Janelle Monáe is the reason why I wore fluffy, jet black pompadours in my early teens. The Grammy-nominated Afroturist is also the reason why I felt compelled to come into my own understanding of what it meant to be cool. The former android knew that no one could truthfully serve as anyone else’s inner voice or figure out their likes for them. That is the solely the responsibility of each human being. It is your job to figure out your idiosyncrasies, morals, and political ideas. While it’s normal to be inspired, as I was when I saw Janelle Monáe’s tuxedo-covered form as a middle schooler, and heard her coded criticism of the American government as a high schooler, it was still on me to do the work required to figure out which side of history I wanted to be on.
“In 2019, people who are not white, cisgender, heterosexual males are still fighting for basic respect and equality. Many are unfairly denied the right to exist.”
The beat of Monáe’s own syncopated drum (accompanied by a precise bass) is her theme music of choice. It is the only music that truly suits her futuristically unbridled life force. The world has come to appreciate her grand vision for inclusiveness, as we continue to witness horrifying times in politics. Monáe is primarily interested in the elevation of Black people, people of color, and queer people, and is driven by the idea of her own personal evolution, since the heart of change lies within the individual.
Currently, Cyntoia Brown sits in prison for possibly 50+ years for self defense against a pedophile. Her original sentence was life. The president continues to talk about the erection of a wall between the United States and Mexico. Roxsana Hernández, a trans woman of color, died in ICE custody and it is suspected that she was physically abused while detained. In 2019, people who are not non-white, cisgender, heterosexual males are sadly still fighting for basic respect and equality. Many are unfairly denied the right to exist. In “Crazy, Classic, Life”, Janelle Monáe is comfortable with her role as a freedom fighter, speaking out against and portraying injustices while showing safe spaces for the other. She smuggles a squad of Black women in the trunk of her hover car, transporting them to a place where they can feast and enjoy the company of those who do not judge or harm them.
People are dying for existing. Children are killing themselves after being bullied for living their truth. Really, what does equality look like to you, if your activism is not inclusive?
— Gabrielle Union (@itsgabrielleu) December 13, 2018
“Never forget, ‘We are not America’s nightmare, we are the American dream.’” –Janelle Monáe for Nylon
There is a strong urge to reinstitute the America of the old days. But what exactly does that mean? Return to the era of rape, disease spreading, and other branches of colonization? Tear non-white people from their families, while using them for their labor, whether physical or emotional? If the desire is to promote the dominance of racist, white, Christian males, then the mission has been accomplished in a sense. Here they are, reminiscing over WASP leaders (White Anglo Saxon Protestants). And just a few days ago, Jazmine Headly had her son ripped from her arms, all because she is a poor, Black mother. We have indeed made the country what it once was, a hell for people who aren’t white and straight, but the greater question is, did it ever change?
#JazmineHeadley's arrest, her baby forcibly taken from her, is the picture of the sickness in our society. She sits at the intersection of poor, Black, and a woman. We march when ICE takes immigrant children from their parents… what about black children? – William Leiserson
— Nykieria Chaney (@Nykieria) December 10, 2018
Alan Ferguson directed “Crazy, Classic, Life”. Ferguson is a seasoned veteran with tons of music clips under his belt – including co-direction credits on Solange Knowles’s “Cranes in the Sky” and “Don’t Touch My Hair” videos. (Fun Fact: Ferguson and Knowles have been a couple for a decade and guess who introduced the two? Miss 57821 herself.) Monáe’s latest offering starts off with a robocop traffic stop, a staple in multiple Black tragedies. It then transitions into a party scene, complete with Bowie lookalikes and lots of shimmer. In this society, individuals are at peace with themselves and their community, even though external forces monitor their freedom. It is not unlike our own.
The video also features a cameo from Janelle’s main homegirl, Tessa Thompson.
The times we live in require community, awareness, and bold voices. Whatever inspires you to continue the struggle for fairness, keep it close, but also remember your own personal power. It is true that there are state and federal officials in place who fiercely observe the basic liberties of the LGBTQI+ community, people of color, and Black people. The concept that our collective passitivity, helplessness, and fear are the only options is untrue. We are a mass community of either self aware people, or those in the pursuit of that awareness, making us a strong unit. Let’s live this crazy, classic life together and create change in the process.
Watch Janelle Monáe’s “Crazy, Classic, Life” video below.