The Department of History and Political Science at Florida A&M University held its inaugural women’s history panel on Thursday. The Women and Power, Politics in the Public Gaze or W.A.P. panel, resulted in a great discussion about Black women in the media, ethics, and Black women’s health.
Moderator Kimberly Pellum opened the panel by asking attendees questions about popular rap musicians Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion and their song “W.A.P.” The song’s sexually provocative lyrics and video are often of high debate. Pellum asked attendees if they thought the song represents women’s empowerment or if it hinders the progression of Black women in America.
“I think this expression is both liberating and problematic and that’s the good part about it,” said Dr. Na’Imah H. Ford, a current professor at FAMU. “We as women are many things, and it is dehumanizing to put us in a category. The beauty of it is within the complexity of it and the parts that make people uncomfortable.”
While some people in the panel expressed support for the provocative lyrics and video, a few attendees shared their disfavor for the content.
“There is going to be a genre of women who relate and see this music as liberation for women. But in my house, this is not the image that I would want to put on my daughter’s television screen. It looks like chaos,” said attendee Cassandra Smith.
Current FAMU student Adrine Collins also voiced his opinion about the music saying “As a person looking at it from a conscious standpoint, I don’t see the music as liberation. But who am I to tell a woman how to use her body to get her point across about liberation? I’m confused about it overall.”
The topic of Black women’s health was also mentioned during the panel to highlight the medical bias Black women experience in hospitals and doctor’s offices.
“Black women have the highest rate of infant mortality in Leon County,” said Ameenah Shakir, director at the Candidate Empowerment Center within FAMU. “However, we must always know and understand that Black women have been on the front line of defense to ensure that other Black women have healthy births.”
Dr. Tiffany Packer, a current history professor at FAMU closed out the panel saying, “Liberation struggles are not just for Black people or those who are being oppressed. It is for those who understand what is right. If you fight for what is right, you have a place in the movement.”