Surviving Misogynoir

By Teka Lark (January 8, 2019)

When I have events I never have music. I don’t like music.

I came of age in the 80s and 90s.

I came of age when music was getting pretty mean and I knew immediately that I did not like hiphop. I didn’t like hiphop, because it seemed to specifically be talking about how it hated me as a Black girl, I wasn’t sophisticated enough to have the words, but even as a kid I liked myself.

I wasn’t going to purchase and listen to music that seemed to specifically hate me, even if it had a good beat.

I don’t use hate flippantly.

“Tired of my face, Telling lies gettin’ n—s wives tied up and raped.” — Rick Ross

There is something that listening to soundtrack of Black women hate that turns even Black women against Black women. It’s propaganda with a producer.

The lyrics were not only violent towards Black women and sexually graphic, but also had to on top of all of that it had an undercurrent of respectability politics, like “we all raped this 12 year old, but if she had dressed like a lady and loved Jesus, well that wouldn’t have happened…”

Self righteous, objectifying, and mean.

I also came of age in the beginning of music videos, MTV was actively and openly racist, it wouldn’t play Black artists, so BET was started and initially I watched the R&B, until I noticed not just the songs, but the videos.

I noticed there was a lot of colorism, sizeism, and just women as objects, R&B had become like hiphop, but with singing. Art is supposed to be fantasy, so when you listen to music and watch videos you sort of fantasize that it’s you, and I didn’t want to be dancing in a music video in a g-string sitting on some evil child molesting uncle’s lap.

People say well all music is sexist.

Many Black women academics say that hiphop is from the larger culture which is sexist.

They are correct the US is sexist.

All art is sexist, but you know what, I’m not embracing an art form that has for the last 40 years specifically described people who look like me as a bitch, whore, gold digger, prostitute, and baby’s mama over and over and over and over again.

I’m not embracing an art form that views me as a hole for masturbation.

I’m not embracing an art form that ranks Black women by shade and hair texture, so that even Beyonce who is unrankable (and husband is Jay Z) gets ranked a B, because she isn’t biracial with wavy hair, because even light skin won’t exempt you from their wrath.

I’m not embracing an art form that would openly disrespect Beyonce, because she is a Black woman and you can get away with disrespecting a Black woman, even if the Black woman is Beyonce.

I’m not embracing an art form that claims it loves Rihanna, creepily stalks Rihanna (Drake) then collaborates with the man (Chris Brown) who tried to kill Rihanna.

You will not call me out my name in my own neighborhood and in my own home.

In the past I brought this up to people and I got a lot of push back as there were bigger fish to fry, you know, racism, because politically some of these men accidentally made some good points like NWA’s F*** the Police.

“Dr Dre has changed…”
Fuck Dr. Dre.

As a Black girl in a Black neighborhood, the racism I witnessed and experienced on a daily basis was on rotation on the radio and cable television —songs by R Kelly, Dr Dre, NWA, Kanye West, Rick Ross, and Snoop Dog and as I was from LA, I didn’t just hear the songs I knew friends who had personally experienced the brutality of these men and the culture that uplifted them and stomped on Black women and girls’ souls.

They were predators going after underage girls and bragging about not falling in love with them, but raping them. There are songs that explain in vivid detail these activities, no one was hiding anything.

“Mister, mister, before you make me go
I’m here to let you know your little girl is a ho
Nympho, nympho, boy is she bad
Get her all alone and out comes the kneepads
I know she is a minor and it is illegal
But the bitch is worse than Vanessa Del Rio
And if you decide to call rape” —Ice Cube, 1991

There has never been a misunderstanding.

For me there has never been a conflict in my head.

I have never been confused about R Kelly, Dr Dre, hip hop or rap. You don’t like me, then I don’t like you. There is no confusion or conflict for me.

When I brought this up in the Black community I was told that I was being unfair, because #NotALLUrban music and when I brought this up in predominantly white feminist circles I got a lot of, “This is complicated and bell hooks said it was OK…” bell hooks didn’t say this was OK, but whatever…

Sexism for some reason always becomes more complicated when it involves Black girls/femmes/women, because Black in the eyes of society makes you not a woman ala “All the Women Are White, All the Blacks Are Men, But Some of Us Are Brave,” and feminism is for (white) women, not Black girls.

I remember once I was at a women event, run by non Black women and to be inclusive they played hiphop, and though it wasn’t a hateful song it was by an artist who I knew was hateful.

I got sick of explaining why as a Black woman how hurtful it was (and is) that women who are not Black, but claim to be feminists, feel it’s completely OK to uplift a lifestyle that that hates me, for the sake of some fake diversity.

I also got sick of asking Black women who love hip hop, Dre, R Kelly etc…why they liked music that insulted them, degraded them, the people in the genre won’t even marry people who can’t pass the paper bag test, these men clearly think the average Black woman is disgusting and they say it over and over and over again. They rank you a D and they do it publicly. They call brown and dark Black women gold diggers for wanting to be treated nicely, they hate you, and the ones with “positive” lyrics collaborate and party with the ones that hate you, so why, why do you continually defend them? Why do you set yourself on fire to keep these men who wouldn’t even waste spit to help you, if you were actually on fire?

I stopped explaining this topic.

I was exhausted at having to explain this to Black men, Black women, POC, white people, just everyone.

I stopped asking, begging, appealing to reason as to why people feel the need to continue to play and support the hateful genre of music that hurts Black women.

Imagine going to an event with music and someone made a derogatory slur about you at least three times an hour, because that is what it is like for Black women, that is how prolific the hate is.

This is why I don’t have music at my events, because if Black women can’t freely dance, then no one is dancing.


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