MARY J. BLIGE / “Work That”

MP3 13 Work That.mp3 (4.86 MB)

This entry was posted on Monday, December 10th, 2007 at 1:12 am and is filed under Contemporary. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One Response to “MARY J. BLIGE / “Work That””

jb Says:
December 10th, 2007 at 1:49 pm

Nice post on the intersections of class, race, gender and music. Although there isn’t a lot of reliable research on race and Soundscan info, MJB’s recent massive critical and commercial success speaks to a good deal of crossover.

And also one contention: "She’s dark-skinned, nappy-headed and has the wide facial features of a sub-Saharan African. "

WOW. I have never heard MJB called dark skinned or big nosed and that description is not at all accurate per the pics you display not that there would be anything wrong with that. She’s medium brown skinned (not dark not light) with a medium sized prominently bridged noses (not wide not small). Few successful Black female entertainers have wide noses. Although skin color is always paramount wrt to success, the shape of the nose closely follows. Even the darker female stars have narrower noses or acquire them during the course of their careers.

Certainly she’s battled low self-image due to her inability to fit Black beauty standards derived from white dominance and oppression. In her VH1 Driven special and in an old Essence story she related her low self image to being self conscious about being weaved up and not light and having big feet and what her neighbors in Yonkers called her ‘donkey butt.’ It’s no wonder Black women are tired. While it’s great to champion those who smile through it, it would also be nice if more people expressed compassion and empathy in their dealings with tired Black women who can’t muster up enough energy to smile.


           Mtume says           

Everything is relative, jb. I made the comments I made about Mary strictly as a comparison to her counterparts in the glamour biz. Compared to the average black woman on the street, it’s like you said: Mary doesn’t look particularly dark, wide-featured or anything else we’d consider "African"-looking. But compare her to the other top black females in the various entertainment industries. Now you’re talking Beyonce, Alicia Keys, Halle Berry, etc. It’s almost a law that black women have to have Eurocentric features and light skin to make it big in America.

And just for the record, I personally think Mary is hot. I thought so back when she was the young and raw Queen of Hip-Hop Soul and still think so even now that she’s smoothed out a lot of the rough edges. Not that any of that is the point. I’m just saying….

As for the part about compassion and empathy for the women who are too tired to smile, I hear you loud and clear. I respect that too. It just touched me personally that a lot of the young ladies I’ve been running into back home still have enough positive energy to show a little happiness here and there even though they’re dealing with pressures so heavy that they’d crack me in half. But even if the sisters can’t or don’t smile, like you say, I can’t and don’t blame them one bit. It’s hard out there for a young black woman. For real.

Stay up, sisters!


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