On November 20th A&E and iHeartMeadia teamed up for Shine A Light: A Concert for Progress on Race in America at the Shrine Expo Hall in Los Angeles, California. The concert hosted artists such as Ed Sheeran, Sia, Tori Kelly, Jamie Foxx, Nick Jonas, Pharrell and more.
The concert was amazing and full of duets we’re pretty sure we couldn’t have seen anywhere else, but we have to admit that our favorite moment came when Nicki Minaj took the stage to recite Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise”.
Maya Angelou’s poem is a testament to the disrespect and adversity that many women, particularly black women, face. From the simultaneous judgement and over-sexualiziation of the female body, to the overall degredation that many women feel on a regular basis, Angelou’s poem hits home for many young women. Nicki Minaj is known for her confidence, creativity and her embracing of feminist ideas and owning her sexuality. As a black female in a primarily male-dominated industry, Nicki Minaj often comes under fire for her confidence, for being “too sexual” or “too revealing” or just generally over the top. Something her male counterparts never seem to face. But her beautiful recitation of a poem that directly addresses the judgement that black women who are confident in themselves face, was a reminder that confidence as a woman, despite adversity, is something we should own, cherish and never give up. Check it out below:
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history’s shame
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.