#SkinnyBlackJams: Growing Up Feminist

Happy International Women’s Day!

As we reflect on the role and power of women in the world, I think about the roots of my feminism. Growing up in a house full of women, “we can do it all” wasn’t an affirmation–it was a fact. My mother and grandmother brought home the bacon and fried it in the pan; navigated tool boxes and make-up bags with equal skill; never missed an episode of  The Young and the Restless or a Sunday afternoon Browns game. They crossed their legs at their ankles and cussed like sailors and played Bidwhist and tended to tomato plants in the summer. I’ve never known womanhood to be anything but dynamic.

If my upbringing sparked my independence, the soundtrack of that time stoked the flame. Before I knew about feminist theory and philosophy, the women in 90’s rap and R&B shaped my feminist ethos: “You’re not the boss of me.”

“Nasty Boys” – Janet Jackson (1986)

Imagine a pre-school-aged SBG telling her classmates “My first name ain’t ‘Baby’, it’s Robyn. Ms. [Louis] if you nasty.” My antics earned me a trip to “the thinking chair” but looking back, four-year-old me just wanted to enforce my agency.

Expression” – Salt N Pepa (1992)

A staple on my morning playlist. “Yes, I’m blessed and I know/ Who I am/ I express myself on every jam/ I’m not a man but I’m in command/ Hot damn/ I gotta all girl band…”

“Hat 2 Da Back” – TLC (1992)

“Let me be me for me/ And not what I’m supposed to be, oh/ I’m gonna do what I wanna do/ Cuz dumb rules are left for silly fools…” There’s a reason this line shows up on the “About” page of this blog.

“Free Your Mind” – En Vogue (1992)

When harmony and elegance meet rock & roll and a message.”Before you can read me/ you got ta learn how to see me….”

“Freedom” – Various Artists (1995)

The Mother of Them All. Get into this cornucopia of #BlackGirlMagic. “You try to tell us that our lives don’t mean a thing/ But we know so much better/ so we’re gonna take up for freedom…”

What’s on your International Women’s Day playlist?

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