In the late fall of 2004, following the media spectacle created by Spelman College's protest of the misogyny and sexism in the music and videos of rapper Nelly, Essence, a popular black women's magazine, began a campaign to raise awareness. Arguing that a more public discussion by black women of the issue of misogyny in rap's portrayal of black women is long overdue, the magazine published a year-long series of articles as part of its “Take Back the Music” campaign. More interesting than the series of articles produced by the magazine is the overwhelming response generated on its internet-based scribble boards, which offered their readers the opportunity to participate in a communal dialogue. Arguing that the scribble boards became a black women's temporary “safe space,” this essay interrogates the manner in which black women construct subject positions around the performance of race, class, and gender as a means to resist dominant representations of black women, while simultaneously engaging in disciplinary practices that constrain black femininity.

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