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Feelin’ Myself: A Cocky Black Feminist Virgo’s Diary Entry [Parental Guidance: Explicit Lyrics]

By NWSA Staff posted 17 days ago

  

by President Heidi R. Lewis featuring Megan Thee Stallion
July 1, 2024

I write this blog from Colorado Springs, CO. Stolen land—the unceded territory of the Ute Peoples, to be precise—developed with stolen and exploited labor. I do so, because as my colleague Dr. Natanya Ann Pulley points out, acknowledgements are “more than identifying or recognizing someone or something. Acknowledging is also an act of honoring, blessing, celebrating, and thanking.” 

Megan Thee Stallion Performing Onstage

“I mean, the sooner you accept that I’m that bitch, the better your life’ll be.”
—Megan Thee Stallion, “Rattle” (2024)

Today, I submitted the final draft of my manuscript, “Make Rappers Rap Again: Interrogating the Mumble Rap ‘Crisis’” (under contract with Oxford University Press). In it, I argue Mumble Rap is “real Hip Hop” through an examination of its congruence with oft forgotten or subjugated Hip Hop cornerstones like illegibility, melody, the DJ, and the aesthetic and sonic consonance central to the subgenre, as well as mumble rappers’ citational and collaborative politics. I also examine the Mumble Rap sound, arguing it’s much more complicated than it’s often characterized, especially concerning flow and production. To explain the subgenre’s subjugation, I situate Mumble Rap as distinctly southern, and I examine the ways mumble rappers challenge dominant notions about real Hip Hop masculinity vis-à-vis their attention to the mental and emotional, drug use and addiction, and the fallacies of gender and sexuality norms. Last, but not least, I argue Hip Hop will never die. If all goes as planned and if you’re interested, willing, and able, look for preorder in October or November and for the book to drop on May 24, 2025—the 20th anniversary of Trap House (2025), Gucci Mane’s debut studio album. The importance of that will become clearer to you sooner than later.

“Doin’ shit for TikTok. Bitch, I’m really Hip Hop.”
—Megan Thee Stallion, “BOA” (2024)

Also, since today is the start of the new fiscal year, my promotion to Full Professor is officially official. July 1 will be forever special, and I’m feelin’ myself sum’n serious.

“Yeah, keep tellin’ ya’self I ain’t the shit, bitch. Maybe one day you’ll believe it.”
—Megan Thee Stallion, “Accent” (2024)

People who don’t really know me have called me arrogant. People who really know me would, instead, say I’m cocky. While the two are often used synonymously, I prefer to be more precise. So, I’d say I’m cocky, too. My sense of my importance and abilities is far from exaggerated.

Let me run that back.1

Since last summer, I’ve been drafting and revising my manuscript. Last fall, I was preparing for promotion. I was also on the promotion committee for my colleague Dr. Rushaan Kumar, who pursued and (obviously!) earned tenure. My department conducted a search that I chaired. Throughout the fall, I was supporting my son AJ through his first semester at Morgan State and helping my daughter Chase with college applications. Shortly after she chose Hampton, we started gearing up for her 18th birthday and high school graduation. I was elected NWSA President last October, and have been busy since working with the National Office and Governing Council to stabilize the Association and “galvanize a recommitment to the multivocal and multidirectional intellectual traditions central to the field in thoughtful, transparent, and trustworthy ways.” My husband changed careers. I taught a full liberal arts load (two courses in the fall and three in the spring) and advised senior capstone projects all year. I also advised the Black Student Union. I’ve been collaboratively supporting students and colleagues protesting Israel’s “colonial-supported genocidal war on Palestinians.” I’ve been studying and responding to the ways our field and kin disciplines, such as Black Studies, have been under attack. About a week ago, I just got back from teaching my three-week study abroad course in Berlin for the 10th time in 10 years. The world remains “on fire,” the U.S. is gearing up for a presidential election, and the list, as always, goes on and on.

“Y’all hoes gotta make up shit to convince yourself that I’m not that bitch.”
—Megan Thee Stallion, “Miami Blue” (2024)

While I have a critique of grind culture, I still get energized by workin’ hard and gettin’ shit done. But make no mistake. I’m also very committed to rest, rejuvenation, and fun. Proof? I usually get 7-8 hours of sleep every night. I nap during the day at least once a week, if not more. I still watch a lot of TV. Case in point, I just watched The Wire from beginning to end in the span of three short weeks. I still party with my husband. I talk on the phone with any given friend for 3-4 hours a week, if not more. For the past three years, I haven’t been on social media as much as I used to be, but I spend countless hours on news sites, celebrity gossip blogs, and TikTok.

“Everybody wanna kick it when you ain’t a threat. These niggas don’t like me, ‘cause they know I’m on they neck.”
—Megan Thee Stallion, “HISS” (2024)

So, no. I don’t think I’m arrogant. Far from it. But I am confident about who I am and what I do in ways that annoy some people. I’m loud. I curse a lot. I’m dramatically gestural. I have high expectations. I’m aggressive. I’m competitive. In short, I’m very Hip Hop. At the same time, since most of the people who call me arrogant don’t know me, my primary theoretical frameworks—shoutout to Black feminism and womanism!—tell me the impetus for that charge is anti-Black misogyny.

“I’m a motherfuckin’ Brat, not a Barbie. On go wit’ any bitch that wanna start it.”
—Megan Thee Stallion, “Figueroa” (2024)

How dare I know I’m smart? How dare I know I’m beautiful? How dare I know I’m fun? How dare I know I’m funny? How dare I know I’m talented? Who, exactly, do I think I am? Please. Folks better know Sojourner Truth, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Toni Cade Bambara, Frances Beale, Cheryl Clarke, Beth E. Ritchie, Dorothy E. Roberts, June Jordan, and so many other Black feminists and womanists taught me. Folks better know Queen Latifah, Ms. Melodie, Mia X, Left Eye, Missy Elliott, Gangsta Boo, Lil’ Kim, Rah Digga, and so many other Black women rappers taught me.

“Bitches think they better than me. I’m like, ‘Nah, ho!’”
—Megan Thee Stallion, “Otaku Hot Girl” (2024)

Like I often tell my students and anyone else who’ll listen, I didn’t learn about all kinds of oppression and subjugation not to be able to kick they asses from time to time. They win more than I do, to be sure, but I’m a get my licks in as much as humanly possible. And today is one of those days.

“Before I get played, I play wit’ myself. Cross me. I don’t care. I’m still blessed.”
—Megan Thee Stallion, “Find Out” (2024)

Last I checked, only 4.4% of doctoral degrees are earned by Black women and only 2.1% of tenured Associate and Full professors in the U.S. are Black women. As NWSA Interim Executive Director Dr. Kristian Contreras points out, “This, of course, ‘says’ more about the racist sexism prevalent in the academy than it does the talent and innovation exemplified by the Black women professoriate. It’s like Black women can’t even receive flowers from others let alone give them to ourselves. Our joy and success are constantly couched in narratives of loss, struggle, and marginalization. While these factors are absolutely real and critical, we can also create and thrive out of our own love of self and community.”

“I’m clearin’ all y’all bitches. Easy.”
—Megan Thee Stallion, “Spin” (2024)

Trust, though, I know dark days. My father is a supposedly recovering crack cocaine addict who lives not even 30 minutes from me but hasn’t called or visited in almost two years. Yet, you can almost always find him commenting on my Facebook posts. My mom and I don’t have the greatest relationship. I’ve lost six of the greatest loves of my life. I lost Papa, a man I respected and admired more than almost anyone, when I was just 15 years old. He was only 59. I lost Nana, my favorite person, when my daughter (now 18) was just a baby. I lost Tiffany to leukemia before she even turned 40. I lost Grannymoll. I lost Aunt Pat. I lost Aunt Terry when she was only 61. Because of that and especially because I haven’t adequately attended to grieving or healing, I often feel empty, numb, and lonely. Tony and I reared our kids without a village the majority of the time. Folks at my job have targeted me in some of the most racist, sexist ways you can imagine, even going so far as to campaign to have me fired. I’ve been broke. As I’ve said what feels like ad nauseam, for years I was paying NWSA dues while we were on food stamps, Medicaid, and childcare vouchers. And that list, too, goes on and on. You can also trust that I know I will face dark days again. Who don’t?

“So many friends, but I still feel lonely. How come none of y’all call to check on me? Hold shit down, but nobody hold me. That’s okay, ‘cause I'm the strong homie.”
—Megan Thee Stallion, “Moody Girl” (2024)

But today? I’m up, and I’m a relish in that until I get tired or until I need to focus on somethin’ else. Probably within the hour, if not sooner. Haha.

“Any bitch talkin’ down know I’m doin’ it better.”
—Megan Thee Stallion, “Paper Together” (2024)

Per my strategic plan, “Reconnect, Repair, Restore: A More Thoughtful, Transparent, and Trustworthy NWSA,” my President’s blogs are meant, in part, to give members a chance to get to me. This one is exactly and only that. Hope to see you baddies in Detroit.



1
The next paragraph is interpolated from my essay “‘This has been one hell of a year, and Berlin was different!’: Some Final Thoughts on the 10th Anniversary of the #FemGeniusesinBerlin.”

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