Via Complex (Really awesome post on “dead” rap magazines.”)
In May of 2009, every since John posted the nude pictures of who is largely speculated to be singer Rihanna Fenty, I haven’t felt the same way about rap music.
When I saw that he posted the pictures, I contacted him and we had a conversation about the reasons why he would or would not post pictures of Rihanna Fenty, and I asked him whether I could blog about it. He said no.
It was then that I concluded that Black women stay being for sale. I say this to speak back to the idea that the internet is some “democratic” space where everyone has a voice. No, power is relational. And as @afrolicious says, the same relationships of power you see on the street, in schools, at the bodega on the train, are at work on the internet as well.
It was bugged out to me, that he wouldn’t consent to me talking about our conversation yet, felt he needed no consent to post nude pictures of who we believed to be Rihanna Fenty. I remembered saying to him, I know you are not a feminist, but this shit blood, really? I always considered you to be an ally.
This man, at one time, had the password to my blog, and the freedom to take posts as he liked and put them on The Smoking Section. I appreciated it as he exposed my work to a larger audience.
He is also one of the first people online who told me I had a writing voice waaaaaaay back in ’06, when I didn’t even SEE that I had one. Furthermore, in Summer ’08, when Latoya ran one of my pieces on Racialicous, and it was picked up the the Daily UK’s blog feed, I told John who further explained to me all sorts of nuances of blogging in terms of mining the reader data, tracking ping backs, strategically picking topics to post about to render myself an authority, building my audience. He mentored me and tried to help when he could and I appreciated it.
I also felt like I had an investment in The Smoking Section because I assisted John in navigating the move to Uproxx. We had our seperate lanes, no doubt, and I wanted to see him win. I read the contract, asked him questions and gave him feedback on what I thought about various clauses. Having had corporations and trademark and I believe I was taking mergers and acquisitions, I had familiarity with the language. I looked at it as a case study exercise.
By 2009, as I saw his site taking on more and more of the soft porn of eye candy. All I could think is, you can’t figure out how to enhance your quotes without peddling eye candy? Blood, what kinda facts are those?
I asked him something about this, along these lines and he responded, its a trade off. I link to you from time to time, I post the eye candy, win – win. I gave him a side eye.
As a Black woman blogger who sits at the intersection Rap/pop culture and feminism, I have very unique perspective. I am not aware of any other Black woman who has blogged as consistently as long as I have.
Because of this I have had a very particular experience in the blogosphere.
One by one, with bloggers, the majority of whom ran rap blogs, have had moments around gender. I remember when Eskay called Karrine Steffans a “slore.” A combination slut and a whore. I was like, Umm, that shit is not cool.
I remember when I had a conversation with Dallas who argued, and I paraphrase, that the fate of Black people rest on the “respectability” of Black women. This was based on a conversation around the Duke Rape case. I responded, blood what the ___ are you talking about? Truth be told, Dallas is the one who named me M.dot, based on the two M’s in Model Minority. It just kinda stuck. He is also the person who encouraged me to write about the Venus Hottentot and Buffy the Body. This was kind of a game changer for me because it got me thinking about Black women in music videos from a historical perspective.
Lastly my recent conversations with Ta-Nehisi around “For Colored Girls” and the significance of looking at a text around gender when talking about race, are a part of this pattern as well.
I guess what I am trying to say is that I am seeing a pattern here of me challenging or questioning Black men online, and me receiving various forms of “nah, pump your breaks” in response.
My interactions Ta-Nehisi’s and John’s are similar in that I supported them, in the way that I could on my blog or with my blog. These men would have gotten to where they are, regardless, as they seem to be committed to what they do. What is material to me is that I saw that a line was crossed in terms of Black women, I brought it up to them, and I received a variation of “nah, pump ya breaks.”
Whats the deal with that?
I have thought about writing this since those pictures were posted in 2009. I just wasn’t sure how. My conversations with Ta-Nehisi has clarified the issue in some ways. In fact a comment on his blog, which was brought to my attention by @tkoed on Friday (by the time I saw it the comments were closed) further encouraged me to write this. I was largely inspired based on a comment at Ta-Nehisis’ blog. The commenter, Sorn writes,
…What I see as the major bone of contention is that TNC is speaking from his experience of being a black man, and Renina is speaking from her experience of being a black woman. The language is the same, but the meanings are different, because meaning –on an emotional level– is ultimately derived from personal experience.
I think there is a fascinating conversation that needs to be had here about how each gender is raised to view and interpret the actions and words of the other. Academic literature is important, but what is more important to me, as a reader of this blog, is how the literature sheds light on experience. TNC has repeatedly written about the relationship between hip-hop and the mask worn by young black men, and in my head I took the post on the misogyny of Malcolm X to be along the same lines as earlier posts discussing the same relationship in hip-hop.
When I read this I was like. Damn GINA! Someone gets it! It was at this moment that I realized that I BEEN had something to say it that was time to say it.
Do you think it is significant that one by one, I have crossed a gender line with a few Black men on the internet?
Where is the space to have what Mr. Fantastic call’s “Healing Conversations” about gender? Would you participate in them?
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