I was rooting for Larry Wilmore, his dry humor and ability to bring Black conversations to mainstream with The Nightly Show, but he went a little too far when he criticized #BlackLivesMatter protesters for interrupting a Bernie Sanders rally in Seattle and mocked the mantra spoken across the nation to raise awareness about Black women killed by state violence, #SayHerName.
“Say her name? Say her name? You know things aren’t going well when Black women upend your event and start reciting old lyrics from Destiny’s Child. Now ladies, I agree that Black lives matter, but Black manners matter, as well,” Larry Wilmore said on his show.
Haha hell! Black manners. This is inferring that Black women, specifically those who stood up and protested boldly because our lives are being taken daily, are rude. The nerve!
Black women are often considered angry and now that we’ve had to raise our voices to shine light on how our lives are being thrown away like last week’s garbage and the only people who seem to care are us, we’re tired.
So tired, we’re using our voices until the veins in our necks bulge. Never before has a slain Black woman’s life become a hashtag that we can all call out her name like Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice or Eric Garner, until Sandra Bland. No life matters more than the other, however, we can’t help but call out that we’ve been ignored–as major parts of the movement and as victims and honestly…as a group that matters.
Singer, Janelle Monae even wrote a song about it, called, “Hell You Talmbout,” and it explores the disproportionate killing of Black people at the hands of authorities, with a call and response format that ignites fires in the hearts of anyone who supported the #BlackLivesMatter movement. She recently appeared on the Today show to perform the song and to share the message that we’re standing tall. She said:
“Yes, Lord. God bless America. God bless all who’ve lost lives to police brutality. We want white America to know that we stand tall today. We want black America to know that we stand tall today. We will not be silenced—”
And then she was silenced. Neither her speech, nor her potent song made the broadcast. “Say his name, say her name!” Janelle pleads on the track.
Janelle’s boisterous support in the form of a chanting song is a result of exasperation. It’s beyond tiring to continue to see our people slain without consequence. And if while many critics may think Monae shouldn’t have brought racial issues to the daytime broadcast, where else would she do it? Why not get your point across when there’s an audience of millions? Larry Wilmore and all those other critics may call her actions rude, but I think it’s rude to censor an artist who you invited on your show when she’s not doing anything against policy.
Recently, Dee Barnes, the rapper who was physically abused by Dr. Dre in N.W.A.’s heyday, spoke out about the omission of not so much her part in their past, but the lack of acknowledgment of what these men did to women. She said exclusively in Gawker, “There is a direct connection between the oppression of Black men and the violence perpetrated by Black men against Black women. It is a cycle of victimization and reenactment of violence that is rooted in racism and perpetuated by patriarchy.”
And while she didn’t necessarily need to see herself in Straight Outta Compton, the representation of women was disheartening. Dee says, “With the exception of short scenes with mother figures and wives, the rest of the women in the film were naked in a hotel room or dancing in the background at the wild pool parties.”
We’re even censored from important parts of history where our storyline matters, all for the sake of these celebrated Black men to continue to appear like “good guys,” Dee said.
It seems as though our feelings are often translated as irrational and the world would rather shush us than understand us. How about social media start censoring Internet trolls who want to perpetuate negative conversations about Black women?
It especially hurts when no-name rappers find their way out of ambiguity by recklessly proclaiming: “Blacc females R a disgrace to Blacc culture.” And as tired as we are, them’s fighting words.
It’s been a few weeks, but rapper Nipsey Hussle’s endorsement of those dangerous words (that he wished that he could retweet, but he publicly replied to it instead) gave us all the information we needed to know about him: he doesn’t respect Black women. Despite having been born from one and currently dating one (Lauren London), he put it out there. And it took no time for the tweets (who are always watching) to respond in anger.
“Tru shit,” Nipsey replied to his supporters.
How dare he?
Nipsey’s words hurt because it showed it what we already know–no one is riding for Black women, not even Black men. I may not know who Nispey Hussle is, but at least 592,000 people do. That’s a platform–one that Nipsey’s using to perpetuate negative language around Black women. Why? There’s so many other awesome ways to contribute to shaping the conversation around us.
While not all of Nipsey’s Twitter following agreed with him, the damage was done and Black women continue to bleed from the wound that’s constantly ripped open. We’ve never had enough time in between injuries to heal. Pop culture has a heavy influence on everything we consume and that’s why it’s so important for people on a platform, especially Black men, to stop ripping our name to shreds.
And that’s why we get upset. That’s why we speak out. And that’s when we’re looked as as angry, when we’re just being strong because we have to. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to not care what the world thinks of you, but it’s a difficult job to build up skin thick enough to thwart the venomous language jabbed at Black women. So forgive us if we’ve grown accustomed to a grimace across our beautiful, full lips.
All our lives we’ve had to fight.
And it’s a fight that hardly has a resolve, especially when as Black women, we lose sight of which way is up.
Nicki Minaj’s Madame Tussaud wax figure was recently unveiled and while we’ve come to know Nicki as an unpredictable, unbelievably sexy rap superstar, seeing her immortalized down on all fours is just stomach-churning. Forget taking the powers that be at the wax museum to task, I’m sure Nicki has some type of say in how her figure turned out.
People go to Madame Tussaud’s specifically to snap photos with their favorite stars. Everyone knows that. So having Nicki on all fours practically begs to be treated like a sexual object and frankly the butt (pun intended) of several hashtagged memes. Fellow rapstress and resident hothead, Azealia Banks commented on the wax figure, frustrated, saying:
How refreshing, now Nicki Minaj’s body is forever able to be abused, used and made a joke live and in the…wax. The saddest thing about this is Nicki’s approval. I’m only assuming she had some type of approval and if she did, that’s what’s wrong here. We’ve gotten so used to our image being abused as Black women that we mindlessly abuse it ourselves.
Nicki’s an intelligent woman with feminist values and this figure just screams disrespect. How do we expect to gain respect when we’re not even giving it to ourselves?