This post was originally going to be about colorism, until I remembered a conversation I had recently about art and culture.
This was how it started:
I know how it sounds. It sounds like I am being selfish and elitist, and eventually there is going to come a time when white girls everywhere are doing the WAP Dance, but for now…for a little while could it just belong to us?
When Black Panther came out, not a single white person asked if they could do the Wakanda Forever sign, they didn’t even dare. They left it the fuck alone, so why is this different?
Because according to some people, if you’re really, really not racist, you don’t see color at all.
I am curious as to what that means to you. Does that mean that if you don’t see the color of my skin, I don’t look Black to you? At all? Is my identity erased by your color blindness?
How does that work exactly? Because if you can’t see the color of my skin, how can you possibly understand the struggle that I’ve had to experience, because of the color of my skin? How can you understand my art form, if you refuse to see that the color of my skin exists?
Unless you are legally color blind, you can see the color of my skin perfectly, what you are saying is that it doesn’t matter to you. That part of who I am, doesn’t matter to you, and unfortunately for you, that’s not okay with me.
The color of my skin is the reason that I was raped as a child and young woman.
The color of my skin is why I was bullied by both Black and white kids. The color of my skin is why my teachers tried to teach me that what I saw as racism wasn’t racism, but “just a joke”. It formed who I am today.
It defines me as a Black woman, the color of my skin is absolutely a part of my identity, and if you choose not to see that, then how can you possibly understand my artwork?
You cannot say that you can see my art, or Cardi B’s art and understand where it comes from, if you refuse to acknowledge that the color of our skin, has been and will always be, a part of the struggles that we face as women in this world.
Let alone as Black women.
The WAP dance may by Cardi B’s standards be for everyone, but here’s the thing.
The last song that we had by Black women about sex, that was any good (to my mind) that really blew our minds was “Let’s Talk About Sex” by TLC, which was a huge deal when it first came out. It too was called “obscene” and “too racy”.
Black women, specifically, do not talk about our sexuality, we do not talk about the things that make us hot or turn us on. This is because we’re taught that when we do we’re “obscene” and “rude”.
In my case I don’t talk about BDSM anymore, because it feels disingenuous to talk about how much I like the top/bottom relationships after the abuse that I’ve experienced. I don’t think, knowing what I know now about my rape experiences, I will ever be able to have that kind of relationship again.
It’s far too triggering. Which is why we celebrate each other when Black women do talk about our sexuality, when we do talk about how much we like sex we get excited, because it’s a taboo conversation that we’re not supposed to be a part of.
Remember that scene in Sex and the City 2, when they were in Abu Dhabi, and the women had to hide in the “women’s only section” of the city? Yeah, exactly.
When was the last time you ever saw an Egyptian woman, or an Iranian women or hell, even an Indian woman, talking about sex? Do you understand now why WAP is so important to women of color?
Madonna, a white woman, made a career talking about sex, and she was called a fucking revolutionary. When Cardi B does it, she’s called trash and told that her music is “toxic” to youth.
It’s time we start normalizing women talking about sex. Again. It’s time that we, as Black women, have a place in the world, where we can have these conversations about life, and sex, trauma and yes even love.
We as colored women are supposed to be shy and quiet, until it comes time to literally take a bullet for a Black men, then we’re supposed to be strong powerful Soldiers who keep our mouths shut. Fuck that noise, you can’t have it both ways.
You no longer get to decide what is or is not appropriate for Black people. You no longer get to take our art work, and use it so that you can get Twitter likes.
And when we ask you politely, not to take the dances and music of our sisters and cousins and use it, please respect that shit. We aren’t trying to be rude, we aren’t trying to be racist, we’re trying to say that for some things, we just want to keep them for ourselves. We want you to see it, we want you to know that it exists, but we don’t want to necessarily have you take it and alter it for your own purposes.
Imagine growing up and never having a doll that looks like you, or a song or story that represents your experiences, or anyone who looks like you, tell you that they understand your struggle and are here for you to support you.
WAP is a song that says “it’s okay to talk about your sexuality”, it says “fuck it if they call you a whore,” it says “believe in your journey” it says “forgive yourself for being a sexual creature.” It says so much to those of us who have been taught that sex is dirty and that we should be ashamed of liking it.
I don’t want to see white people dancing to this song on Twitter and Tik Tok, I don’t care to see them taking Cardi B’s work so that they can add their “spin” onto it, altering it forever.
I want to see Black people doing this dance, I want to see Black Women doing this dance, I want to watch them as they raise that vibration around them and accept that they were born to be sexual beings connected to the universe and if you can’t understand why that is so important to me, then you don’t understand what it means to be Black. If you can’t understand what it means to be Black, then you can’t really consume our art the way that it’s meant to be consumed.
So why the fuck should you get to use it to entertain your fans? Which is precisely why Michelle didn’t do the dance. She’s a class act that one. She fucking gets it, without being asked, and that I really appreciate.
Just my two thoughts, what do you think? Am I right? Or am I completely and utterly racist? I’d love to continue the conversation in the comments below this post, so feel free to leave one.
Sending all my love,
Devon J Hall