It's true, Erykah Badu is a boss, and it's not just because of her artistry. In addition to being a dope MC, Badu is the epitome of unapologetic Black womanhood.
It's hard being an unapologetic Black girl, especially when our humanity is often contingent on our submissiveness – either to white society or to Black men. If Eurocentric beauty standards aren't enough, respectability, politics and sex shaming often relegate Black womanhood to impossible standards of domesticity, piousness, and purity. Black women are shamed for wearing weaves, but get flamed for nappy hair when our curls aren't loose; when we have multiple sexual partners or high body counts we're "hoes," but God forbid we're not good at sex. Feeling comfortable in Black womanhood is hard, but Erykah Badu is one woman whose confidence and defiance should inspire us all.
1. When misogynoir calls, Erykah claps back
Need I say more?
2. Erykah Badu doesn't give a f*ck about your beauty standards
Erykah has rocked everything from straight hair and blonde weaves to afros, and she's slayed through it all.
3. Erykah Badu refuses to be defined
Although many have attempted to come for Erykah's "queendom," by linking her different baby daddies to sexual indiscretion, and Erykah's not having it. She responds to misogynoir in a lengthy post, and ends it with these wise words: "If I lose you as a fan because I want to continue to have children, then f*** off ... who needs you ... certainly not me ... kick rocks ... call Tyrone ... pack light ... bite me," finishing her sentiments with a grand finale of, "kiss my placenta."
4. Erykah was body positive before we had a name for it
In addition to her brave display of nudity in Window Seat, Erykah has always been real about her body and beauty deviance. In 2000 song "Cleva," Badu acknowledges her appearance in typical take-it-or-leave-it fashion, singing:
"This is how I look without makeup
And with no bra my ninny's sag down low
My hair ain't never hung down to my shoulders
And it might not grow
Ya' never know"
And in a more recent 2015 Breakfast Club interview, when Erykah was grilled by radio show host Charlemagne on appearance and hair maintenance, she admits nonchalantly,
"I don’t [shave] sometimes. I shave my legs and under my arms when I want to."
– A simple statement, but ultimately a radical one defying strict standards of femininity.
5. Erykah Badu is goofy
The narratives surrounding Black womanhood often center themselves around pain, abuse, or the loss of a man. And while these experiences are valid, they aren't complete; Black womanhood is so much more than trauma, sadness, and broken hearts. Erykah Badu's songs reminds us of this truth, and while love and loss are important themes, her content is incredibly expansive, covering everything from friendship, culture, tradition, spirituality, and humor.
And her humor isn't just lyrical. In and out of the studio, Erykah keeps us laughing.