Sometimes we forget to SAY THE NAME of our Black women artists whom have been muses to our souls as their lyrics played in the background whilst we crafted our own life stories. One such artist is the almighty Queen Lauryn Hill.
As Black girls were navigating the unforgiving terrain of adolescence, Lauryn Hill was reaching out to save our lives. Beyond adolescence, she helped so many Black young women survive a world that bastardizes Black femininity and exploits Black girlhood. In the 300 plus page book, "Celebrating Twenty Years of Black Girlhood: The Lauryn Hill Reader", authors showcase Lauryn Hill not only as lyrical genius, but they also demonstrate how Hill raised our racial and gender consciousness. Every lyric, outfit, and sound was a freedom cry. At at time, when much attention is given to our pain, and necessarily so in order to heal, "The Lauryn Hill Reader" (edited by Drs. Billye Sankofa Waters, Bettina Love, and yours truly, Dr. V) reminds us to unapologetically celebrate vulnerability alongside agency and resistance (as art) as an intellectual stance. This book is right on time for more media attention has recently been given to the exploitation of Black adolescent girls by adult men.
Timing is Everything!!
Most of this attention has derived from efforts in traditional media and social media to bring attention to girl victims of sexual abuse and exploitation. Two notable cases flooded our social media timelines and kept many of us cussing, fussing, and crying online and offline. In particular, the Cyntoia Brown guilty verdict had girl advocates like myself seething with rage, and later after she was granted clemency, we were once again hopeful that someone was hearing our cries for justice. Of course the other case, I refer to was "trial by media" (nicely articulated by @melanin_muse), and that is the #MuteRKelly campaign. The verdict is still out on whether Black women and girls advocates will find justice for the direct and indirect victims of the Chicago native R&B singer (hint: name rhymes with B Jelly).
Nonetheless, alongside Black girl pain we have artists like the almighty Queen Lauryn Hill and the authors' narratives and articulations in "Celebrating Twenty Years of Black Girlhood: The Lauryn Hill Reader" reminding us of Black girl joy as a site of resistance. Let's lift up our women hip hop and R&B artists' names who help us persist and resist in the face of patriarchy, racial oppression, and class exploitation. A hip hop feminist consciousness brings the balance needed in using art and story to heal trauma.
In the struggle for our humanity,
Dr. Venus Evans-Winters
"Not your mother's therapist, or your brother's life coach."