We can all agree that it’s really been a joy to watch the women in rap dominate music over the last few years. From Cardi to the City Girls to budding stars like MonaLeo and Baby Tate, the girls have been making things fun again. Along with their successes have come their ability to come together and support one another in a way that empowers them to be able to stand up for themselves. Recently, ‘Big Energy’ rapper Latto shared about her experience working in the male-dominated genre during a visit to Big Boy’s Neighborhood. While discussing her upcoming, highly-anticipated album, she revealed that while trying to clear a feature from one of her male peers, she ran into an issue with him refusing to ok his addition to the song unless she responded to a suggestive DM he sent her. This is not the first time that a female rapper has expressed her discomfort around collaborating with the men in the field. Earlier in the year, rapper Dream Doll also revealed that she prefers to not work in the studio with male rappers as to not have to spend her time turning down sexual advances. Both Latto and Dream Doll were met with support from around the internet; however, the response from the industry has not been so decidedly positive. 

After all, it takes some time to unlearn harmful patterns. 

Though Latto’s comments may end up just being part of the ever-changing news cycle, there is a bigger lesson to be learned from her courage to speak up, even against the advice of her label, and spill the beans on the sexist behavior she’s had to deal with. Often times, as Black women, we are conditioned to just accept the behavior of men as “boys being boys”. Even with public discourse about perpetrators like Bill Cosby, R. Kelly and others, there is still an idea that famous Black men are untouchable. We are still so terrified of the hits our own careers often take for being bold enough to call out the offenses, that Black women suffer in silence in order to keep the peace and keep food on our tables. The journey to success that many of us have to take is often so arduous that having to continue fighting even once you’ve arrived can be back-breaking. It can feel easier to just accept it as just the way things are. Having to bank on whether or not people will see you as a person deserving of both respect and protection as a Black woman can seem senseless. After all, we spend most of our time cultivating community with one another in order to feel a sense of safety that the rest of the world does not afford us. When we are faced with oppression at the hands of men in our own community, who should understand, more than anyone else, how much work it takes for us to carve out a piece of the American pie for ourselves, it can be truly devastating. But sitting by quietly while we are made to feel less safe in our workplaces isn’t the answer. The truth is, our own willingness to have transparency frees others to be transparent, as well. It further cultivates that community we all need. It says “I am willing to advocate for all of us by refusing to hide”. It says that you understand the collective sense of responsibility we have for one another and that sense of safety is something we all deserve as Black women. Knowing that your sisters have your back, is one way to make the crown we all wear feel less heavy. 

Cheers to Latto and to all the women willing to put themselves on the line to make the journey easier for the Black women walking in their footsteps.

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