February 11, 2008

...open dialog...

i recently got a myspace message from an old friend who had a little bit of a beef with me. she wanted to know why i was "knocking the hustle" of so many young pinays in the import model/go-go dancing game. she felt that by me trying to persuade young women (especially young women of color) away from standing next to vehicles at car shows, or dancing on a platform by speaking "ill" of them, i was hurting their pockets and not supporting my sisters.


interesting. those who know me well know that i get really defensive when approached with a criticism. i did. my first email response was pretty harsh, but luckily, i decided to erase that one and really try to dialog with her.

a little background: this young sister has been doing this for a long time and has made a good little chunk of change doing this. she's been featured in magazines and at some pretty high-end clubs dancing and modeling with cars.

"...women here don't pose at no import shows, but they might take a knife to your clavicle bone..."

here's a little piece of her message: "i feel beautiful, i AM beautiful! i want to be immortalized this way and if this pays rent and groceries then this is MY blessing! this is what GOD has given me. what if you never used your godgiven talent to do what it is you do? would you (be) happy? i AM happy!!!!! your music makes me feel trashy!"

we went back and forth for a little bit. it was difficult to have this dialog and it really challenged me to express myself with more clarity and sensitivity.

my intention is never to make my sisters feel trashy, but it's also not meant to sugar coat anything. we've been struggling and fighting for such a long time. i just want young people to understand what exploitation means and how many levels there are to being exploited.

i want everyone to celebrate their physical beauty! i want us as a people to be truly happy with our beautiful faces, our beautiful bodies and our wonderful culture! at the same time, i don't think being bent over in boyshorts on the hood of an integra is celebrating beauty. i think it's selling a sexual fantasy. it's selling yourself as an object -- much like any prop is used to sell a product. that's where i have an issue. but, even with my issues, i'm not trying to "knock the hustle," i'm just trying to keep some dignity amongst our people. i'm trying to tell our young sisters that they are not simply beautiful bodies and faces to be gawked at. they are a fighting people. they are the people that would not bow down or bend over without a fight!

yes, i do want that shit to come to a screeching halt. i mean, i'm spoiled, i'm around women who spend their evenings in meetings, trying to organize campaigns for women's equality, for gender balance, for victims of sex slavery... these are the women i have been blessed to be around. my fiance. a woman who will always check me, dialog with me and be patient with me enough to help me understand my place as a man.

regardless, whether you wear angel wings in lingerie and fly up and down on a pole at the new hot spot in hollywood, or you find yourself grinding up on some rapper in his music video, please know that i still got your back -- and know that i'm on the front line for y'all too. i might not agree, but i understand (to a certain extent).

oh, and brothers, don't read this like y'all ain't involved in this shit. i really should be having this conversation with you, as men, as brothers, as fathers and as husbands/partners. this is a round table discussion, fool!

let's keep this conversation going.


Editor: Miss Kristia said...

holla. especially on the last part.

roundtable discussion. for real.

AKIM said...

some true shit. it's hard to have that dialog with some folks though cause they can't see how society has tricked them into thinking it's acceptable to be a walking sex ad. i think i'm more upset at the society that produces this thinking than the victims themselves. i've had this type of frustrating conversation with some of the homeys who are a little too obsessed with white girls.

on another note, the wire is about to pop off yo!

Bambu said...

miss kristia! how is ya'?! indeed.

akim. i agree with you. but, i disagree with you as far as the wire goes... something needs to happen soon, or i'm going to be real upset with this final season!

Derrick said...

"What you scared of?
...it's just a song..."
-Goodie Mob


Very interesting blog entry (I've been reading for awhile now after having hit up your myspace page frequently--you're a great talent).

It sounds like the woman who emailed you is suffering from cognitive dissonance and can't reconcile the fact that she's making some cash off this with the feeling that she's demeaning herself. Otherwise, why email you?

I mean, if she really accepts what she does for a living, she'd be content enough to not have to argue about it, and especially not with you. All you're doing is using your chosen art form to express what you want to express.

I mean, she can always not listen to your music. But it sounds like what you've said has resonated with her, and it's causing this cognitive dissonance for her.

In my opinion, that means you've done your job (assuming that one purpose of your music is to push others to action), should she decide to work the floor harder, smarter, or just quit altogether.

As far as her job goes...I doubt that doing what she does requires her to make you stop doing what you do, so what she really seems to be doing is arguing with you when it's the cognitive dissonance in her own mind that's causing her discomfort or to feel "trashy".

I'd really like to see what else she had or has to say, with her permission of course, but there is a tinge of "much ado about nothing" that I'm sensing here.


Da Truf said...

Like Ise Lyfe said in the conversation we had a couple weeks ago:

If brown women organized in solidarity and said, "We ain't disrespecting ourselves for your personal gain anymore", then the shit would end immediately.

But because women are suffering from internalized oppression as well, they believe that this is the only means of gaining power, however fleeting that moment may be.

It's true, it is no place for a "man" to criticize a condition that
"men" have created, which is misogyny, but to question it is the beginning of a dialogue that needs to happen.

These women are offering their bodies as resources of capitalism, and bound to be used as well, despite their initial feelings of being revered.

To the sistas in this industry, beauty is not the bottom line. "Using what you got, to get what you want" is a cop out. Especially when the sistas back home aren't doing it for vanity's sake, they're doing it to survive another day.

trtskh said...

Bambu, you hit it right on the nose with this post. I think that part of the problem with us brown women is that many of us are still stuck in that colo-mentality state, where we feel we still need the White Man's approval to feel worthy. We need to fit his criteria of beauty. We need to be immortalized in the way he sees fit. Props to you for trying to have a dialogue with this. I hope this has sparked some kind of thought within her.

Is nice to know there are brothers out there being open about this to the sisters (AND other brothers too).

BTW, I love your work, bro. You and Kiwi both (hope there's no hard feelings between you two). Keep spreading the positive messages like wildfire.

Salaam. Peace.

Angel H. said...

Great post! Mind if I link?