“…be so confident and so firm in your beliefs about your own value and beauty that it’s not fragile enough to be bruised every time a black man opens his mouth. He was at the middle of the table but he’s not Jesus.”
I love Kendrick Lamar (or K Dot as I call him, because we’re cool like that in my mind). He is currently tied with Chance as my favorite rapper. I walked around dancing to “Humble” all day on Friday; meanwhile, Twitter was in an uproar, unbeknownst to me. I was surprised when I started seeing tweets saying “people are mad about this video?” I’ll be honest- my first reaction was “people love being contrarians. Is thinkpiece Twitter fake mad just to have something to write about that will get clicks?” I decided to look into it and really try to see it from the perspective of the offended because maybe I’m supposed to be mad too and I’m just not #woke enough.
It’s usually easy to find tweets on both sides of an argument, but I had to do some digging to find an actual article on “the problem with ‘Humble’ “. I’ll link the article I found on Refinery29. I read the post and the comments and tried to see the logic in the argument. People mentioned things like one model being light-skinned and slim with a loose curl pattern; and the other who was praised for her stretch marks and cellulite also being slim but shapely. And for a second I went to a place of “yeah, girl! And why does the lighter girl have to be admired for her hair and face, but the darker girl, all you care about is showing her butt?! Here you go sexualizing dark-skinned women.” But then I thought…I love Kendrick but he has Celie braids. Why do we care about his standard of beauty?
I am usually on-board for a good “these n***as tried it” lynch mob, but this one seems like a stretch to me. From what I gather, the issue is not what he said, but the fact that he stated preferences at all. My point is, regardless of what he said, it shouldn’t matter to a woman who believes that our value is not limited to the value that random men assign to us. It’s not my intention to tell other women how to feel; feel free to be mad, but consider how that contradicts the notion that we don’t need men to validate us one way or the other. Statements like “this might sound like an affirmative moment that encourages women to love their bodies” implies that our ability to love our bodies is contingent upon a man’s approval. If you truly believe in the strength of women and that our every move is not to please a man, then why put so much energy into caring about their opinions?
I’m a heterosexual woman, so I get it- you want to feel beautiful and desired. My two cents: for the sake of your well-being, don’t let your self-worth and perception of your beauty be shaped by what you think men like and don’t take preferences to heart. Preferences are natural. You probably have them. If you let every man with a preference get your panties in a wad, you will always be chaffed. Regardless of what you look like, somebody will love it and somebody will hate it. If you don’t fit what you believe are the typical standards of beauty, have an attitude like Miss Pearly, “don’t you worry about it b***h, I know somebody like it.”
The problem with being mad at Kendrick, is that it allows him and other men (men you don’t even know) to put us in position where we’re being assigned value based on appearance. We are so much more than that. One of the reasons that I didn’t even consider being mad at that video until Twitter told me to be, was because when I watch that video, I’m putting myself in Kendrick’s position. That might as well be Beyonce’s “Bow Down” video because that’s how it makes me feel. It takes more than you showing an a*s in a video to make me feel like I’ve been reduced to just an a*s. I’m too busy holding my invisible nuts and being inspired by the song. It never occurred to me to put myself in the position of the woman in her panties or the one who only appeared for a few seconds to be pretty. If you truly believe in feminism and the power of women, stop making it out to be so fragile and dependent upon men’s validation.
I didn’t want to say this out of respect for women who are genuinely offended, but as a true Kendrick fan, I MUST say- what did y’all want him to say?! How much woker can he be? Even if he said “do whatever you want, you’re beautiful regardless” that’s STILL seeking validation from a man. If that’s really the issue you have with Kendrick, instead of “yes, brotha. That’s what I’m talking about!” The response should be the same as when he presented his preferences. “So what! We don’t need your permission to be real, fake or anything in-between.” Why would self-proclaimed feminists seek that approval? (Seriously, if I’m getting this wrong, let me know because I’m still open to being mad if needed). You have every right to be offended by the “Humble” video and anything else that makes you feel unappreciated or marginalized, but I challenge you to be so confident and so firm in your beliefs about your own value and beauty that it’s not fragile enough to be bruised every time a black man opens his mouth. He was at the middle of the table but he’s not Jesus.
Music video by Kendrick Lamar performing HUMBLE.. (C) 2017 Aftermath/Interscope (Top Dawg Entertainment)