“Femcees”

Women in Hip Hop?

Well I feel like I am not necessarily equipped to speak about “Women in Hip Hop” beacause my exposure to female Hip Hop Artists is extremely limited.

But two emcees that poo into my head is

1. Lil Kim

The Queen Bee is number one for obvious reasons… see my first blog post

And

2. Nicki Minaj

As she has a monopoly on the female rap game at this time.

Yet, I admire but am troubled by the very things that have catapulted them to infamy.

These two women are clearly hypersexualized, however I do not always see this as a negative thing. Yes, I am aware of the controlling Jezebel image of black women and this is a tool of dehumanization as we are valued for our parts rather than our person.

But

Women are sexual creatures.

And to deny this fact, I believe is also to deny our humanity as well.

So I can appreciate a woman, especially a black women who is not afraid of expressing their sexuality.

However, what I do take issue with, is that in hip hop, the ways in which female sexuality is represented is towards appeasing the male gaze. For example, Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda”  the content of the song and its accompanying video makes it clear that it is (in  my opinion) geared towards the arousal or stimulation of heterosexual men. Now, it is completely her prerogative to present herself in this manner, but I only question why is this the only or most prominent ways in which we are able to view female sexuality?

How do we change this? Is it worth changing?

Zion

I really have not had the most positive experiences since enrolling at The University of Virginia. I transferred to UVA after completing my freshmen or first year at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.  I decided to transfer, not because I did not like Emory, or thought it lacked in any significant way uncommon to universities across the country, but because it was not necessarily the college experience that I wanted.

You know I think I was duped in part by the media and societal expectations of what college is supposed to be like.  All of that “college is supposed to be the best days of your life” stuff had me tripping. Like I guess I fed into the hype.

So, maybe my expectations were a bit too high when coming here.

I mean it been okay I guess, being a transfer student welcomes its own specific problems, and then being a black student compounds this issue even further.

So a song off the The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill that relates to my UVA experience eh…..

Lol

I guess if I did have to choose a song that symbolizes my attitude towards UVA it would be “To Zion”.

The song is mostly about “going against the grain”, committing to something unconventional, following your heart etc.

And while I would not classify my move to the University of Virginia as some rebellious act, I think my attitude towards life has morphed in response to my consistent dissatisfaction (which did not start while at UVA).

I see all these bumps in the road as a means to an end, I feel as if I am not suffering in vain (dramatic right ?) and eventually all roads will lead to Zion.

Back to ’99

I mean I have lived in a world without social media (shout out to my early 90s babies) so its not very hard to imagine.

And I don’t think life was that hard back then. I mean it was easier to lose contact with people when their physical proximity to you became great, but on the flip side I think that relationships meant more in the sense that more effort had to be made to maintain such connections. However, I do not believe that advancements in social media are overwhelmingly good or bad.

I do think that people would be crippled if there was a sudden elimination of social media because we have become very dependent on it, but then things would regress to how they were in like ’99 which was pretty fun if I might add.

:(

This has been quite the semester and moreover year here at The University of Virginia and within the nation and world at large. From “Bring Back Our Girls” to #BlackLivesMatter to #NotJustUVA we have been constantly reminded of the anti-blackness that permeates all aspects of life. However, I have witnessed beautiful things develop through these tragedies, the most significant of which being community. Facilitated through common struggle, empathy, and communication this burgeoning populace has been able to find solace and solidarity with another while also being able impart their messages and anecdotes to the realm of general discourse. A major – scratch that – the most prolific medium where I see this occurring is through social media.

Twitter is the new grapevine, the information hotspot, and is in fact where most people, and even “reputable institutions of news reporting” primarily hear of these breaking stories and gather information regarding these cases. Of course with this comes issues of misinformation and bias, ( as every individual’s personal experiences influences the ways in which they relate to and process information ), but I largely believe that Twitter is becoming entirely more reliable than most News Outlets when dealing with stories and issues pertinent to marginalized groups.

I mean, would we have known about Trayvon Martin, Rekia Boyd, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice Eric Garner,  Aiyana Stanley Jones,  and now most recently Freddie Gray had it not been for social media?

Would people have known – wait let me rephrase this – would people have believed (even though this statement is still largely debatable) that police brutality and the militarization of police in the United States is a serious issues that threatens and undermines  all of our civil liberties?

The idea that I’m pushing relates to the philosophical question: “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” I am dealing with matters of perceived reality and the “unobserved world.” Basically, I am trying to say that visibility is crucial in addressing issues that are not of the dominant groups or classes. There needs to be tangible representation of such subjects coupled with theoretical explanation for them to be able to begin to comprehend the issues that others may face, because such information attacks the systems that have allowed their privileged complacency in the first place.  But even with all of this knowledge,  we know that people will still be in denial of the  blatant racial stratification that exists within United States culture.

Nevertheless, I am not saying that it is the responsibility of the oppressed to educate the oppressors of their oppression. The very idea seems nonsensical does it not? But it often seems like that is what is needed, if you are trying to effect change in the “lawful” and “right” way.

Then again the systematic persecution and genocide of black bodies isn’t really right or lawful…..Oh Okay.

I personally think that while education is useful in eliminating ignorance in regards racism and the multifaceted ways in which black people are discriminated against I don’t think we will ever get to the point that we want (you know equality, the whole being recognized as human being and being afforded the same resources and access to resources as promised under the constitution etc. etc. ) through this method.

Anti-blackness is way too intertwined in the fibers of American society for “education” to be the only way in which we would choose to destroy it.  We cannot be logical with an illogical system (shot out to Nilaja!).  In my opinion, the “system”, as it currently stands is doing everything it supposed to do. So we need a  new system  and revolution is the only way (and is ironically the historical American way).

But how do we create a revolution that is effective, one that can get us somewhere, and achieve tangible change?

I feel like the first step would be convincing others that is necessary. But persuasion has never been my forte.

This is where something we learned about earlier in my African American studies class “Drinking Gourd to Black Twitter” comes in handy.

Meet Walter Fisher’s Narrative Paradigm….

Walter Fisher’s Narrative Paradigm at its core relates the idea that all forms of communication is a readapted means of storytelling; this theory relies upon the relatability, credibility, transmission, and interpretation of the story.

History, is a clear illustration of such a concept. Who is telling the story will greatly affect how it is framed and consequently how it is remembered.

See:  Representations of African and black history within the United States educational system…

But back to solving the issue of creating effectual revolution…

Walter Fisher’s Narrative Paradigm is useful because it details the aspects of communication that influences one’s reception of information.

And is additionally helpful because it is signaling to me that my story-telling skills are probably a little off.

Which brings me back to the social media point, the new grapevine, the information hotspot.

Social media would probably be my best friend in this regard. But I just can’t seem to shake my anti- social media feeling  (I am regularly against social media because I find it to be pervasive, as it in my opinion promotes invasion of privacy and kind of encourages superficiality). Social media is not the perfect platform, but it is the most profound platform that exists in this day and age. It reaches the widest scope of people and allows for continuous discourse.

So I think I may need to step my social media game up…maybe.

 

Ah, the final blog post. It has been fun and challenging experience at times, but I appreciate having been given the opportunity to be able portray my true voice about a number of issues that I hold dear to my heart.   Thank you professor Teresa Dowell-Vest for the opportunity. I have never really thought about blogging as a thing that I would ,do or would even be good at, but look at me now. *Flips hair*

One of the positives that has come out of this situation is the dialogue focusing on the emotional and mental health of black university students and black people more generally. Being in a space so rooted in racism, sexism, and discrimination is psychologically oppressing and extremely damaging to the self-esteem of the minority student How do I reconcile my existence in a space that idolizes a man that is responsible for the enslavement and murder of my ancestors, a man who has contributed to the struggles I face today. How do I reconcile my efforts to succeed in an institution meant to oppress me.

 

Its funny because in a sense, I elected myself to be subjected myself to be abused in such a way. I choose this battle because in the end I thought it would all benefit me, and I’m not sure of it. And more than anything I’m tired. What is it that we are really fighting for? The system that exists to maintain social structure and order was and still is contingent on the subjugation of black people. So what does a bachelor’s degree really mean when I have sacrificed my sanity to achieve it?

 

 

Can I live? Really?

Art Imitates Life?

For us millennials, John F. Kennedy or JFK as he’s commonly referred to as, is not an immediate stand out in our recollection of major United States history.

In fact these are the things that come to mind when someone mentions JFK…

1.

JFK International Airport

2.

The Alleged JFK and Marilyn Monroe Affair

3.

The Assassination of JFK

4

.

Lana Del Rey’s  National Anthem  featuring A$AP Rocky

In this music video the pair reenacts the relationship between JFK (played by A$AP Rocky) and  Marilyn Monroe and  Jackie Onassis (whom are both played by Lana Del Rey). The video also portrays JFK’s assassination.

 

 

Consequently, we weren’t the most excited to discover that our assignment was to watch and review Oliver Stone’s 1991 historical drama and thriller “JFK.”

Our reactions were interestingly similar, for the most part.

    On the film as a work of art

 

Donte: It was different… I liked how throughout the movie old news clips were shown. To me it gave the movie a feel that everything was real which is something that is missing in today’s theaters. The clips showed how people actually reacted and also showed their real feelings when it came to President Kennedy.

 

Amanda: I appreciate it for what it is. While I did not necessarily enjoy the film I do think that it has value in specific sectors of society (historians, conspiracy theorists etc.).  The film definitely showcases an explicit aesthetic quality whose main goal in my opinion is to appear as real as possible. However, being that this movie is based on historical data I felt that in an effort to appear to as factual as possible a LOT of information was constantly being spewed to the audience. It was like part lecture, part movie  which in turn caused me to disengage from the production.

     On the film’s political expression

Donte: Politically people were very two faced. Citizens of America wanted to seem so political and sad that Kennedy was shot, but many were actually happy. He was a man who supported black people. I don’t know how much he would have been able to support the black culture in the years coming after he had got shot and so some people view his death as a good thing when it came to passing laws for the black community.

 

Amanda:  I believe that “JFK” expressed the political prowess of its director and producer more than anything.  It definitely exposed the potential of corruption within the U.S government and the growing dissent and distrust within the general public. However I would consider this film as propaganda because of the  producers failure to make it ABSOLUTELY CLEAR that  this is a drama not completely factual.

 

    On the film’s relation to reality

Donte: When viewing the movie I saw that various parts were precise about their feelings towards black people.  For example, certain people were excited to see President Kennedy assassinated because   in their eyes because he was a person that was out to help the equality of the nation.

 

Amanda: Yeah, I would have to agree with Donte. I definitely thought that this movie was an accurate reflection of its time. As an African American Studies major and black woman I was keen in seeing the roles (or  lack  thereof ) that were given to black people during the movie. I believe the most prominent part any black person had I  the movie  was the role of the District Attorney’s house maid.

  On the film’s potential for social change

Donte: I honestly do not see much change. There has been change of people who look at the black race differently. To go along with them there are still people to this day they are racist because of how they were brought up by their parents and grandparents.

 

Amanda: Maybe because I was born into a society after the release of this movie and far after its main events is why I don’t really see the glaring effect a movie like this would have in society. Certainly it would make people more critical of the government, but I feel that people have been feeling this way since the inception of the United States

 

 

THE CONTRIBUTORS  

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Amanda Ottah     – ao8gb@virginia.edu                                  

Donte Wilkins      –  dcw2ub@virginia.edu

I’d Rather Not

How do we take our individual world and broaden it to expand our network?

Eh….

See this is the issue with somebody like me,

1. I’m shy

2. I’m extremely private

3. I’m selectively social

4. I have Resting Bitchface

So expanding my network is something that I’ve always had issues with.

I feel like in this moment, we as human beings are far too concerned with the approval and recognition that such expansive contacts bring.  Because of things like social media, our self-worth and self – esteem is increasingly externally validated.  While I do appreciate the fact that social media has expanded our means of communication and general access to information, it does negatively facilitate an unhealthy dependence on feedback:  likes, shares, followers, and friends.   Consequently, I feel like there has been a rise in superficial relationships; connections made just for the sake of having them.

 And I’m not really with all of that.

I am constantly down-sizing my individual world. I only actively use one social media account –Facebook – where I routinely go on deleting sprees eliminating people (really from both Facebook and my real life) that I don’t really know, like, agree with on key issues, and/or those that I feel bring negativity into my life.  I mean, this may sound harsh to some people, but no one is safe –  strangers, acquaintances, friends, or  family. I don’t even use my real name on social media because I’m not comfortable with the idea of people having such unlimited access to me and my thoughts.

 

Maybe I’m going through some phase, maybe I’m getting too deep with this, or maybe all of my existential crises have finally paid off, but I’m realizing that I prefer, better yet I need quality and depth in the relationships that I will initiate, nurture, and develop from here on out.

Actually, that’s my answer, focusing on developing and maintaining quality relationships is how I would take my individual world and broaden it to expand my network.

Timeless

METHOD-MAN-MARY-J-BLIGE

 It’s interesting to see the things that are able to stand the strength of time.  Music has this strange immortal quality, where even though it can be representative of a specific generation, culture, and/or moment in time it still lives within the consciousness of people well after its conception.

MarvinGayeTammiTerrell1

Being so consumed by a desire for something other than one’s self, a rapturous passion;  love.  Love is timeless; it speaks to the human experience which is why it is the subject of many songs.  Although love is a general topic, its message and impact becomes specified depending on the medium of music used during its production, it’s lyrical content, and its physical manifestations.

Method’s Man I’ll Be There For You/ All I need featuring Mary J. Blige is considered by many to be a cult classic and the quintessential “Gangsta or Hood Love Song” .  This song which has 2 versions (I personally prefer the P. Diddy Mix rather than the RZA Razor Sharp Remix) was released on April 23rd, 1995 when I was a little over 4 months old. Now I’m not going to say that I remember when this song came out because that would be a bold faced lie, but what I will say is that I remember this song always being around.

 

Long before YouTube there was the radio and even before that there was this powerful tool of communication called human interaction. It’s amazing to think that songs could gather such fame long before the existence of these tools which promote wide ranging access to various outlets.  A large part of this attraction is the inter-generational appeal that such a song carries.

Method Man and Mary J. Blige’s “I’ll Be There” is actually an expansion or remake of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s 1968 hit “You’re All I Need to Get By.”  Drawing upon the popularity and themes of the original “You’re All I Need” its modern version was able to connect large populations of people through the introduction and reintroduction of such a heartwarming and soulful favorite. An old concept became new because it was able to be visually and linguistically communicated in a manner that appeals to the youth.

However, other than these songs being sonically pleasing, they carry great cultural and social importance.

The choice to love another black person within a society which devalues and dehumanizes black life renders black relationships rebellious.  When a black man chooses to love and commit to a black woman despite all of the controlling images which negatively depict black women as being unlovable, when a black man still desires black women despite of their being in direct contrast to what is deemed attractive, he is committing a rebellious act.¹  The same holds true for black women whom choose to engage intimate relationships with black men despite their societal degradation.

 

Interestingly enough, although these songs at their core convey similar messages their distinctions are not necessarily a reflection of the decline of ethics or principles (which is something that I commonly hear) but one that is connected with our racialized economic past.

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After Emancipation both African American males and females were more likely to be married than Caucasian males and females until about 1970 (soon after the release of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s original version) when these rates drastically changed.

 

Around the 1970s, the same time when Caucasian marriages began to exceed black ones, the United States faced significant economic crises. Unemployment rates rose as a result of the five recessions that the U.S faced from 1970 through 1991.   Black communities were significantly damaged by such occurrences, with rates of unemployment among blacks soaring from six percent to twenty percent between 1969 and 1983.²  After 1983, black unemployment rates remained the same unlike those within white households which returned to their pre-recession percentages.³  This increase in unemployment largely effected black families; “every one percent increase in unemployment in black families correlated with a one percent rise in single-parent families”.

 

So you can miss me with that we have lost all of our morals nonsense – lol. We are all a reflection of the culture that we belong to which is why these songs are great and timeless.

 

 

References

1.Hill-Collins, Patricia. 2004.  “No Storybook Romance: How Race and Gender Matter.” Pp. 247-278 in Black Sexual Politics: African Americans, Gender, and the New Racism.  New York: Routledge

2.Hill, Robert B. “Understanding Black family functioning: A holistic perspective.”Journal of Comparative Family Studies (1998): 15-25

3. Ibid.