Empowering Black Women in Hip-Hop and the Feminist Movement

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Updated: Sep 13, 2023
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During the 90s, rap was one of the most profitable and popular music genres. Many songs would refer to their inner cities gang activity, drugs, weapons, violence, and police brutality. In most of these songs, rappers would refer to women with many derogatory names. These vulgar terms were used so often in these songs that it just became a habit to call women these names. Yet, Latifah was not going to put up with this so she created a new approach to rapping which was all about feminism.

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Latifah’s albums are filled with songs about female power and the respect that women should be demanding from men.

In 1995, Queen Latifah broke barriers for black women in hip-hop by winning a Grammy for her song “U.N.I.T.Y. ,” which was significant for the genre of hip-hop to hear a strong voice of a positive black woman speaking about uplifting young black woman. The song addresses sexual harassment, domestic violence, violence within the Black community, and the ways Black female sexuality had been objectified in life and art.

In one verse she’s asking men, “Who you callin’ a bitch?” and in the next verse, she turns to the women and insists, “You gotta let him know/You ain’t a bitch or a ho.” Meaning, that women should set men straight and stand up for themselves. In the chorus, “ “U.N.I.T.Y., U.N.I.T.Y., that’s a unity…U.N.I.T.Y., love a black woman from infinity to infinity… love a black man from infinity to infinity”It expresses that it’s hard for men and women to unite and respect each other when men keep using derogatory names towards women. They do it only to make themselves feel dominate.

Through her song U.N.I.T.Y., she sets the standard for what a Hip Hop feminist can be.She calls out the sexism in Hip Hop and infuses feminism into rap music at a time when female rappers weren’t given the opportunity to express themselves. This song relates to the article, “The Combahee River Collective Statement.”In this article, The Combahee River Collective was a group of Black feminists active in the Boston area in the 1970s that provided an integrated analysis of interlocking systems of oppression based on race, class, gender, and sexuality”.Black feminists had claimed that by other forms of feminism ignoring racial issues allowed racial bias to worsen discriminatory practices against women but they did not get recognition until the 90s.

During this time black feminists received mainstream attention, due to the stance they took against black male rap artists who portrayed violence and sexist against minority women.This made a strong connection to the song, “ U.I.N.T.Y.” being able to highlight social issues and the need for political activism aimed towards sexism, capitalism, and heterosexism as overlapping and interlocking systems of oppression.

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Empowering Black Women in Hip-Hop and the Feminist Movement. (2021, Oct 15). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/empowering-black-women-in-hip-hop-and-the-feminist-movement/