Urban haps of a grrrl on a mission to be a better writer, a new music master-blaster and a wonderfully brilliant razor-packing, MAC LipGlass wearing feminista...

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Getting Naked

Yesterday I went to a pretty cool reading for this new book “Naked”. I’m actually not really a big fan of book readings, because for me, being read to is usually one of the most boring, uninspiring experiences in the world (unless it’s of course my man reading me a poem he’s written about me or Afeni Shakur reading from her autobiography— she’s amazing!) However, this one held my interest and above all, made me want to buy the book (even though I already had a copy) and read it immediately. Naked is an anthology of stories written by young Black women about their bodies—identity, image and sexuality stuff. You know the politics of nappy hair and big behinds. Anyway 6 or 7 of the contributors were there and they each read excerpts. Asali Solomon and Jill Nelson were great—funny, personable, intriguing. Margeaux Watson's reading was not nearly as bold as the writing in her essay. Read it especially if you think Confessions of a Video Vixen is raw. Margeaux's piece is shocking and moving. I feel a bit gypped though by her sunshiney ending but I am not at all unsatisfied by her gutsy telling.

I think one of the reasons I had such an enjoyable time is cause so many fly grrrls that I find inspiring were in the house and repping hard. Karen’s Goode & Addison (she's the first girl on the book cover), Joicelyn Dingle and Michaela angela Davis, the editor from Essence who is credited for spearheading their Take Back The Music Campaign. She led the Q&A and was decked out in a fly bumble bee yellow “Black Like Jesus” T-shirt. She opened the Q&A by posing a pretty challenging question of the academic sort to the anthology writers: “How do you (reconcile) living as someone who is objectified and celebrated simultaneously? For a good two minutes everyone just looked shook, I swear I could hear crickets up in the Schomburg.

I think it was Akiba who mentioned later on that most women in the book had written that they were in some form or another challenged, traumatized and/ or affected by cat-calling men on street corners. Whoa! That’s so weird to me because I usually pay them no mind half the time and other times I take it all in shouting back my own witty ditties. Finding humor and yes, even pleasure in their banter. Maybe it’s from hanging on the streets all those years in the Bronx and having to take the train everyday to school at the tender age of 12, but men on the street, whether they are yelling obscenities or bigging me up, do not shape or effect my identity politics.

What was interesting was the talk around personal writing and the challenges involved in being able to tell these types of stories on such a public level. I know I’m always challenged by that myself when writing my blog. I want my voice to matter but how much of myself do I need to reveal in order for it to matter? In order to sound and be authentic? I mean there’s getting naked and there’s showing your ass. I’m really not trying to do the latter.

On that note it looks like Lil Kim has (finally) discovered the difference and is baring her soul (ragga style) on her new joint Lighters Up (thanks Spine Mag). She’s giving us mad Lauryn Hill but without L's sobbing and minus her usual dirty talk.

Check out the ladies from Naked as they read at Hue Man Bookstore next Tuesday, August 16.


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