What’s Beef to Girls Like Me: The Reality of a Remy Ma and Nicki Minaj Rap Battle

572fe05f72767-imageWhen the fabric of your everyday work is woven with the heartbreaking, tragic outcomes of the all too common beef between girls, well then you tend to find it challenging to dismiss verbal assaults between two very public and influential Black women as merely an industry byproduct.

If they didn’t know before, just about anyone with an internet connection and an ear to the social media streets has learned who Nicki Minaj and Remy Ma are… or at least that they don’t like one another. In fact, if one was not familiar with their chosen career paths, the pop culture chatter might have one believe that someone had literally been physically assaulted, murdered, and decapitated. Especially when most of the related conversation is violent, even has inspired a reference to the homicide investigative-style television series, The First 48.

Still, it’s all been chalked up to fun and games…just a little lyrical wordplay between two rap artists. Nothing to see here. Just classic battle rap.

Yet perhaps if the names and lives of Myzhane Flourney, ShaMichael Manuel, Amy Joyner, Endia Martin, or De’Kayla Dansberry were a fabric of more people’s everyday consciousness, there would be less applauding the spectacle of Black women verbally assaulting one another for all the world to hear, and more concern about the impact on real life child’s play.

Some of us are all too familiar with the very real funerals processions, real flowers, real mourning  for the too early dead lives of Black girls on the other side of loud arguments, instigating peers, and bruised egos. A few of the girls named above can tell you about the ugly truth of girl fights…but some of them cannot. They are no longer here. Beaten. Stabbed. Shot…to death. Following an exchange of words.

I personally find it a bit perplexing that there is a measurable contingency of people (Black women specifically) who are irritated by those of us who live with this devastating truth at our center and therefore have raised flags on the gleeful adulation over glorified interpersonal girl conflict. There seems to be a compulsive addiction to Black girl drama…sadly even Black women/girls are here for it. It is normalized as acceptable, even expected. All this with complete disregard to what we know has been bared out by research and empirical evidence; that celebrities and media influence teens as strongly as peers and parents.

I’ll save the judging for others who find their validity in that lane. I’m not angry nor berating anyone who disagrees with my stance. My only goal is that if we clap for bad girl behavior, we take some time to find a young impressionable vessel and ask her perspective of the all too accessible “rap beefs.” See how far she can separate fantasy from real life. Be sure to follow up and ask her how she responds to interpersonal conflict? What she would do if she were in the shoes of your latest rap heroine?

And in hopes that it is not too much to ask, can we consider that just maybe the energy we give to this low frequency behavior does indeed lend to the vibration of society.

Then too, I remember when for me there was a limit to the number of words exchanged before contact was made…especially those fighting words. Beyond that, though, hatred and violent speech sends the same message whether from a politician or a rapper. Someone is listening. Someone is emboldened to enact the sentiments.

And it’s never a game.
No, #BlackGirlMagic is not about being perfect and righteous at all times. But what it is about is setting the intention to be better. That’s the game I want us all to win. Get better. Be better.

Advertisements

Breakdown Beyonce’s bow down

beyonce-2-600

I’m late. I know. But back during Women’s History Month in March I was sorta pre-occupied with building Black girls’ sense of self-worth and appreciation for Black women’s history when I heard through the Twitterverse that Beyonce, er “Queen Bey,” was a little busy herself making them bow down…and calling them bitches to boot. Oh my.

She offered a sneak release to her upcoming album with the single, Bow Down Bitches/I Been On where she sings, ” I know when you were a little girls you always dreamed of being in my world. Don’t forget it Don’t forget it. Don’t forget it. Bow down bitches. Bow down bitches.”

Hmmm… Well…

When I heard these lyrics I thought perhaps there had been some mistake. Surely this was not ingenious artistry of the grown and mature Mrs. Carter who less than two months before had graciously performed for the inauguration in this nation’s capitol and promptly followed with a commandeering Super Bowl half-time show that not only held the world captive, but was delivered with such an electric force it is rumored that she caused a 30 minute blackout of the stadium.

But so much for dignity and excellence. I guess street cred trumps all of that when you want to silence haters, or force your contemporaries to deem you the “queen.”

No doubt, Beyonce Knowles Carter is an entertainment icon. She will forever be listed in the herstory books as one of the greatest performers in America’s history. A living legend indeed.

In fact, she would have fit perfectly on the legacy wall I created for the Girls Like Me Women’s History Month Pampered Power Talk.

Girls Like Me Project's Women's History Month Pampered Power Talk Legacy Wall

Girls Like Me Project’s Women’s History Month Pampered Power Talk Legacy Wall

This legacy wall included photos of legacy-builders such as Ida B. Wells, Mary McLeod Bethune, Dorothy Height, Ella Baker, Fannie Lou Hamer, Maya Angelou, Shirley Chisholm, Angela Davis, Toni Cade Bambara, Marian Wright-Edelman and Oprah Winfrey.

Powerful women who have been pioneers and set standards of excellence in their respective fields. The legacy wall was a wall of inspiration for little girls who dream of being in the worlds created by the women exhibited.

I try to imagine Mary McLeod Bethune demanding Dorothy Height to bow down. My mind wonders what transformative spirits amongst the ancestors lorded over those behind them with mockery. I mean I am so grateful I have never heard Mother Maya Angelou publicly decry her contemporaries or those little girls like me who were looking up to her with pride and ambition in our eyes.

One has to ask…what is the intention?

Many have come out advocating in defense of Beyonce and her lyrics to this song. Artistic expression and what not.

Yet, I am not a Beyonce advocate…I advocate for those little girls who are dreaming of being in Beyonce’s world. The little girls who believe Beyonce’s world of celebrity, fame and independent wealth are their saving grace, a world away from the poverty and marginalization they face in their own realities. As much as some entertainers would love to believe their music is in some sentry-guarded airwave where children’s access is limited, the reality is children are the majority of those listening to corporate owned-media, the entities through which artists relay their products. The truth of the matter is our girls are looking to us for the tools to help them navigate their real worlds. Like it or not, we (adults) are their models for the appropriate behaviors and response when interacting with other girls/women…our sisters.

I am in awe when I think of the backlash had Bow Down Bitches/I Been On been written and performed by a male artist. Come to think of it, I shudder to know the production team surrounding her during the making of this song was male-centered. What if there had been a circle of creative sisters who could have assisted Mrs. Carter in articulating her stance in a much more uplifting message.

But then again, everyone does not embrace their responsibility to uplift.

Still the girls are dreaming of being in our world…what kind of world are we creating for them?

Am I overreacting…what kind of message do you believe the song sends to girls?

Three Generations of Girls Like Me

I took the time (had to borrow a few ticks from some research but well worth it) to watch Red Table Tales: the very poignant dialogue between Jada Pinkett Smith; her mom, Adrienne Banfield-Jones; and daughter, Willow.

As Jada asserted from the start, Red represents raw passion. So when the three generations sat down to talk around the red table we saw all of those things come through.

It amazes me more and more how very appropriate the name of my organization, Girls Like Me, is in relation to the experience of…well Girls Like Me.

I mean here Jada Pinkett Smith is rock star, actress and power-house in her own light; married to one of Hollywood’s blockbuster elite (not to mention Mr. Smith is superfine), mother to superstar children, with a mother who looks young and vibrant enough to be her sister. Yet we can hear the struggle as she talks about growing up on the streets of Baltimore. Her mother’s vulnerabilities as she reflects on her own life-experiences as young mother addicted to drugs. Then there is Willow, a first-name phenom with all the access and celebrity her talents and her parents fame can buy, still she struggles with life.

This is what Girls Like Me Project is all about. In the end we are all connected and experience identical struggles of trying to make our voices heard, freedom to be ourselves without the weight of the world,  and finding fulfillment and happiness on our journey.

I so connected with Jada when she spoke of sacrificing her being for her two children when they were little. This is very much my story. In fact I look back and can now say, though it was undiagnosed, postpartum depression was extremely real for me.

A lot rang true for me as I watched and listened. These were my top six take aways:

#1. You cannot harbor on the past hurts, the challenges of life have to be used as fuel for purpose and motivational power

#2. RE-MESSAGING MOTHERHOOD! Whew. This one hit home. So often happiness is muddled by responsibility for others, overshadowing our own fulfillment and well being

#3. Communication builds partnerships of all kinds

#4. It is a daily struggle to find balance in begin a wife, mother and honor your own being

#5. It takes much courage to open up to your children

#6. Best gifts to give a child is not to get in the way of their “being”. UMPH. YES!

View the Red Talks and let me know what rang true for you or what you found most interesting.

Watch Part 1

<div>http://d.yimg.com/nl/shine/site/player.html#browseCarouselUI=hide&vid=29273972&repeat=0&lang=en-US&startScreenCarouselUI=hide&shareUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fshine.yahoo.com%2Fvideo%2Fparenting-6786932%2Fred-table-talk-part-1-29273972.html</div>

Watch Part 2

<div>http://d.yimg.com/nl/shine/site/player.html#browseCarouselUI=hide&vid=29273950&repeat=0&lang=en-US&startScreenCarouselUI=hide&shareUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fshine.yahoo.com%2Fvideo%2Fparenting-6786932%2Fred-table-talk-part-2-29273950.html</div>

Watch Part 3

<div>http://d.yimg.com/nl/shine/site/player.html#browseCarouselUI=hide&vid=29273956&repeat=0&lang=en-US&startScreenCarouselUI=hide&shareUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fshine.yahoo.com%2Fvideo%2Fparenting-6786932%2Fred-table-talk-part-3-29273956.html</div>

One of the most profound moments came when I viewed the exclusive. It brings clarity to the saying “a child shall lead them…”

Be sure to let @JadapSmith hear your thoughts on Red Table Talks. Use hashtag #RedTableTalks

Whitney Houston: Queen of the night forever reigns

I saw the AP Breaking News tweet, but my mind would not allow me to believe it.  I was hoping and praying that it was another of the weekly Twitter RIP hoaxes. Not for many hours after did I accept what the news outlets and social media buzz was saying. Whitney Houston had died in a Beverly Hills Hotel.

The realization has left me somber and deflated. To understand my anguish you have to know what Whitney’s gift gave to my childhood and ideal of love and romance. Fighting back tears while at times writing through, I tried to put it into some sensible words using titles from her hits, but below is the best I can give at this time…please receive with all the love, respect and admiration I had for what God shared with us in human form as Whitney Houston…

The scene from the happy days of my childhood is so vivid. Singing. In the living room. In the church choir. In the bathroom. At the dinner table (before being silenced by receiving a stern look from my mother or Granny, cause it was a cardinal sin to sing at the table).

Yes those memories stand out. I would fling my Diana Ross big hair and wrap fake boas around my neck singing with combs, brushes, brooms or mops as my microphone. But I never had a song.  I mean Miss Diana was old…all her songs were from Doo Wop and disco days. This was the 80s and I had never sang any words that I felt were mine.

Until I heard the voice of Miss Whitney Houston.

That voice. That persona…it connected to something within me. So The Greatest Love of All became my song. The words encouraged me and spoke all the things I wished the adults around me would say. Whitney sang that song as if she was the saving grace for every brown girl child who ever breathed. And that voice singing those words awakened a belief inside of me that has never been shaken since; that the greatest love of all is inside of me, and if it is indeed inside of me I was destined for greatness. I am greatness. That’s what Whitney told me, and I believed her.

But beyond that voice, that pure, sanguine, fluid, yet mighty voice was a girl who was my reflection. In a culture where being skinny (or bony as its called in the Black community) is ridiculed and mocked, yet here was Miss Whitney looking poised and regal, sweet and fun, sexy with all the world watching her. I was a pair of those eyes watching- looking up in celebration and awe. Instantly I recognized Whitney was a girl like me.

So I donned a wardrobe change with my idol as inspiration…. coached along by my step mother I sang at talent and fashion pageants.

I was a swirling motion of high-volumed hair, shiny lip gloss, neon bright singing sensation saving all my love for that one moment in time when all my cares melted and I just wanted to dance with somebody, singing like I knew things, tears streaming from my pubescent eyes, I got so emotional.  Just a girl child but felt like I was Every Woman with the greatest love flowing through me. It was a force, somebody bigger than me had given the world this angel, and I studied and learned from the best what poise and inflection and crescendo and perfect pitch meant.

Step by step of my life, there is a song from Whitney to give peace, encouragement, love, clarity and a good time. I felt it deeply then that we had something in common. I recall the early years of college when things were getting serious with my boyfriend, I’d asked him to listen to the words from Run To You, because if he could truly hear those words, if he  got the song then he’d get me. He got it, no wonder he is now my husband.

I Want to Run To You

Now today is one of those days when the world just doesn’t make much sense. Finding myself so emotional in a different state of being. I didn’t know Whitney, but every time she sang I felt like she knew me. Thinking back on what she gave the world, I marvel thinking didn’t we almost have it all. Maybe she gave us too much, it lead to entitlement. Her voice, relationship and struggles weren’t enough, the cameras and fans and media always wanted more. The queen of the night told us who she was, left herself wide open…she was a miracle of our time. The greatest.

And now Whitney Houston is gone. Something just doesn’t feel right, but it’s okay because we can look to her marvelous works. She definitely lived life with passion and on her purpose. We can listen to her gift and savor that million dollar bill feeling…Whitney made us feel large didn’t she?

So diva, I ain’t got nothin’ but love for you.

Rest in peace and power in your next realm. I pray for peace and comfort to blanket your family and all those who truly shared in your life with you.

There will never ever be another Whitney. Salute!

 

Take a look back at some of my favorite Whitney songs. Please share your memories and songs that touched you, too!

You Give Good Love

Every woman

Miracle

Queen of the Night

All the man that I need

Greatest Love of All

One of those Days

Something In Common