Lupe’s Fiasco: Bitch Bad, Woman Good, Queen Better?

Before writing about Lupe’s new offering ‘Bitch Bad’ let’s take a moment to understand what he is addressing:

The negative reviews are overtly harsh and somewhat convoluted. It is easy to find fault in his words. He used the  B-word in juxtaposition to ‘Woman good, Lady better’. So what? Are we becoming a society too bogged down in semantics that instead of finding points to liberate from them, they only serve to blur the issues at hand, with no clear steps to resolution? As such, we bypass the super-objective in its entirety and forget to celebrate the direct and no-sugar coated open discourse on an issue that is shaping how young girls view, not only themselves, but how they are viewed by their male counterparts.

Would the lyrics ‘Bitch Bad, Woman Good, Queen better’ change the super objective. No. It remains the same. But, it would alter the negative noise around the word choices in the song; and all for the better because that focus misses the point entirely.

In context, the direction and what he addresses is spot on. Therefore, it might be worth considering also the audience he is attempting to address and why.  One cannot diminish its positive logic in the semantics of language. Language is not static. It evolves and morphs with the times. Not to digress, but not long ago we were up in arms about text language and its potential destruction of a literacy culture and heritage for the next generation. Well, isn’t that what Lupe is addressing here too? ‘Bitch Bad, Woman Good, Lady Better’?

For Lupe to address this denigration of Women, he should be commended not vilified. This song is about Value. The problem he highlights is one derived from the negative association with the term. “Bitch” in itself is not a bad word, it is the concepts tied to it that is bad, which is what he addresses in this song. It is the termination of the ideas embedded in the words that it embodies that we must abolish and fight against. It is the denigration and loathing of the Female self  (Black and White and all in-between) that he addresses and asks us (male and female) to move from. For this, he merits support. Because is it not the reinforcement of negative ideas behind any derogatory term what we collectively aim to diminish?

Fela’s ‘Lady’ –  from which I clearly and unconsciously coined my moniker and also because my initial is actually ‘O’ – can also be viewed with the same lens here. It addressed the discourse of African women wanting and demanding equality in a tradition that renders them subservient to their male siblings and counterparts at birth. Here too he juxtapositions the words ‘Woman’ and ‘Lady’ but in the context of Europeans bringing the idea of equality with men as a foreign and unwanted concept to the African woman, who as a result, wants to be viewed as ‘Lady O!’. As we know, there are many examples of amazing African Women, his own Mother and market women included, who rendered (and continue to render) this limited and limiting position obsolete.

The HuffPo piece is worth a read. I found this also, you can hear more of his thoughts about the record in retrospect:

Rather than shoot him down because he didn’t use ‘Queen’ or ‘Empress’ or even just leave it at ‘Woman’, let’s applaud without a semantical debate obfuscating the emancipating objective of his offering and the highlighting of how big this issue really is for both the Male and Female psychology and relationship. Well done Lupe.

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Lil Raggamuffin Summer Camp – Jamaica

This warms my heart. I love the sharing, the focus on Identity, knowledge of Africa, empowerment for the Youth and Community.

What is the Lil Raggamuffin Summer Camp? Watch this….

Show Love and support this grassroots annual project in its 6th year. Find out more on www.lilraggamuffincamp.org

A Place of Rage: Educational Documentaries

I stumbled on this Educational DVD ‘A Place of Rage’, watched the trailer with sweaty palms and heart beating excitedly; and went on to read the review A Place of Rage: Two Black Feminist Documentaries. This is one to share and support. I cannot wait to see it all.

Much to look forward to in the Fall, or as we say here across the pacific pond, Autumn. Besides, this review so is enticing I would not have needed the trailer or the write up to get all flustered at the prospect of learning; the title and contributors alone – Angela Davis, June Jordan and Alice Walker – is enough: ‘A Place of Rage’.

“This lyrical film begins the much needed exploration of the Afro-American women who sustained and inspired the Civil Rights Movement of the 60’s. By shining an intimate light on some of our best known artists / activists Parmar eloquently reveals the power and poetry of the hidden faces. Her film is a visual embrace of who black women really are .” – Jewelle Gomez

“I’ve been showing A Place of Rage in my classes on race, gender and sexuality in U.S. history for over a decade, and it always has a powerful impact.  Mingling the words and images of activist and scholar Angela Davis, poet June Jordan and writer Alice Walker, the film makes a powerful case for the central place of African American women in creating a broadly imagined social justice movement–the kind of movement we need now, as desperately as ever.” – Lisa Duggan, Professor, American Studies and Gender and Sexuality Studies Department of Social and Cultural Analysis, New York University (2010)

“A Place of Rage documents the lives and politics of three African-American women. Weaving a narrative of spiritual awakenings, political consciousness and poetry through powerful imagery of Angela Davis speaking, Alice Walker reading and June Jordan teaching, A Place of Rage works like a narrative poem. It takes is title from a statement from June Jordan where she tries to articulate how her poetry and her pedagogy emerges from a ‘place of rage’ and builds into some other kind of articulation. The film is moving in its quiet intensity and fascinating in its portrait of three powerful Black artists”. Judith Jack Halberstam, Professor of English, Gender Studies and American Studies and Ethnicity USC. (2010)

Updates will follow.