The People of the Drum (guest post)

The People of the Drum”
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BY COOKIE LEBARD Thursday, February 20, 2014  10:31:22 AM

I’m admittedly biased as I’ve marveled all my life at this rhythmic bunch,

Being one of their number with chest swelled proud, is a probable hunch.

Every function availed to have a reason to twist, turn, shake and gyrate,

One basic ingredient the response to the drum that makes a body quake.

Whether a tribal confrontation a festivity I must admit practically anything,

The birth of a child, rain, awakening of the sun will prompt a need to sing.

Arriving to the coasts of a foreign country against their wills, they rowed,

And if any hesitation was detected the beat intensified if the ship slowed.

The beats of the heart joined the steady boom, the melody of the drummer,

Speed magnified much like a cup of Cuban coffee offers no need to slumber.

The British and the American armies became inclined to march to a beat,

The youth fashioned a drum and bugle corps that became somewhat elite.

Chaka Zulu improvised new methods to slaughter and raise testosterone,

And the brave outmanned army of Sparta banged shields to sound not alone.

All the members of the orchestra make sweet music but when require glue,

Find someone like Gene Krupa or even Sheila E. any of that category will do.

They might apply the brush, congas, base just something to carry the beat,

And before you know it,  no recourse save getting your body out of the seat.

Even when searching for the King of Beasts on the plains of desert Africa,

You can hear the drum helping to scour the area for man eaters as a lure. 

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Girl, Thats Not Your Booty, That’s Your Hip!!! (Challenging Accepted American Media Images of Women of Color)

I don’t care what she tells you.  I don’t care if she looks you right in the eye when she says it.  If she says she doesn’t check her butt out in the mirror before she leaves the house, she’s lying!  We’re all guilty of it.  Hair, skin, nails and booty.  At this point, I don’t even know what I’m looking for!  I’m 27 and I’m aware nothing back there is going to change.  I’m not genetically configured in a way that constitutes a big ol’ Nicki Minaj backside.  Shoot…it wasn’t in her genetic make up either!!!!  I can’t afford the shots and I heard the serum can leak into another  body part and you’ll get a fat knee or belly button or something. Ewww!  So at some point you have to be happy with what you have and be confident and innately sexy.  When was it determined that booty makes a woman sexy?

I remember sitting in an auditorium at Stony Brook University and listening to an informative speech about the story of Sarah Baartman  AKA “The Hottentot Venus.”  I was so moved I decided to do a feature on it with a youth group I worked with at a local dance studio.  We inserted a tribute to her in our annual black history show.  If you don’t know her story I’ll give you the edited version.  She was one of the Khoi people of South Africa.  She was a slave under British rule and she was sent to London in 1810 as a “performer” for “exhibition.”  She was exhibited because of her alluring aesthetic appeal in comparison to European women of that time and her physical features were considered bizarre.  She was the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not of her time.  After she died (allegedly of smallpox) her genitalia was displayed in a Parisian museum.  I was so hurt.  How could a human being objectify another human being like that?

I examine where we are present day.  I think about the images forced upon us by main stream media.  We are surrounded by booty!  Turn on the radio…what do you hear?  Rihanna’s “Cake”, Big Sean singing “ass ass ass ass ass ass ass ass…”, or how about the contemporary version of the 80’s babies party anthem by Luke “I Wanna Rock”.  I’m showing my age but remember that song by 2 Live Crew “Pop That Coochie”?  We all know Sir-Mix-A-Lot “I like big butts.”  This has been going on for years!  We’ve been brainwashed by booty.  In a way I support it because there was also a time where curves weren’t accepted at all and we were sending the wrong messages with pencil thin chain-smoking models on our television screens.  However, there has to be a definitive line drawn.  This line has to be thick enough and bold enough to honor our heritage.  This line has to be thin enough and bright enough to be able to laugh at ourselves in certain circumstances.  Who doesn’t love the Thugnificent song from animated series “The Boondocks” entitled , “Booty Butt Cheeks?”

This line has to be transparent enough that we can step over it and around it when people of other ethnicities and cultures attempt to comment on the subjects that we think are exclusive to our own colored community.  Let me be clear…there is no topic that can be our own little secret.  So if it would offend you if your Caucasian brother or sister mentions a black woman’s rear end…maybe it shouldn’t be a topic of conversation for you either.  I need us to be able to recognize when things have gone too far.  I can’t shop for my 13-year-old sister anymore!  The shirts look like bras!  The shorts look like panties!  There’s writing on the back of the pants.  I’m alarmed as a sibling, let alone a parent.  I’m going to learn how to sew so she can wear clothes that actually cover and protect her body!

I was describing an outfit to a co-worker the other day.  I was telling her how I couldn’t wait to wear it because it accentuated my “curves.”  She said, “What curves?  You have no booty.”  I’m used to comments like this so I stood up and I did my best booty pose with an award-winning provocative smile.  She simply responded, “You’re so cute. Girl, that ain’t booty, that’s your hip!”  We all cracked up and then attempted to resume working with tears in our eyes.  As women we have to accept all forms of beauty and appeal,  we have to love ourselves because media will never give us accurate perceptions of what attracts a man to a woman.  We think in different ways, our feelings vary, and our self-expression will always be similar but never identical.  To any woman who struggles with body image and consciousness…love yourself (I don’t care how cliché it sounds)…or ShutYaMouthAndCallMeUgly 😉

-By Shaun Nickens