There have been so many fabulous things happening this month like LGBTQIA Pride and Juneteenth. It’s easy to forget that June is also Black Music Month. This is a great time to upload your playlist with tunes from iconic Black singers or listen to fresh Black talent.
If you are looking for suggestions for summer jams…check out these Black women singers who dropped new music this month.
Joi: Props to Janelle Monáe, Kelela, and SZA. But before these ladies there was Joi. Joi was doing the quirky/alternative/Afrofuturistic music and imagery back in the early 90’s. She was before her time, so she struggled with mainstream acceptance. However, she has been able to cultivate a strong underground fanbase. Recently, an amazing article detailed her brilliant career. Personally, my favorite album from Joi is Star Kitty’s Revenge (“I’m missin’ you/ wishing you were here baby”). She’s back with the album SIR Rebekkah Holylove. A wonderful opportunity to support a trailblazer in Black music.
Macy Gray: It took me a minute to catch on to Macy’s new video. I kept thinking why is Evan Ross in this? Then it clicked. The video is a take on Diana Ross’s movie “Lady Sings the Blues.” Of course, Evan is her son. He is playing Billie Dee Williams’s role. (If you are a Millennial…Google all this 😉 Gray’s song “Sugar Daddy” is pretty catchy. I raised an eyebrow when I read it was co-written with Megan Trainor. It explains why it sounds bubble gum poppish. But Gray can pull off any song with her textured vocals. And at 50, I know she’s probably trying to catch the attention of new fans. So, a diva has to do what she has to do. I ain’t mad at her and look forward to the album.
Nao: I came across Nao’s music a few years ago. It’s shocking she isn’t more popular. Like Ms. Gray, she has a unique and tantalizing sound. I love her voice. I was excited when she posted snippets of new music on her website. Then she released “Another Lifetime.” This is my current theme song. I like to randomly pick theme songs for some reason. In any case, this is a nice summer cut.
“I swear I won’t run/In another life, I’ll keep us bounded”
*doing the snake* 🙂
I’ll never forget the first time I saw Franchesca Ramsey’s “Sh*t White Girls Say.” I watched it over and over again. I couldn’t stop cracking up. I thought it was an accurate portrayal of some of the ridiculous things white girls say to Black girls. I actually used the video as an example of the microagressions Black women experience, for a paper I was writing at the time. I was working on the paper to submit to an essay contest at my university. I won the $500 award (thanks, Franchesca).
It’s hard to believe that video debuted six years ago. It’s been amazing to see Ramsey go from a YouTube talent, to a well-known persona on shows like MTV’s Decoded. So, when she announced she was coming out with a book, I waited with anticipation. I was curious to learn more about the funny young woman with the lovely locs.
Because I’m a busy single mama, I cheated and got the audiobook. I’m actually glad I did. There were some parts in the book that made me burst out laughing. I startled a couple of folks, while out and about, with my hee hawing. Ramsey has a great speaking voice, and reading her own story with her voice inflections will tickle you.
The one thing I took away from her book, is that she is hopelessly optimistic. I don’t mean this in a snarky way at all. As a natural cynic, and a member of Generation-X…the original “side eye” folks, I found this to be interesting. Ramsey recaps her journey from an unknown content creator, to what she calls “an accidental activist.” She shares how she learned to deal with racism (and other isms), as she came into social justice work.
However, I wondered at times, if she’s too forgiving. In the book, she talks about call in/call out. Call in is basically talking to someone privately if they do something racist/sexist/etc. in public. It’s considered a better strategy than calling out or as the young folks say, “dragging” someone.
I have mixed emotions about this approach. I think it’s because the call in method requires you to educate/explain to the offender what they did wrong. I don’t know, I guess I’m sick of educating folks. Personally, I think most people know what they are doing when they engage in oppressive behavior. Not everyone is naive or ignorant. Some folks just don’t care. Sometimes a good clowning or calling out will do.
For example, Ramsey speaks about having dinner with Lena Dunham. After meeting Dunham, she felt guilty that she used to bash her show and speak negatively of her. She decided to give Dunham benefit of the doubt, and try to have an amiable relationship with her. Dunham has been hella problematic and is symbolic of white feminism/white hipster racism. Also, I’m still trying to figure out how she got away with practically bragging about sexuality exploiting her sister when they were children.
Someone likes Dunham deserves to be called out. I would never waste my time talking to her about anything. This is not to say Ramsey agreed with everything Dunham has done, but this is where that hopeless optimism comes into play. The idea that we need to leave space for racists/sexists to become “better people.” Yes, that works for some folks. But most people just aren’t going to change. No matter how many bell hooks books you recommend. I feel Dunham is one of those people.
I did enjoy listening to Ramsey speak about the power of social media, and the impact it’s having on people’s lives. The good and the bad. Especially, for folks her age. As someone in her 40’s, I’m still trying to get a handle on all these damn apps. It’s fascinating to know there’s this whole generation where things like Facebook, twitter, etc., have always been apart of their lives. Ramsey talked about making videos, blogging, and graphic designing as a teen. These are skills I’m just now learning.
A couple of months ago, I took a class on training materials. The instructor talked about the do’s/don’ts of PowerPoint. One student talked about the horrible ways his teacher in high school made PowerPoint presentations. I almost fell out. When I was growing up, we were lucky to have a chalkboard in the room. I still remember teachers writing on overhead projectors.
“Well, That Escalated Quickly” was a good read…uh, listen. Ramsey brought humor as she covered everything from activism to her interracial marriage to “trolls” online. She does not disappoint. My grade: A-
Have you read Ramsey’s book? What are your thoughts?
“keep that in mind, just keep that in mind/the next time, baby, the next timeee” 😉
“There was something so valuable about what happened when one became a mother. For me it was the most liberating thing that ever happened to me. Liberating because the demands that children make are not the demands of a normal ‘other.’ The children’s demands on me were things that nobody ever asked me to do. To be a good manager. To have a sense of humor. To deliver something that somebody could use. And they were not interested in all the things that other people were interested in, like what I was wearing or if I were sensual. Somehow all of the baggage that I had accumulated as a person about what was valuable just fell away. I could not only be me—whatever that was—but somebody actually needed me to be that. If you listen to [your children], somehow you are able to free yourself from baggage and vanity and all sorts of things, and deliver a better self, one that you like. The person that was in me that I liked best was the one my children seemed to want.”–Toni Morrison and Motherhood: A Politics of the Heart