Janelle feels very strongly about the power of words. The “Django Jane” singer says that during the recording process for the song she thought about the current state of women’s rights and “the sting of being called b**ch for the first time by a man.”
“There’s a difference in Angela calling me a b**ch and [Charlamagne] calling me a b**ch,” Monae said. “In the same way, we feel about white people saying n***a…It’s kind of like the oppressor calling the oppressed a word. Black people, we took n***a and said we’re going to redefine what that means. We’re going to take the power out of it. We’ll use it in the way we want to use it, we own that now. I feel the same way about b**ch.”
The topic was then tied into artists using the n-word in their music and giving white fans the license to use the word as well. Janelle asserted that Black people can use it but because of how it was used by whites for centuries as oppressive they should no longer even want to say it. “I don’t feel like those who are more privileged can use words that were used to oppress those that are still oppressed,” Monae asserted. The singer believes that people need to learn to respect other people’s safe spaces. Just as she wouldn’t go to a foreign country and use language that is scared to those people, she expects the least white fans can do is censor it at shows.
You can hear Monae speak about the power of words such as b**ch and the n-word from the 14-minute mark in the video above.
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Christina Santi is a news and culture writer for EBONY.com. Born and raised in the Bronx, New York, she considers herself a well-read, not so traditional feminist with a heavy interest in music, fashion and pop culture. Christina currently lives in New York City, where she refers to her Cuban & Jamaican descent often while writing about her experiences as a first-generation Afro-Latinx in America. She also devotes time writing personalized reading material for her tutees and turning ideas into words for streetwear brand, PUER By Noel Bronson.