10 Songs to Uplift Black Women and Celebrate Melanin
Western beauty standards often exclude black women from the conception of beauty. While white women spend hours under tanning beds, smearing products all over their bodies or laying in the sun in the hope of achieving a particular hue of brown, black women are sold lightening creams, we’re told not to spend too much time in the sun in case we get too dark, and as for our hair? It’s a major decision and statement to wear out your natural hair because it’s seen as unprofessional, unruly and simply not as beautiful as the flowing golden locks of European hair. But things are changing. As Black Girl Magic becomes more mainstream, black women are owning their melanin, and showing that black really is beautiful. And the music industry is reflecting this. These are some great songs to add to your summer playlist that will release the Sasha Fierce within, get you pumped to be activist who celebrates melanin and simply uplift you as a black woman!
1. Melanin by Secrett
“Ah ha, I got Melanin!”
That’s right, this is a song literally about how great it is to have melanin. Secrett calls out the fact that as soon as features normally ascribed to black women (i.e. fuller lips, bodacious bodies) are seen on white women they suddenly become beautiful. She also points out that black women are successful academics, creatives, business women, professionals and just generally slay in life. The catchy, feel good beat makes the track even more fun to sing out at the tops of your lungs.
2. La Diaspora by Nitty Scott feat. Zap Mama
Nitty Scott celebrates the diaspora and descendants of African slaves with a track that shows how black women in Latin Americatake ownership of their history and be proud to have such a rich cultural history. She even calls out the National Geographic for its eurocentric and exoticising gaze and racist coverage of non-white communities and calls for black women to be fearless in reclaiming spaces everywhere. The song weaves between spanish and english, an embodiment of the mixed history and cultures of black diaspora women around the world.
3. Blk Girl Soldier by Jamila Woods
This is just the song you need if you’re looking to recharge your protest batteries and fight against the injustices and discrimination of black women around the world. Jamila Woods calls out the fact the black women are overexploited in the media, their bodies used for entertainment, yet are never formally awarded or recognised for their work. She celebrates the contributions that black women have made throughout history but at the same time shows that we have a long way to go, bringing attention to the heartless murders of black women both at the hands of police, and society in general. This song gets you riled up, wanting to continue the fight for equality and against the racist, patriarchal society we live in today.
4. Leaned Out by IAMDDB x INKA
“I cannot and won’t conform, I’ll do it all on my own”
In this track, IAMDDB and Inka inspire black women not to conform to what society wants us to be, with references to whipping cocoa butter, braiding hair and a music video full of great african print attire! This is one track that will get you saying no to society’s idea of what a black woman should be.
5. Forever by Sa-Roc
“You betta shine on em baby, you a star. You betta
Be exactly who u are-Forever
Cuz they gon try and change your heart. Don’t let up
Cuz You so damn fine, just the way you are”.
In this song, Sa-Roc stands her ground, accepts her past with depression, self-harm and insecurities, and urges other women to stay true to themselves and continue on a path of self-discovery. She shows that black women don’t have to be perfect, we should accept all of our flaws, our past, and use that to make us stronger, and live a life full of self-love and self-care.
6. Black Girl Magik by Sampa The Great
“Abracadabra here I come
Magic carpet styling
Proof Black Magik excellence
Poof you need reminding”
In this song Sampa the Great, a Zambian poet, singer songwriter and rapper, reminds us that black girl magic needs to be more visible in Western societies. The track shows us that we should be loud and proud about our melanin, even when people deny us a space to occupy.
7. I Owe You Nothing by Seinabo Say
“I don't have to walk for you
I don't have to talk to you
See, I'm not on display
Never was, never will ever be for you”
Black women often carry the weight of the world on their shoulders, and more often than not end up worse for it. Any time anyone asks you for something that you’re not comfortable with, just remember and repeat these lyrics: I OWE YOU NOTHING. This is a great song to remind you that you’re not an object, you’re not someone’s property and you are your own person.
8. Don’t Touch My Hair by Solange Knowles
“Don't touch my hair
When it's the feelings I wear
Don't touch my soul
When it's the rhythm I know”
This has definitely become a black woman anthem. Solange encapsulates the idea that as black women our hair is an extension of our being and our pride. So when a white person feels like they have the right to touch a black woman’s hair, it shows their sense of entitlement to the black woman’s body, life and soul. Solange affirms that the black woman’s body wasn’t created for the white gaze, this is a track to celebrate black women’s abilities, qualities and individuality.
9. Faith in these Brownskins by Bianca
“And every pretty chocolate girl I hope yall all know your worth
Because you dark or you light brown
They saying you ain't right now?
Never ever ever let a nigga put you down”
Bianca tackles the far too common phrases “wow, you’re pretty for a black girl” or “for a dark skinned girl”. This is a great track to affirm your worth and know to assert yourself in situations where men bring other black women down by ‘complimenting’ you. Bianca raps about the ignorance that black women are faced with everyday.
10. Womanifesto by Jill Scott
“Clearly I am not a fat ass
I am active brain
And lip smacking peach deep
Sometimes too aggressive in its honesty
And heart sweet
That loves wholly and completely
Whom it may choose
Whomever it may choose”
This track may not have a video, but it is a must-hear for every black woman and girl. Jill Scott affirms that Black women are not just their bodies, she criticizes the negative stereotypes that society has formed about black women and she reaffirms the power that black women possess.
Article by Chanju Mwanza