Jun 21, 2010 @ 2:48 pm | By TheFeministGriote | 4 Comments
” I am not a feminist. I am not a Black liberalist, Republican, Democrat. I am not anything. I’m human. I support things that have good intent and that I feel I vibrate with, that I resonate with”.-E.Babu from her interview with Vibe magazine June/July 2010
I never thought in a million years that I would say that I disagree with Erykah Badu. Badu in my humble opinion is the epitome of a feminist/womanist. Her music is uplifting to women and seeks to remind us that there is much power in being vulnerable and honest with yourself and how your flaws can become a platform to your greatness, but I don’t agree that a human being can navigate in this world without self definition. There is power in naming your self for yourself.
As minorities when we read history we can see for ourselves the dangers that can happen when the majority is allowed to name the rest of us. The majority thought that Blacks were 3/5 of a person, that women were not capable of voting, and that only wealthy white men can have the right to rule. In the 60’s and 70’s Black people fought so hard to be called by their rightful names. We went from Nigger, Negro, Black, to now African-Americans. The beauty of the 21st century is that we have the privilege of calling ourselves whatever we feel best suits our interests. Women also throughout history went through their own metamorphosis. Women went from being subservient to men to almost equal with men. Although, both people of color and women have a long way to go in terms of solidifying their rightful equitable place in this patriarchal white society, but we can agree that gains have been made. The major problem I have with this quote is that many people subscribe to this type of thinking that leads to a cancerous form of apathy within Black and Brown communities. Badu is an artist with a different set of resources from we the masses which gives her the ability to be “free”.
I understand that as human beings we like to cling to groups which have a tendency to stifle and kill the spirit of individuality, hence “group think”, but going to the extreme polar opposite and simply saying I am just human too- me is dangerous. We are all human beings but some humans are more empowered than others. As average folks we do not have disposable income that can afford us the luxury of retreating from society and escaping the ills and perils that come from being in this urban jungle. I understand the intent and the context in which Badu made this statement, but as a Black Haitian-American woman, I cannot afford to walk down this path.
Everyday my psyche and spirit is being attacked by patriarchy, sexism, racism and all the other isms that seek to want to dominate me. Therefore politically and socially, I must align myself in order for me to ensure that I hold on to the few liberties that I still have. If the right wing majority had its way I would be stripped of all of my reproductive rights. Being just human is not going to keep the moral majority at bay. Unfortunately, not all humans are good or seeking righteousness. Therefore, its imperative that the masses align themselves to remind the bourgeoisie that we are alive and will not be quietly displaced and disenfranchised. I commend Badu for being able to transcend group affiliations, but from a socio-economic perspective I am still in the belly of the whale fighting to stay afloat consciously. On a social scale labels are not evil they are necessary. Until we live in a Utopian society where being just human is sufficient then-we can cast social struggle labels. Till then the masses cannot afford politically, socially, or economically to be so ambiguous.
“If we do not define ourselves for ourselves, we will be defined by others-for their use and to our detriment”-Audre Lorde from the essay Scratching the Surface
Categories: The Temple of My Familiar