How To Respect

As stated in my previous entry, I’m ambivalent when it comes to hip-hop, the music that I came of age to. I’m not a fan of the more commercial fare that passes for hip-hop nowadays and generally do not pay attention to what is on the radio. So I was very surprised when I found myself feeling a song by Lil Wayne this summer. One of my closest friends hipped me to it. I was initially leery when she told me that he had a nice single out, “How To Love”. One day it came on while we were driving, and as I listened I found myself won over by the gentle acoustic guitar and his sensitive lyrics. The chorus was catchy and very real and I found myself singing it throughout the summer.

Then I saw the video a few weeks ago.

I cried. Then I watched it a second time. And I cried even harder. The video for “How To Love” weaves a sad, cautionary tale of a two troubled women and the effects of the choices that they make in life. It made me cry because I saw so much of myself and so many other women that I know in those women. I cried for those of us who grow up without men in our lives, never learning how to positively interact with men because our own fathers were absent. I cried for those who are raised by damaged women who don’t love themselves and bring a procession of men throughout our home, raising daughters who think a bedroom is a revolving door.  I cried for those of us raised by women so desperate to have a man that they bring pedophiles into the home and entrust them with the care of children. I cried for those of us who grew up seeing our moms struggle alone and picked up an unwritten message that men can’t be depended on as a result. I cried for those of us who are so insecure as teenagers that we do and say anything to keep a boy’s attention. I cried for all of the bruised, frustrated and damaged women out there, because I know that it didn’t have to be that way for them or for me.  I cried because I know that those of us who have gone through such things truly need and desire love. But before any of us can learn ‘how to love’, we must first learn how to value and respect ourselves.

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A native Seattleite and recent East Coast transplant, I have been interested in politics, religion, and race from the day I saw “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” on the bookshelf belonging to my BFF’s mom back in 1991. While my zealotry has thankfully diminished with maturity, I remain the deep thinking, passionate, and humble woman I have always been. I reside in the suburbs of NYC with my husband, daughter, and our two feisty but deeply loved cats.

7 thoughts on “How To Respect

  1. Dang.. You ain’t lying. That really was a tear jerker. I’m curious – any thoughts on making sure the community’s fatherless daughters really learn how to love?

    1. Salina it is very hard to answer that. I think that those of us raising fatherless daughters have to work hard to break that cycle and keep our girls from internalizing their feelings about their father. We have to raise our girls to be confident enough so they don’t look for validation in the wrong places. And we need to give them positive male role models. Hopefully that would be a start in the right direction.

  2. That song is the anthem song for the women in my group I facilitate on Wednesdays.. One of the ladies said the same thing, that she can’t believe she is promoting lil wayne.. lol.. too bad he doesn’t live his life respecting women the same way as he pretends to in this video.

    I admit, I like the song also – it is proving itself powerful for survivors to connect to.

    1. “One of the ladies said the same thing, that she can’t believe she is promoting lil wayne.. lol.. too bad he doesn’t live his life respecting women the same way as he pretends to in this video.”

      Ironic, isn’t it? I was similarly impressed by a song by Ludacris, “Runaway Love”. But when the music ends the fact remains that Luda and Lil Wayne both take part in a subculture that does much to degrade and devalue the very women whose stories they tell in these two songs.

  3. I haven’t seen the video but I have to check it out now. This is very true and very beautifully written. It’s sad to see women -> then -> girls -> then -> then women trying so hard to love but loving the wrong way. The cycle needs to be broken

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