Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Coming Soon: Reflections on "Confessions"

Being an unapologetic hip hop feminist activist, many folks have asked me my opinion of Karrine Steffan’s Confessions of a Video Vixen.

So with mixed feelings, I purchased the audio book. Then I decided to re-team with A.I.R.E. – the amazing young poetess featured in my novel Picture Me Rollin’ – for a “Reflections on 'Confessions'” project. We’re going to listen to the audio book together – disc by disc – and record reactions, questions and debates about it.

While we haven’t decided yet how best to distribute the final product when we're done, A.I.R.E. and I immediately promise you one thing. It’ll be a lot more complex than the simplistic Superhead-ain’t-nothing-but-a-ho/Karrine’s-just-a-liberated-victim dichotomy that to date has dominated most discussions about Confessions. Since we're only human, we're liable to lapse occassionally into trivia -- questioning the veracity of this tale, exchanging gossip sparked by the juicy details of another and otherwise getting caught up in quagmire of he-said-she-said that emerged from the book and its publicity. But our ultimate quest is to make a critical but compassionate assessment of three essential issues:

Is this the cautionary tale that Karrine bills it to be? Why or why not? How should conscientious women in the hip hop community respond when a sister among us writes something like this?

A.I.R.E. and I care because, hey, the book is here. Its existence and popularity presents both opportunities and challenges to our efforts to reclaim hip hop and use it as a tool in our movement to liberate ourselves from misogyny. We'll be guided by the words of hip hop intellectual and feminist scholar Tricia Rose. Now I personally agreed with Sister Rose when she told the Washington Post, "We need this story less than we need rich, complicated, reflective stories." But I also heard her when she said, "The question is, will the book be a catalyst for serious conversations, as opposed to allowing easy answers to prevail, like video-hoing is bad, or video-hoing is a great vehicle as long as you avoid the pitfalls. Those are the simple-minded positions that I think we need to worry about."

So that's what A.I.R.E. and I are gonna do. At least, we will try really damn hard. Wish us luck.

1 comment:

jazztheo said...

I do wish you luck in this endeavor and am grateful for your work. I am just discovering you and your work as I saw you today on Book TV C-SPAN2.

Please keep up the work of reclaiming hip-hop. I will be reading your blog often.

Have you done much work the comparisons of jazz & hip-hop?