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To ALL Of The Non-Affirmers Of ALL Black Women, A Letter.

Lil Duval AND Kodak Black AND Chris Brown AND A$AP Rocky AND...let's talk.

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Side note: It seems like not one day goes by when I don't see something hurtful or unfortunate that a Black man has said about a Black woman, or Black women, in general. And so, I sat down today, to pen a letter to those individuals in hopes that, at the very least, it will reaffirm the women who may be affected and, also cause the men who make those disparaging statements, whether in jest or not, to take a moment—or two or 10—to reassess.

To Whom It May Concern,

Do not think that it has evaded me. "It" being all of the overt and super slick statements that are made about me and my sistahs—because when you offend one, you offend us all; that is what sistahhood is all about—seemingly on a regular basis, at this point. Me, them, a Black woman. The insults that are covertly disguised as jokes, the social media jabs that are presented as random thoughts of the day, the lyrics that try and devalue my worth and relevance. As someone who reads, researches and engages, I see it. And, I must say that, although at times, it irritates, disgusts and sometimes angers me, more than anything, what it does most of all, is leave me dumbfounded and perplexed.

As a Black woman, I am a lover of all things Black—including and, in some ways especially, Black men. And so, in a climate that is reportedly at an all-time high when it comes to racial tension, for the life of me, I can't understand why so many of the ones who are supposed to serve as my leaders and protectors would not choose to celebrate the gift that the Most High has given them—the love, support and yet-to-be-rivaled beauty that is oh so intricately packaged in the multi-dimensional hues of a Black woman.

How can any Black man mock what should be so reverently awed?

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Take a Black woman's hair, for example. To be natural is to be real, instinctive, genuine. Natural means universal. Our hair, in its natural state, has a powerful divinity to it. We are made in the image of the Most High. Even the Good Book describes that Son of Man's hair as being the texture of wool (Revelation 1:14). Therefore, when you are in the presence of a full and curly 'fro or, better yet, you are privileged even to be able to touch one, that is sacred ground. It is an honor that not all are made privy to.

Our skin?

King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, once upon a time wrote countless verses about the love of his life. She? She was a woman who had dark skin (Song of Solomon 1:6). Deep, sensual, mysterious, rich, beautiful dark skin. Individuals who are in touch with their spirituality understand that everything shines brighter in the dark—and that? That is something this Universe so desperately needs at this time.

Our features?

By definition, they are a special attraction. Whether our nose is wide or keen, or our lips are full or thin, they are something to be revered and praised. Our parents, our ancestors as a whole, they helped to design what makes each of our faces to be, not only unique and distinctive, but a physical manifestation of strength, survival and resilience.

When you cast a gaze upon us, you see the courage of your Blackness's past and the fortitude of that same Blackness's future.

www.jouelzy.com

Our bodies.

Whatever the size or type, we're bangin', automatically so. Our bodies hold the kind of heart that loves with a type of loyalty that is supernatural; breasts that feed your young as well as nurture you; a womb that manifests miracles, both in the physical and the spiritual, and the extraordinary kind of treasure that, throughout history, have caused empires to make extreme sacrifices. Indeed, our bodies are the vessels that many of the women you pursue both quietly envy and try desperately to duplicate. Although they fail. Miserably so.

Our adornment.

Queen of Sheba. Nefertiti. Cleopatra. Candace. Nandi—a queen of Zulu which means "from the heavens"—all of these women proudly and unapologetically decorated themselves with wigs, elaborate hairstyles and face paint that was as bright and colorful as the rainbow. For them, adornment wasn't about self-hatred; it was a celebration of just how majestic they truly were.

As Black women, we are drawn to many of these same enhancements because, it's in our blood to drape ourselves too, in many ways, as an act of royalty. Whether consciously or subconsciously.

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And so yes—whether it's due to ignorance, fear or the brainwashing of certain cultures that either do not seek to understand our vastness or quietly resent us because they are not us, as a Black woman, I am truly perplexed whenever a Black man would choose to tease us, berate us or dismiss us, rather than honor, defend and praise us.

Yet in still, a queen is no less of one, just because someone chooses not to acknowledge it. My Blackness—in all of its hues, textures and sizes—is no less powerful, brilliant or necessary just because you may not decide to acknowledge it as so.

And, my energy will no longer be expended on people who do not comprehend enough of their own value or the purpose of my presence, both in and around their lives, to esteem me. Unapologetically and consistently so.

I see me. I see my sistahstoo. And, what I see is so amazing, that I will exert my power of choice to not personalize nor be internally threatened by your ignorance. At the same time, because I also see you, Black man, there is a passion within me for you to see yourself. In the meantime, for every song, every tweet, every commentary that you offer that mocks, attacks or contradicts all of what I just said, just know that I know that it has everything to do with you and absolutely nothing to do with me.

And, that I send prayers, light and love in your direction, so that you can truly learn how to embrace, delight in and affirm what God has given to abundantly bless you. ME. A BLACK WOMAN.

Feature image by Giphy

Before she was Amira Unplugged, rapper, singer, and a Becoming a Popstar contestant on MTV, she was Amira Daughtery, a twenty-five year-old Georgian, with aspirations of becoming a lawyer. “I thought my career path was going to lead me to law because that’s the way I thought I would help people,” Amira tells xoNecole. “[But] I always came back to music.”

A music lover since childhood, Amira grew up in an artistic household where passion for music was emphasized. “My dad has always been my huge inspiration for music because he’s a musician himself and is so passionate about the history of music.” Amira’s also dealt with deafness in one ear since she was a toddler, a condition which she says only makes her more “intentional” about the music she makes, to ensure that what she hears inside her head can translate the way she wants it to for audiences.

“The loss of hearing means a person can’t experience music in the conventional way,” she says. “I’ve always responded to bigger, bolder anthemic songs because I can feel them [the vibrations] in my body, and I want to be sure my music does this for deaf/HOH people and everyone.”

A Black woman wearing a black hijab and black and gold dress stands in between two men who are both wearing black pants and colorful jackets and necklaces

Amira Unplugged and other contestants on Becoming a Popstar

Amira Unplugged / MTV

In order to lift people’s spirits at the beginning of the pandemic, Amira began posting videos on TikTok of herself singing and using sign language so her music could reach her deaf fans as well. She was surprised by how quickly she was able to amass a large audience. It was through her videos that she caught the attention of a talent scout for MTV’s new music competition show for rising TikTok singers, Becoming a Popstar. After a three-month process, Amira was one of those picked to be a contestant on the show.

Becoming a Popstar, as Amira describes, is different from other music competition shows we’ve all come to know over the years. “Well, first of all, it’s all original music. There’s not a single cover,” she says. “We have to write these songs in like a day or two and then meet with our producers, meet with our directors. Every week, we are producing a full project for people to vote on and decide if they’d listen to it on the radio.”

To make sure her deaf/HOH audiences can feel her songs, she makes sure to “add more bass, guitar, and violin in unique patterns.” She also incorporates “higher pitch sounds with like chimes, bells, and piccolo,” because, she says, they’re easier to feel. “But it’s less about the kind of instrument and more about how I arrange the pattern of the song. Everything I do is to create an atmosphere, a sensation, to make my music a multi-sensory experience.”

She says that working alongside the judges–pop stars Joe Jonas and Becky G, and choreographer Sean Bankhead – has helped expand her artistry. “Joe was really more about the vocal quality and the timber and Becky was really about the passion of [the song] and being convinced this was something you believed in,” she says. “And what was really great about [our choreographer] Sean is that obviously he’s a choreographer to the stars – Lil Nas X, Normani – but he didn’t only focus on choreo, he focused on stage presence, he focused on the overall message of the song. And I think all those critiques week to week helped us hone in on what we wanted to be saying with our next song.”

As her star rises, it’s been both her Muslim faith and her friends, whom she calls “The Glasses Gang” (“because none of us can see!”), that continue to ground her. “The Muslim and the Muslima community have really gone hard [supporting me] and all these people have come together and I truly appreciate them,” Amira says. “I have just been flooded with DMs and emails and texts from [young muslim kids] people who have just been so inspired,” she says. “People who have said they have never seen anything like this, that I embody a lot of the style that they wanted to see and that the message hit them, which is really the most important thing to me.”

A Black woman wears a long, salmon pink hijab, black outfit and pink boots, smiling down at the camera with her arm outstretched to it.

Amira Unplugged

Amira Unplugged / MTV

Throughout the show’s production, she was able to continue to uphold her faith practices with the help of the crew, such as making sure her food was halal, having time to pray, dressing modestly, and working with female choreographers. “If people can accept this, can learn, and can grow, and bring more people into the fold of this industry, then I’m making a real difference,” she says.

Though she didn’t win the competition, this is only the beginning for Amira. Whether it’s on Becoming a Popstar or her videos online, Amira has made it clear she has no plans on going anywhere but up. “I’m so excited that I’ve gotten this opportunity because this is really, truly what I think I’m meant to do.”

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