Category Archives: Music

Dear Cee Lo

Trigger Warning: Discussions of sexual violence below. Dear Cee Lo, Dude, seriously? I am so disappointed in your actions that I almost don’t even know where to begin. You have just gotten off from some charges stemming from a 2012 accusation of sexual assault. And rather than quietly going off into the night as one might expect, you have proceeded to open your mouth and stuff your entire foot into in it in your rush to defend yourself. But your “righteous indignation” sounds more like the unreasonable rants of a guilty person. First, let’s set the record straight, because your …Read more »

An Ontology of CRUNK: Theorizing (the) Turn Up

For your #TurnUp Tuesday pleasure, I thought I’d do a little Crunk theorizing today. As y’all already know, CRUNK is a generative term, a percussive term that centrally points to the kind of energy generated by putting disparate elements together like hip hop and feminism or black nationalism and feminism or crunk and feminism.   The kind of sonic expressiveness that encapsulates crunkness is heavily reliant on a percussion driven sound. So as we aimed to put the terms crunk and feminism together, we were interested in how the expressive culture of crunk could animate our feminism.   CRUNK Feminism …Read more »

Angels and Ghosts

Every day I walk or drive through historic Black neighborhoods in Atlanta, Georgia where upwards of 50% of residential properties are vacant, abandoned and sometimes burned down (but not demolished).  I see empty buildings that used to be schools, recreation centers, community centers, and businesses.  I see extraordinary flooding each time it rains; rushing water nearly covers the street.  Sidewalks are non-existent or so torn-up you cannot walk on them so folks move through the middle of the street–parents with strollers and people in wheelchairs. On weekdays I see elementary, middle, and high school age youth sitting on porches at …Read more »

lovers rock: the crunk feminist summer mixtape series

I refuse to cede this summer to cruelty. I have rubbed the roof of my mouth raw with pomegranate hard candies. I have learned how to take rapid-fire selfies at flattering angles. Underwhelmed by artisanal popsicles, politics and my own work ethic, I have brooded. At my best I have ridden the 2 train through the Bronx singing the “The Facts of Life” theme song with a little girl who sidled next to me at Penn Station and rested her head on my shoulder as I reread The Bluest Eye. And then I found my way back home to Harlem. …Read more »

this is how we do it: the crunk feminist summer mixtape series

Josephine Baker famously fled the U.S. for the reprieve from racism post World War I France provided. She called France her home for the rest of her life but continued to perform stateside. She also protested. She addressed the masses at the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and juxtaposed the measure of dignity she enjoyed abroad with the degradation she was subject to as a black woman in the United States. Segregation enraged her. “And when I get mad,” she explained, “you know that I open my big mouth. And then look out, ‘cause when Josephine opens …Read more »

soul glow: the crunk feminist summer mixtape series

Summers ago, the sage Cee Lo implored us to “drop the top and let the sunshine in.” But we don’t all ride around and get it: some of bus, bike and stride. I pound the pavement in part because I was terrorized by a jheri-curled narcoleptic on my mid-aught subway commutes. Each morn this ostensible, if old school, business man reliably nodded off and his juicy locks threatened to soil my work clothes so I took to walking from my Brooklyn apartment to my Union Square gig, rain or shine. It was good exercise and activator-free. Tomorrow’s solstice signals summer’s …Read more »

the light of us: a mother’s day mix

call it our craziness even, call it anything. it is the life thing in us that will not let us die. Poet Lucille Clifton’s language for lineage was cherished. “roots,” a poem from her  1974 collection An Ordinary Woman named it light and I choose to liken it to mothering. it is the light in us it is the light of us it is the light, call it whatever you have to, call it anything I call it mom. I call it a practice of unconditional love that this weekend calls us to celebrate. To all who mother, thank you. Such living …Read more »

“The Booty Don’t Lie”: Kelly, K. Michelle, & Janelle Monae’ Sing Black Girl Freedom

One of the biggest conundrums  faced by this generation of Black feminists is the challenge of articulating a pro-sex, pro-pleasure politic in the face of recalcitrant and demeaning stereotypes that objectify, dehumanize, and devalue Black women’s bodies and lives. To be “good” feminists, we always feel that we have to make sure and say it, so folks know that we get it, that we understand the magnitude of these histories of negative representation. To be fair, I understand that part of the reason for insisting on naming the rampant misogynoir (h/t to Moya Bailey) in our culture is that keeping …Read more »

Some Thoughts on ‘Accidental Racist’

Thought #1:  When I first saw the name of this song go across my Facebook feed a few weeks ago I didn’t know what to make it of it.  I assumed, at first, that it was an unfortunate spoof or offensive rant.  I was disinterested in either so disregarded it. Thought #2:  When I realized, some days later, that Accidental Racist was a song by Brad Paisley featuring L.L. Cool J., my curiosity got the best of me.  When I listened to the song and read the lyrics I had back and forth feelings, at times finding it awkward but …Read more »

always arriving: a black scholar’s mixtape

But we knew. And our knowing was like a sister’s embrace. Sonia Sanchez, “A Letter to Dr. Martin Luther King,” homegirls and handgrenades (1984) I first sat at the feet of Sonia Sanchez at Spelman College where I was assiduously loved and educated. Sanchez was invited by the Women’s Resource and Research Center to help train us up as scholar-activists in the Toni Cade Bambara way. She sipped water green with liquid chlorophyll while she spoke with us. It became my habit soon after. Last winter when she was welcomed by the good folk in Yale’s Department of African American …Read more »

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