When Black Isn’t Beautiful Enough
In today’s Hip-Hop landscape the more “different” you are the more “unique” you appear to be. The presence of quarter million dollar cars and “exotic” woman are pretty much standard fare in music videos, but to what degree is this formula for visual performances a deeper psychosis?
I feel like there is a deep sickness within Hip-Hop culture that needs to be addressed and it is one of self-hatred. Have Black and Latino women and men become so ingrained into believing that we are not beautiful that we eagerly promote and consume anything that seems “different” “exotic?” Why is it then that in most rap songs the lyrics contains phrases like “long haired thick redbone” or “foreign” in reference to woman?
I know that Hip-Hop and rap in particular are not cure-alls to societal ills, but one has to step back and imagine the damage the artists are doing to the psyches of those who consume their music and literally buy into their images. If I were a young Black or Latino woman and all I heard growing up listening to and operating within Hip-Hop culture was that you had to be “foreign” or a “long haired thick redbone” and I didn’t fit the bill, I would carry around unnecessary emotional baggage because I’m participating in a culture that doesn’t value or place emphasis on my beauty.
On the contrary if I was an impressionable Black or Latino man who grew up thinking that the pinnacle of beauty was to find a mate who was “foreign” or “long haired thick redbone” and I was unable to meet and date someone who matched those descriptions, I would continue to chase a standard of beauty that has been forced into my psyche and ultimately resenting the person I did end up with because she wasn’t my forced first choice. Better yet, what happens to those who do fit the mold of being “foreign” or a “long haired thick redbone?” If you are aesthetically what rappers defined as desirable does it give you a false sense of self worth? Do “long haired thick redbone” women feel a sense of pride knowing that they are the pinnacle of beauty within Hip-Hop culture and even worse when the ever changing tides of what is trendy turn what will happen to those “red bones” with inflated egos?
Hip-Hop is a powerful cultural form that has the agency to make and break cultural norms. The hunt for the exotic and the different has turned into an uncontrollable obsession with making oneself (the rapper or consumer who identifies with the rapper) feel good about themselves by putting the “exotic” and the “long haired thick redbone” on a pedestal and marginalizing the “normal” (those who are not “long haired thick redbones” or “exotic”). The rappers do all of this in a genuine attempt at building their own self-esteem while simultaneously covering up their self-hatred, because lets face it these rappers for the most part not “exotic” or “long haired thick redbones” so why do they chase and promote a standard of beauty they couldn’t self-identify with?
When these rappers come to grips with their own internal struggles for acceptance and self-love then maybe they can change the landscape of “Black isn’t beautiful enough” and start to celebrate each other’s differences and not at the expense of placing certain groups on a pedestal and marginalizing others.