soul-asylum: *New York based visual artist Abbensetts created this mock cover to communicate the absence of black and brown women on Pharrell’s upcoming album cover.* Black G I R L Brown G I R L : Black Women, Black Skin and Representation Over the past 6 years, I’ve had a love-hate relationship with mainstream hip hop and the omission of black women from visuals that accompany popular artists songs. Increasingly, lyrical content has become more blatantly “anti black woman” and more “pro exotic white woman”. What does that articulate to the masses, the millions consuming our culture and music genre at rapid speed? Which brings me to Pharrell Williams, acclaimed music producer, artist, designer and black man. Set to release his anticipated 2014 solo project entitled “G I R L”, the musician released the cover art for the album last week…and I immediately was taken aback. Glaring at me was what looked a “J Crew does the spa” ad. It had to be. Because the Pharrell I wanted to remember used beautiful black and brown skinned women in his videos, so why would he completely omit black skin, black women from an album called G I R L? But to my discomfort and disbelief he chose to feature 3 women of varied shades of LIGHT to WHITE. Regardless of the chosen women’s ethnicity, it was clear that black and brown skinned women were excluded. As that J Crew-esq cover glared at me, it personified a cluster fuck of black male artists who seemed to be omitting dark skin and black women from their visuals at rapid speed. When I took to my twitter to briefly express this earlier today, my mentions and the mentions of other sistas who spoke on it rapidly filled with hateful messages from mostly black men telling us in no uncertain terms to “STFU”. One after another asking “why do you care?”, “You just bitter!!” or my favorite”it doesn’t matter, why does he NEED to include a black woman?!” People can come up with a million reasons to explain away the message promoted on the albums cover and in mainstream hip hop. But the erasure of black women, dark skin and african features in hip hop and popular culture is a trend thats been growing in popularity since damn near the inception of hip hop. This G I R L album cover is just one more example. “Light is right” and “exotic but not black” are sentiments becoming more popular as the genre progresses, projected by some of todays most popular rappers. The more mainstream rap becomes, the less black women and our beauty is seen featured in videos or esteemed in their lyrics. The less its deemed important to celebrate black women AS WELL AS other races. The persistent anti black woman/anti dark skin narrative within the hip hop genre and the larger white media is impossible for me to ignore. Pharrell and other black artists are free to create and market their work how they choose. Art should never be silenced, but critique and analysis will always be necessary. And black women are free to comment on our representation or lack there of. But to some, black women speaking on our erasure is seen as a sign of weakness, bitterness or my favorite: blind anger. Not hardly. I will always love H.E.R. Hip Hop runs through my veins, mixed in my blood and DNA. Hip Hop as an art form and culture has influenced the world and will continue to do so. But I love black women and I care about our representation in the mass media more. There is no denying that dark skin is being systematically erased and that black musicians feel the pressure to conform to white societal standards to “appeal” or “crossover”. I find it lame, sad and shameful that certain black men and black artists deem it passe to be inclusive to their race, to dark skin. Does that make me dangerous or an undesirable because I speak on the dire need for equal representation of black women in art and media? Maybe, but I love Black women, dark skin and our African aesthetic too much to sit silently while we are erased.
black-culture: You are invited to submit a 1-2 page autobiographical essay or first person creative nonfiction(essays/memoirs) for this anthology . The aim of Our Black is to create a book comprised of narratives on the Black Experience and the multiplicity of Blackness. The goal of Our Black is to build a collection of narratives that reflect the diverse experiences of Black folk, one which could be used to better understand the complexity, depth, and challenges of Being and living Black. The book Our Black will be divided into these thematic chapters: Acceptance and Ambiguous Blackness: Multi-Racial Identity in AmericaBe A Man: The Burden of Black MasculinityBinary Minorities: Being Both Black and LGBTQ(IA)Never Black Enough: Outside the Scope of Legitimate BlacknessThe Intersection of Gender and Race: Being a black woman in americaNot Quite African-American: Black immigrants and First generation AmericansBlack Self Identity: How Much is Blackness Defined by Whiteness? If interested please send us an email at ourblackproject[@]gmail.com for more information and a copy of our writers’ guidelines. We will be accepting submissions until March 1, 2014. Please feel free to share this post as you please. I am truly blessed to be working on a project such as this and I am driven by its potential. With much work and dedication, this can be turned into something phenomenal. All the best, zellie imani
Madame Tussauds is remembering the legendary singer Whitney Houston with not one, but four separate wax figure!! They did an amazing job!!