“Remember when they used to say I look too mannish
Black girl magic, y’all can’t stand it” – Janelle Monae
Janelle doesn’t just wear many hats in a literal sense but also in a figurative one. In “Django Jane,” she raps about women’s rights – especially black women’s rights, which is undoubtedly a different speed than what we’re used to. Mainstream rap doesn’t always offer this type of truth spitting. While some people just want mindless music – Janelle’s not here to give you that. Just like the whole of Dirty Computer she’s digging deeper and deeper into issues that you might hate thinking of.
Not one single person can say Janelle hasn’t championed black women. Or women’s rights in general. She never falls short in terms of using her platform, her voice or the power that she does possess as a celebrity. Young black girls everywhere have been inspired by her music and who she is as a person. Instead of labeling her as a role model, she’s an inspiration and an authentic one at that.
…And if anyone makes suits look badass: it’s her.
Though even with her supporters, there are women who don’t want her to shine. The fact of the matter is: mainstream feminism isn’t that inclusive. It makes waves for people who are “acceptable,” then often conveniently leaves behind black women. While “Django Jane” isn’t solely dedicated to black women, it always feels like an anthem for us in particular. Even the music video has all black women in it and celebrates us.
Nothing about that is wrong or incorrect about Janelle’s messages. She’s proud of her identity as a black queer woman. And going hard for black women is something it appears she’ll never stop doing.
Janelle said about the song in an interview with The Guardian:
“[It’s] a response to me feeling the sting of the threats being made to my rights as a woman, as a black woman, as a sexually liberated woman, even just as a daughter with parents who have been oppressed for many decades. Black women and those who have been the ‘other’, and the marginalized in society – that’s who I wanted to support, and that was more important than my discomfort about speaking out.”
Below you’ll find a response poem to “Django Jane” written by myself.
you can’t kill it
they want to snub our magic or take it away from us
just like thieves in the night
waiting for vulnerability
too damn bad for them
they can’t take it from us
or kill it.
there’s no slaughterhouse for this type of magic
it exists in us
& this world doesn’t want that
so they try to
but they can’t be this
they can’t possess it either
no, they can’t kill it like that
& they don’t want us
they want the magic in us, that black girl magic
Vanessa Maki is a queer writer, artist & blk feminist. Her work has appeared/is forthcoming in a variety of places. She’s EIC of rose quartz magazine & is involved in other spaces as well. Find her on twitter, instagram & visit her site.