Black Man Talking: Valentine's Day celebrates 'Queenship'

Why are flowers so damn expensive? I blame St. Valentine, the martyred Catholic saint who with a simple note to the object of his affection (affectionately signed, "from your Valentine") has plagued brotha's with low funds for ages. Men have been forced to be live up to a martyr or "bechief lots of dough."

As a graduate student (i.e. extra poor), I won't be making any trips to a jewelry store soon. Like many Renaissance men, I'll undoubtedly choose a more creative route. For Black men, being creative is almost second nature. One only has to ask what he calls his woman and you'll get a list that sounds more like a Saturday morning cartoon lineup i.e. "Pooh," "Swee Pea," "Boo," "Pookie," "Bookie" or "Baby girl."

These creative nicknames have a long history in our cultural experience, going back to our first days in America when "Momma" and "Baby" became trademark monikers of suave players and affectionate lovers. This trend has continued throughout the years in various forms.

Most notably, our music has been a good reflection of our creativity (hence it's mass appreciation/appropriation). During the late 80's, the "Queen" concept began to permeate Black American culture. From song to dress, to be called a "Queen" was an honor, often bestowed upon women by brothers in an effort to encourage them to keep their "heads up." More than just a word, it is a state of mind that attempts to lift our sisters' spirits in a society that tries to repress their womanhood and natural beauty.

"Queenship" is a concept that is undefined and often misinterpreted. Today, the concept of "Queen" is as inaccurate as a blue eyed white woman portraying the African Queen Nefertiti. For those familiar with the Black cultural experience, it's something that we tend to associate with "Coming to America." Therefore, one does not get to experience the true depiction of what a queen is in our everyday life.

In her online article, "African Queenship Defined," Reshaab Sensa explores the characteristics of a "Queen." Her work indicates that a "Queen" doesn't depend on an abstract concept of a paternalistic god (He is She y'all, check your belly button) but rather on a concrete strength that stems from a deep-rooted spiritual foundation.

"Beautiful, black, precious and complicated; A new millennium dime piece, so fine she got 'em all stuck standin' still when she come through." -Tupac

A Queens' wholesome features and penetrating stare have paradoxically become both objects of scorn and admiration. It's as if people tend to hate what they can't have like J-Lo's booty. While no one wants to be "Black" everyone is tanning. No one wants to look "ghetto" but everyone loves the "street" style (low riding jeans, come on y'all).

Sensa reminds us that Queens are steadfast in their "commitment to empowering people of African decent." Walking as if nothing can obstruct her, she leaves behind a trail of tangible results in her home, community, and office. The three "B's" (bitter, boisterous, bitch) are failures at trying to label a dominant physical presence that compliments an expressive and focused demeanor.

Sensa recounts how people revered queens in Africa as a "climatic experience of self-awareness." The effects of such a powerful image moved her "to gain a deeper respect for those ...Queen[s] here in the United States" that uphold their legacy. She reminds us that one does not have to take a journey to Africa to experience traditional African Queenship.

Unbeknownst to Valentine, he couldn't have picked a better month to remind us of true Love, as Black people told the first story of Love (See Adam and Eve, Genesis). As we "celebrate" Valentines Day, it is my hope that Black men and women take time to appreciate one another and utilize our collective creativity to restore dignity to Black womanhood (and Love).

Write to Anthony at neonegro@blackplanet.com


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