By Popular Demand...FHHC Part I
Feminism in Hip Hop Conference? U damn skippy...>
After a seven hour road trip, we arrived in the Chi and I immediately went into “event mode”. I packed my “conference bag” with pens, flyers for B-Girl Be, sharpies, notepad, blade, smell-good sauce, and cocoa butter. I stashed snacks, gum and water. We rushed through showers (four ladies to a room at the Hyatt’s like WHOA, thank goodness for double beds) then mashed out to the International House just in time for the opening presentation. Rae was presenting her film, Nobody Knows My Name, which I’ve seen being edited, and re-edited, and screened, and screened again, many times over the six years I’ve known her. I still love to watch this movie. I was really impressed with Booty Nation, by Canadian filmmaker Alison Duke, however after watching Nobody recently to make sure the event copy was right and exact, then watching Booty Nation, I began to realize that the FHHC was a portent for things to come.
In working toward the eradication of too much scantily clad, faceless ass in television, videos, films and other forms of media, I would be subjected to a sensory overload of these images. In the fight and struggle to change the way media speaks to us and about us and deflect the negative stereotypes perpetuated by terms such as bitch, hoe, chickenhead, gold-digger, and all of their myriad variations I would have to endure hearing these terms over, and over, and over again.
Looking around the assembly hall, I realized that feminism comes in many shapes, sizes, colors, and genders. We’re not all granola-ey. Many of us are extremely attractive and wear things like makeup and high heels and dresses. Some wear their hair in beautiful naturals, while some choose press-and-curls or perms. We’re not a bunch of angry lesbians. Those of us who happen to be lesbians are not necessarily angry. The fat lot of us seem to really love and appreciate men. As “Hip Hop Feminists” we comprise a group of people that includes members of every race, class, color, nationality, sexual orientation, political party, religion, shape, size and gender. We epitomize dichotomies, diversities, differences, binaries, and paradoxes. I hope you’re sitting down now, because – clutch my pearls – some of us are men.
The film I will not mention by the filmmaker I will not name, about masculinity in Hip Hop, was an eye-opener. I saw and heard things that shocked me. Some stereotypes were reinforced. Others will shattered. I will not say anything more about this film, except that I’m longing to see a feature-length version.
The panel following the films let me know what I was in for at FHHC. There was limited time. Each panelist had a plethora of valid points to make and important things to say to the audience. There was limited time. After the panelists spoke, the floor was opened to questions. There was limited time. For each pertinent, thought-provoking, and provocative question asked, there would be an ignant question to follow. There was, after all, limited time. Succinct responses were mandatory. Time was limited. Just when a panelist was getting to the crux of their answer, breaking it down to a fine…ooops, sorry, we’re out of time.
Don’t get me wrong, compared to the industry conventions I’ve attended, such as Gavin, Urban Network, BRE, Mixshow Power Summit, etc.; and the academic ones I’ve been to FHHC was incredibly well organized and moderated. There just simply wasn’t time for nearly 2,000 beautiful, strong, powerful sistas to speak on everything they needed to speak on. (Insert gunshot sound here, repetitively.)
I missed some things ‘cause I’m an auntie, and a chauffer, and a production assistant, and a street promoter, and a girl who can’t go to a city without thoroughly investigating the surrounding hood and checking out the young D-boys. I want to know what people are wearing, what they’re bumping in the cee allah rule stereo, what’s the new slang bangin on the block, and what’s good in the bodegas, licka stowes and storefront churches. Chicago has Soul Vegetarian just like ATL. Everyone puts hot nacho cheese sauce on everything. Chicago still has crack fiends and crackhouses. After many meanderings through the blocks, the city was re-christened “Crackago”. The mosques are amazing, although they’re outnumbered by chuuuuch 122 to 1. People don’t stop for yellow lights, red lights, stop signs or other traffic-control mechanisms. Furthermore, the city of Crackago need not have painted all those white and yellow lines on the roads – drivers meander from lane to lane as if they’re pushing their whips through the jungle roads of the Phillipines. Oh, yeah, more cheese sauce. It’s on your chicken fingers, it’s on your gyro, it’s on your scrimp, it’s on your fish sandwich. The cheese sauce. It’s on your Doritos. Yes, Doritos. The cheese sauce is like crack. Think about it, the cheddar is the pure, uncut raw. They cook it up, add some baking soda and chemicals, then, voila…the block is hot. But it doesn’t matter, ‘cause there’s Soul Vegetarian, and they don’t allow cheese sauce.
Just wait until tomorrow when I get all woosty and feminista with ya’ll. I’m going to use big words and trick everybody into thinking that I’m an official resident of the Ivory Tower, with multiple PhD’s to my name. I’ll discuss Hip Hop’s legitimacy within the academy, in addition to breaking down the patriarchy through discourse on the etymology and ethnography of Hip Hop. Further discourse will include pontifications on gender equality, race hierarchies, and the negotiation of misogyny. But you know me. I’m under-educated than a m’fucka. I dropped out of SFSU undergrad after three semesters, and you know this, man. But I can tell you who, what, when, were, how and why women got down and represented the elements of Hip Hop. I hardly have a journalism degree, but I’ve got plenty of journalistic integrity. I ain’t got no PhD, but I’ve got Pure Hip-Hop Dedication. So will the academy accept me? Will the purist womanist-feminists denounce me? Find out next time on How’d We Get From The Pyramids to the Projects. Same B-Girl time, same B-Girl channel.
Peace & Balance,