“Look at them hips. I like how she rock it.” “She can make that ass jump/ one cheek, two cheeks…” “Look at light skinned, mommy was type slim/ big tits fat ass…” Can you see the similarities in these rap lyrics extracted from three different songs? The body parts of women are the focus of these popular and contagious rap songs. What happened to the genuine greeting from a male rap suitor in the 1980’s, such as “Hey Bonita, glad to meet ya?!”
The objectifying lyrics passionately projected by some of todays most sought after artists immediately danced through my mind as an aspiring African American female comedian in Atlanta shared a disturbing night she had doing stand up at one of Atlanta’s predominantly black comedy clubs.
The Harlem bred self described “activist on the mic” goes by her birth name Yada and her comedy is designed to examine social issues while laughing until your side hurts.
Yada, an HBCU alumna, was excited to be performing for HER people. That was until she heard the African American female host excitedly proclaiming that she would bring her “titties” out to play. Yada was also taken aback to see the host gyrating on stage, transforming the comedy club into a setting more appropriate for Atlanta’s popular strip club Magic City. Yada, who was decked out in linen pants, a crisp long sleeve white t-shirt, and adorned in pearls, had a gut feeling that her comedy would go over the heads of her audience. That night, the crowd before her seemed to be enthralled by any jokes relating to ass, titties, and belittling of black people’s appearance. Yada was correct as she told jokes to a nearly silent crowd. As she exited the stage, the host offered sexual sympathy yelling, “we liked your jokes but we LOVED that ass!”
It is understood that sex sells and women do well in the music industry or film industry when they show as much skin as the FCC will allow, but comedy? During the eye opening experience at this unnamed club, Yada saw a male friend who expressed his enjoyment of her act but then suggested that she needs to show more skin.
Historically African Americans have been viewed as hypersexual, think Sarah Baartman, a black woman kidnapped from South Africa in 1810 and paraded around Europe as a freak of nature. Europeans were startled by her extremely rotund buttocks and large genitalia. Fast forward to the new millennium and Black women are still forced to show their body parts in order to gain attention.
Yada felt like an alien amongst her own people that night. She tweeted “Dear Black audience, why did you treat me like a Jew in Germany in 1940…?!” Yada has performed for predominately white crowds and not only evoked eruptions of laughter but has even been approached at the end of shows by adoring audience members. Black people, I know we love our Mo’Nique, Sommore, and Niecy Nash, but the time has come to think outside the box and reject the past behavior of female comedians having to show skin and flaunt their sexuality in order for the audience to pay attention.
The World is Ours Blogger,
Leah C. Powell