*Opening photo courtesy of alltheparties.com.
So, it’s the first of the month of February and you know what means don’t you? It’s Black History Month! Say it loud: “I’m black and I’m proud!” “Black is beautiful!”
You get it.
People who know me know that I love this month, love giving out daily black history facts and watching documentaries on black people; Everyone has their own way of celebrating the month, whether loud or subtly, and it always makes me smile. So after putting a post up on my social media about the fabulous Phylicia Rashad’s achievements at 12 a.m. on the dot, I was kind of confused to learn through the gossip mill 15 minutes later thatRihanna spent $160,000 on a Swarovski crystal-adorned portrait of Marilyn Monroe. Oh..that’s cool…I guess. But I’m saying, my niece could have drawn one for her and bedecked it in macaroni for the low low. But anyway…
Then, this morning while looking through my e-mail, I was asked to view a new music video by new FemmeC (female lyricist) Brianna Perry called of all things, “Marilyn Monroe.” In the video, the black female rapper has long a long blonde lace front, and in a few scenes has a fake Marilyn Monroe beauty mark above her lip and by her cheek. In the hook she refers to herself as Marilyn (“I’m Hollyhood, arrogant, don’t I look good? Marilyn…Monroe”). Sure, the tune was cute, but all I could think was—Marilyn, again? Creeeeeeepy.
No disrespect to Marilyn whatsoever. She was a beautiful woman who I’m sure brought a lot of light and joy to people’s lives and maybe even taught folks to be comfortable with their curves. Kudos, kudos. However, I don’t understand why so many black women seem to be enamored with her these days. It’s 2012, right? But psych my mind, because so many celebrities get dressed up like her on the cover of magazines and in music videos to try to emulate her sex appeal and aura (I’ve seen Nicki Minaj, Amber Rose, Rihanna, and Jennifer Lopez don the same wig that looks exactly like Monroe’s hair in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”), buy portraits of her face and shout her out in their tracks. Aside from being a bombshell though, in all honesty, she didn’t do all that much over-the-top honorable and monumental stuff for black women. In fact, she was said to have done some less than awe-inducing things in her time that I won’t bring out (because we’ve all heard the allegations before), but what exactly did she do that warrants adoration of her more than a Lena Horne, a Dorothy Dandridge, a Josephine Baker, a Dr. Mae Jemison, a Nina Simone, a Joyce Bryant (since folks love to call her the “black Marilyn Monroe”), a Judith Jamison, a Ruby Dee and the likes of such iconic black women gone and still amongst us? Yet and still, folks like Mariah Carey, Kelly Rowland, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj and more have shouted her out and emulated her like she was Harriet Tubman setting us free or something. Maybe I just missed the memo?
Not to bring anybody down, but I’m sour about the idea that some of our sistas might know more about Monroe than they do a Rosa Parks or Lorraine Hansberry or any of the other black women I mentioned earlier who opened so many doors for us. I went to high school with creative chicks who had purses with Marilyn’s face emblazoned on it, and bought products with her likeness just to keep up with the oh-so popular jones: loving and acting like you personally knew celebrities who have been gone for years–decades sometimes. She’s cool and all, but I think that with all the wonderful and talented women we have in black culture from the past and the present, we need to jump off the Marilyn bandwagon and start giving love to and emulating the people who look like us (and stop trying to look like her) and gave so much so that we could freely sit wherever on buses, have the chance to be famous singers and actresses and walk through integrated halls pretending that Marilyn Monroe is the end-all, be-all. Just saying.
Am I the only one who has noticed this?