomized by two young girls smiling as they look up to this painting of Olivia Pope with a white top, her hair curly, her skin brown, and her green maxi skirt presenting her as a form of mermaid who swims from blackness to whiteness—a reality veiled from the referenced image but ever present in her placement in a display alongside white men and women of position. For me, the image presents a different image. The image suggests that no matter where you are in life, or what you do, there is always someone looking up to you. These someones are not always those that you see, but those who see you—and encompass your being as a portrait of their reality and possibilities. In seeing these young girls look up to  Olivia Pope and feel empowered by her symbolism, as we saw so many black families take in the Obamas literally placing them in their homes, the true scandal is the violent symbolism the black community is consistently bamboozled into accepted as a form of reparations. 

So I could say I am happy Scandal is gone or that I wish it had never debuted, knowing that something and someone else would have occupied this place in time designated to recruiting the black viewer into intersectional agent, inviting the black body to step over the dead bodies of our brethren and join forces with the collective who pulled the trigger. The “scandal” of black exploitation and mutilation ever-present and resurrected periodically in media, function to ensure a wound created four hundred years ago never heals, and that the black collective keeps masking infection with deflection vexingly called “entertainment.”

Black Power ❤

Decoding Deception Mastery

Gary Owens, Master Deceiver

Comedian Gary Owens recently made headlines for using his black wife to call another black man the n-word in a battle I admit I had no idea was taking place before this act of debauchery made its way onto my twitter timeline. I’ll be honest, I am not a fan of Gary Owen, and think he is just another below average white man afforded fame and fortune because of his hue. Because of these sentiments, it is impossible for Mr. Owens to do or say anything that will deviate from my expectations. I do not see myself as an anomaly in this case—I am pretty sure that the expectations of Mr. Owens remain virtually non-existent—yet is act provides a mean to afford Owens extended exposure and to foment a performative outrage ubiquitous in contemporary treatment of disrespect towards black people. gary-owens-wife-photo

My critique then is to the outraged who played a vital role in this man’s relevancy and confidence to act as he did. The same faction who had little to no objection to Owens’ presence in Think Like a Man, and tuned into his BET show-created a platform for this cultural leech. In both Think Like A Man and his reality show, Owens occupied a space that could have been used for a black body collectively call the black collective the n word. In both examples, Owens used the black female body as a canvass for his own visibility.

The film adaptation of Steve Harvey’s book Think Like a Man, speaks to a generation of single women paralyzed by an oblivion to their own power. The book, like the movie, targets the black woman, romantically crippled by a society that murders or emasculates their male counterparts. Just as Owens’ marriage to his beautiful black wife affords him clout or proximity to blackness by way of a platform, the figurative and literal black female body in Think Like A Man, in audience and casting, is a pedestal to which Owens stands in his feature.

Owens personifies the white who exists at the bottom of white society who forges an increased proximity to blacks as a way to access the pseudo superiority whites have been conditioned to expect from life. If this sounds familiar, it should. A few years ago, performative outage erupted when average white woman Rachel Dolezal was outed as pursuing an above average life as a black woman. While criticized and parodied numerous times, Dolezal was most violent in the assumed singularity of her actions– a singularity that veils similar acts of employing the black body as a pedestal to a better life as a white person  just as (if not moreso) demeaning and dangerous to the black collective.

Though the term “by any means necessary” is aligned with black nationalism and black power movements, it is essential for blacks to acknowledge and understand that whites strive to attain their mythical superiority by the same means. All blacks have encountered Gary Owens type figures who veil their white supremacy with a smile or seemingly easygoing demeanor—-but are master deceivers who know all too well how to play their cards.

Most importantly, Owens illustrates that the detriment is not being called the n-word, but being treating as one. By existing, or should I say “starring” in this space, Owens niggerizes he entire black collective in occupying a space that should have been reserved for blacks. His act of deception functions to niggerize an already systemized audience who laughs at the “comedic” lynching Owens’ placement in the spotlight engenders to the black collective.  Particularly, the comedic lens  functions deceptively in mitigating actions that have “gone to far” as a merely a “bad” joke. This “comedic” lens, therefore, illustrates the height of deception mastery– the violent veil of laughter.

comedian-gary-owen-wife1In his ability to deceive the systemically disenfranchised, Owens has tricked many into thinking this is his first offense.  In employing his wife as the actor in a conspicuously offensive action, Owens deflects from his master deception simultaneously exposing the strategy for his espousal. Women and men who contractually bound themselves to non-blacks inevitably play in life, a role that Kenya (Owen’s wife) plays in the video. They are the canvass to which the white spouse casts their sins—a built in binary opposite–a bridge to capital. Let us not forget Owens’ degrading inclusion of his wife’s past sexual encounters with black men into “comedy” tours that span the United States. So whether Kenya Owens verbally called comedian Michael Blackson the n-word, or stood silently beside a white man who silently but violently attacks the black collective with white supremacist ambitions—she is in essence, in existence, in positionally, calling the black man-, calling black people,  the “n -word” while personifying her own systemized status.

Deception Mastery with FEMEN

Similarly, the black females affiliated with “radical” feminist group FEMEN, performed a FEMEN_Swine_Flu_Panic_Protest-13similar function with their display outside of Actor, Writer, Comedian, Philanthropist Bill Cosby’s trial. Over the last thirty-six hours, there have been multiple pictures of Nicolle Rochelle–former guest star on the Cosby show, topless and fervently rushing Bill Cosby as he made his way to trial. The images portray the beautiful black woman in a savagely manner, the word savage specifically used here to reference the feral state to which feminism reduces the black body. It is not an accident that the featured protester was a black woman resembling a young Angela Davis, but the majority of alleged victims are white.

FEMEN, an organization started in the UK, is inundated with white female bodies and therefore is inevitably anchored in white female interests.  FEMEN, like every other “wave” of feminism, solicits black female bodies as props for a pseudo universality used to veil their overt racism. If it were not for black demonstrators, these white female supremacists could not master their deceptive suggestion that it is “all women who are mad,” when it is white women, or feminists, who are happy to resume to denigration of the black man exhibited by foremothers Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. In Race, Gender, Class, activist and scholar Angela Davis presents a formidable platform for understanding just how racist revered leaders Cady Stanton and Anthony were, and how their views on black bodies and “remedying” what they deem black inferiority, mirrored that of their male counterparts.

The Remedy: Black Building

Yet in calling out these anti-black sins, I want to be cautious in ensuring that my criticism is not without care. I understand that many attribute anti-black actions to be one of choice—-I do not. Anti-blackness is a choice made for black people, by white supremacists who eschew responsibility for their evil in articulating anti-blackness as a reflection of black self-hatred. To this I vehemently refute. Self-hatred requires a “Self,” which is something in which the black community has been thoroughly deprived. It is this underdeveloped self that allows for those within the black collective to pseudo identify with master deceivers like Gary Owens and feminists– to believe in a commonality that simply does not exists.

To counter deception mastery, we as a collective must engender what I call black-Deception.pngbuilding, or the production of a black identity that has never been fully developed or given a chance to permeate our systemically fractured minds. These identities need not be identical, but in essence must be rooted in a pro-blackness that weaves together the details of our lives that without care, can function to separate us.

Master deceivers disrupt the ability of blacks to exist in peace, but in collective shaping of our identity—we as a people can ensure that blackness exists in and through us–extinguishing white evil with an incomparable black identity, pride, and over-standing.

 

****A special that you to BlackEmpowerment for introducing me to the teachings of Neely Fuller, whose scholarship greatly aided the terminology (namely, “master deceiver”) used in this post.

Black Power ❤

Nice For What? Drake, #metoo, and Black Female Erasure

Degrassi Alum turned Rap superstar Aubrey “Drake” Graham recently joined the contemporary feminist performance with a new video for “Nice For What.” The song, a mash up of Lauryn Hill’s hit “The Ex factor” is a page in the New Orleans bounce sound, but the video is making waves for its atypical visuals— well, partially. The video is inundated with women dancing and dressed in conventional glamor, but these female props are deliberately placed.       

The video stars Issa Rae (Awkward black Girl/ Insecure), Zoe Saldana, her husband and three sons (Drumline/Avatar), Yara Shahidi and Tracee Ellis Ross from Blackish, model Jourdan Dunn, actress Rashida Jones, ballerina Misty Copeland, comedian Tiffany Haddish, Swedish models Victoria and Elizabeth Lejonhjärta, and actress Letitia Wright from Black Panther. The video intertwines these images of black women with white and non-black women, whose names I will purposely exclude from this post to structurally illustrate a message antithetical to the one conveyed in Drake’s video for recently released track “Nice for What.”

Directed by twenty-two year old Canadian director Karena Evans (Drake, God’s Plan), the video is overtly a portrait of “girl” power, an obvious placement of Drake alongside the contemporary woman in the #metoo movement. But while appearing to do “God’s work” or enacting “god’s plan” Drake actualizes a white female supremacy guised as a pushback against white male supremacy.   

Please allow me to state for all those quick to render my assertions  the ramblings of an angry black woman, that my argument is not that these “women” do not deserve to shine. This is not my assertion nor my concern. White and non-black women of color inevitably shine in juxtaposition to black female invisibility. My criticism is that this exclusion is veiled in an appropriative unity that is violently displayed in and as vanity.

This video like all representations of black or “othered” people is inundated by biracial and lighter skinned people—in front of and behind the scenes. This white female supremacy that anchors this display of seemingly progressive work is perhaps best illustrated in the exclusion of the sampled artist Lauryn Hill— an absence that is both appropriate and disturbing.

Hill’s absence is disturbing in that there is virtually no acknowledgement of Lauren Hill, though her voice and the images of the few featured black women is what stands out about the video—as they visually illustrate the antithesis to a presence that continues to be reduced to stereotypes and demeaned for money and laughs. Even if Ms. Hill declined a cameo, a close up of her picture, a snippet from the video for the sampled song, or a close up of the classic album that featured the sampled song, would have sufficed to pay a necessary homage to Lauryn Hill representative of the black female form that illustrates the pre-woman literacy.

Lauryn Hill embodies what black Canadian scholar Katherine McKitterick calls “an absented presence” in her recent text Demonic Grounds. McKitterick defines absented presence as that “place between memory and forgetfulness,” a suspension common for black bodies.Absented presence is perhaps the most relevant phrasing to encompass the black female relation to the woman concept.

Namely, Hill’s exclusion personifies black female omission from the “woman” labeling—an exclusion endured since black female arrival in America—an exclusion that as depicted in the video, paved the way for women like Misty Copeland and Rashida Jones to represent the black female form simultaneously eschewing and exposing continued black female exclusion. Issa Rae physically embodies many of the same traits as Lauryn Hill, and while bearing a processed mind, it is respectable that Rae attained visibility donning a natural hairdo that is strides away from the “socially acceptable” curls of the racially ambiguous. So to see Rae in this video donning longer and straighter locks, appears a deliberate intention to make her look more “woman,”—less Lauryn Hill and more Lauren London. This physical depiction is an embodiment of the drastic whitening and aesthetical dilution demanded of black female bodies that will still be eliminated and overlooked as women regardless. The mix up that dilutes Hill’s soulful vocals, performs a similar function,her rhythm and blues sound mutilated to sound like a chipmunk or pop-esque version of the original performance.

The title of featured song “Nice for what” is also an interesting commentary on the age old perception of women. As girls the female body is playfully conceptualized as “sugar and spice and everything nice—” and as women the givers of live and a token of pleasantry, silent strength and exhibitors of domestic mastery. However, when has a black women ever been considered “nice?” Though the African spirit is seemingly innately forgiving, black women are seldom acknowledged as kind or nice—instead we are deemed “difficult,” “evil,” and “moody.” This also stems back to colorism as the darkness attributed to the “black” label, is not just about hue but temperament. Black women are seen as masterful complainers, bearing a scowl where women bear a smile. This is of course untrue but also an oversimplified perception regarding the reality of the black female experience.

In the limited photographs of Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth, neither wear a smile. I am sure that if Marie Angelique, a black woman buried in the oblivion induced by Canadian denial of her existence and execution, were photographed she would also bear a facial expression reflective of her life experience, which was not one of ease. Thus, in the event that a black woman is not smiling, this is not because black women are evil, but because the black female body is thrust into an impossible reality yet castigated if she does not plaster a smile on a face that masks 400 years of mistreatment and abuse.    

The smile and conventional “niceness” demanded of black woman is of course not for the black woman, but to ensure the comfort of those who wish to look at but not truly see the black woman. This white supremacist society likes to see the black female smiling, for the same reason that they approve of videos like “Nice for what” where the black female body is alongside those whose privilege she will never mirror—not because black female happiness is even partially considered, but because looking at the smile, just like looking at the black female in glimpses between white and non-black counterparts allows the black female form to remain invisible.

So Drake’s invitation to women in “Nice for What” is to engender an exchange from “nice” to “spice,” also speaking to a privilege that non-black woman have in negotiating identity- a privilege he also enjoys as a man who is silently black, who yo yo’s between mama’s boy, champagne papi, philander, and as seen in the video for God’s Plan, philanthropist. I say this not knock Drake the man, but to confront the reality of how a man of his circumstances functions and why it makes sense that Drake is the platform where this erasure and violence against the black woman and the black collective takes place.

This is not to ignore the reality that even the racially ambiguous and “mixed” blacks are mistreated with regards to the woman label, but to state that in the contemporary climate the biracial black often stands in for the black body, for example, Yara Shahidi who is featured in the referenced video, on Blackish and Grownish. The function of the biracial black is to offer pseudo relief to the black body from obscurity while festering said obscurity with pseudo representation of blackness deliberately selected by whites– master deceivers who employ biracial blacks not because of their beauty, talent or exceptionalism, but to centralize whiteness packaged as progress.

Depictions like the pseudo black/white woman alliance and the images that compose the visual text  seen in the Drake video are reminiscent of a cup of black coffee, lighted and eventually adulterated with milk, cream or a little bit of both. For the black women who consider themselves fans of Drake, or of pop culture in general that is making an aggressive effort to erase the black female body it is imperative to note that though stars illuminate on our dark sky—the sky does not need stars to be a sky, but a star has no place without a sky. I say this to say that we as a collective have power over our narrative our sky and what “stars” illuminate this sky, and this video, although seemingly innocuous, is an exhibition of seized power showcased and misappropriated as entertainment.

Black Power ❤

Her Hips Don’t Hop

In studying literacy, hip hop continues to be a persistent subject of discourse. These are an artistic blend of thoughts that came to me Tuesday evening.

May it prove food for thought…

 

The music won’t stop
But her hips don’t hop
Mic check one-two one-two
The sounds don’t move through her, like it moves through you

Sixteen bars
plush cars
Long weaves
Gastric sleeves
Big booties
Surgical “cuties”

The evidence of oppression
The sound is a concession
A pacifier
A lollipop
A dream that takes the black dollar
A hook that makes black folk’ holla’
“That’s my song”
But do we have it all wrong?
“That’s my part!”
Veils that we are playing a part
We’re “urban,” they’re “cultured”
We keep it real, while they steal
We believe in their talent, and see the best in them
Then they leave us on the side of street, like a pedestrian.

His registration was late, but we still heard em’say,
He loved Beyonce,
Then he joined the kkk…

Yet somehow he, not we, occupies the sunken place,
Then the beat drops, and out comes the stank face

No standards, no demands
insult, denigration, that go without reprimand

A white man stood upon the black man’s back
And made a myriad of tracks
Filled with angry rhymes,
And to some occupies the label “the greatest of all time.”

I’m not sayin’ I am a fan of Jay-Z,
I’m just saying, at least he looks like me.
You don’t have to walk eight miles to see,
“Hip hop” gave a violent n’ vulgar white man a clean slate, under the title of “emcee”

16 bars,
To forget who you are
16 bars
And to feel like you made it so far
From drugs and destitution,
Ignoring the reality that you’ve assumed a veiled form of prostitution

It’s going to take more than an ill’ verse
To reverse this systemic curse

The bodies rock rock rock
But her hips won’t hop
You hear an 808– I hear a jangle of the chains
Sounds a little like the anglo all up in yo’ last name…

 

Black Power ❤

Why Monique Isn’t Mad Enough For Me

Monique made headlines this week for outing Netflix in what she references as payment discrimination. Monique, a black female actress and comedian, has repeatedly made headlines over the last couple of years regarding her treatment in Hollywood. As a full-figured black woman, known for her emphatic and sometimes vulgar language use, Monique is an easy target. Her role as a Hollywood Sapphire and veiled mammy who nurses the white ego with her caricatured presence, makes it easy for the masses to believe that Monique is “difficult,” “demanding,” and overall hard to please.moniquepoint

Although the issues Monique articulates are not new to Hollywood or the universal racist paradigm, if Monique were not a black being of female form her words would be taken with far more value.  If Monique were a white woman, she could easily seize the “me too” moment like Jennifer Lawrence and Michelle Williams and ensure that she earn the same about as her white male co-stars. If her skin were white, she would embody what America considers the “true” female form–her equity would matter and equality would be granted. But Monique is not white, so the woes of an impeded path to wealth do not matter, as to the white world–blacks should be content with whatever they are given.

monique-selfie-e1495036452805With the abundance of black streaming services available in contemporary culture, there are plenty of actors that would never be given a deal on a white streaming service like Netflix, that do exceedingly well in a space reserved for black people. Rather than beseech the master at his boots, it seems a more feasible route to reach out to the numerous black streaming services. Her “comeback” may even prove a mutually beneficial partnership with a black streaming service that engenders cultural benefit and career reinvention. I personally would love to see Monique as a positive role that functions to illustrate the full-sized, funny woman as something other than the “butt” of a joke, an asexual mammy, sapphire, or welfare queen.precious

But let us be honest here. What Monique wants is not for the culture, but for her wallet. She does not wish to confront or even combat white supremacy, she merely wants to see it work for her.We have seen this countless times in Hollywood, perhaps most notably with Jay-Z in his campaign to disrupt the capital of Kristal and Apple, after these racist brands offended him personally. As a continually disenfranchised collective, it is the persistent effects of colonialism that make it so that racism is only real when it happens to the individual. Slavery was not enough, losing your language and last name was not enough. No, a white establishment must refuse an individual a meal, job, or call them a derogatory name, for the most oppressed people on planet earth to believe their oppression is more than a myth.

While black oppression is not a myth, the value of white commerce is. An over-valuing of white commerce remains a core way the oppressed remain deflected from the evil of white supremacy. Namely, there seems to be a cognitively dissonant ideology that implies that the ways of the white man are evil, but his somehow his money pacifies said evil.   There are ways to combat white supremacy, and this way is not an over valuing of wealth. To be in love with the white man’s money is to possess an illness that cripples each and every step forward, to occupy a place on a contemporary auction block and sell your supposedly free flesh to the highest bidder monique-weightloss-435where you are  poked and prodded by the white gaze until you are longer human.

Five hundred thousand dollars was not enough for Monique, because she seeks equality not equity. Equality put her on television and made her visible, a lack of equity made her stoop to her knees to garner said visibility.

Monique’s complaints have nothing to do with the mistreatment of black bodies, but have everything to do with demanding the right to white capital. Thus, blacks should not support Monique’s endeavor, not because our collective does not care about our constituency of  black people, but because Monique does not. Monique, though offered more some than most black families see in a lifetime,  would have no complaints about the economic disparities that exists outside of Hollywood which are far more devastating, if granted the multi-million deals of Dave Chapelle, Amy Shumer, and Katt Williams. Monique’s attempt to draw support from the black community in times of distress or ejection from white spaces is no different that the present actions of Omarosa–illustrating that Black seems to be what so many grab on their fictive fall off a throne they never occupied in the first place. 636511086381783187-monique

All and all, I resent Monique’s representation as an angry black woman–because she actually is not angry at all.  Particularly,  while dissatisfied, but she was not angry about racism until it threatened her economic sanctity. Racism is what cast Monique on The Parkers, as Viviva A. Fox’s “ghetto fabulous” friend in Two Can Play Than Game, and as the wicked mother in Precious. Racism made Monique a star, so I suppose what I am saying is that, at this point, Monique should have been mad for over two decades–namely, upon the racists of Hollywood offering to make her a star and not the sky.

Nevertheless, nothing but love to you sister Monique.

Black Power ❤