Black History Month weighs such a heavier importance on me this year than it ever has before. As a woman of color, February has always been so exciting for me. The one time of year where you see people who look like you are recognized for all their amazing advancements and contributions to the world. But after the year we’ve had, with the insane summer of protests, an election straight out of an episode of American Horror Story, and just the pure fact that black people are still being overlooked and murdered just for being black, I, Mango, felt it was my responsibility as a black woman in music to take a moment to reflect, and appreciate on the things my people have brought to me, even if some love to convince me that they aren’t mine to appreciate.
Since I’ve taken my career in music more seriously and it’s paid my bills (pre-covid, obviously), it hasn’t stopped being drilled into my head how “odd” it is to be a black girl in dance music. You obviously have the industry being dominated by white men, so you’re already the odd ball out. Everyone thinks YOU’RE the sore thumb. The world was so hijacked and whitewashed that even my family, who are all also people of color, don’t even understand why I would involve myself so heavily in this world. But the reason I connect to this world so well, the reason I fight so hard to keep it alive is BECAUSE my people created this and birthed it and made it everything that it was ever supposed to be. So why do I feel like such an outsider in a world that wouldn’t exist without my people?
Dance music started its thrive in 1977 Chicago. Godfather of house music, Frankie Knuckles may he rest in peace, an iconic black man, began DJ’ing at a local club called “The Warehouse ”. Giving house music the name we know today. Now this is just basic dance music history, and the fact that so many of the people who indulge themselves everyday into this world don’t even know it!? Mind blowing.
Frankie Knuckles made dance music a safe place for black, gay individuals to lose themselves in crowds of people who are facing the same struggles they were. Who just wanna dance away the same problems. The black and gay community created an entire world of happiness, safety, and acceptance. PLUR wouldn’t even be a thing if black people didn’t take the steps to pioneer an entire culture of music.
Now I know everyone has been telling the same story over and over again since the horrible happenings of George Flyod and Breonna Taylor. So many companies and journalists ran to tell the world they know how important black people are, and they posted their black square in solidarity and to “show their respects” but did anything really change? Here we are in Black History Month, almost a year into a pandemic, and to me nothing feels different. We’re still under represented in the world we created, we’re still the “odd ones out” and the respect factors for the colored people in this industry still seems to be nonexistent.
I hope this Black History Month we can talk about the world that was stolen from black and queer people. I hope this Black History Month we can make black creatives who feel spiritually connected to this world feel safer creating in it. I love following artists like Honey Dijon, Moore Kismet, and UNIiQU3 because they remind me that people who look like me DO dominate this world and industry. People who look like me ARE the blueprint. We aren’t the odd ones out. We belong and we will thrive.
Take the rest of this month to educate yourself about the culture you’ve thrown yourself so deeply into. Do some digging, find some history, enjoy some new music. Enjoy my favorite Honey Dijon set to get your search started.