Raising Princesses, Marrying Queens and Empresses
By N Oji Mzilikazi
May 17, 2012
(Originally published in the Montreal Community Contact Volume 22, Number 09)
And since we all came from a woman
Got our name from a woman and our game from a woman
I wonder why we take from our women
Why we rape our women, do we hate our women
I think it’s time to kill for our women
Time to heal our women, be real to our women
And if we don’t we’ll have a race of babies
That will hate the ladies, that make the babies
–“Keep Your Head Up” (1993)
In keeping with the fondness of people to rally to a cause either when it strikes close to home or when they themselves are personally affected or afflicted, rather than on the merits of the very cause, the January 2012 arrival of daughter, Blue Ivy Carter into the world prompted Jay-Z’s to reportedly vow to stop using the word ‘bitch’ in his raps.
Clearly the financial power both he and his wife, Beyoncé Knowles command dictate he – they grow a princess rather than a stripper, video vixen or “ho.” Therefore the ‘bitch’ invective is one of the things that are incompatible to such a lifestyle.
Interestingly, when Jay-Z waded into the Nas 2007 album title controversy, (Nas named his album ‘Nigger.’) he told MTV news that the controversy is misguided. People give strength to words, power to words, and they shouldn’t.
Jay-Z’s stance was rooted in ignorance. Didn’t the Bible declare, “In the beginning was the word?” Words are power elements. Words come with power; as well the meaning of a word can imbue it with power.
People who meditate tend to channel the sound vibration of particular words – words whose inherent power were discovered eons ago. No language of any ethnic group on this planet has terms or words that demean it or its speakers. Their words of depreciation target outsiders.
Words can inspire, demean, incite or spur action. The pain from hurtful words can last a lifetime and hurt more than one caused by physical injury. There is nothing light or meaningless about words. For that reason the sages have always advised and reminded man to be careful with their words.
Nas defence of the title of his album was – taking power away from the word. The concept of neutralizing terms of disparagement by redefining or adopting them is foolish and rooted in ignorance. No one can change the meaning of words that have been in general use like say forever.
The only way to take power away from an oppressive word or repressive language is by putting them to bed – not using it. Only through disuse can the venom of words be silenced. European Jews were the original ghetto dwellers. They never embraced, elevated the term, or went about boasting of having ghetto roots.
Blacks made ghetto born, ghetto bred and ghetto domiciled as badges of honour. The failure of the race to educate itself and address the legacy of knots, twists and re-engineering that chattel slavery unleashed on the souls of Black folks is responsible for the perpetuation of a host of ills plaguing the race, including self-sabotage, the Black family crisis and the dehumanization of Black femininity.
Women/females are our mothers, grandmothers, sisters, wives, lovers and daughters. Women/mothers are nurturers and the first teacher a child has. The quality of a mother’s nurturing, along with her love and affection or lack thereof psychologically impacts, and plays a significant role in the adult life of a child.
One would think that with such an important influence and role, women/females would be valued and cherished, but that was not the case. All the major religions of the world consigned females to inferior status, some going so far as to position the gender as evil. However, the inimitable status of “nothingness” engendered by chattel slavery left the Black female perpetually crucified by both the white power structure and fellow Black males.
The trust of African enslavement in the New World was to transform the race into disposable commodities and units of labour – “hewers of wood and drawers of water.” To that end, the white man systematically went about perverting the natural order of things.
He prohibited the emotional ties of marriage and the family construct, also stripped the Black male from being provider, father, husband, and protector. The enslaved were thus forced to develop imperviousness to emotional ties- man to woman, mothers and fathers to children.
Centuries of perversion of the family dynamics, and the male female relationship in respect to Blacks, led to the legacy of Black males having an aversion towards marriage, shouldering family responsibilities, or seeing their females as worthy of love and respect. It also left the Black female unwilling or unable to choose “good” men as mates.
Slavery shifted the African family paradigm. Since the Black female did back-breaking labour alongside the Black male, she was his equal. Bereft of the traditional patriarchal family construct and the authoritarianism that goes with the father figure, she had to develop an iron hand if she was to successfully run the family.
The absentee-father culture resulted in matriarchal power. Mother was father-provider-protector-nurturer and comforter rolled into one. Adaption to those roles resulted in the Black female developing a hard exterior, unwilling to relinquish control or even listen to a man on what or how to do anything. One of the legacies to that state of affairs is Black man forever speaking about how strong his mother is, even when she has a supporting spouse.
There was a marked difference in the Caribbean and American society in regards to matriarchal power. Mother was given unconditional respect and loyalty in the West Indies. The male child would defend his mother’s name and honour even if she was a whore. After all, she might be engaging in that lifestyle simply to put food on the table and to send him to school. Consequently, insults about one’s mother were fighting words.
In Trinidad and Tobago, the curse word “mother’s cxxx” was more potent than “eff” you, and more often than not, its usage triggered physical altercation. In America, insults about mother – “mother jokes” is standard comedic fare and symptomatic of a greater pathology. If a man cannot love and respect his mother (and by extension motherhood), how can he love and respect females and the one(s) who could be the mother of his child?
Strong mothers and grandmothers have always been the beauty and strength of the Black community. It was a woman’s defiance that became the catalyst for the African American Civil Rights struggle in America. Women continue to be the sustaining and enduring pillars of the community.
Women continue to bend over backwards, endure pain, suffering, exploitation and abuse in pursuit of a better life for the unit they call the family. It was always mother, even if in the guise of grandmother/aunt/tanti/nenny/nen nen and even unrelated females and not father that did their best and anything to keep the family together.
As if Black youth were attacked by Alzheimer’s, they don’t view womanhood as deserving elevation or celebration. Women were objects to wine down the place, skin up, push out punnany, bend over and accept the peg. Women were disposable commodities only to be valued through their sexual expression and earning power. Female pornographic display and or debasement are prominent in many rap and r&b videos. The ultimate was when the rapper Nellie passed a credit card through the cheeks of a woman’s butt.
The sexualisation of the culture by advertisers, beauty and fashion houses, sex industry, film and television has made things worse. Huge numbers of young females don’t see themselves or their gender as having, deserving or worthy of dignity. They believe sexuality is their only currency, and there is empowerment in sexual objectification and exploiting their bodies.
Awards are validation. In 2006, Three 6 Mafia won an Oscar/Academy Award for the Best Song. It was considered an historic event. Firstly, because they were the first African American rap group to win the award, and secondly, the first rap artist to ever perform at the ceremony. The song that brought them “fame and glory” was entitled “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp.”
Music touches heart, mind and soul. For that reason music has long been described as having the power to soothe the savage beast. One could interpret that win as bringing out the beast in people – legitimizing the pimping business, and giving others the incentive to explore that lifestyle lyrically and physically.
While a female might disassociate herself from the bitch or ho in a song she likes, what is there to stop someone from calling her – ho, or recruiting her daughter, grand-daughter, niece or sister to be a real ho? Besides that, the acceptance of female debasement by women themselves has led to many females openly embracing the negatives. Hoes With Attitude (HWA) and Bytches With Problems (PWP) were two all female rap groups that released albums in the early 90’s.
The concentrated outpourings of works of music and films that cater to sexual exploitation, female debasement, that appeal to our base instincts, has gratuitous profanity or romanticize violence contribute to our growing of barbarians and would eventually be a threat to the stability of our society.
To Be Continued.