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Life in a Shanty Town

June 4 · Issue #309 · View online

The hip-hop newsletter that's not afraid to ask the tough questions


Internets,
Unless you live in India, Corona is over. It’s time to go outside and engage in irresponsible, profligate sexual behavior.
We’ve had a year and a half to prepare for this moment, so there’s no excuse to not have dragged a comb through your hair.
In that sense, I’m glad that the actress and comedian Mo'Nique has started an important conversation about whether or not black women should be allowed to leave the house wearing a bonnet.
I would have started this conversation myself (I’ve long had concerns about this issue), but it wouldn’t have been right for me to do so, because I’m a guy. I don’t even *have* hair.
My “hair,” therefore, is presentable at all times. I don’t have to do anything to it when I get out of bed in the morning, and I won’t necessarily take a shower, depending on what I did the day before. (Showering daily is bad for your skin. Otherwise, I’d shower constantly.)
A bonnet, if you’re not familiar, is the thing Aunt Jemima wore on her head. Harriet Tubman may have also worn one. Black women sometimes wear them when they can’t be made to drag a comb through their hair, or they’re busy freeing the slaves.
They’ve also been leaving the house in their pajamas, as if they’ve given up all hope. Mo'Nique did a segment on it on some podcast she hosts, or perhaps IG Live. I didn’t see it myself, but I heard it discussed on The Breakfast Club.
One of the many disappointments of my not-so-young-anymore adult life is that I don’t have time to consume people’s podcasts, YouTube videos, IG Live and what have you (unless certain thots are going live on TikTok, in which case I’ll stop what I’m doing, regardless of the situation). I’ve yet to look into this new crop of black male life coaches, and I’m sure it shows.
Ironically, Mo'Nique herself wore a bonnet in Precious, one of the best movies of all time. I don’t hear it mentioned as often these days, and that’s a shame. I might have to revisit it.
Remember that scene where Precious stole a bucket of fried chicken, ate the whole thing and then threw up, but more so because she was pregnant (by her own father), not because actress Gabourey Sidibe wasn’t capable of eating that much fried chicken?
Mo'Nique won an Oscar for Precious, but then she was blackballed by Lee Daniels because she didn’t want to do press for the movie. Mo'Nique was the original Naomi Osaka.
Callers to The Breakfast Club were split on whether black women should be allowed to leave the house wearing a bonnet. Some agreed that it’s important to be presentable at all times when in public, while others argued that they should be allowed to leave the house looking any old way.
I suspect that the callers who disagreed with Mo'Nique are people who, themselves, leave the house looking unpresentable, and they’re trying to use bullshit arguments about respectability politics and mental health awareness to make an excuse. Meanwhile, I’d argue that leaving the house in your pajamas is a tell-tale sign that you might be in the middle of some sort of mental health episode.
As tragic as Corona was (remember, it’s over), it presents an opportunity for reinvention. We’ve been inside for so long that people may have forgotten that, pre-Corona, you were a sloppy piece of shit. Some of the people who were aware of your slovenly nature may have even died. Every dark cloud has a silver lining.
Take it easy on yourself,
Bol

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