Respecting Aretha: Respecting Ourselves

Today, I am hopeful that Ariana Grande knows what to do, after she was disrespected,

While many were watching.

There are times when apologies don’t mean a damn thing,

But I know what will,

And, Aretha Franklin knew.

We can talk all day about what it is to be a queen,

But to be a queen, or like a queen, haven’t we learned that we MUST demand respect?

In this world, we MUST stand, and fight and be heard

A queen stands up for herself and for her people, even when it is clear that the fight could be lost.

As the “Queen of Soul,” Aretha Franklin taught us how to stand up and be heard; she showed us, like so many other cultural leaders have shown us, how to respect ourselves.

To know respect, WE must say it, sing it, and believe it,

We must tell the world that respect is ours.

And we must first own and embrace the respect that we desire from others.

We must spell it out,

R – E – S – P – E – C – T

Until we find out what respect means, for ourselves, as individuals and as a collective,

Ain’t nothing gonna change.

When we know respect for ourselves,

When we tell our loved ones and the strangers that we meet that it is their responsibility to “find out what [respect] means”

When we make our boundaries clear,

When we stand up for ourselves and fight for ourselves in our own lives and in our own kitchens,

And bathrooms,

And bedrooms,

And garages (Marissa Alexander),

And conference rooms, classrooms, and boardrooms,

And in any of the rooms that we occupy

That there will be respect for who we are and what we are.

When we refuse to accept the unwarranted and violent advances that the world tries to place on us in private AND in public,

Then we are respecting Aretha,

Just as we are respecting ourselves!

This I have learned, and it was not easy.

Now, Ariana, you’ve got the mic.

And it is okay to use it as Aretha once did.

Some of us are with you, but you must stand up for yourself. We cannot do it for you.

And, what you choose to do, or not, will teach others to respect themselves, or not.

© 2018 annalise fonza, Ph.D.

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