A month or so ago, there was a huge debate regarding singer Bruno Mars. Mars, who has had a succesful run making r&b music, was called out as a cultural appropriator. This shocked a lot of his fans. Usually, it’s white artists who are accused of cultural appropriation. Folks wondered how Mars, a man of color, could be considered a cultural appropriator. His fans pointed out Mars was of Puerto Rican descent, thus had enough Negro in him to sing Black music/use Black cultural images.
It was a YouTuber, Seren, who sparked the national conversation. I’ve been a follower of Seren on YouTube. While I don’t always agree with her, I find her to be a well-informed young woman. She’s passionate about her views, particularly the importance of maintaining Black culture/Black legacy/Black history…as it seems to be up for grabs to any/everybody these days. I really didn’t find anything wrong with her argument, so it was surprising when people reacted to her with hostility, even threats of violence. Some folks thought it was tacky she said she didn’t care if Mars ate a cake and died, or something to that effect. Umm.. I’m sure most of us have celebrities we don’t care for, that if they fell off the face of the earth, we would say “oh.” To me, her dis didn’t warrant the vitriol she received. So, what else could it be?
I was on a messageboard, when someone pointed out what I had been thinking, the hatred toward Seren seemed to be because she was a Black woman. I read several posts were people felt she was loud/stupid/had an attitude, stereotypical words used to describe Black women. Or basically, Ms. Seren didn’t know her place. It was fascinating to see the abusive language coming not just from white folks, but people of color (they failed like hell on their allyship to a Black woman) and even some Black people. Black women are never allowed to be angry. Even when that anger, was really in protection of what this young woman saw as an erasing of her culture/her people’s contributions to this racist country. She wasn’t saying some off the wall shit, she was stating facts. Folks just couldn’t handle it.
“black pearl, precious little girl/let me lift you up where you belong…”
Yes, I’m hella late. I normally avoid films like Girls Trip. I’m not really into comedies (or romantic films), so I didn’t get swept up in the hype of the film. However, I was bored the other day, and decided to give it a shot.
It was pretty much what I expected…in the current wave of grown folks comedy (Hangover, Bad Moms). But I’ll admit I did give a chuckle or two. It was unique to see this type of film from the perspective of Black women. I thought it was clever to set the storyline at the Essence Music Festival. Attending the Essence Music Festival, is on most Black women’s bucket list.
It was also nice to see a film for Black women Gen-Xers. In general, Gen-Xers tend to get lost in the shuffle of Baby Boomers and Millennials. I mean, we remember when New Edition really was a boy band. I’ll never forget a friend’s daughter watching The New Edition Story with wide eyes. She couldn’t believe they’ve been around since the early 80’s 🙂
A lot of attention has been given to Tiffany Haddish’s breakout role in Girls Trip. I thought her character was okay (“wild friend” trope). There has been much made about her rising comedic career. Actually, I think Haddish would make a great dramatic actress. There was something touching during her scene in the coffee shop, when she is talking to her friend. She says quietly, “I know y’all just keep me around for laughs.” There was an honesty to her words. Especially, after learning more about Haddish’s traumatic childhood. As Haddish has shared, people who come from painful experiences often use comedy/attention as a way to cope. I feel she has a lot of layers/complexity she could bring to a more serious film.
Queen Latifah and Jada Pinkett-Smith, are Hollywood now. It was bound to happen, but they will forever be in my heart as Cleo and Stony. Regina Hall was Regina Hall. She plays the same character to me in every film she is in.
Several Black women who reviewed the film, talked about crying during Hall’s speech. It was cliché (the unhappily married woman finally has an epiphany), but it was still a nice message.
Basically, that we should be our authentic selves. Hall’s character was trying to hold onto an image for the public, but also to deny some truths to herself. Especially, in this age of social media/instant stardom, where we are often pressured to present a level of superficiality. As well as to consume it.
That’s how we got stuck with Trump for president. Folks were going off branding/sound bites/illusions of wealth. So we ended up with a guy running the country like a reality television show, but I digress.
I give Girls Trip a B-
I’m a huge Mary J Blige (MJB) fan. I will never forget when her video debuted on Video Soul (old heads will know what I’m talking about). She had me at “you remind me…” So it pains me to have to besmirch her name. Just a little. While Blige has been credited with being the iconic voice of the merging of hip hop/soul music, spanning a 20+ career of record sells and awards, technically the honor should go to Michel’le. Michel’le’s self-titled album was released three year’s before Blige’s in 1992. She really is the first r&b singer whose sound was heavily infused with hip hop music. This can probably be attributed to her boyfriend at the time, rapper/producer Dr. Dre.
Over the years, Michel’le has talked about her tumultuous relationship with Dr. Dre, stating he was very abusive towards her. When the film “Straight Out of Compton” came out last year, the allegations resurfaced. Most folks told Michel’le (and Dee Barnes) to shut up about their violent encounter(s) with Dr. Dre. Many felt that they should “let the past be the past” and that Dre had right to have his life story told.
Thank goodness neither Michel’le or Barnes listened to that nonsense. Barnes had an opportunity to tell her story via an online interview and now Michel’le will tell her side of things in the upcoming Lifetime movie, “Surviving Compton: Dre, Suge & Me.” The movie will premiere this upcoming Saturday, October 15th.
Fitting it comes out during Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Finally, one of the first female contributors to hip hop/soul music, is getting her due.
The passing of Afeni Shakur is jarring as her son’s song “Dear Mama” is often used as a shout out to black mamas on Mother’s Day…which is this Sunday.
As many folks have pointed out, it’s important to remember that Shakur was more than just Tupac’s mom. She was a leader in her own right. “Afeni Shakur (born Alice Faye Williams; January 10, 1947 – May 2, 2016) was an American music businesswoman, philanthropist, political activist and Black Panther.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Afeni_Shakur. Also, some folks may not be aware that Tupac’s godmother is Assata Shakur. Imagine growing up with these two brilliant women.
Rest up Ms. Shakur.