On Wednesday, at a benefit to raise money for United Way Worldwide, Nicki Minaj recited Maya Angelou's "Still I Rise" and gave us all life. A&E Network broadcast the concert, called Shining A Light: A Concert for Progress on Race in America, which featured John Legend, Pharrell, and Morgan Freeman — among others — in musical performances, speeches, and interviews with residents of Ferguson, Baltimore, and Charleston. The broadcast kicks off United Way Worldwide's Shining a Light initiative, which seeks to "confront racism and bias and highlight solutions" by bringing communities and leaders together to discuss racial inequality in the U.S.
"Still I Rise" addresses racism and sexism, tackling white society's expectations for how black women should conduct themselves. The tone is defiant. Angelou's speaker doesn't care that you don't think she should be sassy, haughty, or sexy, or that those qualities in her offend you. And if you want to crush her, well, she'll come out all right in the end, just you wait and see.
Who better to read this poem than Nicki Minaj? She's constantly hit with a flak cannon over the sexual content of her songs, videos, and performances. Her voice gets criticized almost as often as her persona. Haters pull snippets of her hooks to blast her songwriting ability while ignoring the power of her rhymes. When she calls out white feminists for excluding black women from the conversation, the media calls it a catfight and refuses to acknowledge the fact that she's making very real and important points.
Check out her badass performance below.
Slay, girl. And rise.