by Selena Williams
She’s big and bossy. And what we like most about her is how she knows how to relate to people — with her touch, her eyes, her music.
To all of us in West Oakland, she’s more than glitter, she’s real.
She speaks her mind. For instance, she supports gays and lesbians, and rode in a pride parade. In her hometown in New Jersey, she offers scholarships to minority students in honor of her brother who died in a motorcycle accident.
“She is like a song that never gets old, like Oprah,” said Janaya Andrews, a sophomore at McClymonds.
She’s been around a long time. Queen Latifah burst onto the scene in 1989, one of three hip-hop artists to receive an Academy Award nomination in an acting category.
From her rap origins, she evolved into an actress, jazz singer and icon of classic good taste, without ever losing her edge. “I’m not that into trends,” she says, for starters. “I do my thing.”
Unlike Wendy Williams and Oprah, she adds comedy and originality to her show.
She’s also a plus-size spokesperson for CoverGirl cosmetics, Curvation ladies underwear, Pizza Hut and Jenny Craig. She represents her own line of cosmetics for women of color with CoverGirl Queen Collection. Latifah changed the game, becoming a role model for Black girls in West Oakland.
For those of us who don’t look like Britney Spears or Madonna, Latifah was the artist to follow and relate to. Black women were no longer eye-candy in hip-hop or rap videos: they took control of the mic. Few artists have had a bigger impact on West Oakland youth.
Now Queen Latifah returns to daytime television with a new talk show.
Co-produced by the hip Will Smith, through his production company Overbrook Entertainment, it features the usual celebrity interviews, hot topics and pop culture tropes and top tier musical acts.
For me, Queen Latifah is an idol who shows me that you can be famous as a musician and successful as a businesswoman.
Dancing Without the Stars: I’d Rather Spike a Volleyball
Attitude, attitude, attitude. Just take me. I’m being forced into a class that I don’t like. And it’s not even math or physics. It’s dance and I’m no dancer. In truth, I’d rather spike a volleyball.This fall, McClymonds created a new policy to place the majority of the girls in a dance class instead of physical education (PE). A class filled with 15 girls — some of whom don’t want to dance –can be suffocating.
“The deal was trying to build unity, sisterhood and telling a young lady what they need to know” said Lakeisha Golden, math and dance instructor.
The administration might have made a serious mistake. Corralling “drama girls” into a small class might not have been the smartest decision.
“They are lucky to be in a class with 15 people instead in a class of 35-40 with me yelling at them,” said Jeremy Namkung, P.E. instructor and vice principal.
But then, who really had a choice? Certainly not I.
The tensions inside the dance class run higher than they would in normal PE. Drama is in the air. Past rivals in the same room create a hostile environment. No guys to insert humor in the situation – it’s downright catty.
“We wanted to make it an all-girl class so they would feel more comfortable” said Namkung.
Instead, shouting matches break out between teacher and student, and one student screams at another the words “bitch” “hoe”, “shut the f**k up”, as every curse word in the book flies across the room, faster than a pirouette. And more lethal.
“It’s on them being in the dance class. Those are the same girls that complained and even failed my class,” said Namkung.
For those of us who didn’t complain or fail PE ,this seems a harsh punishment. Dealing with endless backtalk, shouting matches, and disrespectful comments in the room discourages girls to remain in the class.
However, girls who enjoy dancing just ignore the drama.
“I just like dancing,” said Nia Bell, a junior.
Students face the problem of an indifferent administation that discourages the idea of transferring out of dance (especially since the vice principal teaches P.E.). It became extremely difficult and time consuming for a girl to attempt to switch dance class to PE.
“It depends on the time of the year. But some manage to switch. It’s really based on time,” said Golden.
Until I can switch back into P.E., I’ll feel like I’m in a telenovela.
Posted in anxiety, Commentary, dance, opinion, PE, popularity, School News, Sexism, single sex class, Youth
Tagged dance, drama queens, Mack, McClymonds, PE, single sex