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CHAPTER ONE

“FLAVA”

In life there are those who are convinced they know about dreams and these so-called gurus will eagerly attempt to persuade you to be more aggressive when in pursuit of the dream that you feel will propel you into greatness or immortality, yet they never encourage you to be careful.

Sadly, some dreams have an expiration date. I know this statement may make skeptics cringe as they feel that their alleged genius is being insulted, but for the black woman in America, there is one nightmare that has sustained the dreams of countless sistas who have found out, in the end, that the dream was impossible to attain.

I suppose you want to know what that impossible dream is. Well, let’s cut right to the chase. I bet you think it’s a diet fad or better yet, a remedy to find Mr. Right, right? Well, it’s neither although black women have spent uncountable sleepless nights dreaming of how bright the future would be if they could solve the mystery of either. But this is a little deeper than sistas wasting valuable sleep time pondering how the universe would treat them if they could either maintain perfect weight or find the mythical Mr. Right.

What is this dream, you still ask? Well, sistas, frankly speaking, it is the dream to produce wealth with your bodies. The good news is that it is not foolish to dream or to have goals. The bad news is that most black women who have tried to breathe life into this dream have found that after a lifetime of endless pursuit of this dream, they have ended up with nothing.

As so many black women have learned, a big butt will not put them on the fast track to becoming financially secure because of all the life skills required to being economically independent, shaking your ass is not the most critical one!

In today’s School Of Hard Knocks, young black girls have absorbed the diva attitude presented by the video vixens of BET or those scantily clad sistas captured on the pages of black magazines such as SMOOTH and KING. Since there are no instruction manual on how to operate their bodies, these sistas learn what to do with their physical assets through trial and error, and though most of what they perceive will be taken out of context, they piece together a “booty” agenda that will represent what they feel about their bodies for the rest of their lives.

But did this all start with BET? No. BET merely enhanced and gave a national platform to a phenomenon that had began to take shape long before. Long before women adopted the concept, men viewed women’s bodies as a practical, no-nonsense way to riches and were not shy or ashamed to show women how to promote this ultimate, get-rich quick scheme of shaking their asses for pay.

In the 70’s, the “show it if you got it” trend exploded in the black community and for the first time, sistas were willing to strut their physical assets in public. The mini-skirt and hot pants became the rage and black female skin was on display like never before in our collective history. This almost naked way of dressing may have become just another fad until men began to dream of how to tap into this vast world of exposed, black female flesh.

Before the preachers, teachers, Mamas, and others concerned about this apparent lapse in the morals of black women could react, black radio stepped in to compound the problem. Taking advertising dollars from night clubs, black radio personalities enticed sistas to come out to night clubs to participate in hot legs, big butt, and wet t-shirts contests where the winner would win money. To sistas, this blatant exploitation was like getting money for nothing and who can resist the lure of free money?

In the black community as elsewhere, some people are naturally good at managing misfortune. What I mean by this is that since there could only be one winner in the big butt, hot legs, or big breast contest, what happened to the losers? If twenty-five girls participated, that meant there were twenty-four losers. Have you ever wondered what happened to them? The same thing happened to them that happens with any loser who doesn’t develop a winning strategy---they inherit self-esteem problems and the classic unspoken rule of low self-esteem is that it makes you vulnerable to the plots and plans of anyone shrewd enough to prey on your weakness. And no other segment of black America is more willing to take advantage of susceptible women than the pimps and playas in the hood.

In the 70’s,the pimps and playas would flock to these nightclubs where these contests were taking place and were there to “console” the losers, the girls whose butt, legs, or breasts were not quite big enough or good enough. He would gladly introduce her to “options”.

But let’s not give the 70’s a bad rap for the invention of this revolutionary notion that there was money in showing the world what your had inherited from your Mama because it goes back a lot further than that. Have you ever heard of The Hottentot Venus?

Saartjie Baartman, known to the world as the Hottentot Venus, was a black teenaged sista from South Africa. In 1810, white men stumbled upon her on a visit to the Motherland and what they saw rocked their world. Never before had they seen a woman with such physical assets and they were amazed. They begged the 19 year old sista to go with them to Europe. They promised to make her rich. They promised her fame. And all she had to do was to let men “see her naked”

Such an offer of fame and fortune was too much for the sista to resist and soon she was whisked off to France where she soon became the rage of Europe. White men had never beheld such bodily splendor and the sista’s fame increased as she traveled throughout Europe to display her voluptuous body. But she died penniless! Rather than fame and fortune, she discovered alcoholism and prostitution.

When Saartie died, broke and alone, in Paris, the French continued to get rich from her. How? They cut out her private parts and stored them in a museum for display. After over one hundred years, in 1994, the French government finally returned the remains of Sis. Baartman to South Africa where she was given a proper burial.

This was perhaps the first case of a sista who sought to build wealth from her body. It didn’t work then. It won’t work now.

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