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Here's 7 Ways Teyana Taylor Has Changed The Game In Music & Beyond

We accept her announcement, but we're also celebrating how sis changed the landscape of music.

Culture & Entertainment

Over the weekend, I, like so many of us, was crushed to learn that Teyana Taylor had decided to hang up her shoes in music, and retire from music. Naturally, my wig was blown back, as both me, and the entire culture screamed, "Nooooo, Petunia!" Even some of our faves, like Cardi B, came to her defense, with a tweet that we all felt. Publications like Vulture, wrote:

"In what is officially the most upsetting Spotify Wrapped social-media post of the year, Teyana Taylor has announced that, due in part to being unappreciated in the music industry, she is 'retiring' from her career as a motherfucking international sensation."

After the chaos, Teyana eventually went on her Instagram Live to explain her retirement decision, clarifying that it had very little to do winning Grammy Awards or other accolades, but more so the lack of appreciation felt on her part by her record label. She even went on to disclose that it was a mental health decision for herself and for being around for her kids, which we all know that mental health is huge around here at the xoNecole offices.

Reluctantly, we decided to accept her announcement, but at the same time, celebrate by compiling a list of the times that our favorite sis snatched our wigs and changed the landscape of music and more.

Here's 7 ways Teyana Taylor has changed the game in music and beyond:

Since the age of 16, Teyana has made herself visible in the industry.

Teyana stepped on the scene at the age of 15, as a young artist signed to Pharrell Williams' label, Star Trek. From this moment on, she has gone on to be one of the most recognizable faces in the industry, as she has made herself visible in music, fashion, art, and more. Beginning on MTV's Super Sweet 16, to Ne-Yo's "She Got Her Own", to partnerships with Adidas, to Kanye West's infamous "Fade" music video, and much more, Teyana has shown how multifaceted she could be, and that we really don't think on the innovative level that she has since a young age.

Her performances are un-fcking-matched.

Giphy

OK, so we all know that if Tey is attached to a performance, you better tune in. She's going to give you everything you need to enjoy yourself. And because we can name more than three times that we know she has killed the stage (mine are Lil Kim Tribute, Janet Jackson Tribute, and Phillip Plein's fashion show to Future's "Mask Off"). Make no mistake, sis will eat up all you thought a performance should be, and spare no expense.

She brings her life, family, and personality into her projects.

Tey is notorious for bringing her family along with her to her shoots, or any other ventures on her plate. Her husband, Iman Shumpert, and baby girl, Junie, are never too far behind as she balances her many projects. And in her latest music video, "Wake Up Love", she was able to include her entire family and latest pregnancy to daughter, Rue Rose, along too.

Teyana has the respect and admiration from industry peers like Marvin Sapp to Elton John to Erykah Badu.

Some of Teyana's biggest fans are her industry peers, who revere her as one of the best to do it. Sis is able to get many to do what they won't do for many, whether it's Queen Badu serving as her doula and delivering her second child, or Elton John making an appearance in a music video. Taylor is one of the most respected women in music, even if there's no music attached.

Teyana's 'The Album' reached #1 on the Billboard R&B Album Charts, as well as won her awards for Best Director at 2020 BET Awards.

After its release, The Album went on to peak at number one on Billboard's R&B charts, the first in her career. Pitchfork labeled her album as "regaining control of her art across a long and complex album, one that deftly recontextualizes classic R&B and better represents the fierce persona she has honed in public." Soon after, Taylor went on to win Best Director at the 2020 BET Awards, under popular moniker, 'Spike Tey', who has also directed music videos from the KTSE album, as well as other upcoming projects yet to be released.

She unapologetically stands up for herself and other women.

After a rough start to a 2018 Later That Night tour with singer Jeremih and Danileigh, Teyana quit the later canceled tour and decided to go out on her own, rebranding it as KTSE Tour. Taylor told the ladies at The Real:

"He did little to none, any promo, so it was just like, when we got there and the concerts were sold out and different things like that—when we got there, everything was Jeremiah, his name was on everything, like, my name wasn't even on the ticket."

Most impressively, Taylor then decided to bring Danileigh along with her on the rebranded tour, with amenities and perks that she felt they each were robbed of in the previous.

Queen.

And despite it all, Teyana Taylor has managed to amass 162M Spotify streams in 2020 alone.

In her retirement announcement, Teyana posted a screenshot of her Spotify artist streams, which showed her monumental 2020 accolades to close out the year. She may not feel appreciated, but Teyana is one of the only artists in history to have the resume and relationships she has, with little to no push from her record label.

We know she is nowhere near to being done on her journey, and we can't wait to see what she does next. But in the meantime, Alexa, play "Gonna Love Me".

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Featured image by Arturo Holmes / Shutterstock.com

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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Featured image by Shutterstock

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