All Articles Tagged "Michaela Angela Davis"
For those of you who have been hoping the word “ratchet” would die soon, I wouldn’t count on it. In fact, I’m willing to bet it’s about to become an even larger part of mainstream culture, i.e., white folks are about to start using it, thanks to an exploratory piece on the term in NY Mag. Titled, “Ratchet: The Rap Insult That Became a Compliment,” the article by John Ortved seeks to uncover the origins of the word in a way that leaves me asking the (ratchet) question — although I’m not even sure that’s the correct use of the term now –what the f#&% for?!
As the piece goes:
Ratchet can be traced back to the neighborhood of Cedar Grove in Shreveport, Louisiana. “You talk to working class black people [down there],” says Dr. Brittney Cooper, a co-founder of the Crunk Feminist Collective. “Ratchedness comes out of that. And some of that particularity gets lost when it travels.”
You can certainly say that again. For an example of that lost particularity, see this entire article in NY Mag.
The first appearance of ratchet in a published song was in 1999, when Anthony Mandigo released “Do the Ratchet” on his Ratchet Fight in the Ghetto album….In 2004, Earl Williams, a producer known as Phunk Dawg, recorded a new version of the song, featuring the better-known Lil Boosie (currently incarcerated), from Baton Rouge, as well as Mandigo and another Shreveport rapper named Untamed Mayne…. In the liner notes of the CD, Phunk Dawg wrote a definition of ratchet: “n., pron., v, adv., 1. To be ghetto, real, gutter, narsty. 2. It’s whatever, bout it, etc.”
But the popularity of the song, and the adoption of ratchet by other, bigger names in the business — especially as rappers from the “Dirty South,” like Lil Wayne, T.I., and Juicy J came into vogue in the later 2000s — meant the definition of the word could not stay in the hands of Lava House Records. “It’s not necessarily negative. You could say ‘I’m ratchet’ to say ‘I’m real. I’m ghetto. I am what I am.’ It can be light, too,” Williams, the producer, explains. When ratchet is used in hip hop, it can also mean cool, sloppy, sleek, or flashy.
When I read these definitions of the term that black people have been using since the ’90s, I really question what service Ortved thinks he’s providing with this article. I guess it shouldn’t be all that hard for me to figure out considering NY Mag’s readership and the obvious understanding that people who have been using this word without needing an urban dictionary explanation of it already know what it means. So is Ortved trying to introduce this word to the mainstream so white people who want to be cool can add it to their vernacular? Or is he trying to shield them from some “underground” term that they have a right to know the meaning and connotation of to either avoid use of or use against us? Or my third explanation, which I personally believe is the case more than anything, is he wasting everyone’s time with much ado about nothing.
Michaela Angela Davis would likely disagree with that last point, as she seems to believe the term “ratchet” has far-reaching consequences for black women, telling NY Mag:
“There’s an emotional violence and meanness attached to being ratchet, particularly pertaining to women of color. We’re only seen through this narrow sliver, and right now that sliver is Ratchet. We don’t get to be quirky and fun and live in Williamsburg. Wolves don’t fall in love with us. The only interest that pop culture has in black women is this ratchet world.”
And the use of this term is to blame for that? Pop culture has only been interested in Black women’s failings since the beginning of time. Ratchet may be the catch-all phrase that captures the negativity those outside the black community may enjoy shedding a light on, but whether this word is here or not, the light won’t shine any brighter or dimmer. And to be perfectly honest, I’ve never thought about the term ratchet in any specificity to Black women. In my own personal use, I relate it to everything from behavior that is ignorant and suspect to the utmost level, as well as simply “turning up,” as one would say now (i.e. having a good time) I wonder if there will be an expose on that phrase next?
And I hate that this article even makes me think about what things I apply to this term because, frankly, it’s not that deep. Yes, you should absolutely be aware of the language you use and when, where, and why, but taking an urban slang term and turning it into something bigger than it needs to be is not just counterproductive, it’s a waste of time. I’m still trying to figure out what Ortved got out of his research and what he thinks his readers will get out of this piece other than a headache and a feeling that yet again African American culture is being set up to be misappropriated. Have we spent this much time exploring the origins of frenemy and what white women’s embracing of this term could mean for the future of female friendships as we know it? Or how the use of “fetch” further spurs the growth of mean girl culture? Of course not. Those are safe words, right? The people using them could never mean any ill intent. It’s only when Black people come up with slang terms that they have to have a covert negative meaning.
Since Beyonce was so heavily referenced in Ortved’s ratchet expository – which I don’t even have time to touch on — I’ll just take a page from her Instagram and ask: can we live?
Michaela Angela Davis Is Coming For Reality TV Producers: Activist Launches ‘Bury The Ratchet’ Campaign
We’re living in an era where ratchet seems to be selling more than sex in the entertainment industry, which is ironic since “sex sells” has been the industry’s motto for as long as most of us can remember. Urban culture writer and activist Michaela Angela Davis wants us all to know that she isn’t blind to how the ratchet is plaguing the image of Black women in entertainment and that she is taking a stand against it. In a recent interview with Jacque Reid, she announced the launch of her latest campaign, “Bury The Ratchet,” which is intended to clean up the image of Black women that is currently at the forefront of mainstream media.
As a result of reality shows such as “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” and “Love and Hip Hop Atlanta,” and the fact that television seems to have deemed the city as the mecca of all things ratchet, Davis’s campaign will be specifically honing in on the women of Atlanta.
“The goal is to get the spotlight off the ratchetness and on the successful women in Atlanta,” Davis expressed.
She also stated that shows such as the aforementioned cause people to stereotypically group all African-American women from Atlanta into a single category.
“The first image that comes to mind is mean, gold-digging women. It has become completely evident that there has been a brand of women from Atlanta that are adverse to what most of these women are like.”
In an effort to raise awareness surrounding the campaign, Davis is said to be hosting a conference in March of 2012 at Spellman College in Atlanta where she will join forces with other African American leaders and advocates to explore, expose and analyze the negatives affects that reality television is having on Black America.
The team behind “Bury The Ratchet” is also reported to be getting together to produce a public service announcement that will expose how Black women sincerely feel about reality television and that manner in which they are portrayed by the media. It seems that her goal is to reach the young women.
“We want to change the mind of young women who absorb these images,” she expressed.
This is most definitely an admirable step being taken by Davis and we know that her motives are not self-serving unlike others who have tried to tackle reality television and its stars such as Star Jones.
What do you think of the “Bury The Ratchet” campaign? Are we victims of mainstream media or are they simply giving us what we want?
Michelle Joni set the Internet ablaze when she blogged about donning a large afro wig over her carefully concealed naturally blonde hair and attended a “fried chicken extravaganza.” Many people flooded the net and her blog, “before and afro,” with comments that her actions were insensitive and offensive, arguing that her wig was—and is—a caricature of black culture. Especially since she has black friends who have let her know that her actions were disrespectful even to them. While she asserts that she has “rendered” the afro as a part of her personal style repertoire and that is has become a catalyst for a “wild life journey of self-discovery,” people have pointed out that it’s just another example of folks wanting to be “black” per se, but not being ready to handle all that comes with it. As one reader responded, “You do realize that using a facsimile of what actually grows out of non Caucasian heads as a prop/metaphor in your little self discovery mission is pretty much the definition of white privilege and appropriation, correct?”
I must say I agree with this person’s comment, and it has always been a curious thing for me to see how individuals react when called on the privilege they enjoy—be it white, male or sexual. In the case of fro’d out Michelle Joni and her seeming white privilege, in an October 18, 2012 blog post, she finally decided to speak on it:
“Can the afro belong to any one group…For perpetually straight-haired people who love the look of a beautiful bulbous coiffure framing their face, should they be ridiculed or denied because they’ve not experienced the struggles associated with the culture to which it is most strongly tied? And if someone wants to change their look with a wig on a whim – fro or bob, blonde, brunette or rainbow – should there be freedom to do so?”
As a woman and a black person BORN with a fro of beautiful kinks and coils, I exist in a world filled with so many things to be angry about that as I read her words, I couldn’t find the space to be angry like some others, I could only shake my head at the ignorance. I was reminded of an articulate declaration by Michaela Angela Davis in her essay, “Resistance,” contained in Rebecca Walker’s Black Cool, One Thousand Streams of Blackness.
“To the white, privileged, the well-intentioned liberals who have studied us, slept with us, and sympathized with our struggle, and to the with-it pop academics who lived in the hood or built houses in Haiti because you know us, love us, worked and fought on our behalf, know this: All that affords you no rights and no access to this. I deeply appreciate your sympathetic, possessive, or loving service, but you cannot have this. Nope, not this, not now, not ever. You cannot have our cool a** Black style.”
Could she have known the shamtastery that “before and afro” would ensue? Because it sounds like she could be talking right to the blog’s author and all those who think like her.
For those who don’t understand why anyone would be bothered by a white woman simply wanting to wear a wig on her head, you might want to pay attention. The problem with behavior like that which Michelle Joni has displayed is that it trivializes the culture and experiences of an entire people. It would seem these days that black is the new black…but only when it’s fun. It’s nice to fit in to our culture, but it’s interesting when you can slip back out once things get too hard or uncomfortable. Until people start “trying on” other elements of the reality of being black in America and then actually take the knowledge gained and change systems that keep marginalized people oppressed, I’m pretty sure I’d like them to miss me with all of this wearing ginormous afro wigs at fried-chicken fest type antics. So Miss Joni, you like our hair, and want to wear some just like it? Hmm, that’s cute…but not really.
But I’ve said enough, how do you feel about the situation?
Sheena Bryant is a writer and blogger in Chicago. Follow her on twitter at @song_of_herself.
Two weeks ago, the For Sybrina Project was launched. We asked you to send your Mother’s Day cards, letters and message for Sybrina Fulton and the response has been Enormous! We’ve received hundreds of tweets, letters, poems and videos from you, showing love to Trayvon Martin’s mother in time for Mother’s Day.
There’s still time to submit your own Mother’s Day message. You can see how below.
Mother’s Day is a day to honor our mothers and show our love. This year, Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon Martin’s mother, will face her first Mother’s Day without her son, Trayvon.
Huffington Post BlackVoices, in partnership with Michaela Angela Davis and MAD FREE, wants to show love and support to Trayvon Martin’s mother on this special day. We need your help.
Join us and be a part of the For Sybrina Project! Share your words of love, encouragement, photos, drawing, cards and letters (be creative!) and help us compile a Mother’s Day gift for Sybrina Fulton that will help her know she’s not alone on Mother’s Day.
Find out you can send your love to Sybrina at BlackVoices.com
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(Amsterdam News) — Midway into a conversation with Michaela Angela Davis, she suggests a slight case of self-deprecation and cracks a warm smile as she comes to grips with her impact on young women. ”It’s not until moments like this when you kind of pause, look at what you’re doing, and go, ‘Oh, I really might mean something to somebody.’ I just still feel like I’m so frivolous,” she says, laughing. Contrary to the matter, Davis is far from frivolous. The self-described “image activist,” who has worked as a stylist, editor and cultural critic, has made it her mission for the past several decades to promote self-esteem for Black women. Davis has successfully balanced creativity and feminism to encourage conversation. In fact, her new novel that’s in the works, “The Revolution of Happiness: A Book and Digital Conversation Project,” is a culmination of “honest and innovative cross-generational conversations with revolutionary-thinking Black women about disturbing the pain that has burdened or molested our natural exquisite selves.”
If you haven’t heard by now, Madame Noire is having its first annual debate panel at Columbia University in New York City, on Friday Nov. 5 from 6pm to 8pm. REGISTER NOW for this fabulous discussion and meet some of the real, live persons behind Madame Noire!
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It’s the end of the week, madames! Time to check in with our editors and see what they’re loving and not so loving about the week:
Essence magazine has taken a few blows over the past year. In March, Mikki Taylor the beauty and cover director, retired after a 30-year stint; the beauty editor left for People magazine; and the magazine had substantial layoffs last November.
Earlier this month, The Atlanta Post, along with Armand de Brignac (Ace of Spades) Champagne, held an awards gala to honor 9 individuals who best reflect the ambition, success and originality that constitute our brand.
As a publication which covers black business news, entrepreneurs, media and politics, we found no better way to convey our mission than to highlight those who have forged ahead in all these areas, developed their unique brands and, in turn, raised the bar for other African-American visionaries.
Our co-host, Armand de Brignac Champagne, complemented this endeavor as a company exemplifying expertise and reflecting a standard of refinement.
IN THE CATEGORY OF: Business (1 Honoree)
Dr. Randal Pinkett has established himself as an entrepreneur, speaker, author, scholar and community servant. He is the co-founder, chairman and CEO of BCT Partners, a multimillion-dollar management, technology and policy consulting firm based in Newark, NJ.
The Atlanta Post, along with Armand de Brignac (Ace of Spades) Champagne, held a gala launch party on April 6th to celebrate our site’s recent launch and to also honor the luminaries that best exemplify our brand and who serve as a beacon for all who would emulate their success. We had a great time with the eight award recipients, as well as with our spectacular guests, who enjoyed the recently rated No. 1 champagne in the world from Armand de Brignac throughout the night. Of course, we wanted to share the pics with our dedicated readers. Let us know what you think of our honorees and who we should include at our next awards event by leaving a comment, or connecting with us on Facebook or Twitter. Enjoy!
Ryan Mack of Optimum Capital Management (far left) was honored for his work in finance and Randal Pinkett (far right) was honored in the business category. Also pictured: Manyell Akinfe and Atlanta Post editor China N. Okasi.