Hip-Hop Feminism Changed My Life
Me & Feminism? Nah!
Once upon a time, I called my self a feminist. I was 15, and it was during a phone conversation with a fellow male classmate. He was black. Not that it should matter, but it does. I partnered with feminism without really knowing what it meant, so I asked him for his view, which was already a bad move (and probably defeats the purpose). I don't remember everything he said, but one thing that stuck with me was that he said in Jamaican patois "Safra hate man." From that point onward, I shied away from it. But I never abandoned hip-hop.
The lamenting dragged on for years. I have listened to many black men and their disdain for feminism, and read articles by black women vehemently against the term. They'll call themselves humanists, womanists, and everything in between, but a feminist. To expand my mind, I continued the conversation with white women, ‘ethnic' women (as in non-black) and came to a rational conclusion that it merely means your right to choose. It was a concept I could live with, but the idea of associating myself with a movement I didn't quite understand still didn't sit well with me.
Homestyle Chicken Soup for the Soul
A few weeks ago, I read Joan Morgan's When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost: A Hip-Hop Feminist Breaks It Down. A lightbulb went off, and I finally came to identify with this forbidden F-word - albeit more than fifteen years later. I was kicking myself over this. Like, "Why didn't I read this book back in 1999 when it was published?"
When Chickenheads... is the book I wish I had written. Back in 1999 I was 17, and my intellect was not anywhere near as developed as it is now, but this is one of the books from the '90s that are a mixture of coming of age, developing cultural criticism and gaining a deeper understanding of your own identity.
One Day It'll All Make Sense
Joan wrote about black men and women as a unit and hip-hop being an important part of that nucleus. Every young black woman, in my opinion, needs to read this book to have better relationships with black men. To respect black men, and to understand black men on a more substantial level. The mindset we've adapted - the Niggas ain't shit logic - is poisonous to our society.
The enablement epidemic is equally vile. As a hand full of black people in the western world progress, it's becoming more of a ‘there's me, and there's them' attitude. You know, women with good jobs getting with mediocre men - who, they technically despise - so they don't have to be alone but, end up telling the man he ain't shit when having to deal with his shortcomings. Or, because you're cultured, you can't ‘par' with certain ‘black folk'. To be honest, I have a big problem with how many black people associate the word culture. I find it disgusting.
Now, It Is What It Is
I'm into the culture of things. I love hip-hop culture. I'm obsessed with it. I adore black culture. I feel privileged to be black. I'm incredibly thankful for being brought up in a Caribbean household, and to have grown up listening to hip-hop since I was a child. I have no problems being around what is classified as ‘ghetto'. In fact, I probably feel more like myself when I'm around people who pull no punches. As time went on, I've come to acknowledge my hipsterisms: my appreciation for shit like art, and indie cinemas and 'worldly' foods, but nothing compares to when I'm sitting around my families talking shit, and being archetypal (whatever that means).
Those times when I've travelled to different countries, it was because I could afford it. But, I know I'm not better or smarter than anyone. And, I only want to be in long-term relationships with black men. That's my preference. I'm fully aware of the power struggles and at times, ancient mindsets a lot of black men have. But I can deal with it. Or at least, I'm willing to deal with it.
Back when I was finding myself, my reasoning for not being a feminist was because I didn’t get to choose my decisions, I had no choice. Well, now I acknowledge my right to choose my love for my people, my culture, my hip-hop, my gangster-isms and my feminism.
So, shoot me, if I don't shoot you first.