Tag Archives: Assata Shakur

The Rise Of Beyoncé, The Fall Of Lauryn Hill: A Tale Of Two Icons

By Guest Contributor Janell Hobson; originally published at The Feminist Wire

Lauryn HillFifteen years ago, the stardom of then-23-year-old Lauryn Hill had peaked when she released what would become her defining musical legacy.  After rising to popularity as part of the hip-hop trio The Fugees, with fellow members Wyclef Jean and Pras, she later released her solo album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, which went on to garner multiplatinum sales and five Grammy Awards for the recognizably brilliant singer-rapper.  Such accomplishments made her the first female artist to be nominated for and to win the most Grammys in a single night and her album the first hip-hop-themed work to win the Grammy’s top prize of Album of the Year.

Interestingly, the same year of Lauryn’s solo album debut, a 16-year-old who would later be known only by her first name – Beyoncé – also emerged on the pop scene when Destiny’s Child released their self-titled debut album.  And in a curious one-degree-of-separation of the two icons, Destiny’s Child’s collaboration with Wyclef on their song “No No No” led to the group’s first successfully released single, which topped R&B charts.

In retrospect, it seems easy to trace what would become a commingled narrative: one star rises while another one declines.  One star (Ms. Hill) presumably declined a starring role in the Hollywood faux-feminist blockbuster, Charlie’s Angels, while the other star (Beyoncé), along with fellow group members, provided the necessary “girl power” anthem – “Independent Women, Part I” – for the movie’s soundtrack.  One star virtually disappeared from the mainstream media while the other star appeared ubiquitously, covering every magazine from Sports Illustratedto Vogue to GQ to the feminist publication Ms.

One star proved a lyrical genius – rapping and crooning on politics, love, religion, and the resistance of corporate media – while the other preferred more superficial fanfare concerning clubbing, looking fabulous, and having her own money to spend as she fends off heartaches and trifling lovers, while occasionally championing women’s empowerment.  One star refused the pop-culture make-over, preferring instead to rock her natural hair and bask in her dark-skinned beauty, while the other has made a signature look out of blond weaves and other variations on white beauty standards that her light-skinned beauty can more easily appropriate.

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Night Catches Us: A Meditation on Activism, Family and Healing

By Guest Contributor Sofía Quintero, cross-posted from Black Artemis

The best movies provoke thought long after one has left the theater, and the film that did that for me in 2010 was Tanya Hamilton’s Night Catches Us. I saw it when it opened in theaters in December, and it continues to inspire reflection. Some considerations, however, are quite uncomfortable, but those tend to be the ones that have the most to teach.

For those of us actively engaged in social justice movements, Night Catches Us challenges us to examine the personal impact of our political actions. To what extent such actions and their consequences are the inevitable sacrifice we make in the fight against oppression? Is it possible that some of the actions we justify as political resistance are actually rooted in personal wounds, some of which cannot be attributed neatly or wholly to social injustice? And because it may not be possible (if even desirable) to disentangle or reconcile these possibilities, how do we discern the right thing to do? Part of the brilliance of Hamilton’s debut feature is its complex, and therefore, unresolved reflection on this issue.

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