As we prepare for CNN’s Black in America 2 (July 22nd & 23rd), let’s “keep it poppin’” with a discussion about some black women and black LGBT folks. In my experience, some women and black LGBT folks are into being disrespected. Disrespect for me ranges — from dancing and signing songs that screams: bitches, punk, sissy, battyman and hoes if you are a black woman and/or a member of the LGBT, —to public physical, emotional and political acceptance of being valued by someone as less than or as a sexual object (i.e., being humiliated). For me, acceptance is when you allow someone or somebody to humiliate you in public spaces. In writing it out, it sounds crazy to suggest that anyone is accepting of publicly being reduced to jokes and sex objects, but I have seen it and at times have allowed it.
To make it plain, Mystikal’s Shake Your Ass was a hit. It came out my sophomore year of high school. I remember certain lines like “bitch ridin’ a dick like she makin’ a baby” or “bend over hoe show me what you’re workin’ with.” To make it all the more comical, girls in my high school loved that song and would dance and sing. Also, I remember it being played in college (like and ol’ school jam). The girls would be “ridin’ [on the boys clothed] dick like [they were] makin’ a baby.” While the boys were yelling “bend over hoe show me what you’re workin’ with.” I laughed and allowed girls to playful grind on me. In that moment, I, like everyone else, was mindlessly dancing. Today, we celebrate artists like Plies and Ying-Yang Twins with their lyrics that reduce us to our dicks, lips, tits, ass and pussy. I can’t say that it is always wrong for people to enjoy, but there is something off-color about mindless enjoyment of music and its lyrics. More alarming for me is when I see people celebrating and financially supporting music and musicians that support death/murder of groups of people.
In clubs (like the Wild Hare) gyrating to syncopated beats, people lose themselves in the bass and “auto-tones.” We wile-out at clubs listening to dance-hall finest like Beenie Man and Buju Banton. These musicians are revered in Jamaica and here in the States because they carry on in the tradition of other Reggae artist with providing race and class conscious lyrics about the conditions in their country. The perfect example is Buju Banton’s Hills and Valley, which is a song that I enjoy swaying to myself. However, these artists have their drawbacks (e.g., Buju Banton’s song Boom Bye-Bye). Beenie Man released several songs (Badman Chi-Chi, Mi Nah Wallah, and Han Up Deh) in each of the songs he calls for the death or maiming of either gay men or lesbians. In the song Badman Chi-Chi, Beenie Man ask the audience to repeat after him:
If yuh nuh chi chi man wave yuh right hand and (NO!!!), If yuh nuh lesbian wave yuh right hand and (NO!!!), Some bwoy will go a jail fi kill man tun bad man chi chi man..
Can you imagine being in a crowd where this was occurring? Hearing the song’s lyrics and watching people dance (hopefully) mindlessly. If they were paying attention to the lyrics, it might mean that by dancing the individual person agreed to whatever the artist was singing (how disturbing is that thought). To see people cheering and singing along to this song, must be a damaging reality for many closeted men and women in those audiences. I can’t imagine being a lesbian woman, a gay man, or a transgender person in that audience and not waving my right hand. Think about the consequences or what might be at stake for someone to not wave his or her right hand. Think about what it meant for her or him to raise her or his right hand despite knowing that she/he was a lesbian, gay, or heaven forbid a transgender person.
It is in these moments of mindless fun that I become convinced there is a certain degree of self-loathing present in each of us. My friends, family and sometimes even I listen to artists that have misogynistic and homophobic undertones. I catch myself listening and swaying while thinking what I am agreeing to about what it means to be a woman, or LGBT person. What does it mean to be reduced to having a big ass, wet pussy, or big dick? More important yet, what are the consequences of music that promote the physical harm of a group of people?