On August 19th, 2020, Genius and HBO Max hosted a webinar event titled, “On The Record: Black Women in Music”. With speakers like Grammy nominated rapper, Rapsody, marketing extraordinaire Karen Civil,
and music manager, Kei Henderson, the event was centered around the situations that black women face in the music business on a daily basis.

From not being able to report sexual assault, due to the fact that, they won’t take them seriously to simply being perceived as a sexual object, it is clear that black women are not cared for in this country. Although minorities are usually the least protected, black women are most likely expected to care for others. “I didn’t sign up to be a superhero…I didn’t sign up to take the
burden of the world”, Civil saids.

Karen Civil speaks onstage at Beautycon Festival Los Angeles 2019 (Photo by John Sciulli/Getty Images for Beautycon)

The world often views black women as strong, but the world fails to realize that this perception is harmful and could lead to death. Civil even states that calling a black woman “strong” is not a compliment. Black women are forced to watch what they say, what they wear, and how they talk to their colleagues so it is not perceived as being arrogant and/or difficult. “I’ve been in instances where I’ve had colleagues feel threatened to talk to me and talked to my male colleagues instead”, said Henderson.

Rapsody took the conversation further and stated that the music industry, “put limits on women…they don’t expect women to go far in the business”. The Grammy nominated rapper proudly affirms that female artists “are the best of the best” and wants the music business and the world to accept them for who they are.

Being in a new age of music, the three panelists also discussed the double standard issue in the music industry. Throughout time, male artists overly sexualize women in their lyrics and will not receive backlash. However, women artists do not have that same luxury. “I’m tired of male rappers disrespecting women and being proud of it”, Henderson states. Using Cardi B’s and Meg the Stallion’s new single, “W.A.P”, Rapsody even mentions that people are mad at them for being who they are as artists. “The conversation needs to be directed to the media…we’re directing the conversation to the wrong people”.

The panelists continued by saying this is a different era for music. “We get to choose what we listen to”, Civil saids.

Rapsody speaks onstage during ESSENCE + New Voices Entrepreneur Summit And Target Holiday Market

Towards the end of the webinar, the three women gave words of encouragement to all of the African American women listening. Henderson beamed, “Believe in yourself sounds very easy to do but find that confidence so you can be that person in the room”. Rapsody continues this beautiful moment saying, “Babygirl you are enough. Protect yourself. Don’t give someone your energy if they don’t deserve it and don’t forget to bring people with you.” With the final words of the night, Civil told the viewers, “Remain true to you, give yourself grace. Pour that love back at you.”

Personally, the webinar was an eye-opener; to hear the mistreatment that black women face was honestly hard to hear. As a black male who was raised by a black woman, I try to treat black women with my utmost respect, but the panelist showed me how to do a better job of it. I took
this as an opportunity to become a better ally for black women and other misunderstood groups in the world.

Black women deserve to be heard, and as black men, we need to check our male privilege and actually uplift them. Like Civil stated, “Women are not solely on this world to cater to men”. We don’t need to force every issue on the black women, but we need to treat them with better respect and stop seeing them as sexual objects. There’s something that is so special about the black woman, but we will not go further as a community if we don’t recognize our vindictive
behavior.

Jordan

Jordan "JB" Brown

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