TAKE #1: Misogynoir in Rap Sentiments

I’m sure y’all already know about Amber Rose’s statements on the girls she grew up with in South Philly.

She threw around phrases like “not traditionally beautiful” and that she was “blessed with beauty,” and how being beautiful is a blessing and a curse, and people are out here up in arms, and I’m tryna figure out why. The only thing she’s doing is reminding us of what we already know. AIN’T NOBODY HERE FOR DARK SKINT BLACK GIRLS EXCEPT DARK SKINT BLACK GIRLS.  And this got me thinkin’ about how it feels to be a dark-skinned black girl who loves listening to rap music.

If you listen to “Right Above It” by Lil’ Wayne ft. Drake, you can hear these very same sentiments around the 3:03 mark in the song:

“Beautiful black woman

I bet that bitch look better red.”

And let me be the first to say. This is one of my favorite songs. A Lil’ Wayne and Drake collab at their finest. YOU CAN’T TELL ME YOU WAS NOT HERE FOR THE WEEZY AND DRIZZY COLLABS. “She Will” – a heater. “Every Girl” – a heater. “I’m Goin’ In” – a heater. “Believe Me” – a heater. “Miss Me.” “The Motto.” “HYFR.” “Ransom.” heatersheatersheaters.

But in the very moment that I heard this song for the first time on the bus on the way back home from school, my 14-year old Tamar mind was soakin’ up something poisonous, something that is in almost every song and sentiment (hey, Kodak Black!) from rap and hip hop artists – black womxn with dark skin are not wanted nor desired.

And this very sentiment is something that is taught to us from a very young age.

“Don’t stay in the sun too long! You’ll get dark”

“You’re hair would look sooooo good straight!”

“You’re (insert any adjective here) for a black girl!”

“I’m not racist; I’m just not attracted to black girls.” (see Kodak Black’s comments for variations)

Or the predatory for power nature of old white men and old black men like R Kelly and Rick Ross.

Or ASAP Rocky‘s opinion on lipstick choice, which he later offered up a weak apology for:

But for real, for me, I feel like with the red lipstick thing it all depends on the pair of complexion. I’m just being for real. You have to be fair skinned to get away with that. Just like if you were to wear like—fucking for instance, what do dark skin girls have that you know fair skinned girls can’t do… Purple lipstick? Naw, that looks stupid on all girls!

Something that is commercialized and capitalized upon all over the world in the form of skin bleaching and white womxn (white people in general really) takin’ our steelo for their own in the form of both mockery and highkey obsession.

The overall preference – as Wayne so clearly displays for us – for lighter-skinned womxn by black men.

It’s all over the place.

This is a situation that goes way past the “bitches,” “hoes,” and “thots” that are thrown around in rap songs.

(side idea: this in itself is wild cause usually these words are thrown around in regardless to, as Offset so nicely summarizes as

Fuckin’ on your bitch, she a thot, thot

but he also says

Bitch, I’m a dog, woof

so If he’s “a dog” out here with “a thot,” don’t that make him a “thot” too? According to his own words? Hey there, double standard!

I love me some Offset tho.)

This is a situation that is adding on to a larger issue of continued attack on black womxn as a whole, particularly those with darker skin. The idea of a black womxn’s worth being based on how she looks goes back hundreds of years to when shawties was nothin’ more that child-bearing mothers and property. The lighter you are – the more you’re able to align yourself with white womxn – the more you’re worth (also going along with the idea that black men typically get involved with lighter-skinned/white womxn as they get more successful). The more you’re able to enjoy life.

(another side idea: Y’all. WHITE WOMXN WOULDN’T EVEN HAVE BEEN DOWN FOR SLAVERY TO END HAD IT NOT BEEN FOR ABOLITIONIST LITERATURE BASED AROUND WHITE-PASSING BLACK WOMXN. In a lot of these books, the main black female leads were lighter-skinned, so white womxn could see a piece of themselves in those ladies and have a pity party (that’s the Cult of True Womanhood for ya)

We can’t even be strugglin’ and people care about us. We just turn into statistics that have to fend for themselves.)

The problem I have with Amber Rose’s statements mainly stems from that whole thing about her being blessed with beauty, as if a dark-skinned black girl can’t be beautiful. As if having Eurocentric features or being in the position to own your sexuality is the only way to be beautiful. As if being dark-skinned is a curse that you can’t get rid of unless you’re able to find a magic potion. As if her saying that being beautiful is a blessing and a curse is going to prevent us from feeling that slap we got in the face from her speaking her truth – one that she tried to right off as her just being under pressure.

Torrei Hart, in a direct response to Amber Rose’s comments, touches on the damage this does to the psyche of a young dark skinned black girl in her video (as do countless other dark-skinned black womxn in their posts and videos). I suggest you watch it. These ladies have addressed how these images and statements of never being good enough follow us into adulthood and have a lasting impact on our mental health as we are continuously fed these statements, not to forget this is going on while the black community historically has had a rough time accepting that mental illness is a thing that happens to us, even though suicide rates for black children has been on the rise.

As for myself personally, I didn’t grow up with the most self-esteem; it’s actually something I’m still struggling with today. Seeing people that don’t look like you on television and even in real life and hearing them always be addressed with hearts and butterflies around them is hard, especially when you’re growing up tryna convince yourself that you’re a snack but you out here lookin’ like a bag of stale Fritos (with a good wardrobe tho). And even though I’m older now, hearing and seeing things like that still bothers me. Struggling so much to finally get to a place of being comfortable with yourself, just to end up back in a situation where someone is criticizing they way you look hurts. It’s that whole 1 step forward, 5 steps back thing.

And this is why I get hype when The Weeknd finally uses a brown-skinned leading lady in his music video, when he typical uses white womxn with no ankles.

where ya ankles at, linda???

This is why every time I listen to my Spotify Daily Mix and Goldlink’s “Dark Skin Women” comes on, my shoulders get absolutely outta control, and we have to have a talk afterwards.

This is why when I heard Che Lingo talk about how my “shrinkage wavy” and my how my “pigment crazy” for the first time in his song “Black Girl Magic,” I almost shed a tear in an elevator, and why I will always love Smino for everything he does.

These are considered rare gems to me (and other rap-lovin’ dark skint girls) cause it doesn’t happen very often. Black girl praise tends to only come from other black girls. Black girl love only comes from other black girls. The last people I expect to help a sister out is a black man tbh.

The only way we get respect from anyone other than ourselves is by being a mother.

Or a sister.

Or a friend.

Or somebody who speaks their mind and is considered to be controversial.

People like Kodak Black and ASAP Rocky have to justify their comments about dark-skinned black girls and womxn by citing the fact that they have a dark-skinned black mom as reasoning for them being the authority on black womxn (go read ASAP’s weak apology, he literally says this exact thing).

So why do we keep listening to the music even though we know that there’s this problem?

Issa simple answer: Its good.

I’ll be the first to say that rap music is and will always be one of my favorite genres of music. Despite their being a few bad apples, there are people out here (J. Cole, Kendrick, Smino, Isaiah, Vince, Goldlink, Chance, and some others) who are out here doing the Lord’s work.)

Problem is we’re out here with a couple generations fulla dark skint girls with low self-esteem and decreasing self-confidence.

But hey,

At least we got a good taste in music, right?

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