Black Girls Be Thinking: Ms. Badu, Fetishes and Sexual Freedom

I dont know how much you keep up with pop culture but I try to maintain a balance of detachment myself.  Because I find that so much of the pop “news” is dribble that does not enhance my life, grow my mind or touch my heart. So I avoid it.  But every once in a while something happens that actually does something to me.  And this is one such instance.

The Flaming Lips did a song featuring Erykah Badu called First Time I Ever Saw Your Face.  I had never heard it until the video was released.  I follow Ms. Badu on twitter because she is awesome (Ok let’s be clear I am an Erykah fan but this will not affect this post).  I saw her tweeting a lot and retweeting a lot of tweets and I wondered what it was all about.  I then remembered that some had folks had tweeted that Erykah had lost her mind because of some crazy video but I still had not watched it.  Again, being a fan I respect her artistry and just thought these people didnt get her.  But then I read this:

For those that dont like to click or read lol, the highlights are, “You showed me a concept of beautiful tasteful imagery( by way of vid text messages) .  I trusted that. I was mistaken. Then u release an unedited, unapproved version within the next few days” and “Consequently, brother, As a human I am disgusted with your what appears to be desperation and poor execution. And disregard for others . As a director I am unimpressed . As a sociologist I understand your type. As your fellow artist I am uninspired. As a woman I feel violated and underestimated. ”  So not wanting to be biased I checked out his Twitter.  He released this photo and said:

“here’s @fatbellybella and me.. You can’t see but I’m actually holding a gun to her head making her look at the camera”

After reading that I was like What Happened!!?!? And I just knew I had to see this video even though people were describing it as graphic, perverse and disturbing.  So I watched at work because I was too scared to watch it before bed because I am a self-proclaimed scaredy cat.

I waited until everyone in the office was gone and I watched it.

I am posting a link to the video here BUT


(Just copy and paste the link in a new tab because its acting up right now)

For those of you that watched, it was intense right?  Some were calling it beautiful others were calling it soft porn.  I remain conflicted.  I believe that a woman’s body is beautiful; the softness, the form, the strength. Its all very balanced and beautiful.  But as Americans we are taught that nudity always equals erotic, which it doesnt.  Why cant we look at a nude human body and see it as we see a butterfly or a hummingbird, just truly in awe of another creature’s aesthetic appeal.  And as a Black woman I am even more confounded because my body has been turned into so many things by so many people; Sexual, Menial, Unattractive, Mysterious. What am I supposed to be and what am I supposed to do?

This is a question of art vs. porn and sexual fetish vs sexual freedom.  And thats what makes Ms. Badu so unique and so important in this conversation.  Not too long ago I read a statement that Ms. Badu wrote in response to people calling her all kinds of ridiculous names because she has three children by three different men.  In a nutshell she replied that she is raising strong, respectful human beings, that she loved each man she conceived a child with and that she’s fine. In other words, Mind Yours! I respected her so much because who are these people to tell her how to use her body and how to raise her children.  This all goes back to freedom of choice and sexual freedom.

I also went down an internet rabbit hole (you know where you click one link on lolcats and 5 hours later you are on a site about illegal prostitution) and I came across a Tumblr called F*** Yeah, Feminists! and they were criticizing another Tumblr because its “fetishizes” women of color. So I checked out the blog and I was wondering if there was something wrong with me because I found the images beautiful.  Yes some of the women were nude but it was tasteful and the women were so beautiful.  And these are photos they either took, posed for or posted so they must have wanted them to be seen.  Was I missing something I asked myself.

So I ask where is that line between being fetishes and sexual freedoms? What if I make a sexual choice and someone else makes it their fetish? Should that even matter to me?  If I find me in my nudeness glorious but someone else makes it dirty whose to blame? Should I even care?

Yes, that’s the ultimate question. Should I even care?


Black Girls be Movie Producers

If you had told me last week that I would be co-producing a film this week I would have called you a bold faced liar but Lo and Behold here we are. My friend Kevin is participating in this year’s 48 hour film project and as I type this is probably editing like a maniac while hyped up on Red Bulls.  But he’s a trooper and he may even be a borderline genius so he’ll be ok.

Last week he asked me if I would help him with this endeavor and because Im young and he’s my friend and it sounded like fun I gave him an emphatic yes! I offered the use of my mom’s van and he wanted me to scout locations.  The trick of the 48 hr film festival is not only do you only have 48 hours to write, cast, shoot, edit and deliver a 4-7 minute film but you also must include elements of the competition’s choosing.  For instance every film must have a character named Olivia or Oliver Masterson who must be a biker or cyclist, a notebook must be used a s a prop and the line “Tell me all about it” must be delivered.  AND they tell you what genre you will be doing.  I wont tell you everything because I want you to be surprised when I am able to post the video.

I thought I would just be transportation, maybe iron someone’s shirt or hold a light but I ended up playing a major role and it was an awesome experience.  I had input on the script, I built a pivotal set piece and I served as a producer of sorts. I was a Jill-of-all-trades. Oh, and I was also an agent as I got my brother his first film acting role in this piece (and yes he made me very proud).  It was a LOOOOONNNNGGGGG night!!! As I said in the previous post I picked up the crew at 5:30pm and I didnt pull up at my house until 5:45am.  It was intense and grueling and exhilarating!  But the thing that I loved the most was being around all these young creators who were doing it for themselves and not waiting for “permission”.  Now if I can only figure out how to get the lens cover off maybe I can be a film director too! LOL Theatre will always be my first love but I think I can have a lil something something on the side with film. Who knows?

Here are some production pics from last night. Cant wait to show yall the finished product!

Kevin and Danielle hard at work

This is personally my favorite picture.

Black Girls Be Having Long Days that feel like 3 days

Every once in a while I have a day that is so jam packed that I feel like Steve Martin in “The Jerk.”  You know that scene where he and Bernadette Peters are laying the bed and he’s saying how it feels like they been together for 3 months because the first day felt like 5 days and the second day felt like 3 days and the third day felt like one day because she went to her mother’s. (Yeah those aren’t the words at all but if you are a fan of the film you understand what I mean.)

Well yesterday was one of those days for me! It started around 8:30am. Got up, worked out with my mom, she got her Tax  ID number (yeah we are starting a business selling accessories, scarves and select apparel in North Carolina. Its called MODE Boutique. MODE stands for Marketing Our Differences Exceptionally and its “Where Culture and Couture Collide” :-)) So we hopped on the train to the city and went to the fashion district to buy some goods to sell.  It was so much fun! Buying lots and lots of earring and necklaces and also seeing jewelry that they are selling in major stores $6 for a dozen. Mark up is SO REAL! But hey, its supply and demand and if folks are willing to pay I am more than willing to sell.

So we did all that but we had to be back around 4ish because my friend Kevin is participating the 48 hour film festival and I was providing transportation because my mom has a van.  We got home, I scarfed down a meal and rushed back out the door. Part two of my day had begun!

I get to Queens to pick up two crew members and the equipment and we make our way to our next destination.  The film location was in Brooklyn and I thought that was where we were going. But Kevin pulled a fast one on me and had me driving to midtown Manhattan during rush hour to meet him!

SIDE NOTE: I can be a slave to my craft.  If I really want to do something I will do whatever it takes to make it happen even drive a 7 passenger van to midtown Manhattan during rush hour.  What can I say, I believe in the arts!

Now please note I picked up the crew at around 5:30. I didnt get home until about 5:45.  That is 12 straight hours of movie making magic! And yes we shot the entire film in one night!

Expect another post to tell you about THAT experience.

But because I started with a “The Jerk” reference, Im gonna leave yall with this. Because now Im at work, tired and Black Girls be random.