Ruminating on Aretha Franklin’s Demand for RESPECT to 2 Chainz Big Booty Hoe

Friday, February 22, 2013

Originally posted at the New York Coalition for Reproductive Justice
By Jasmine Burnett

When the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin said, “R-E-S-P-E-C-T find out what it means to me,” she meant it as a declaration and for it to forever stick as a reminder. However, with the ever expanding collection of disrespectful and demeaning songs that presents Black women and girls as less than human, the disrespect becomes too obvious to ignore. My answer is simply, to respond. Case in point, “Birthday Song” by 2 Chainz featuring Kanye West.

I understand how these things work, right? Here I am, a Black Feminist Ethicist who works tirelessly to shift culture and build societal accountability and support for Black women and girls. This shift happens among ourselves, the Black community, and the “mainstream” around our images and how they inform and define how we’re treated. At this point, with this particular song, I am once again confronted with misguided constructions of our identity and choices based on the experiences of the Black men it’s speaking to through it’s entertainers, the lyrics and video. Unfortunately, the only message that it sends and works to establish for Black women and girls is that, we should be good with these images because we are getting air time after all.

It actually makes me sick to even give voice and space to the company of entertainers that will continue to make millions of dollars at the expense of Black women and girls bodies. Unfortunately, we are once again reduced to the sum of our body parts for the animalistic pleasure of a society that endorses our exploitation. Black women, we have to understand that whatever we want and need is within ourselves. Searching for our identity in these lyrics that are born from experiences that give the green light for sexual assault, racial and gender based violence,  is a clear indicator that to endorse this is to willingly embrace the harm that it supports.

It’s clear that when it comes to Black women and girls me, and entertainers like 2 Chainz will always disagree. So, I’ll get to the business of creating a difference while you get to the business of continuing to bring in the dollars that disrespects your mothers, grandmother’s, daughters, aunts, sisters, cousins and friends. I could never imagine how it feels to spit in the faces and on the legacy’s of the Black women who cared for you and continue to make a way for you despite the path that you’ve chosen.
As Black women and girls we demand RESPECT!

By design, Black women and girls have always invested in lifting up the respectable Black man and his masculinity.  Black men continuing to support and create in this way will always only be a partial win for you. Though, I am curious about what parts of your soul you have to sell so that you can sleep at night knowing that this is ultimately contributing to our oppression and yours?  What kind of punk move can you make to attack the very women who STILL make a way for everyone in this country, including you? As Black women and girls we will always protest the incorrect and stereotypical images presented of us. Especially, the ones that make it okay for us to simply accept second class citizenship to a country who’s leaders we’ve nursed, fields we’ve toiled and empires we’ve built. In order to put a stop to this,  society and its institutions has got to have our back in rejecting this as our norm.

 Jasmine Burnett is a dynamic leader with a mission to collect a set of contributions that will transform the way society thinks about Justice, Love & Diversity. Since 2009, Jasmine has been a Reproductive Justice leader and  grassroots organizer in New York City.  She is the Lead Organizer of New York Coalition for Reproductive Justice (NYC4RJ), formerly organized as SisterSong NYC.  Jasmine also advocates for the Right to Sexual Pleasure and to Define Families through her online community, Aunt Betty’s Basement.

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