“Bad Bitches”

and the Disruption of Black Masculine Supremacy at
The Ultimate White Party 2014 (Midwest Edition)
Michelle Cowin-Mensah
 
Dance: a state of excitement in a system where change becomes possible, desirable, fluid and pleasurable.1Jeffrey Gormly, “Raw Thinking: What is a State of Dance?,” choreograph.net (June 11, 2011).
-Jeffrey Gormly
 
 
INTRODUCTION

Hundreds of Metropolitan Detroiters crowded the Riverside Marina off the Detroit River to attend “the world[’s] largest nightclub” (“The Ultimate Group”). The Ultimate White Party, 2014 (Midwest Edition) was anything but an ordinary nightclub. The event promoters invited local vendors to transform the Marina’s tennis courts into an outdoor showroom. Merchant Vendor Row featured soul food, urban street wear, authorized cell phone retailers, and African American hair products. Corporate sponsors like MAC Cosmetics set up makeover stations, and Macy’s sponsored Red Carpet Photo Booths that instantly uploaded photos to social media. Dozens of individuals and local businesses purchased white cabanas from $1K – $2,5K per tent, turning the perimeter of the marina into a South Beach Miami resort. BRICKK ENT, a production company representing local rap artists, dominated The Ultimate White Party, in size and cabanas. The company had a total of four tents. The male members of the company dressed in bright oversized white polos with red letters in caps “BRICKK ENT” on the backside and matching hats. BRICKK ENT cabanas were located closer to the perimeter of the dance floor than any other cabanas and were closer to the walkways that provided easy access to Merchant Vendor Row and the Clubhouse.2The Clubhouse featured a full dinner buffet and snack bar for individuals who purchased VIP tickets at $60 (regular entrance was $40). BRICKK ENT had no female representation at The White Party that I witnessed. Those women who did party with the company in their cabanas did not appear to be part of the organization. They did not wear the iconic red and white polos, nor did they wear anything that would associate them with BRICKK. Like the rest of us at The White Party, 2014, they were spectators, witnesses to the event, and above all given permits to specific areas of the party by those who ball.

 
 

In Detroit hip-hop culture, Black masculinity tends to mirror hegemonic White masculinity and inform the ways in which Black men subjugate Black women. According to Patricia Hill Collins in “A Telling Difference: Dominance, Strength, and Black Masculinities,” hegemonic White masculinity sets up the parameters of male/female relationships. Collins’s states that “hegemonic [White] masculinity reflects a cognitive framework of binary thinking that defines masculinity in terms of its difference from and dominance over multiple others.”3Patricia Hill Collins, “A Telling Difference: Dominance, Strength, and Black Masculinities,” in Progressive Black Masculinities, ed. Athena D. ...continue As a result, hegemonic White masculinity asserts what Collins calls the strong-black-women-weak-black-men trope. Thus, to define Black masculinity against what it is not (Black femininity), the relationship between Black men and Black women can be contested and at times highly volatile. BRICKK ENT’s misogynist behaviorisms towards Black women at The Ultimate White Party reflect gendered attitudes towards Black female Detroiters. At The White Party, these demeaning and objectifying attitudes forced Black women into a type of spectatorship. Black female Detroiters were encouraged to be both simultaneously present and not present. Although Black men confided female Detroiters to the audience, these Black women also complicated Black masculine presupposed gendered identities that rendered them as spectators. In this article, I will look at the ways in which Black female Detroiters used performance as a mode of resistance against Black masculine supremacist practices at The Ultimate White Party, 2014. Loosely deconstructing the term dance to include social choreographic thinking as a conscious way of rationalizing movement to work in/through oppressive environments, I will examine how Black female Detroiters use movement to negotiate Detroit hip-hop culture, which hinges on static notions of authentic blackness.

 
 
“WHERE ALL MY BAD BITCHES AT?”

When Mike Epps arrived on stage, the Black male members associated with BRICKK ENT rushed the stage. Using flashlights and cell phones, they hand selected other BRICKK ENT members and male friends to enter the stage. The man standing next to me phoned his cousin. Instantaneously, he was waved to the stage. The stage was full of Black men. The women stood around in confusion. One of the event promoters (a Black woman) was stopped by BRICKK ENT as she tried to enter the stage. Her entourage, which comprised of all Black men, tried to dismiss them. It was not until another event promoter (another Black man) saw the commotion and stepped in to vouch for his colleague that BRICKK moved out of her way. Once on stage, the Black female event promoter stopped the music and addressed the crowd, urging them to calm down. She said no one else was permitted onstage due to weight restrictions. Mike Epps clips in, “No more ratchet bitches to the stage.” Everyone laughed. The Black woman next to me screamed in laughter. The music came on again. Mike Epps shouts: “Where the real niggas at?! Where the real niggas at?! Bad bitches, Real Niggas.” The music started back up. 

 
 

The music stopped again. The Black female event promoter addressed Mike Epps and BRICKK ENT and tells them the men must leave the stage due to weight restrictions. “Mike, I’m going to let you get back to your party in a second. Ladies and gentlemen, please. Right now, the DJ booth is too heavy. I have a weight restriction.” A few Detroit Police Officers came up on stage. They did not appear to remove any of the men from the stage but stood in observation. The Black female event promoter: “I need you to calm down. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a major issue-” At that moment, there was a group full of BRICKK ENT men trying to get on the stage. The women around me erupted in chants of disapproval, screaming “NO MORE DICKS!” and “WHERE DA’ LADIES AT?” Hearing the chants and disapproval, Mike Epps encouraged all the men to exit the stage and eagerly invited women to join him. The women in the audience cheered and some advanced towards the stage only to be pushed back by a line of BRICKK ENT men. By this point, BRICKK ENT was even restricting waitresses to come onstage. Meanwhile, BRICKK ENT men, as well as well-known Black male political leaders in the community, took turns shaking hands and taking pictures with Mike Epps. I could see large bottles of Hennessy cognac and champagne being passed from man to man. There were also takeaway containers of food in the VIP section reserved for Mike Epps and his entourage but now BRICKK ENT men filled the section.

 
 

Event security swarmed around the entire stage, blocking more men from entering. BRICKK ENT men who were not onstage, argued and attempted to push their way to the front. Soon there was a standoff between BRICKK ENT men and event security. The women around me complained about the men to each other, while some yelled out for the men to get off of the stage. I did not see any women physically challenge the BRICKK ENT men. There were audible disapproval and the women around me made comments like, “What the fuck?” “Fuck these dicks!” “Get off the fuckin’ stage!” “Get yo’ ass off the fuckin’ stage.” Soon the Fire Marshall appeared and commanded that no one else get on stage, or he would permanently shut down the party.

 
 

Feelings of confusion, resentment, and anger swept through the crowd like an active volcano brewing, sputtering, and finally spilling over to everyone. The Black female event promoter continued to urge the crowd to calm down. The promoters displayed messages on the video monitors surround the stage, “Get off the Stage.” Ladies around me screamed, “Oh my God, get the fuck off the stage! It’s too much dick on the stage!” Suddenly Mike Epps’s voice cranked in, “Let’s get this mutha-fuckin’ party started, DETROIT!” The women in the crowd screamed and cheered. Mike’s voice excited them but just as soon as he is done hypin’, which is less than 15 seconds; he disappears, swallowed up in the sea of BRICKK men. Two men pushed past me, and I hit the Black woman in front of me. She shot me an angry glare, and I quickly apologized. I pointed to the men who shoved past me. They were both from BRICKK ENT. We shared a knowing look. The men had rushed past us in a strange desperation to get closer to the commotion on the stage. No sooner did the men past me when we saw them gathered at the front of the stage. Along with another few BRICKK ENT men already in position, the men pushed their way towards the event security. The music started up again. “Bitch betta have my money!” From the left side of the stage, a BRICKK ENT man helped another partner onstage. Mike Epps chants “All the Bad Bitches out here…” Two more men jumped up. “East side, west side…” One more man hurled himself up onto the stage. “All the Bad Bitches, all the Real Niggas.” The women around me were quiet. There was a mixture of resentment and yearning in their facial expressions. The tension in their bodies betrayed them: they wanted to be up there too. They wanted to be included. Strangely, I felt this too. I could see my brother and his girl onstage. We made eye contact. I leaned towards the stage, and he looked around tentatively. Hopelessly, he shook his head. I was confined to the crowd.

 
 

Historically, Black men have often held Black women to genderized representations of a male constructed Black femininity in Detroit. The politics of Black female respectability often forced Black women to focus on issues in support of Black masculinity. Angela D. Dillard in Faith in the City: Preaching Radical Social Change in Detroit notes that in the nineteenth century, the Black church often provided Black women with an avenue from which to engage in broader social, political, economic, and cultural debates.4Cf. Angela D. Dillard, Faith in the City: Preaching Radical Social Change in Detroit (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2007), 5. However, debates usually centered on Black women securing sustainable employment to support their families, rather than debates concerning their fundamental rights as seen in White feminist movements during the same time. Dillard notes that Black women also faced the most obstacles when obtaining industrial work than either Black men or White women.5Cf. Dillard, Faith in the City, 123. These women often found themselves working without the support of Black men to help secure employment for their families. Additionally, as the city shifted towards Black Nationalist ideologies, this left little room for discussion on Black female employment. Edna Ewell Watson, a political protester and member of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers in the 1970s, notes in Dan Georgakas and Marvin Surkin’s book, Detroit, I Do Mind Dying that she was expected to be supportive of male leadership.6Dan Georgakas and Marvin Surkin, Detroit, I Do Mind Dying: A Study in Urban Revolution (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1975), 224. Watson states that there was no lack of roles for women in the League as long as they accepted subordination to the greater needs of the organization, which was male-dominant.7Cf. Georgakas and Surkin, Detroit, I Do Mind Dying, 225.

 
 

At The White Party, Black masculine misogyny and White racist antagonisms toward the Black female body render Black femininity overtly antagonistic (the angry Black woman trope) or passively non-existent (the Mammy trope). However, there is a more complicated negotiation Black women undergo when encountering misogyny and racism that hinges on creating authentic representations of blackness.8Cf., for example, Patrick E. Johnson, Appropriating Blackness: Performance and the Politics of Authenticity (Durham: Duke University Press, 2003).

 
 

At The White Party, Mike Epps (arguably the epitome of Black masculine desire at the event) asked for all the Real Niggas and the Bad Bitches to “make some noise.” The crowd, including all of the Black women, erupted in cheers, hoots, and hollers. By Epps acknowledging Black women as Bad Bitches, he encouraged two things: (1) acceptance of Black masculine desire and the Black woman as objects of that desire, and (2) Black femininity that can be traced to an authentic blackness.9Cf., for example, bell hooks, Black Looks: Race and Representation (Boston: South End Press, 1992). In the first, Black women must be willing participants of Black masculine desire in Detroit hip-hop culture. This is not to say that Black women must willingly submit to Black masculine desire. On the contrary, Bad Bitches acknowledge Black masculine desire in ways that make it clear that they, as the objects of desire, are in control. Stephane Dunn in Baad Bitches and Sassy Supermamas: Black Power Action Films, notes that hip-hop iconography perceives black female sexuality as liberated and free.10Cf. Stephane Dunn, Baad Bitches and Sassy Supermamas: Black Power Action Films (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2008), 26. She comments that “In rap music culture, ‘bitch’ has also been revised as ‘Bitch’ to signify a hardcore woman who makes money and proudly flaunts her sexual libido and sexuality. She is the ‘around the way sista’ who can hold her own with the gangsta thugs of rap music.”11Dunn, Baad Bitches, 26. Although the term Bitch symbolizes a historical reclamation from White patriarchy, today’s Bad Bitch according to Dunn is a label and persona that functions as a mode of expression. Dunn states:

 
 

It [Bad Bitch] offers the allure of transgression, a
seductive construction for women and especially for
historically devalued women in U.S. celebrity culture […] The ‘Bad Bitch’ suggests a black woman from working-
class roots who goes beyond the boundaries of gender in
a patriarchal domain and plays the game as successfully
as the boys by being in charge of her own sexual
representation and manipulating it for celebrity
and material gain.12Dunn, Baad Bitches, 27.

 
 

In a YouTube video taken at the event, a popular local porn star named The Body XXX is walking around the marina with her friends. In the video, she is wearing a white Charmeuse romper. The suit has a dropped V-neck down the center of the outfit. On the backside, the suit barely covers her buttock. The Body is eating a piece of fried chicken as she walks. A young Black man with a camera crew approaches her claiming to be from a Detroit reality TV show. It is clear from the video that she is not interested in being interviewed or even speaking to the man. The man calls after her and continuously follows her. It is unclear from the video what he is saying to her to attract her attention. The Body continues eating and does her best to ignore him. The man blocks her path. She immediately attempts to toss the chicken at the camera. The man says, “Whoa! What you doing?” The two dance around each other as the man is now blocking the camera from the incoming chicken. The Body remains silent and walks away. The man continues to pursue her. This time the camera pans down to a shot of her buttock. The man approaches the woman’s backside and rubs on her buttocks. The woman continues to eat chicken and walks away. The man says, “Hey look, this is 2014 White Party. Show ‘em how we doing it. Look! Look! This how we doing it.” The woman takes the piece of half eaten chicken and dangles the meat near her buttocks. The man says, “Yo! Put yo’ name on it!” The camera lingers on The Body’s buttock as she walks away.13The Ultimate white Party 2014 (the fight), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kN8jFgkGuEI. Accessed 05.01.16.

 
 

Without knowing the socio-economic status of both participants in the video, it is difficult to pinpoint if, in fact, The Body matches Dunn’s criteria of a Bad Bitch. However, it is easy to gauge from her reactions towards the young Black man, that she is performing traits one could associate with Bad Bitch. Her mannerisms towards the young man convey that she is in charge of her sexual image despite the frequent tries on behalf of the young man to objectify her. This performance, for me, is part of an everyday act of resistance to anti-misogynist practices towards Black women in Detroit hip-hop culture. The movements located in these performances are rehearsed and restaged at the discretion of Black hip-hop masculinity. The attempt seems to be for Black female Detroiters in hip-hop culture to find spaces of social acceptance in a mostly masculine supremacist state. According to Andrew Hewitt in Social Choreography: Ideology as Performance in Dance and Everyday Movement, those who use dance as a method of social change understand how movement can be a powerful motivator for materialist and aesthetic ideology.14Cf. Andrew Hewitt, Social Choreography: Ideology as Performance in Dance and Everyday Movement (Durham: Duke University Press, 2005), 5. Similarly, Patricia Hill Collins notes in Black Sexual Politics: Black women often objectify their bodies to be accepted within a Black male-controlled universe.15Cf. Patricia Hill Collins, Black Sexual Politics: African Americans, Gender, and the New Racism (New York: Routledge, 2005), 129. Nowhere is this more apparent than when The Body dangled the piece of chicken meat over her buttock. However, in Detroit hip-hop culture and in particular reference to my experiences at The White Party, Black masculine antagonisms towards Black women were rampant. This comes as no surprise. Global racist patriarchal culture commercially seeks to redefine Black femininity as weak. However, Detroit, which is still overwhelming Black and poor, has a large Black youth population which sees hip-hop as their only option for getting out of the hood. Rightfully so, according to Tricia Rose in her book The Hip Hop Wars: What We Talk About When We Talk About Hip Hop – and Why It Matters, which argues that Detroit along with other metropolitan cities during the recession saw major population declines, and urban destruction of abandoned homes without renewal leading thus to increase in violence and youth displacement.16Cf. Tricia Rose, The Hip Hop Wars: What We Talk About When We Talk About Hip Hop – and Why It Matters (New York: Basic Civitas, 2008), 45. Black youth’s do or die perspective in a global mainstream marketplace wherein Black rappers are encouraged to displace and reject Black femininity leaves Black youth with very few options for survival, let alone how to address Black womanhood. Additionally, while current Detroit hip-hop artists are doing a lot to bring attention to Detroit in terms of the impact of poverty on Black communities, very little attention is being paid to positively representing Black womanhood.

For example, in Detroit rapper YCG’s 2013 music video titled Racks,17Racks, dir. TandB Films, prod. BRICKK ENT, perf. YCG, 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BvNaZ_kuj00. Accessed 05.01.16. the artist and his entourage effortlessly toss green bills at scantily clad women who are twerking. In the opening shot, the women (all Black) are facing away from the camera as they dance. They are dressed in sexy thongs and bikini tops. The camera quickly pans to automobile tire rims of all styles and variety. The images throughout the video continue to cut between scantily clad Black women, Black female characters as sexual deviants, and other markers of material wealth (Racks). Similarly rising hip-hop rapper and fellow Detroiter, Danny Brown, whose music is primarily focused on and in Detroit, often highlights the socioeconomic disparities from the perspectives of Black communities. In Guitar Solo, Brown shows viewers the perspectives of two young black youths, one Black girl, and one Black boy. In both instances, the young adults are forced to make decisions for the betterment of themselves with no emotional support from their families. The young Black boy takes up petty theft to escape his poverty-stricken home life, and the young Black girl is pregnant with no options (“Guitar Solo”).18Danny Brown, “Guitar Solo,” from The Hybrid, dir. Tony ‘Storymode’ Foster, Rappers I Know Prod; Hybrid Music Prod, 2011. ...continue She hopes to find security with a drug dealer to support her unborn child (“Guitar Solo”). In both instances we see Black youths forced to make decisions because their single-parent mothers are unable to cope. The young boy’s mother is a prostitute and according to Brown, “a fiend” (“Guitar Solo”). In the video, the young girl’s mother relies on other men to support her and has little concern for her daughter’s welfare. In the video, we can see the young boy’s mother counting money in semi-darkness. The young girl’s mother is seen walking around the house with a man. She hands her daughter a small boy, and the couple goes into another room. In another segment, the mother is seen twerking in what looks like her bathroom in mismatched bra and panties (“Guitar Solo”). In this video, Detroit Black womanhood is a marathon for the survival of the fittest. The women portrayed are bottom-feeders who commit licentious acts to survive harsh conditions in Post-Recession Detroit. Although Danny Brown depicts these Black women as “fiends,” he also complicates their narratives by showing the cyclical nature of poverty. These women might be morally complicated but according to Brown, their struggle is part of a larger story that stems from being forgotten; a mantra that many Detroiters feel.

 
 
“SIGN MY NAME ON IT”

Racist patriarchal binaries distort images of Black female Detroiters in Detroit’s hip-hop culture as victims or victimizers. In many songs and music videos, Black Detroit women are single-mothers caught in the trappings of socio-economic decline by no fault of their own. In other videos, Black women are narcissistic gold diggers whose greatest pleasure is to prove loyalty to their men. These Bad Bitches will stop at nothing to get what they want, including terrorizing and debasing others – particularly other Black women. Black Detroit female hip-hop artists rarely portray themselves as victims or hood angels, but opt to take on the position of the victimizer or Bad Bitch persona. For example, Selena Jordan is a nineteen year old rising star on Detroit’s hip-hop scene. Her music videos and appearances stream on YouTube to thousands of fans, and she was a featured performer at The White Party, 2014. Flanked by three scantily clad backup dancers, Jordan in a short mid-thigh mini-dress with a low front, clipped snappy lyrics about her magic-like abilities to attract men and dismiss women. In the song, she proclaimed that she was a Bad Bitch and dared anyone to challenge her powers. Dripping with long straight black hair down her back, she often strutted back and forth from the front of the stage, hip rolled into a crouch, and rose into a twerk dance movement. I noticed the audience reactions to Jordan’s performance. Many of them were actively engaged in the performance. It was obvious this was their first time hearing Jordan’s song. They attentively listened and watched her performance with intense stares. Many of them simultaneously held up smartphones to capture the experience, while watching her live performance onstage. At the end of the performance, the crowd did not cheer with hoots and hollers, but calmly applauded her efforts and went back to meandering around the marina until the next performance was set. I caught Jordan as she exited the stage for a quick response to her performance. I applauded her skills as a performer and asked her if she was from Detroit. She warmly smiled and graciously said, “Thank you, and yes, I’m from here.” “Did you write that song yourself?” I asked. “Oh yes. I write all my songs.” “Does your life as a Detroiter reflect the kind of stuff you write?” “Yes, some of it does.” I got her information with the intent to formally interview her about her performance, but after The White Party, Jordan could not be reached.

 
 

One observation that I made from my interaction with Jordan after her performance was the immediate change in her demeanor. Her smile was genuine warm and welcoming. She was gracious and open with wide eyes during our short interaction. There was none of the Bad Bitch persona that she performed on stage. There was no conceit or pretentious behavior so commonly personified in the performance of Bad Bitch. Jordan’s shift from Bad Bitch reflects what Stephane Dunn calls the problematic and masculine-centered aesthetic of “keeping it real.”19Cf. Dunn, Baad Bitches, 24-26. Dunn notes that rap music and hip-hop culture valorize thug life as real blackness. The patriarchal racial condemnation of Black masculinity as weak and Black femininity as invisible are reflected in the community and expressed in the music.20Cf. Dunn, Baad Bitches, 25. Expressions of social codes as culture in rap music that signify a real blackness, according to Dunn, become ways artists “appreciate the truths about the hardship of ghetto life.”21Dunn, Baad Bitches, 25. Similarly, Black women as rap artists in hip-hop culture are also responsible for upholding an image that coincides with masculine street ideologies surrounding real blackness. The performance of Bad Bitch in some ways upholds Black masculine patriarchy as a reflection of thug life in that reality. According to Dunn, rap star Lil’ Kim performed a representation of Black femininity as the Bad Bitch and used her sexuality to appear loyal to the game or thug life.22Cf. Dunn, Baad Bitches, 29. Dunn further argues that Lil’ Kim’s loyalty was also contingent on her willingness to submit to Black masculine dominance whenever necessary. Dunn states: “An intrinsic part of that identity remains the idea of a woman who will ‘trick’ for her main man and destroy anyone- other ‘bitches’ or male enemies- who attempt to bring that man down figuratively or literally.”23Dunn, Baad Bitches, 29.

 
 

In my brief conversation with Selena Jordan, it was clear that she did not buy into the Bad Bitch persona. She performed a representation of authentic Black femininity, according to the expectations of real Black Detroit masculinity. For example, in another segment of the same YouTube video taken at The White Party, the young Black man is standing behind a Black woman. He has both arms wrapped around her shoulders and is tightly holding on to her. As she moves forward, he moves with her. They are both looking directly at the camera. The woman is signifying with her right hand her hometown of East Warren, Michigan. The woman’s performance of Bad Bitch is clear, as she rotates her head and rolls her upper body. Her vocal pitch and rhythm matches that of the young man still holding her. “East Warren … Oh yeah! All day, every day!”24The Ultimate White Party 2014 (the fight). There is a very hard and imperious look in her eyes that seem to match the young man behind her. As the young man is rocking to the music with the woman in his arms, he lifts his left arm. The woman’s stance shifts and she eases herself out of the young man’s grasp. Once free she immediately relaxes her tough posture and a huge smiles crosses over her face. Unbeknownst to the young man, the two celebrate and bounce to the music. “Hey! Oh!”25The Ultimate White Party 2014 (the fight).

 
 

In this segment, it is unclear who began the exchange since the video immediately cuts to the couple mid-interaction. However, what makes their exchange interesting is the dramatic shift from the Bad Bitch persona to a more light-hearted and relaxed persona. The woman signifies with hand gestures to commemorate her neighborhood as the Bad Bitch. During this brief moment, there is a habitual quality to her movements that feel rehearsed and prepared. She may not be the Bad Bitch, but she certainly knows Black masculine interpretations of class-based Black femininity to enact a representation of what Black men want. The large Black man hanging on her back attempts to possess her body; giving her vocal cues on how hardcore Bad Bitches are supposed to act.

 
 
CONCLUSION

In conclusion, The Ultimate White Party, 2014 (Midwest Edition) brought hundreds of metropolitan Detroiters together to experience authentic Detroit hip-hop culture. However, the terms of engagement differed dramatically for Black women than Black men. This is not to say that all Black men did not experience biased and gendered oppression at The White Party. I did not discuss how Black masculine supremacy also attempts to conflate blackness and Black male identity, limiting the possibilities for all Black men regardless of class, age, or sexual orientation. However, at The White Party, the constitution of Black Detroit female identity within Detroit hip-hop culture was invariably connected with Black masculine supremacist notions of authentic blackness. As a result, Black female Detroiters were rendered spectators. Detroit hip-hop culture’s gendered expectations of Black femininity created the rupture that isolated Bad Bitches to the crowd and Mike Epps’ real niggas to the stage. However, Black women did not suffer in the wings. They were active spectators engaging in a social choreography that called attention to the politics of racial patriarchy and Black masculine supremacy in Detroit hip-hop culture. Using movement as a way of articulating their positionalities, these women attempted to negotiate the murky gender politics of Detroit hip-hop culture within the racist and sexist ideologies that subordinate both Black men and women.

 
 

One of the most interesting points of contention is how racism and performance both contribute to gender biases in Detroit hip-hop culture. Black female Detroiters are held accountable for creating an authentic blackness that mirrors the ways in which Black men have been expected to uphold the ideologies of White masculinity. Therefore as an act of survival, Black male Detroiters enact performative behaviorisms that hinge on the expectations of White superiority in an attempt to be recognized as human. Black women, while still being held to those same standards, experience multiple oppression from both Black and White supremacy. The misogynist performatives that subjugate Black Detroit womanhood in hip-hop are made present through multiple representations of Black female Detroiters as victims or victimizers. Black female Detroiters in an act of survival in hip-hop culture simultaneously attempt to resist and reconstruct negative images of self through performances that complicate a presupposed real blackness. The performance of Bad Bitches is for some a deliberate performance that does not constitute a single Black female Detroit identity in hip-hop culture. Rather, this is a performance for what it is: a performance of survival. Racist patriarchy and sexist ideologies have strongly influenced the politics of Black identity in this country, as we (Black men and women alike) have historically felt and presently feel.

 

References   [ + ]

1. Jeffrey Gormly, “Raw Thinking: What is a State of Dance?,” choreograph.net (June 11, 2011).
2. The Clubhouse featured a full dinner buffet and snack bar for individuals who purchased VIP tickets at $60 (regular entrance was $40).
3. Patricia Hill Collins, “A Telling Difference: Dominance, Strength, and Black Masculinities,” in Progressive Black Masculinities, ed. Athena D. Muthua (New York: Routledge, 2006), 74.
4. Cf. Angela D. Dillard, Faith in the City: Preaching Radical Social Change in Detroit (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2007), 5.
5. Cf. Dillard, Faith in the City, 123.
6. Dan Georgakas and Marvin Surkin, Detroit, I Do Mind Dying: A Study in Urban Revolution (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1975), 224.
7. Cf. Georgakas and Surkin, Detroit, I Do Mind Dying, 225.
8. Cf., for example, Patrick E. Johnson, Appropriating Blackness: Performance and the Politics of Authenticity (Durham: Duke University Press, 2003).
9. Cf., for example, bell hooks, Black Looks: Race and Representation (Boston: South End Press, 1992).
10. Cf. Stephane Dunn, Baad Bitches and Sassy Supermamas: Black Power Action Films (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2008), 26.
11. Dunn, Baad Bitches, 26.
12. Dunn, Baad Bitches, 27.
13. The Ultimate white Party 2014 (the fight), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kN8jFgkGuEI. Accessed 05.01.16.
14. Cf. Andrew Hewitt, Social Choreography: Ideology as Performance in Dance and Everyday Movement (Durham: Duke University Press, 2005), 5.
15. Cf. Patricia Hill Collins, Black Sexual Politics: African Americans, Gender, and the New Racism (New York: Routledge, 2005), 129.
16. Cf. Tricia Rose, The Hip Hop Wars: What We Talk About When We Talk About Hip Hop – and Why It Matters (New York: Basic Civitas, 2008), 45.
17. Racks, dir. TandB Films, prod. BRICKK ENT, perf. YCG, 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BvNaZ_kuj00. Accessed 05.01.16.
18. Danny Brown, “Guitar Solo,” from The Hybrid, dir. Tony ‘Storymode’ Foster, Rappers I Know Prod; Hybrid Music Prod, 2011. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LAG1TCSTVTc. Accessed 05.01.16.
19. Cf. Dunn, Baad Bitches, 24-26.
20. Cf. Dunn, Baad Bitches, 25.
21. Dunn, Baad Bitches, 25.
22. Cf. Dunn, Baad Bitches, 29.
23. Dunn, Baad Bitches, 29.
24, 25. The Ultimate White Party 2014 (the fight).