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Madonna, Millie Jackson, Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey

Source: Julian Wasser/ Jun Sato/ Getty / Getty

Madonna audaciously drafted an Instagram Story post, gave herself credit for “empowering women” and openly discussing sex with the public, and suggested that she bore the scarlet letter so personalities like Cardi B, Kim Kardashian and Miley Cyrus could run. Cardi B let the “Justify My Love” singer have it. The two have since made up. But more than that, the problem is the 64-year-old singer didn’t do anything that Black women hadn’t done first.

“I was called a whore, a witch, a heretic, and the devil. Now, Cardi B can sing about her “WAP.” Kim Kardashian can grace the cover of any magazine with her naked ass, and Miley Cyrus can come in like a wrecking ball.”

“You’re welcome, b*tches,” she wrote in a post while adding a clown emoji to the reaching-a** rhetoric.

Cardi aptly responded via a now-deleted tweet. And even as Twitter users came for her, she was clear about Madonna’s sentiment and was justified in her anger.

“I know exactly what she said, and I understand, but it’s about THE TONE. Calling me b*tches and putting clown emojis? The f*ck!”

*Side Note*

Now, if you’re from any hood in America, you know the ramifications of being called a “clown” and a “b*tch.”

Those are fighting words. Ironically, the “Hot Sh*t” rapper gave Madonna grace, but where’s that grace for Black women?

I digress.

Although Madonna claimed she paved the way for women’s sexuality and liberation, that’s an absolute lie—especially for Black women. 

There were plenty of over-basic Marilyn Monroe-type white girls who preceded her (see Kim Novak and Jayne Mansfield)—and a gang of Black women who did it better. 

Ma Rainey openly sang about her sexuality in songs like “Prove It On Me Blues.” She was openly bisexual when homosexuality was taboo.

Ma Rainey

Source: Donaldson Collection / Getty

The iconic Bessie Smith was also bisexual and was unapologetic about what pleased her.

Portrait of Bessie Smith

Source: Donaldson Collection / Getty

Both women were bold innovators when women weren’t given autonomy over their bodies. Smith and Rainey owned their Black womanhood in all her forms– even when society viewed fat, Black women as asexual and altruistic. The mammying of Rainey and Smith in society, seemingly, fueled the women’s fire to live their truths, and that easily categorized them as “sapphires,” or angry Black women.

Black contemporary, feminist songstress/rap extraordinaire Millie Jackson was and is the blueprint for what Madonna thought she was doing. She entered the music scene in 1971. 

And let’s also be clear– there’d be no Cardi B, Sukihana, City Girls, Nicki Minaj, GloRilla or rap legend Lil Kim without Jackson.

The 78-year-old original bad b*tch was well-known for singing sexually-explicit songs and not holding back while breaking gender norms. The 1977 album cover for “Feeling B*tchy” embodied Jackson’s well-earned sexy muthaf*cka* reputation. She served flowy hair, lashes with a silvery-blue smoky eye with eyeliner and topped the look with sensual, glossy lips and a delectable tongue flick.

Mama had game and lyrics. 

Photo of Millie JACKSON

Source: GAB Archive / Getty

She also created an entire symphonic classic in 1982 literally titled,  “Ph*ck You Symphony,” inspired by Beethoven’s 5th Symphony in C minor.

Jackson was certainly unapologetic about her ish. In that same year, a live video performance of the bad b*itch anthem, in London, solidified her legacy as the mold for Black female empowerment. 

If Jackson gave it to us raw and unfiltered, Madonna served us, watered-down wannabe– even at the height of her career. For all the smoke that she tried to bring over the weekend to Cardi, Kardashian and Cyrus, Madge didn’t have the cojones to truly be free during her appropriated reign.

Chile, she didn’t even cuss. The biggest controversy of her career was the 1990 release of the “Justify My Love” video. Labeled racy for its time, it gave Cinemax After Dark with no nasty. There was no overt sex– only insinuations of girl-on-girl action, blurred gender binaries and sadomasochism. It was banned from the video channel MTV.

Even the lyrics were benign. The nastiest of “Justify My Love’s” lyrics are below.

“I want to run naked in a rainstorm. Make love in a train cross-country.”

First of all, who wants to do all that? Secondly, girl, bye.

In contrast, Jackson left nothing to the imagination with her 1983 song, “Slow Tongue.”

Slow tongue, Working your way down/

Frantic, racing heartbeats. Not a love fold left unexplored/

Juicy, lubricating/

You bring me to the rim—I can’t take it anymore”

 

The Italian-American and former Catholic girl’s “whorish” ways were merely schoolboy fantasies playing out on television. And even that trope was unoriginal.

Madonna’s entire career is built on swagger-jacking from Black culture, Black gay culture and now Black women’s culture. She’s also Blackfishing with an alleged botched BBL and lip fillers. The irony of all this is that Black people continue hyping up her “legendary” status as if we aren’t the benchmark for her body of work– literally and figuratively.

The “Material Girl” is often relegated to being Detroit’s daughter. Naw, son. She’s from Rochester Hills, Michigan– 30 miles north of Detroit. It’s a city that’s over 80 percent white as of 2020. During the time Madonna lived there, it was even whiter. She did what many white folks do and did– get their kicks in the slums of the inner city and then hop the fence back into suburbia.

She frequented Menjo’s (a historically Black gay club in the heart of Detroit in the 70s). Ironically, Madonna was booted from the club for not staying in her lane. Shortly after, she headed to New York to continue Columbusing our culture. I doubt that the “Like A Virgin” singer will ever acknowledge the history lesson that took place today.

But in her own words, “You’re welcome,” Bihh.

 

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