Damn She Jamaican "Redefines Her Blackness" for Black History Month

Black History Month, Interviews

In celebration of Black History Month, KEXP’s Alina Santillan interviewed numerous local and national African American artists about what Black History Month and Black Future mean to them. Seattle artist Damn She Jamaican explains why she doesn't celebrate the day and shares some of the artists who influenced her music and life.

KEXP: What does Black History Month mean to you?

Damn She Jamaican: Personally, for me, I don't celebrate Black History Month. And the reason why is because of what comes with Black History Month. In my personal opinion, I feel Black History Month just brings up feelings of oppression and it doesn't necessarily uplift me. Just to know that there is such a thing as "Black History Month" in the first place, knowing where black Americans have been and how this country started itself on slavery. Well, I guess Black History Month would mean redefining my blackness. You know, that's powerful. Yeah, I think that's what it would mean to me instead of saying that it doesn't mean anything. I would just say it means redefining my blackness, or how I appear in the world or how people perceive me physically. I feel like I have to take power of that. Because if I don't, society is going to determine how people see me and I have to take that power for myself. 

Me saying that I don't identify as black is a very new age thing. It's not something I've heard anyone else say. So I would say that I'm "melaninated" only because I'm really into science and energy frequencies and I've studied skin types and all different stuff. But I just like that word to identify myself because of the terminology, the scientific definition, and just it just sounds more powerful. It sounds more powerful than saying "black." Instead of always thinking about the past and regurgitating negative energy. We should try and uplift ourselves, and we're human. We're living this physical experience right now so of course, identifying ourselves is the first step. Identifying our true selves physically. So, like when we say "black people" or "white people," the names don't really matter. It's just the energy that comes with it, and the story, and the past. But futuristically, I would like one day for us to say something more uplifting. It doesn't have to be "melaninated" or melanin. But I do notice that that is a term that people are picking up on more.

Which artists have been influential to your music? 

Growing up in Jamaica, Bob Marley was everyone's idol pretty much. But yeah, living in Jamaica, I used to watch a lot of TV and back in those times, I used to see Missy Elliott a lot on TV. Usher. I used to see Michael Jackson. I really loved Michael Jackson. I think everybody loves Michael Jackson. Alicia Keys. There's so many different artists. There's even new age artists that I look up to who influenced my music. Kehlani. Hopsin. SassyBlack . There are so many different names. There's a lot of powerful people in this city and across America. 

For more and a litany of amazing interviews featuring the incredible African-American musical artists that have shaped our lives, click here for all our Black History Month coverage.

Related News & Reviews

Black History Month Interviews

Gabriel Teodros Explains Black August, an Addition to Black History Month

Seattle based hip-hop artist and KEXP DJ Gabriel Teodros, who is of Ethiopian and Scottish descent, tells us about Black August and shared insight into an artist who was very influential in inspiring his 2014 album Children of the Dragon.

Read More
Black History Month Interviews

Falon Sierra on the Joy of Coming Together During Black History Month

Seattle's own Falon Sierra shares with KEXP the joy she feels during this month, the artists that have inspired her, and offers encouragement for young artists looking to make their own way.

Read More
Black History Month

Black History Month: Listen to a Special Edition of Swingin' Doors

On Thursday, February 1st, KEXP DJ Don Slack kicked off Black History Month with a special episode of Swingin' Doors featuring all-black artists. Listen to the entire three-hour show here.

Read More
Black History Month Interviews

Delvon Lamarr of the Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio Waxes Rhapsodic on John Coltrane for Black History Month

In honor of Black History Month, local musician Delvon Lamarr of the Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio shares the way John Coltrane changed his life for the better.

Read More
Black History Month Interviews Local Music

Black 365 Days a Year: PSA on Black History Month, Black Future, and Creating Generational Wealth

Seattle electronic/pop songwriter PSA shares her own reflections on digging deeper into black history, creating generational wealth, and her inspiration from both Janet and Michael Jackson.

Read More
Black History Month Interviews

"Black History Month is Black History Day, Every Day": Seattle's Black Stax Talk Influences and Influencing the Future

Felicia Loud and Jace of Seattle's Black Stax talk to KEXP about the artists who influenced them and the legacies we leave behind for the next generation in this interview for Black History Month.

Read More