Why Jazmine Sullivan’s “Heaux Tales” is for every Black person socialized as a woman.

Alexia Ware , Staff Writer

I didn’t listen to “Heaux Tales” by Jazmine Sullivan right away. Admittedly, I was apprehensive. I have a complicated relationship with the word “hoe.” Different spelling noted. Honestly, I wasn’t prepared when this album came out to reckon with my own “heaux” quite yet.

Throughout the album, Jaz—I am going to call her Jaz because we are sisters now— weaves tales of a few Black women in between the songs. It was really their tales that stood out for me. The first story is from a woman named Antoinette. She discusses the fact that as women, we give our power away to men. We let them be in control of the sex we have. In the last line, she states so poignantly: “We tell them that the pussy is theirs / When, in actuality…it’s ours.” Full stop.

Throughout the album Jazmine signals to Black women. She connects with us through the music and the tales. I listened, and I was transplanted right back to the shame I have experienced around sex. Around being a “heaux.” She masterfully shows the relationship Black women have to martyrdom in our relationships. Giving our all to these men, who in truth, aren’t worth it.

She had me feeling like my 15-year-old self, who had just discovered sex and was trying to “have sex like a boy.” Because see, women are not supposed to have sex like men, especially not Black people socialized as women. We cannot be too sexual, but we also cannot be a prude. This is the epitome of misogynoir, and she took me all the way there with the stories, the music and her lyrics.

Jaz’s album is a rallying cry for Black women. It spoke to me the way no album has in a few years. It allowed me to be at once proud of my “heauxness,” and curious about why I have acted in those ways, in the past and in more recent times. She taught me that there is no place for shame, only radical love for my Black womanhood. That is what I was missing.