“To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.” – James Baldwin
This is probably my favorite song from the whole album. I absolutely adore the production, the featuring artist, but most of all, I love the message. “Mad” centers around the stereotype of the angry black woman, but also the trials and tribulations of expressing your feelings as a black individual in America.
“I ran into this girl, she said, ‘Why you always blaming?’
‘Why you can’t just face it?’ (Be mad, be mad, be mad)
‘Why you always gotta be so mad?’ (Be mad, be mad, be mad)
‘Why you always talking shit, always be complaining?’
‘Why you always gotta be, why you always gotta be so…’ (Be mad, be mad, be mad)
I got a lot to be mad about (Be mad, be mad, be mad)”
In the pre-hooks of the song, Solange references to outsiders asking questions as to why black women are so angry. Other than blatantly asking why we are so mad, she includes specific questions as if she’s referring to certain events. Non-black people love to ask why we will blame today’s current events on racism and slavery as if the former has ended. Instead, they want us to face the fact that it’s somehow our fault that black people (and other people of color) are not afforded the same opportunities as white people. They love to say that we’ve had the same amount of time and have been working from the same playing field so we should be on the same level now. Last time I checked, slavery only ended 153 years ago and after that came segregation, which only ended 54 years ago. I have grandparents older than 54, so tell me again how we’ve been on the same playing field since the beginning of time. Even after segregation ended, racism still continues at full force. Let us not forget the school-to-prison pipeline and the fact that the CIA literally placed drugs into communities of color. Despite the fact that all of the evidence is truly just a Google search away, non-people of color are constantly accusing us of just talking shit and complaining. The truth is like Solange said, we got a lot to be mad about.
“Now tell ’em why you mad son
‘Cause doing it all ain’t enough
‘Cause everyone all in my cup
‘Cause such and such still owe me bucks
So I got the right to get buck
But I try not to let it build up
So I let it go, let it go, let it go”
During Lil Wayne’s first verse, he explains exactly why he’s mad and has every right to be. Although he’s specifically talking about his issues with Birdman, I related to this verse by thinking back to Eli Pope/Rowan’s monologue about having to be twice as good as my counterparts just to get half of what they have because doing it all literally isn’t enough. Next, Lil Wayne mentions everyone being all up in his cup, which basically means people are in his wallet and taking what’s rightfully his, like slave owners taking credit for the slaves’ inventions over the years. Because of issues like this, money is missing from the black community. *cough* Where are our reparations? *cough* However, even with all the problems that we feel like will never be solved, we tend to let it go in fear of being called angry and losing opportunities because we fit in with the stereotype of being “angry black people.”
The angry black woman stereotype has been alive and well in America since slavery. Black women have been described as aggressive, hostile, loud, and of course, sassy. Those stereotypes came from slave owners believing that black women were too difficult, which resulted in trying to break them down by murdering their families, separating them from their families, and abusing them both physically and sexually. What hurts me the most is that parts of the black community have accepted this caricature of the black woman as the truth and that it still pops up as forms of comedy throughout our very own work. For example, Tichina Arnold’s characters in both Martin and Everybody Hates Chris depict the angry black woman stereotype even in black spaces, where we are supposed to feel safe. Might I add that this also adds to the demonization of dark-skinned black women?
Throughout the song, Solange is constantly asking “where’d your love go?” I believe that this question is directed towards the people that automatically see black people (children and adults alike) as violent and generally negative. Solange and I would like to know what happened to your compassion, what happened to your love and why is it only shown to specific types of people? Why do you see black people in a certain light before they even have a moment to represent themselves to you on their own platforms? We may all be black, but in no way does that indicate that we are all the same. This means engaging in conversations with black people from all walks of life and trying to unlearn the very reasons that made you throw your love and compassion out of the window when you see black people. But please note that not everyone is going to be friendly after everything that we’ve been through as a community.
“I ran into this girl, I said, ‘I’m tired of explaining’
Man, this shit is draining
But I’m not really allowed to be mad”