The Crunk Feminist Collective visits Armstrong

Taylor Thomas, Staff Writer

Dr. Regina Bradley hosts a forum to discuss issues surrounding being black women, and how feminism plays a role. Photo by Taylor Thomas

Drs. Brittany Cooper, Susana Morris and Robin Boylorn, co-founders of the Crunk Feminist Collective (CFC), gathered in the Ogeechee Theater on Thursday, March 30 for a book signing and conversation about being black women, feminists and hardcore fans of hip-hop.

Armstrong’s Dr. Regina Bradley, assistant professor of African American studies, hosted the forum as a safe space to talk about issues affecting black women and how feminism plays a role.

Cooper, assistant professor of Women’s and Gender Studies and Africana Studies at Rutgers University, spoke about her experiences navigating life, feminism and college as a black woman in America.

“Learning about feminism through the academy was really important because it was when I walked into the classroom to black women professors, in my Ph.D. program, and they were talking about feminism…They talked about the ways in which our grandmothers and our mothers had taught us to know the world, and how that was really valuable in college and valuable in the university,” Cooper said.

Boylorn, assistant professor of Interpersonal and Intercultural Communication at The University of Alabama, spoke about what it means to be a strong “crunk” black woman and how it can be an unhealthy stigma and state in which to live.

“We have to resist the seeming compliment of being strong. Us black women, we love that shit, because it is the only stereotype that seems like a compliment… So we want to hold on to it. It’s the one thing people say about us that seems to be good and we don’t realize how it’s not,” she said.

The women of CFC also spoke about the importance of hip-hop and southern hip-hop in the context of feminism.

“Southern hip-hop gets branded as the most sexist because it’s the most explicit about booty shaking,” Cooper explained. “It’s the most explicit about twerking… You don’t just go twerk to Jay Z. It’s not proper to get your twerk on. So literally, it is this sort of embodied experience that in northern music you can’t do in the same way. So, that is the way that southern hip-hop uniquely objectifies black women, and when we started CFC that was the thing we were trying to negotiate.”

“On the one hand, we were living in Atlanta and folks were saying this music is terrible and patriarchal, and oh my god look at how it treats and talks about women,” she adds. “But we knew that that’s what we were going to be dancing to at the club after we left feminist class. We were like, we have a particular patriarchy, but we also understand that there is something really important happening when Big Boi [of Outkast] says, ‘come here you big freak, let me study how you ride the beat.’”

Following the discussion, audience members were given the opportunity to purchase CFC’s book, “The Crunk Feminist Collection.” The book quickly sold out after a line of audience members gathered to purchase signed copies.

Q Lavant, a graduate student in the Professional Communication and Leadership program, felt that the event was important to see at Armstrong and she plans to buy CFC’s book online.

“I think it’s great at a PWI [predominantly white institution] to have people come out and speak to the black community, because we don’t really get a lot of speakers here who are reaching out to us in particular. It’s just nice to have some familiarity here with people we can relate to, who tell us that it’s okay and that we do belong here,” Lavant said.  

Dr. Bradley will host the lecture, “When and Where It’s Wet Enough to Enter: An Exploration of Pleasure Politics in the Hip Hop South” this Tuesday, April 11 at 12:30 p.m. in the Ogeechee Theater.