Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Black Girls Rock

Gentle reminder: If your response to this title is to be offended because what about white girls? Please see yesterday's post.

My songs of the day have featured black women artists since February 1st. Originally it was just going to be all of February. I would commemorate Black History month by giving the songs over to black women.

One reason is that I kept hearing of new artists. I had been keeping a list of names so I could check them out, but it was also because of how I heard of one of them. Really, it was kind of all for Azealia Banks.

The first time I heard of her was related to a feud with Iggy Azalea, who was also new to me. It was not the first time I had heard of cultural appropriation, but something in Banks' words stuck with me - I felt the pain in what she was saying, as well as the logic.

Black Twitter was a big part of that, for the new artists, and the articles, and showing the hypocrisy in some of the attacks, and pointing out how the pictures in the articles used flattering shots of Azalea, but bad ones of Banks. I did a Google image search out of curiosity, and there are lots of good images of Banks out there. There might be copyright issues for some of them, but certainly not all of them.

I mention that to give some context, but also because history repeats. The other black women who seemed to get the most blow back are Nicki Minaj and Rihanna. (Beyoncé gets some too, but it's different.)

Well, recently Rihanna released a new song, "BBHMM", and some "feminist" writers decried the violence against a women but have also recently defended the violence against women in Grand Theft Auto. It may be worth noting that the video features Mads Mikkelsen, who plays a serial killer in "Hannibal" and I haven't heard anyone complaining about that violence.

Then just yesterday Nicki Minaj tweeted a comment (an accurate one) about the VMA's that was not about Taylor Swift. Because Swift nonetheless took it personally (just used to assuming everything is about her I suppose), then Minaj is "taking jabs" at Swift, and look at that! Flattering picture of Swift and unflattering picture of Minaj.

One guy tweeted that the attacks on Nicki don't matter in light of Sandra Bland, but it matters a lot, because it's that constant diminishment and erasure of black women that makes it so easy to kill them. They need to be celebrated instead.

So when I started it was to give some credit to Azealia, and to others. I didn't realize how many black women I would find, but I also didn't know how much more important it would seem.

One other incident that resonated was the jab taken by "Fashion Police" at Zendaya:

I'd never heard of Zendaya before either, but looking at the articles and the pictures, she looked beautiful, and well-put together, for both dress and hair. And again, they just couldn't let her have her moment, they needed to drag her down.

Zendaya responded with dignity and class. She could have been a lot nastier about it, chances are she would have been demonized for doing so. There are still people who feel she made too much of a fuss, when she did not fuss.

I was impressed with her, but also impressed with Amandla Stenberg.

She is so educated and poised and thoughtful for her age, and I was amazed by that, but then I remembered that her first entry into the public attention consisted of people angry that Rue was black, and feeling better about her death. I guess she had to learn fast.

The sad thing is that I don't think that being so well-spoken means that Amandla or Zendaya get less pushback than Nicki or Azealia, who sometimes choose to be more aggressive. Actually, that's only one sad thing. There are lots of things that are sad about all of this.

What I am trying to switch into next week is different things that people can do, and so this was one for me. I could incorporate - into something I do anyway - a focus on black women. I can proclaim that black girls rock.

There are so many good examples.

Mo'ne Davis rocks.

Misty Copeland rocks.

Serena Williams rocks. Venus Williams rocks too.

Bree Newsome rocks.

Ava DuVernay rocks.

There's a lot more. Keep an eye out for them. Protect them. Support them. Let them lean on you. Two movements have leaned on black women for a long time, and they are getting tired. Make this a better world for them. Maybe buy the T-shirt:

Tomorrow: about 175 songs.

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