Monday, December 19, 2005

Some Bilge From Blige

Okay, I confess: I am completely ignorant of Mary j Blige and her no-doubt essential contributions to Western culture and civilization. But when I read her quote from a Guardian piece, via Drudge, saying, "The blacker you are, the worse [living in America] is for you," I had to see for myself what crime/CD/movie/reality TV show this person crawled out from under to thrill us with her penetrating analysis. Turns out she makes R&B records.

But why does this woman, who has by all accounts profited from Amercican capitalism, in an industry that has no affirmative action, sneer at the potential for blacks to become successful? Here's some more:

"If you're mixed, you've got a shot. If you cater to what white America wants you to do and how they want you to look, you can survive. But if you want to be yourself, and try to do things that fit you, and your skin, nobody cares about that. At the end of the day, white America dominates and rules. And it's racist."

Case in point, according to Blige? Hurricane Katrina. We now know that white deaths outnumbered that of any other racial group, and that damage cut across class lines. After all, natural disasters are God's great multi-cultural gift; they don't discriminate. Still, we might expect someone who has wallowed in enough cash to spend years in cocaine-fueled limo rides to appreciate the value of transportation. Those in New Orleans who had cars got out; those who waited on (black) mayor and friend-of-the-people Nagin to send a bus did not.

No comment from Blige on the hazards of having a (black) Democratic mayor and a (female) Democratic governer. Could this be detrimental to the health and well-being of black Americans?

Her family, by her account, was a disaster. Blige says, "they were angry, hateful, jealous, ignorant, prideful people." From her ambition-destoying aunts to her narcissistic father, Blige seems to have experienced some of the disfuntionality that characterizes too many black families. Now she seems to have found some peace with her husband, who came from an in-tact and supportive Christian family.

"He had a mom that raised him, he had a father that raised him. He had a family unit. He had sisters and brothers that weren't jealous of him. He didn't have to fight them. He had beautiful things in him, and he was already a Christian when I met him. When I saw his life, that's the life I wanted."

According to the article, this has mellowed Blige a bit, and, indeed, there is some joy amidst the venom:

"I believe what God says about me. He says that I'm beautiful, I'm strong, I'm a good woman, I have love in my heart, I can be fat or skinny ... I can do whatever I want."

This is a much better message, I think, than the usual harping on how the White Man just won't let you succeed.

On the other hand, which point of view is best when trying to make a strong, soulful, R&B album?


At 4:17 PM, Blogger Akaky said...

"If you're mixed, you've got a shot?" Translation: how come Alicia Keyes is so much more talented than I am? Life is so unfair, isnt it?


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