Breaking Bread with Joan Morgan

So, the blogging staff was asked to respond to this question: “You get to have lunch with the most influential woman (in your eyes); who is it? why? where do you go? what do you talk about?”

When I approached this question, I took it in a couple of different ways: 1) I took “influential” personally, thinking much on my own development as a woman, Black woman, womanist, etc.; 2) I thought of women I have not had the marvelous pleasure of meeting just yet; and 3) I thought of women that I have the possibility of meeting in my lifetime (so I won’t get into the “Sigh…I wish I could have met Ella Baker” slump).

After going through all of this, my mind led me to one of the dopest women I have come across yet: Joan Morgan. If you do not know her, you need to get hip to her! For those who are unfamiliar with Joan Morgan (shame on you! :P), let me drop some knowledge.

Joan Morgan is originally from Jamaica, and grew up in the South Bronx. She has built a successful career as a hip-hop journalist, cultural critic, author, professor, and just by being awesome! How she got into my heart, however, was through her book When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost: A Hip-Hop Feminist Breaks it Down. Joan was the woman that coined the term “hip-hop feminism”, something I initially thought was an impossible concept. But as I read that book over winter break, my entire world was rocked. For the first time in my life, I felt like someone understood my lifelong struggle of balancing my adoration for hip-hop culture and my womanhood. I felt like someone understood my struggle of showing vulnerability while still maintaining my strength as a Black woman. I laughed reading that book, I cried, I exclaimed “YAHHHHHHHS” like I was in church. I finally felt like my definition of “feminism” was valid and understood in a world where everyone has something ridiculous to say about who feminists are or believe that feminism & hip-hop culture cannot co-exist.

This book was so good, it made Facebook quotes-status, so you know it’s real. This was the quote that rocked me enough to post it (because I cannot post the entire book). Here it goes:

It’s simple. I love black men like I love no other. And I’m not talking sex or aesthetics, I’m talking about loving y’all enough to be down for the drama–stomping anything that threatens your existence. Now only a fool loves that hard without asking the same in return. So yeah, I demand that black men fight sexism with the same passion they battle racism. I want you to annihilate anything that endangers sistas’ welfare–including violence against women–because my survival walks hand in hand with yours. So my brotha, is loving y’all fiercely and wanting it back makes me a feminist then I’m a feminist. So be it.

WHOO! I had to re-post that last sentence on my Twitter yesterday because it’s so real! Now I need to go re-read the book. Haha!

But back to the topic: we are having lunch. Honestly, as long as the restaurant has jollof rice and plantains, I am satisfied. Other than that, the location is not that much of a factor for me. 😉

What I am interested in is the conversation. First of all, I would probably gush and rant about how much I love Chickenheads. It gave me so much life. From there, I would really probe her brain on the concept of hip-hop feminism and how to de-polarize the conversation and address whatever contradictions folks approach me with. One of the criticisms I have heard from my peers, particularly with feminism in general, is they believe feminism is a conversation that is too polarized, that does not interact enough with other conversations. Obviously, intersectionality is not something they have discovered just yet, but nonetheless, this is a valid claim, and I am in the process of sifting through it and finding my own answer. Joan’s prowess would be lovely.

Then I would like to hear about her journey to her Ph.D, which she is currently working on. While I am still a mere sophomore in my undergraduate career, the doctorate track is something that is definitely on my radar. I want to know about her research (which I assume is dope…like, duh…), the “doctorate blues”, all of that.

But deeper than that, I just want to hear about her journey. She reveals a great deal of it in Chickenheads, and hearing it in person would be such a treat. Many of the struggles she wrote about are phases I am currently going through. And I know she will keep it real.

I could go on, and on…so I will just cap it there. Lunch with Joan Morgan=dream come true.

When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost: A Hip-Hop Feminist Breaks it Down (1999).

When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost: A Hip-Hop Feminist Breaks it Down (1999).


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