important information:

via Hello Giggles

22491820_1727958807228516_8703896836367856733_n

Advertisements

Massa

by Olivia Johnson

A powerhouse performance artist, with a background in social work. Olivia is a writer of many mediums, with most of her work reflecting the call for social acceptance of women of color.

We are all still slaves
Easily bought when that new cotton crop comes in
We are all still naive
Easily manipulated by a white man who believes he’s a God
We are all still children of God
Easily we forget that just as we forgot the jungles, the pyramids, the lions
We are all still, still, still
Waiting for the man to sell back our divinity
Still still, still
Waiting for the man to sell us that good gossip as truth
Still, still, still
Waiting for the man to sell our hearts to the devil for safe keeping
I watched them crops, planted the seeds out of my
love for what their potential could be.
I watched them crops, watered them seeds out of my
love for what their life’s purpose could be.
I watched them crops, weeded them stalks out of my
love for their someday that was yesterday’s stock
Still, still, still
I waited for the man to recognize my work
Still, still, still
I waited for the man to stop testing my faith
Still, still, still
I waited for the man to stop defiling my sisters in
quarters, while his wife waits in the big house
We are still slaves
Allowing this man, or any man, lay dominion over our
inheritance of chastity
We are still slaves
Allowing this woman, or any woman, to break
formation and forget her divinity
We are still slaves
Allowing this system to make us links in the chain of
the school to prison pipeline
But still, still, still
You… my beloved’s body is so…
Still, still, still
As he hangs from the tree of popularity
Still, still, still
My heart, I gave to him, rests in his clenched hands,
he tried to protect it
But massa, massa, massa
Had better plans for us
Massa, massa, massa
Had better knowledge of our twinstology
Massa, massa, massa
Had better pleasure making a show of our black love
By force
This whole existence has us believing
By force
We live, we work, we beaten, we work, we love, we
work, we hate, we work, we forgive, we work, we die
By force
We lose our clarity of them jungles, them pyramids,
them lions
Bye love
I take my steps towards your body
Bye love
I take my heart back
Bye love
I take steps away from you
Bye love
I’ll see you in reincarnation
Bye love
I hope we get it right, next time
Bye love
I drop the mirror down, feel nothing but my wings of
eternity
Bye love
I never lived my life in popularity
Bye love
I walk onto this divine path, full of uncertainty
Bye love
Massa had us all fooled
Bye love
Massa craved me to stay a fool
Bye love
Massa coveted my goodness
Bye love
I walk right past the fields I tilled with every
ounce of love from my body
Bye love
I walk right past the house that false promises
built
Bye love
I walk right past… massa
A broken, privileged, empty man
I walk, with my knowing, my knowing, my knowing
that I am my own destiny, my own divinity, my own
bravery
I walk, full of I am, I am, I am all that I am
I walk, with my God above me
I walk, with my Archangel Brother’s and Sisters
beside me
I walk, feet still sowing them seeds of lighted freedom
I walk, still, still ,still
Never to be a slave again.

We’re back.

Hi all, Morgann here.

I started this blog with a friend almost two years ago. It quickly grew, and while I loved the impact it was making in the community, I was quite frankly doing it alone and couldn’t keep up with the vision and success of it all.

But I also realize that because of this blog I found myself and my purpose, which was life-changing. Originally, this blog’s purpose was to explore the Black woman and non-man’s experiences in the Omaha metropolitan area; I realized that there were so many melanin-blessed people who I thought should also have an opportunity to share their story, their experiences, and we quickly shifted that mission to include non-white women and non-men.

It became, however, dominated by one voice – my voice – and that was never the intention. So now the hiatus is over, and the mission is back on track. This blog where you can see the world through a melanated non-man’s lens. It’s to explore intersectionality in all its beautiful manifestations. It’s to give people in our community to validate their experiences through creative expression. It’s to give evidence to reality of being in a community our non-white counterparts in other areas of the United States and the world sometimes forget exists. And it’s to create a safe online space to exist, because so many spaces are dangerous for people who are not white, and are not cisgender men.

I’m the editor here, and while I will still contribute content here, the majority of the content will be from melanated non-men in our community. Their stories are beautiful, inspiring, heart-wrenching and devastating. I am entirely in awe of these incredible contributors, and I cannot wait to share their stories with you. Their bravery and courage, their grace and kindness, their strength and unapologetic authenticity is all that is good and decent in this world. If you want to join by adding your voice, please reach out to me on the Contact page.

With that, I hope to get y’all good and SHOOK.

 

❤ always,

Morgann

agency in self-definition: my ‘slut’ walk

by Billie Mari Grant

There are about a trillion quotes about being remembered, leaving a legacy, or making a change. Okay, that may be hyperbolic but I don’t think it’s a far stretch to say a good grip of folks want to make an impact. I chose to believe that this is most often coming from a good place. Maybe that is because for me, it is. I’m almost 25 and can name at least 25 people who have had some impact on my life. Joy Urbach, my primary school gifted teacher. Howard Bridges, my older brother. Elle Woods, the protagonist from Legally Blonde. That’s just off the top of my head cutting out the go to folks like my stellar mother, Sandra or my amazing past partner, Jacob. Someone who maybe I don’t always want to mention is Harrison. The first person ever to rape me. For some reason I am compelled to leave out his last name. I think it is more for me than for him. My continuing attempt to distance myself from him. But, I cannot ignore what he did to me or the trajectory his actions set my life on. The first time Harrison touched me I was maybe 15. It was my first or second year of high school. It was New Years and I had come over to comfort him after he posted about needing support on MySpace. I know I’m showing my age. I try to be the kind of friend that responds to any proverbial bat signal.  This one had my name in it! He told me later that he had hoped for the girl with my same name…but she’d been busy? So I come to his house. He’s been drinking and offers me something. For the greater portion of high school I was a pretty “good” kid. I tried hard in school, participated in extracurriculars, and didn’t engage in behavior deemed “unladylike”. I didn’t smoke, drink or have sex. I turned down his offers several times until I accepted a bowl of cereal. It was getting late and I was definitely tired. He suggested I spend the night as the buses probably weren’t running (not true) and it would be too far for a young lady to walk…too dangerous (the irony is killing me too). I tried to sleep on the couch in his room but he said it made it seem like I didn’t trust him. This sent him into a tailspin. No one likes him. Girls didn’t think he was good enough. That’s why his girlfriend had broken up with him. He was a loser and his family had left him to watch his baby brother while everyone else had fun. I tried to comfort him. Told him I did trust him and went over to lay in bed next to him. We cuddled and it felt harmless. Until he started moving his hand down my side and across my abdomen. When he got to my panty line I pushed his hand away. He started kissing my ear and telling me to trust him. That he thought I was beautiful. That he wanted me. I rolled onto my back and he kissed me. Then…so fast his hand was in my underwear and his fingers were tearing through my folds. I was holding on to his wrist… Trying to pull out his arm. Trying to pull my body away but he was on top of me, grinding and shoving his finger inside. It burned. And I thought he’d made me bleed. He told me I was just wet and that it meant I wanted him. At the time I had no other information and believed him. Dawn was breaking outside the egress window and he’d had his fun. He said he was tired and feel asleep instantly. I lay there. Wondering what I had done. Why I had let this happen. Asking myself if I’d liked it and getting the response of pain from my vagina. After what seemed like hours his mom knocked on the door and came in. She said hello to him and to me. Like it was no big deal that I was in his bed. The one she was sitting on talking about bowling. After she left he told me to leave because he needed to get ready to go hangout with his family. It was a tradition and I wasn’t invited. I left and felt so shamed. So uncomfortable with my body. My skin. My insides. Everything. It was probably cold out but I don’t remember. I remember the sun and how it felt too bright.

During

high school I would be raped again. Once by a Latino man in a red dodge charger who said he was from New York and was asking for directions and again by Harrison. I would make a mistake and believe his apology. I would think he was trust worthy and be proven wrong. I would look past his statements of ownership over my body. I would ignore the sexual (and racially insensitive) illusions he would make to his younger brother while we watch a commercial about chocotacos. I would agree to have sex with him after having too much to drink. I would tell him to use a condom and try to stop when he took it off. I would tell him it hurt and push against his chest. I would struggle to breath after he covers my face with a pillow. I would cry thinking my body betrayed me as my vagina lubricated itself against his intrusion. And it would end. He would tell me I needed to sneak out so his parents didn’t know and I would climb over a fence. He would apologize telling me I am the best sex he’s ever had and that he thought I wanted it rough. I would not forgive him. I would try. But after he continued to suggest anal sex as a makeup activity I would give up for good. Four years later in Omaha, Nebraska I would first name these encounters as rape.

This was radical.

It felt liberating and entirely terrifying. It felt uncomfortable to be so vulnerable. Until…I felt their support. The women sitting around the table would shake their heads and hold my hand. They would echo what I have now learned. That it was not my fault. That I didn’t want it. That I don’t have to forgive him. And that it was rape. It was wrong. It IS wrong. These women made up some of the SlutWalk planning committee of 2014. That is the first year of having Kristin as the lead organizer and it would be my first SlutWalk as an identifying survivor. This last year I took over leadership of SlutWalk. I made this choice quickly, not really knowing what I was getting myself into. But knowing that this was something I was feeling called to do. This remains one of the best choices I’ve made since moving to Nebraska. I had a few things I was really excited to do with SlutWalk this year. I wanted to included clinics from North and South Omaha. I wanted to include as many folks as wanted to be included from bands to agencies. I wanted to create a space that included and supported survivors of color, undocumented survivors and male identified survivors. This last bit about inclusion was really important as it is something SlutWalks all over the world have been working to do. Furthermore, last year we had several uncomfortable and frankly pissed folks who didn’t think we did the best we could have done. We appreciated the critical examination and this year organized and hosted two forums for folks to come tell us what they liked and didn’t like about SlutWalk last year or SlutWalk over all. From those as well as a meeting we had shortly following SlutWalk 2015 we were able to further identify areas of improvement. These certainly weren’t things we hadn’t acknowledged but these conversations gave the community the opportunity to also offer up possible solutions. I also met with a few people personally to discuss their issues with SlutWalk. We held our poster making party at an alcohol free, all ages venue with access to bus routes and also offered rides from the event. We welcomed Boner Killerz to the stage for their first performance and had intentional conversations about language when necessary. The event itself went fairly well sans a lack of power, however we were lucky and thankful to have amazing acoustic vocal peformances as well as spoken word performances. We close out each SlutWalk with an open mic. For many, this is the most impactful portion of the afternoon. It is a time where we, as survivors and allies hold space for one another. I realized I hadn’t provided any tissues so I ran to my car for a giant pack of napkins. The heart, passion, and truth that exists during the open mic is…contagious. It made me feel like I was not alone. It reminded me I move with thousands. When I think back to that day, to some of those moments…my skin tingles. I remember their knowing and supportive eyes. I remember their respect for boundaries and the many requests for hugs acknowledging that not everyone is comfortable with touch. I remember the pronoun buttons that were gone in a snap and am thankful for UNO providing markers and nametags so folks can continue to feel affirmed if only between noon and 2 p.m. on a random Saturday.

…and I

remember being a teenager waiting for the bus. Twice. And thinking, I am a bad person who makes bad choices. A bad girl who sets bad examples. 

That parallel is where I see my impact. The difference between who I am now and who I was then is the reason I organize SlutWalk. It’s the reason I organize, period. The children I saw at SlutWalk are the reason I organize. The people of color I saw holding signs proclaiming that they are not to be exotified is why I organize. The survivors finally having a place, a moment to breath and be affirmed in their truth is why I organize.

I began working with SlutWalk three years ago because I want to be a sex therapist. I think it is important people are having conversations about their bodies. I truly believe a level of familiarity would go a long way increasing our comfort with sex and sexual conversation. I believe that survivors have a unique relationship with their body and first need to reclaim it as their own before they can begin to heal.

I organize SlutWalk becuase it is not about “them” it is about “us.” It is about moving as a community and holding each other up. It is about acknowledging where everyone is in their journey and being honest about whether or not you are in a place to best aid them. It is about moving back and creating necessary space for groups that continue to be marginalized regardless of the topic. I organize SlutWalk because every year being a part of an us helps me grow. It helps me heal. I hope my impact is that by intentionally organizing SlutWalk I can help someone else to grow and heal as well.

About Billie:

Billie Mari Grant has lived in Omaha for just over 3 years. In those years she has become a recognizable activist in many communities. She is a core organizer for CHEER (Comprehensive Health Education and Equal Responsibility) and the creator of Period.Productions, an alternative printed resource currently focused on creating a comprehensive sexual health zine (The Talk) to be nationally distributed. She is as board member of Friends of Planned Parenthood, and Queer People of Color (QPoC) Nebraska. She works as a facilitator for the Anti-Defamation League and is currently leading an after school program at a local middle school. Billie has volunteered regularly as a facilitator ans panelist for GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network) and Inclusive Communities. She is an intern 28th Nebraska Appleseed where she assists with development work but primarily looks at access to women’s health care for immigrants. Last September, she was named Omaha Table Talk’s Facilitator of the Year. This June, she was awarded the Community Impact Award by Heartland Pride. She some how still finds times to binge watch Netflix and Freeform and even walks her dachshund chihuahua, Winston…sometimes.

#BlackLivesMatter

So many people derail the movement, invalidate the movement, alienate and dehumanize the movement, that it’s ironic to me that so few people actually know what the movement is about. It’s that mob mentality in action, I guess, where so many people believe what their peers say rather than forming an opinion for themselves by doing, you know, research.

I’m not about to enable that behavior, but I will tell you what it means to me.

It means that my people–Black people–are treated as less than human in how they are interacted with, directly and indirectly. Specifically in America, that inequality in perceptions of deserved human dignity and respect is glaringly obvious especially when you look at the police and ‘justice system.’

Now I need you to realize, I’m writing this out of pressing, suffocating grief. I’m not about to be objective. I don’t have that luxury, nor do I have any desire to coddle a society who refuses to see how it is enabling a violently murderous demonic system that is killing. my. people.

We are shot dead for shopping. Murdered for playing with toys. Raped for driving. Assaulted for asking for help. Arrested and harassed for spending time with families. Assaulted for going home. Shot for opening our doors. Assaulted for going to pool parties. Killed for driving… anywhere. Or, just being in a car. Assaulted for avoiding accidents. Murdered for asking questions. Murdered for knowing too much about how our police profile and react violently to their stereotyping. Murdered for not realizing we’re not full-humans in society’s eyes. Murdered for walking down the street. Murdered for walking in our neighborhoods. Murdered for going through a drive thru. Murdered for having a mental illness. Murdered murdered murdered murdered murdered murdered murdered murdered murdered murdered murdered.

And then, as if that’s not enough of a dehabilitating tragedy of our existence, our murderers, our assaulters, our rapists, our harrassers walk free. 

But you’re telling me all lives matter? All lives should matter. All lives do not. That is evident in how you continue to erase our cries of grief, frustration, anger, pain when yet another Black body lies dead with a cop caught on camera murdering them.

You want to know how to be a better citizen? How to help make the world a better place?

Hold these murderers accountable.

Stand with us as we grieve. Shout with us as we call for change. Create space for us. Support us. Change this with us so that there are no more Black bodies lying in street from another police murder. Because this is unacceptable, and if you are silent about my pain your have chosen the side of my oppressor. Because it could be me next.

#AltonSterling ❤

 

Put the Goddamn Space in: “transwoman” “transfeminism” “transmasculine” etc (language politics #1)

Fantastic post on trans identities and why the [space] is so important. Read and enjoy and let’s chat about it on Facebook!

Taking Up Too Much Space

When I read Whipping Girl, I didn’t think that “transwoman” (without the space) was insulting/ungendering/whatever, but she’d asked for folks to stop, to put a space in between and make it two words, and so I did.

Now, I’m amazed that I *ever* thought it was ok.

There are two basic problems.

1)Asymmetry and [cis] as unspecified default

The first problem lies primarily in the asymmetry in usage of “trans(wo)man” and “cis(wo)man”–the fact that whenever women who are transsexual are being spoken of, that ‘trans’ must always be specified even when it might seem clear from context–whereas in speaking of women who are cissexual, there’s no need to say ‘cis’ unless we are talking in a trans context–even if we specifically mean cis women. …That is to say, were we to accept the one-word terminology, there would be “transwomen” who are almost always referred to as “transwomen”, but “ciswomen” are…

View original post 482 more words

On love and epiphanies

I’m coming down from a high – a revolution of the mind that has shifted my identity on a molecular level. It has been a slowly gathering avalanche of self-actualization and empowerment that brought peace, understanding and energy in a way that I didn’t think possible. Let me explain.

So if you follow me on Facebook, you saw my post yesterday about a few recent epiphanies… and these are realizations that apply to humans, not just people with my intersectional experience.

1. The people that love you may only conditionally support you. You have to decide whether or not you can (or will) change those rules or leave.

Leading up to this week, I have been thinking a lot about who I surround myself with. Who is in my corner, who’s off to the side, who flits in and out as they please. And who is a vital part of my life. I’ve had to take a step away, reach back into my memory, and take painfully honest snapshot of my “crew”.

I was a Shakespeare nerd growing up and in my favorite sonnet 116 he writes,

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no; it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests, and is never shaken;

Translation: love–true love–is not conditional. It doesn’t change when you do something they don’t like. And similarly, those that really, truly love you are ride-or-die supporters of you. They believe in you and will support you even when they may not agree. The only condition that transcends that kind of love is one that threatens lives. Seriously. And even then, there’s movies about the moments when they love you to the end.

So people who love you but only want to support when you’re doing something that they get or they can emphasize with are people who are only conditionally in your corner. When your support group, your friends and family and acquaintances and mentors and whatever are conditional, you need to ask yourself if you’re okay with that.

You need to decide whether or not you can hack it if they’re not there when you may need them, or if they are there, they’re only there to make you feel lesser. (Think: the “I told you so” crowd.) If the answer to that is no, or maybe not, you may need to think about whether or not you want to address it with them or leave temporarily. Or permanently. Self-love, self protection is key and you need to figure that out.

 

2. When you’re on the right track, you’ll see signs. you’ll have validation, you’ll develop camaraderie with others.

This past week, I was gifted a comp ticket to Big Omaha, one of the biggest conferences in the entrepreneurship space in the Midwest. I got to tell my story, pitch my inclusive communications business and talk about my favorite topic – social constructions and society. I met people who were highly successful, people just starting out, people who have no idea what they want to do. People who live on the road and people who live in their office. I talked with the presenters from all over the world and didn’t stutter or sound like a loser. (Seriously, I did a happy dance a la Jennifer Garner in 13 Going On 30 after meeting Tanya Menendez from MakersRow. She’s really awesome by the way.)

The thing is, I explained my story and they got it. Immediately. Not only did they get why I wanted to do this inclusive communications work, but they also got why it matters. Since starting this blog 4 months ago, I have yet to have to explain why the work I’m doing matters. At Big Omaha though, I had people who not only got it, but bought in, literally and figuratively. There is a movement for change that is building momentum and I want to build a team that can help influence it. It’s time that we internalize compassionate and empathetic inclusion instead of institutional oppression and the fragility that comes with it. This week, I met people who are 100 percent, unapologetically on board.

 

3. What you have been told is the right track is not always the track that was made for you. Clinging to it could mean missing out on the life that you were destined for.

I was told to focus on school, and then get a job, and then set aside money, and then, once everything is set, once you’re solvent and you’ve got your ducks in a row, then you can do what you want to do.

Life hasn’t worked out that way. And honestly, I’m starting to realize that it wasn’t meant to.

Holding onto what society, friends, family, etc. has told you should be your path is literally denying and blocking the path that you may have been destined for. Let your spirit free to do what you are meant to.

 

4. Loving yourself is hard. Be patient with yourself in the process.

Society will tell you, you are not enough. You are short, or fat, or slow, or lesser because of your skin, your religion, your gender, your sexuality, etc. That’s crap. I know you know that, but knowing it and owning it are two different realities, and navigating from one to the other is hard, it’s time consuming, it’s draining. Be patient with yourself. Treat yourself with care, love and compassion.

 

My thoughts on things…

…you should definitely ask someone else about. Because I attempt to fill the role of ally, creating space to people who are directly affected by their oppression to speak on it, and it’s not for me to tell you what their oppression is like. There are tons of people out there who have written about it.

But I get that you may not even get that these things exist. Thar you (and I) exist in these systems of oppression and are privileged by them. That you may not have access to learn about these things — or more accurately, that you think you don’t have the access or ability to learn about these things.

Trust me, as long as you have Google, you do.

So let me tell you about some ways that we’re being jerks.

Fatphobia.

I don’t know about you, but my timeline is flooded with prom photos. And 8 out of 10 of these gorgeous Black girls that are slayin’ prom are thin. Of the few fat Black women that I see, I also see fatphobic comments. It absolutely enrages me.

Fatphobia is horrible. You are a horrible human being. You are literally making a judgment on appearance and dehumanizing a person based solely on physical appearance. Sounds like an r-word that I talk about often huh? That’s probably because they’re both oppressive ideologies y’all need to cut. Out.

I follow several activists that have various stances on this… and for the most part they follow the rhetoric that there is absolutely nothing wrong with being fat (fat-positive). For loving your fat. For loving who you are period. If you are about to use “health concerns” as your basis for your fatphobia please know that all people have “health concerns” regardless of their body shape and your argument is oppressive.

I was on a date where a fat couple sat down next to us, and let me tell you, they were slayin. One person had their makeup LAID and both rockin’ the cutest grins. Obviously on a first date. My companion made a comment about fat people being disgusting. All I saw for a second was red, blinding rage while I explained to him that not only is that incredibly offensive, but mean, insensitive and oppressive. Thankfully we hadn’t ordered yet.

Keep in mind that workout bros and thin people do this all the time.

They are so deeply and comfortably ensconced in their privilege that they don’t even bother contemplating how they could be oppressive jerks in their fatphobia cuz you know “they could just do something about it.” 

 

Follow them instead: 

tumblr_static_esuku8dothwsg4o40ksc4ssk0


Ashleigh Shackelford

Radical Black Fat Femme.
Queer, Agender Baddie.
Writer, Body+ Advocate, & Activist.
Ratchet, Blessed, & Ain’t Shit.

http://blackfatfemme.com/

 

Fat People of Colortumblr_ngyl5wlcmk1qd8hu0o1_500

A blog dedicated to encouraging and showcasing media of fat (and non-“straight sized”) people of color. We are anti-racist, anti-ableist, anti-classist, anti-queer hatred, anti-transphobic, and generally an all inclusive space.

http://fatpeopleofcolor.tumblr.com/

 

 

Colorism.

I’ve always considered myself brown to dark-skin because in Omaha, that’s what I was told I was. Recognizing it was partially dependent on how much sun I got, I was a brown to dark brown. More hot chocolate than caramel or coffee. (Fetishizing Blackness is a whole ‘nother issue.)

As Kristin Collin Johnson wrote in this Bustle article,

“I avoided the sun because I knew that as soon as my skin started to darken, I would inevitably be on the receiving end of jokes such as “Oh, sorry I couldn’t see you because it’s night time.” Those jokes about my skin were a dime a dozen during my childhood in a predominantly white environment.”

Childhood was rough y’all. So now that my skin has mellowed to this beautiful brown (and I’ve learned to love and embrace my Blackness) I have had some really enlightening conversations on colorism and all the many facets of Blackness. I’ve traveled. I have actually seen places where there are Black people every single place you look. Like do a 360 and there are Black people in every angle of your vision.

I didn’t even realize life could be like that y’all.

As I traveled people kept calling me light-skinned. Well actually, light-skinneded, but I’m keeping my slang to a minimum. I realized I am now in an… interesting spot, where in other places of the United States, I benefit from light-skinned privilege. I know that I have what eurocentric beauty standards deems to be “attractive” features, and that plays into my privilege as well. And so I have learned to take a backseat on conversations of colorism and try to make space for others who have experienced the oppression of colorism. I realize that my experiences are relevant only to my specific set of circumstances, and do not have a great benefit to the larger narrative of extreme anti-Blackness that exists within our society.

I say all of this because I want you to understand I am not the person you should be talking to about colorism.

I am not a person who should be centered in this conversation.

I still benefit from the structure that this oppression is based upon. (ForHarriet did an excellent article on this, called Black Women Who Benefit from Colorism Must Confront Their Privilege.) If you want to learn more on colorism, I’d start with the hashtag and see the many, many stories of Black people who have had to and still do struggle with this specific intersection of oppression, compounded by anti-Blackness and racism.

Follow them instead: 

moyabailey
Moya Bailey 

Black queer feminist scholar, writer, and activist, notable for creating the term Misogynoir, which describes the specific type of discrimination experienced by black women.

http://moyabailey.com/

 

qmvujn9c_400x400

Arielle Newton

Friendly neighborhood radical. Creator of Black Millenials. Black feminism and hip hop. Black Livies Matter NYC is Family.

https://blackmillennials.com/

 


 

These are just two of the trending topics that you should really be listening to the experts on. I’m just referring you to them. Basically be conscious of what your existence is like. Look up the -isms. Look up the many ways that privilege exists. And be aware that you’re probably being a jerk.

Sincerely,

A Recovering Jerk

“Daddy made a soldier out of me”

Beyoncé is a genius. As an artist the way she crafted this album both visually and lyrically is incredible. I think we’ll still be attempting to deconstruct all the layers to symbology and meaning embedded in this album for years to come.

I could write an essay on each of her songs alone, a novel on the visual album and all of it’s lyrical imagery. The timing of the album alone pulled me out of the depressed funk I’ve been in since the loss of the legendary, revolutionary Prince, and while I know it was already schedule I’d like to think Beyoncé coordinated it to bless the grieving masses with music that carries more than just a catchy tune. It soothes the ache in my soul.

Her album is a smoothly compiled showcase of the diversity of Black music–a homage to the beautiful sounds Black people throughout history. It’s a love letter to Black womanhood–in its complexity, its strife, its evolution. But as much as I’d love to delve into that, right now I want to focus on one of my favorites on the album, Daddy Lessons.

This one resonated immediately, within the first lines, because at the surface level, she is literally “strummin’ my pain with [their] fingers, singing my life with [her] words…” I “came into this world Daddy’s little girl and daddy made a soldier out of me.” If you’ve met me before, you know how incredibly accurate this is. I’m close to my family, and my relationship with both of my parents has always been close… so when Beyoncé sang about how her dad “made a soldier” out of her I literally screamed “YASSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS” to my empty house.

But listening critically, she probably is talking about her relationship with her father, yes, but it’s a different relationship dynamic overall. She’s talking about the Black existence–about our ancestors and the survival mentality that’s passed down generation to generation. She’s talking about how my grandmother’s mother had to “toughen her up”; how my grandmother’s father treated her like a man because that’s the life she was born into, and the existence she had to live.

Beyoncé’s talking about legacy. About “face”. About the Black existence in a white America. When she says her Daddy made a soldier out of her she’s talking about the fact that Black children are taught there are specific things we will have to deal with, fight against and for, that other people will not have to. Other people who don’t look like us. Who don’t have our ancestry. Who haven’t had generations of people who have come before who’ve been brutalized for the color of our skin. She’s talking about being a soldier in an involuntary war for liberation–for civil rights and the right to be human. Black women are placed in this cutesy role in relation to the Black man – an existence that is adorable, like “Daddy’s little girl”, but is also diminishing.

 

 

If you are seen as “respectable” you are also sheltered and forced into this role of possession rather than autonomy. Additionally, you are expected to carry the mission that has been dictated to you from childhood, because the greater enemy – the massive system of white supremacy is the greater issue.

In the song, this is “men like you” – it’s the white man in my grandparents’ generation who cheats the Black family because he’s assumed Negroes don’t know any better. It’s the Black man since then, who’s fallen into the archetypes created by white supremacy and the misogyny of the patriarchy. The caricatures of the drug dealer, the playboy, the cold, unfeeling power-hungry social climber. These are what we are warned against, and our Daddies say to “shoot”.

Not a warning shot. “Shoot.”

He waits, in the song, to say “take care of your mother/watch out for your sister” before gives her the gun and tells her to shoot when they are threatened. He teaches her to protect the family, protect the legacy by choosing action. He doesn’t say, “when trouble comes in town, sit em down and talk it through” he teaches her to shoot.

So much imagery of this song is tied deeply to the roots of Southern Black America – the Bible, the whisky in his tea, the blackjack and classic vinyl. The layers go deeper with each line, but what I want to finish with is this one:

“My daddy warned me about men like you
He said baby girl he’s playing you
He’s playing you
Cause when trouble comes in town
And men like me come around
Oh, my daddy said shoot”

Yeah… she’s tellin’ all her business about her relationship. She’s also talking about the smooth-talking men I mentioned above. She’s talking about the trouble that enter our lives when unsavory folk come in. Bey’s talkin’ ’bout a girl who’s told to watch out for men period, because of the society we have–because “men like me” refers yes, to his personality, his essence, but it also refers to men in general. It hints at a power imbalance between men and girls, and a mirrors a similar dynamic in terms of white vs. Black America.

It’s pretty interesting when you replace “Black male patriarchy” with “Daddy”, but hey, that’s just me.

If you haven’t watched it yet, you can check it out on Tidal. Personally I got it on repeat. #Lemonade