Thursday, 16 July 2009

Not In My Name

I was having a discussion on another blog with some African American brothers about the use of the b- word to describe Black sisters and they furiously defended using the term claiming that a bad word can be re-appropriated for good and can be used as an artistic metaphor in American hiphop or as re-inforcement of a woman's swagger. Bear in mind, these brothers are pretty articulate and intelligent. They consider themselves Babylon/plantation-free thinkers - though I don't know how free one is if they're still using this word. But it's all good; we all have our own right to define our mental freedom as we feel. I'm in no place to impose my opinion on anyone, just as they cannot impose their thoughts on me.

Anyway, I argued against this and here are my edited thoughts below. I hope those who freely use the b- and n- words will stumble upon my blog, read this and think twice before uttering them again. Here goes:

There is nothing swaggerlicious or endearing in calling a woman that term. There are some things you never, ever reduce a woman to. While you might say its for artsake and in the context of art to call Li'l Kim the b-word (& even to this I'd object), the same cannot be true for every other woman. No matter how good you mean it - the word cannot escape its dark meaning. It's like putting a chain around her neck and selling her off again regardless of what kind of resistance she would give to that name. Its opening the door for those who have sexualised, brutalised and raped her throughout history to come back and conquer her, yet throughout the centuries women have said no, time and again!


Black women throughout history have
said call me Queen, regal in all her splendour - why is it so hard for this word
to roll of your tongue?
Is Bablyon's lingo your default
language or sumthin'?

Really, please my people if you are emancipated and you really are tuning into what women say about themselves in a positive light then this should not even be an issue. Its like you've not re-educated yourself and become aware of how much you dissown your Black pride when you call someone n-. To call a man or the n- word or a woman b- is to me running back through history and putting on the chains of slavery. You might as well say 'yes massa' next time your friends say yo n-!

I don't have to adopt the view of the masses simply because the majority holds fort on an ideology that is predicated on a damaging and false sense of self-worth. It just doesn't fly with me. If you can choose to change the meaning of a word that to me is still the same sexist word just re-packaged - I as a woman choose to reject it and I say no!

Can you honestly look at picture of Michelle Obama, Rosa Parkes, Alek Wek, Olwuchi Onweagba or Serena Williams -women who broke down doors and made to the top of their game and call these women by that insidious word? Surely even your art knows a code of respect and honor.


As Buju says who feels it knows
it. Women feel the insult.

No matter how loving, well-meaning or artistic you may be, you'd never, ever call your Grandma, Momma, Wife, Daughter or Sister by that name - and so the application should be universal for all women.

peace

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