It’s nice to see the media attention being given to Dr. Roxanne Shante this week. To bring you up to speed she was one of the earliest female MCs in hip-hop. She recorded Roxanne’s Revenge which was a reply to UTFO’s song Roxanne Roxanne. For a more recent comparison think of TLC’s recording of No Scrubs. Either way it’s been a long time! I’ve been meaning to write a post about the dearth of women in hip-hop but I find it so difficult trying to lift it up as a genre as a whole.
I had to double-check my Deploying A Little Negro Spirit music posts and sure enough I hadn’t touched it with a ten foot pole. We won’t be discussing the misogyny in rap/hip-hop because it’s a rather moot point I think. The hateful attitude some black men have toward black women is obvious to anyone who wants to acknowledge it. So “music” being used to reflect that is just one of the ways they’ve been allowed to get away with it.
I had forgotten about Dr. Shante’s story of triumph and she deserves the accolades. She signed a record deal and got swindled out of money. She was an unwed teenage mother living in a housing project in NYC. She could have faded into obscurity and continued down that path so many of us warn other women about. She obviously had a vision for herself despite her less than ideal circumstances. She didn’t give up on herself or resign herself to a life of constant struggle. Why? She had a clause put in her contract that required her label to pay for her education for life. Of course the label tried to renege on the deal but she persisted. She went to college and continued to grad school eventually earning a Ph.D in psychology. She worked hard, studied hard and moved on. She’s now a married mother of two with an education no one can ever take away.
We’ve discussed getting out of the Matrix and the death of the “black community” as a once-useful entity that doesn’t sustain women. We should be free agents able to live our lives on our own terms. I don’t think discussing the decay resonates with enough of us and things are far worse than many think. It can be difficult to see it when you’re in the middle of it – or far removed from it. There’s also a question about how challenging it may be for those who need to leave to separate themselves emotionally and physically if there are a lack of resources or children involved. Perhaps it needs to be stated that everyone who should get out won’t. This is a continuing message for those who are willing and able.
Education can be one of the ways out. The Obama administration has a program for mothers to return to school or to start attending period. If you think about it that record label’s promise to pay is akin to the financial aid awards that are available. There’s a financial aid database you can apply through. Even for those that may have to bring themselves up to speed comprehension-wise or find a less expensive school by choosing a community college. Plus those schools just got extra funding since the 4-year universities tend to be better endowed financially.
The statistics already bear out that black women are finishing college at a much higher rate than black men. If you’re living in an unsafe neighborhood or surrounded by people who think of failure as the norm it’s best to leave as quickly and as safely as you can. Planning your move to a safer area may require you not sharing this information with anyone who’d seek to hold you back. You can go to the library and seek assistance with doing a search. Why not choose a school in a different city or move to a better section of town? With the state of the economy parents with physical custody of their children may be looking to split costs of living expenses. Of course screening is necessary but this is one way for people to pool their resources while taking a course of action.
It has to be better than living around people like the mother of one of the Dunbar Village suspects who says things like:
“So, if that’s the case they say my son raped somebody, how is that when, I got raped when I was little I told him about it and he was going crazy. They said I couldn’t have no kids I thank God I had 13 kids…
“They’re trying to give these kids, 50 to life, for something they probably ain’t gonna live to do.“They should put them in a community education where they can learn that. You know like a program or something. Locking these kids up ain’t gonna solve nothing. You know.”
You can choose LIFE versus DEATH. It’s really that simple. This is also the time for all of us to evaluate where we stand in our lives. Obama is reappointing Bernanke to the Federal Reserve. There’s quite a few finance experts who warn the economy is going to get worse – which is the opposite of the Bernanke’s feel-good message. Unless you’re in the upper wealth percentile or a banker I’d rather be prepared than lulled into a false sense of security. For all of our obstacles, hardships and reasons why we can’t do something, perhaps this is the time to do a complete about-face. Since so many claim a special relationship with their version of God don’t you think this would be the perfect time to put that faith in action?