Tyra and the Cheesecake: Making Space for Black Girl Anger

deria.
deria.
Oct 2, 2016 · 6 min read

In the opening scene of Drake’s latest visual for his single Child’s Play, the 29-year-old rapper, sitting uneasy, asks a visibly frustrated Tyra Banks “What do you want to do??” Unbothered by the white folks in Cheesecake Factory watching on shook by her ability to improvise complex rhythms using only her voice and hands to get her point across, the supermodel turned mogul decides to embrace her frustration rather than shirk from it. Tyra decides she wants to decorate Drake’s face with a slice of cheesecake and a little wine to go on top and it’s an oh so delicious decision that I am absolutely around for, one that said: Don’t police my anger, nigga. Don’t try to silence me. Don’t act like this shit ain’t justified.

I. AM. TIRED. OF. YOU. AUBREY.

Have you ever heard your mama cuss your daddy out?! It is poetry. Think Claire Huxtable getting Elvin all the way together, Bernadine’s bonfire with John’s clothes, or more recently, Cookie going AWF on Luscious, Crissle delivering her read of the week, Chyna asking Rob about them bitches he was texting. The swiftness of an angry Black woman’s tongue, the synchronous finger-pointing, and the rhythmic hand clapping is an art that comes with years of practice, years of fuckboy encounters, years of “GIRRRLLLLL!!!” convenings.

According to the video director, Carlos “Spiff TV” Suarez, Tyra was able to capture the money shot in just one take, which is not surprising considering the supermodel has had a few run-ins with raggedy-ass men herself. In the scene, Drake and Tyra were supposed to be celebrating their anniversary the night prior, instead it appears, Drake canceled those plans and told Tyra he was at the studio. Upon further research that comes with Drake making the mistake of leaving his phone on the table, Tyra finds he was spending their anniversary night with another woman. Fuckboy encounter. The cake face was deserved and cathartic to watch knowing that Tyra was getting her chance to publicly but safely express her anger AND it be towards one of the leaders of our generation’s fuckboy brigade.

Drake has become infamous for littering his songs with the names of the many women who disappoint his good girl fantasy. In his dream world, women are expected to show never-ending gratitude and act beholden toward him because of the affection and money he throws their way — even if it comes with lies and inconsistent time together. This belief is made clear in both the song and the video for Child’s Play: I’m here now with you at my favorite restaurant, don’t worry bout them other women that I told you I don’t fuck with, just be grateful and quiet and enjoy this cheesecake.

Photo from pixshark.com; from the Black Lives Matter Tumblr gallery: http://pixshark.com/black-lives-matter-tumblr.htm

Aubrey’s attempt to tone-police Tyra also feels familiar. Tyra is too loud, taking up too much space, and she is making those around her uncomfortable by doing so. So what?! My main concern is why the hell Drake feels the need to lie and do my girl Tyra dirty like this?! Black women and femmes can march up and down streets shouting “fuck these racist ass police” in protest of the extrajudicial killings of Black men by police and vigilantes, our rhythmic expression of rage can be the fire that keeps the movement going, but if we start shouting “fuck yo tired ass lies” in protest to the male-entitled bull, we are a problem, we are childish.

There is nothing childish about raising your voice in protest of fuck shit and the idea that women are so child-like they need protecting from lies about additional partners situates us as feeble-minded people who will become erroneously hysterical when told the truth. In reality, many men lie to keep these women in good graces, in arms reach, and to protect themselves from being dragged and humiliated. This is an attempt to manipulate consent and control in the relationship.

Tiarah Poyau/Facebook

Recent stories of murders and violence against Black cis- and trans- women at the hands of cis-men reveal that it is in all actuality men who are so fragile that they violently flip when they feel their masculinity is being threatened by a woman exercising her right to say No, I am having none of this. Black women and femmes have to hide their anger out of the very real fear that they will be murdered. Anger is not an emotion we can often safely express without being judged or harmed, even with people who claim to love us.

“I just wanna let you know that someone loves you back” are words in the song that trip me up every time I hear it. Whatever Drake’s idea of love is, I don’t want it, we don’t need it, it feels rooted in abuse. The following lines of Child’s Play feels particularly raggedy and revealing of the abusive nature of Drake’s idea of love:

Why is Drake hiding keys because the girl goes to get tampons? Petty. And then to threaten this person with mistreatment and financial withholding is absolutely disgusting. I get a very icky feeling when I hear this verse, much as I did when I saw the Love and Hip-Hop star and rapper, Joseline Hernandez in tears after her partner Stevie J made repeated threats to send her back to the strip club or when she revealed the producer was taking her computer and hiding her purses. Under the guise of a gentleman, Drake throws the reality of financial abuse against women in our faces. It is easy to feel like Drake’s frequent stunts of public affection for Black women is a testament to his love for us, but the visionary feminist theorist, bell hooks, warns us that love and abuse cannot coexist.

http://www.vulture.com/2016/02/rihanna-and-drake-perform-work-for-first-time.html

Drake seems to have an affinity for powerful women but his lyrics reveal contempt for moments when women assert that power. Still as misogynistic as his lyrics may be, I find myself struggling to not bounce my ass when I hear “Bounce that shit like woahhhhh.” I imagine this is the same perplexing dilemma the BadGalRiRi faces when trying to decide whether to curve his ass on live television or twerk on him in front of thousands at concerts. I celebrate both of those decisions, because I am here for Black women’s autonomy (read: doing what the fuck they wanna do & loving it.) The image of Tyra smashing that cheesecake in Drake’s face is an image that needed to be added to our collective imagination of Black women relishing in their anger, if only to negate the guilty joy we feel when dancing to his music. #TyraDidItForTheCulture