I almost forgot to do a post about the artist born Eleanora Fagan! Surely I can’t be that stricken with a cold to forget about one of our most important musicians in the history of womankind? When I get fed up with the struggles of the modern chica, the added burden reserved for us Black women and the challenges of the working class it helps to remember certain situations were much worse. I can’t imagine having to enter a building through the back door where I was performing and other forms of crushing racism she had to endure. I also think her traumatic childhood that included sexual abuse, abandonment and prostitution weakened her spirit to not be able to cope with it. This is where I am very glad to be alive today, where therapy is available because internalizing all of this mess will slowly eat away at you until you are the walking dead. Or turn to drugs and alcohol to escape the pain.
Acknowledging these things does not in any way detract from her talent or her contribution to society. There was a strength and fighting spirit that produced a legacy of music that spoke of women standing up for themselves as well as exploring their sexuality. It’s music that sounds even more incredible with the passage of time. We need to look at the entire history of individuals like Billie Holiday because her life reads much like a lot of women today. When we speak the truth and make the necessary changes we break the cycle.