Fellow blogger Clay Kane wrote an interesting piece on his site that got me to thinking about an article I started writing some months ago but eventually abandoned. Clay, in his article, wonders why there are so few Black women on the Billboard charts but quite a few White women who have what I like to call that Black Girl Flava? Now some time ago I predicted that the influx of White women into r&b music, with the help of Black male producers, would lead to the demise of Black women on the charts. And now that the chickens have essentially come home to roost, I think now is the perfect time to talk about why only Beyonce and Corrine Bailey Rae- who is biracial- are the only two so called Black women who have songs in the Hot 100.
Now the first thing we are going to have to do is realize that the replacement of Black women on the charts is linked to the replacement of Black women in other areas as well. And even though sistas many not be dominating the charts as we once did, women who sing, dance and basically have been taught to emulate us are. But I am getting a bit ahead of myself so let’s go back a bit.
The replacement of Black women in our community, via it radio, television or video is nothing new. Just think about BET which is only about 25 years. Like most Black stations it hired Black women. Naturally they were all fair, but they were at least Black. The new BET however seems to only hire Hispanic women. All the sistas have been replaced and as always- no one says a thing.
The music video is another place where you used to see Black women paired with Black men. This is natural right? Well apparently for us it is not which is why again, you see the once light-skin and occasional brown skin sista, has now been replaced with Hispanic, Asian and even White women. Don’t act like you didn’t notice the lack of sistas in recently released videos by Fabulous and Bobby Valentino.
Sad isn’t it?
Quick question. Why can’t black and brown skin men be paired with black and brown skinned women? Why does it seem the Black woman is seen as an un-natural choice to play the love interest of Black men in their videos?
Moving right along.
Print ads. I was browsing through Vibe some months ago and the hip hop clothing ads immediately popped out at me. What I noticed as always were displays of wealthy, formerly from the hood brothas, who had now made it. Making it as seen in these ads involve money, cars, a fabulous house- and a woman who doesn’t look a damn thing like the man in the ad or any woman in his family. Success as it is being sold to Black males does not include Black and brown females.
Diddy’s ads in particular are a clear indicator of this. The original ads for his Unforgivable fragrance showed him with not one but two women- one White the other Asian. Fame and success are once again linked to women who are not Black- and who doesn’t want all the trappings of fame and success?
Rap and R n’ B videos are nothing but visual dreams of the perfect Black man’s life and we- Black women- are almost always absent in that dream. We have been replaced.
This leads me right back to the absence of Black women on the charts but not their style and flava. Polow da
Don Coon even bragged in King Magazine that he was the first to “Take White girls to Black clubs and give them that flava”. Black girl flava that is. He took them to the clubs to watch how the Black girls do it because history has show us time and time again, that White people who can emulate Black people will sell more records. Just ask Elvis and Eminem.
To keep the music thing going. Can anyone explain Amy addicted to heroin Winehouse to me? This toothless White woman has gotten ten times more press and attention on Black sites than India Arie and Heather Headley combined when they released their albums. Even an ugly White woman can get more support from Black folks than 2 dark skin Black sistas.
Yes I said it. The color issue. We never want to talk about it but we know it exists and Clay asked in his article as well if many sistas were being kept off the charts because of their brown and black coloring. I say hell yeah! and someone else seems to agree with me.
So until we can admit to ourselves that for years we have been replacing Black women with watered down multi-racial versions of other women we will never see and understand why Black women are disappearing from television, radio, print, video and everything else in between. There has always been a movement to devalue Blackness and Black women in particular. This move included exalting fair complected women to the heights of beauty in our communities. But here is the problem. Those women were only used because they resembled White women. But they are no longer needed as the real thing can now be had. So this is why not even being light skin is enough these days.
Ten years from now there won’t be another Beyonce. Just as Britney Spears (before she went psycho) was catapulted to fame because she could dance Black (Y’all didn’t fall for those Madonna comparisons did you? Even Britney herself admitted to cloning Janet) so shall other White artists male and female. But things always start with us. No one bats an eyelash when Black women are replaced and if Black women themselves complain they are accused of being jealous.
So sit back and let that rotate through your cerebellum for a bit. The truth hurts- but somebody has got to tell it.