Tomorrow is the last day of Black History Month and I wanted to end the month on a note that will educate and uplift our community. My Facebook friends have had to endure my rants the last few months about my growing dislike of the words, “bitch” and “hoe”, to describe my beautiful Black sisters. I wanted to share a little more insight on why I hate these words, and why I pray, after the enlightening of our beauty and history, in the last month, more of you will join me in the understanding of addressing ourselves as the queens we are, and nothing less. I purposely used the three Black women on the featured image of this post (Queen Latifah, Lauryn Hill, and Janelle Monae) because these are the images I want to circulate of Black women, but more importantly, I want you to remember and LISTEN to the lyrics they have shared with us in numerous songs. We have fallen so far away from
music mainstream music highlighting artists that empower us I wanted to share influential lyrics from these beautiful ladies reminding us of our power.
Remember Queen Latifah’s 90’s hit “U.N.I.T.Y” with the multiple messages of loving ourselves, specifically our Black women, and of course the classic chorus/phrase:
“Who you callin’ a bitch?
U.N.I.T.Y., U.N.I.T.Y., that’s a unity
U.N.I.T.Y., love a black man from infinity to infinity
U.N.I.T.Y., love a black woman from infinity to infinity”
Look at the beauty in this chorus telling us to love our Black men and women from infinity to infinity. Even better, listen and read how Queen Latifah demands at the end of each verse, who could possibly be daring enough to call her out of her name? I want us to command power like this in our music again, but also in our every day lives.
I will be fair and say, my generation and younger, thankfully have the beauty and empowerment of Janelle Monae. I definitely have a borderline crush on her and all of her fabulous-ness. But seriously, her music and her persona, is all about empowering young women to be the best versions of themselves, and I am such a huge fan. I particularly love her song “Queen” featuring Erykah Badu. Specifically this part of the song:
Am I a freak for dancing around?
Am I a freak for getting down?
I’m coming up, don’t cut me down
Yeah I wanna be, wanna be
Even if it makes others uncomfortable
I wanna love who I am
Even if it makes other uncomfortable
I will love who I am
I love how bold and unapologetic she is about her blackness in this song. I love that she points out others discomfort means nothing to her pride and self love. I love that the overall name of the song is QUEEN because she addresses by the name we should embrace.
Most people who know me know how much I love the entire “Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” album. It is still one of the best albums recorded in the last 30 years. One of my favorite songs on the album is “Doo Wop”. I didn’t realize how much I loved this song until I recently listened to the words, I had been rapping word for word, over the last few years. [Side note: it’s amazing how many songs we know word for word but don’t actually LISTEN to what we’re saying. Be careful what words and songs you allow to feed your spirit. But that will be a blog post discussion for another day 😉 ] This part of the verse in particular is what really hit me:
Showing off your ass ’cause your thinking it’s a trend
Girlfriend, let me break it down for you again
You know I only say it ’cause I’m truly genuine
Don’t be a hard rock, when you really are a gem
Baby girl, respect is just the minimum
Nigga’s creepin’ and you still defending him
Now Lauryn is only human
Don’t think I haven’t been through the same predicament
I love this verse because it really is the truth, especially for me, in the actions she speaks of. I used to be the girl who casually referred to her friends as “bitches” and “hoes” and I saw nothing wrong with it. But then I grew up, and more importantly, brought a daughter of my own into this world, everything changed for me. How could I be mad at anyone calling her out of her name when Mommy has been listening to music referring to other Black women by these inappropriate names, and even worse, Mommy has referred to other women around her by these names? What kind of example would I be? This reasoning is one of the reasons I love this verse because Lauryn Hill makes it known she used to be the same person. I also love her reference of us being gems. As awesome and “lit” as Black girls are right now, in spreading all of this #BlackGirlMagic, can you imagine how much more magical we would be if we treated ourselves, and fellow sisters as the GEMS we are to this world? My book choice for this month was “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” and he said one of the hardest things for mankind to do is to challenge their current ideals and morals, because it’s the first step of admitting we are wrong about something. I couldn’t agree with him more, because had someone had this conversation with me just five years ago, I would’ve come up with every excuse in the book to tell you I wasn’t wrong in my use of such nasty words towards people I love.
I wrote this because I really and truly want us to start holding ourselves and those around us accountable for the language used to describe ourselves. This includes challenging everything from close friends to the musical artists you support. We have to step outside of the box and realize a nice beat to a song doesn’t change the message you’re sending to masses regarding our beautiful Black women. This goes for both male and female musical artists. I challenge all of you, my Black sisters specifically, to find and remember our/your Queedom at all times. Although we all will have our moments of forgetting, always remember, it’s never too late to: Adjust Your Crown, Queen.
I will leave you all with my favorite quote from Dean Davenport’s lecture regarding the use of the word “hoe” between two Black college students on the show “A Different World“.
“I suggest, no I warn you: never call a woman something you wouldn’t want somebody else to call your mother”….”A family can never be united with it’s brothers and sisters divided…NEVER!” -Dean Davenport
Have a great evening and I hope you all have a great upcoming week!