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October 16, 2014





mexican students 01

Powerful Photos

Capture the Student Protests

Barely Anyone Is Talking About


By Coleen Jose 


While the world has focused its attention on the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, there’s another student movement gaining steam on the other side of the world.

The unfolding protests gripping Mexico began in the small town of Iguala, in the southwest region of Guerrero state, where the disappearance of 43 student teachers on the night of Sept. 26 has sparked outrage amid allegations of collaboration between local police and organized crime.

“Iguala is just one example of the level of decay in state and municipal security institutions,” Duncan Wood, director of the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C., told the Washington Post.   

Witnesses belong to a local gang, which federal authorities claim has infiltrated the local police department. The police apprehended 17 students from a local teachers college, according to the gang. They were then escorted through a rugged hill, killed and buried.

The 17 students are among the 43 who disappeared in late September.

More than 22,000 people have gone missing in Mexico in the last eight years, according to a list of names the Mexican government holds. Local police claimed that 28 corpses recently exhumed from a mass grave did not belong to any of the missing victims from Iguala’s teacher’s college. 

Despite this horrific incident, the outcry in Mexico has been largely overshadowed by Hong Kong, according to Google Trends:

Now, Mexicans are insisting that their outrage be heard by both government officials and the international media. Protesters took to the streets of the Guerrero state capital this week to demand answers, holding mass demonstrations there and across the country. 

Source: Alejandrino Gonzalez/AP

College students in Guerrero state burned a portrait of the state’s governor, Angel Aguirre, before they set the capital building on fire. 

Source: Felix Marquez/AP
Source: Felix Marquez/AP

Most of the demonstrations involve fire and destruction; peaceful protests are also taking place across the country this week. On Oct. 14, Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam announced that none of the 43 missing students were among remains found in the first mass graves. Following the announcement, students in Mexico City gathered and chanted outside of Karam’s office to demand an investigation.

Source: OMAR TORRES/Getty Images

Students held a banner with the faces of the 43 missing student teachers from the Isidro Burgos rural teachers college. The banner reads “Iguala, cradle of murders.”

Source: Eduardo Verdugo/AP

Teachers clashed with riot police in front of the Guerrero state capital building.

Source: Felix Marquez/AP

In Mexico City protests, a woman wore a black veil and held a sign bearing the words “Assassin State,” referring to the state of Guerrero.

Source: Rebecca Blackwell/AP

A student spray-painted, the words ”Repressive State” onto the window of the attorney general’s office. 

Source: OMAR TORRES/Getty Images

Protesters demanded the resignation of President Enrique Peña Nieto in a mass protest in Mexico City this week. The federal government has yet to give an explanation about the disappearance of the 43 student teachers. 

Source: Marco Ugarte/AP

Relatives of the missing marched with candles and flowers in Mexico City.

Source: Eduardo Verdugo/AP

Activists of Amnesty International earlier this month demonstrated with a candlelit vigil on the streets of Mexico City. 

Source: RONALDO SCHEMIDT/Getty Images

Omar Garcia, one of the witnesses in Iguala, recalled what he saw that evening for the BBC. ”We think the municipal police took them,” Garcia wrote. “What we think happened is that they kept them somewhere and then, as we say, ‘disappeared’ them – like so many thousands of others in this country who are missing.” 

The search continues for the 43 students. 



Coleen Jose's avatar image Coleen Jose is a multimedia journalist and documentary photographer based in New York City writing on international news and U.S. foreign policy for Mic. Previously, she reported across the Philippines for GlobalPost and Scientific American. 




photo by Alex Lear

photo by Alex Lear



Women’s Rights Are Human Rights

My position, succinctly stated, is simply this: any discussion of the issue of human rights should include a discussion of women’s rights. 

The reason for my statement, while complex in its subtleties, is simple in its substance. Simply said, women are human beings.

Our struggle for human rights must be grounded in a rejection of the oppression of any identifiable segment or stratum of human societies, regardless of the criterion of differentiation or discrimination, e.g. race, class or sex.

Based on my study and analysis of my own experiences and environment, as well as study and analysis of the experiences and environments of other peoples, in other places and other periods of time, I draw the conclusion that the issue of women’s rights has and continues to be a central concern of millions of women who daily suffer the degradations and deprivations of sexual chauvinism in its institutionalized and individual forms. The suffering of women in general, third world women in particular, and especially the suffering of the Afrikan-american woman, hurts me in ways too numerous to delineate. Yet beyond the personal pain, there is a social reality which must be recognized, namely, that sexism is a means, used by our enemies, to help maintain our subjugation as a people.

Perhaps some are wondering why should an Afrikan-american man be concerned with an issue like women’s rights, an issue which is often erroneously identified with “bored, middle class white women” who are tired of staying home. My response to that question is a query of my own: is there any reason why I shouldn’t be concerned with women’s rights, after all am I not born of woman, aren’t we all born of woman?

I am concerned about the issue of women’s rights because I understand that women’s rights is a political issue and I am a political person. I understand that the oppression and exploitation of women is an integral aspect of every reactionary social system which ever existed and I am struggling to be a progressive. I understand that women, like land, are primary to life, and I am a living being.

I am concerned about the issue of women’s rights because I am striving to be a revolutionary, and without the eradication of sexism there will be no true and thorough going revolution.

At this moment in history, asserting a position which I feel is my revolutionary responsibility to put forward, I hear the echoes of our heritage urging me to be firm. I hear Frederick Douglas, who also spoke out strongly in support of women’s rights. Douglas was vilified and shunned by former friends who could not understand his concern for the rights of women. I hear Douglas being called an “hermaphrodite” and other terms which questioned his sexuality because of his stand on sexism. But in the spirit of Frederick Douglas, I do declare that I too should rather be called “hermaphrodite” and other names because of my support for women’s rights, than have women continually referred to as “bitch,” and “broad” in everyday ameican speech.

There are those who argue that raising the issue of women’s liberation is divisive of Black unity. They argue that, in reality, the women’s movement drives a “wedge” between Black women and Black men in our social relationships. They argue that the promotion of women in the work force cuts down on the employment opportunities for men and effectively throws Black men out of work. They argue that Black women don’t want to be lesbians and live with other women but rather that they want to be united with Black men in peace and harmony. Some even argue that women should not work outside of the home is one of the most important tasks of nation-building or socialization. These are some of the arguments sincerely and seriously raised against our full and active involvement in the struggle for women’s rights.

But the profound truth of the matter is that all of these arguments deny women the option to exercise their rights, to control their lives in whatever manner they see fit. Full rights for women does not ipso facto mean that women will all have to conform to some mythical “liberated norm.” It means, instead, that women will decide for themselves their social lifestyles and social relationships.

Women’s liberation has not driven a wedge between women and men. Firstly, women do not control this society. This society is controlled by a ruthless, racist, sexist, and capitalist patriarchy. if we would look past the propaganda pushed in the establishment press, we should clearly recognize whose hand is on the hammer attempting to beat us into submission, we would see who actually wields the wedge of division . To divide and conquer has always been a tactic of a minority who are oppressing and exploiting a majority.

Secondly, issues such as “women’s lib is denying or stopping Black men from getting jobs” is not true. We must understand that women do not do most of the hiring and firing in America. Women do not run the major or minor corporations. With very few exceptions, it is a man or some group of men, and usually white, who make those kinds of decisions.

We are all for the unity of our women with our men, but not if that unity is to be male superior / female inferior. The emotional crux of most of the arguments against women’s liberation is, when mouthed by men, actually a fear of independent women, a hatred of independent women, an ideological opposition to any women being independent of  man’s control. When espoused by women, most of these arguments simply amount to the attempts by an insecure woman, whose sense of self is that of an inferior entity, to maintain the certainties of a slavery she “thinks’ she understands and to one degree or another has learned to cope with, rather than face a challenging liberation which she finds difficult to envision.

Cabral has noted that within the context of liberation struggle, the emancipation of women is a difficult issue. “.  . . during the fight the important thing is the political role of women . . . It is all a part of the process of transformation, of change in the material conditions of the existence of our people, but also in the minds of the women, because sometimes the greatest difficulty is not only in the men but in the women too.”1

In all of the contemporary national liberation movements in the Third World, whether in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Oceania or the Caribbean, great attention is always paid to the eradication of sexism and the development of women. Why is this the case?

Is sexism a universal constant? Is it true, as we have been taught, that beginning with Adam and Eve there has been a battle of the sexes going on, that one sex has , is and, in a all probability, will continue to try to dominate the other sex? Do we really believe these fairy tales, these rationalizations? Do we really believe that men and women are “naturally” antagonistic to each other?

Sexism is not a biological necessity, it is rather the reflection of reactionary ideas, particularly “bourgeois individualism.” In a bourgeois society, private ownership is the basic goal of most endeavors, whether it is to own land and material wealth, hence private property; or to own labor and industry, hence private enterprise in the form of capitalism; or to ultimately own other human beings, hence slavery and sexism. Couple this type of thinking with the belief that the individual is supreme, and what will result will be a society peopled by selfish and self-centered human beings who have no true concern for those around them or those who will follow them.

The roots of modern day sexism are to be found in “prehistoric” Europe and the trunk of sexism is a patriarchy watered by capitalism and imperialism. Understand that sexism is the systematic oppression and / or exploitation of a group of people based on the criterion of sex. In america today, and everywhere else where capitalism and imperialism have gone unchecked, unchallenged and unchanged, sexism is deeply entrenched into the social fabric. Indeed, in self-proclaimed socialist societies, also, remnants of sexism remain to be rooted out.

We do not have the time to analyze in detail my assertion that the roots of modern day sexism are found in prehistoric Europe. However, the statement, I am sure, is too provocative to most of us to be accepted simply at face value. So for purposes of brevity I cite a reference. The reference is The Cultural Unity of Black Africa, by Cheikh Anta Diop, published in America by Third World Press.2

Diop’s book traces and analyzes the development of patriarchy and matriarchy, the class characteristics and clashes of the two social systems, the merging of the two, and the domination of patriarchy over matriarchy. At the risk of oversimplifying a complex topic, we summarize Diop’s findings to include the positing of a two cradle concept. These two cradles are Aryan and African, northern and southern, patriarchal and matriarchal. According to Diop’s analysis, which contests that of other social scientists, including Marx and Engles, matriarchy is not universal.. The history of human development in its progressive movement did not go from matriarchy to patriarchy, for in fact, there never was a matriarchy in Europe. “As far as we can go back into the Indo-European past, even so far back as the Eurasian steppes, there is only to be found the patrilineal genos with the system of consanguinity which at the present day still characterized their descendants.”

What is matriarchy? Is matriarchy the domination of women over men? Is matriarchy amazonism? Is matriarchy lesbianism? Is matriarchy strong women and weak men? No. Matriarchy is a social system within which blood relationships are traced through the maternal line and within which women enjoy equal political and economic rights.

Why should a wife and child assume the husband/father’s name? Traditionally this was done for the purposes of the protection of property rights, namely, the identification of property and the succession of property.

Today, we continue using this patriarchal form of naming allegedly in order to identify the parents of children and vice versa. How unscientific to trace parentage via the father, when there is no known conclusive proof of male parentage. How much more scientific and simple it is to trace parentage via the mother, because regardless of whether the actual father of the child is known or unknown, the mother of the child is identified conclusively by the fact of giving birth to that child.

In a patriarchal society, the concern is not with identifying parents but rather with identifying property, hence children born so-called “out of wedlock.”  This is just one small example of the pervasiveness and perverseness of the patriarchal social system. However, let us return to our central concern. Regardless of the roots of sexism, it should be clear that sexism is a real and reactionary way of life that must be eradicated.

Today, women continue to get less pay for equal work, and lack equal access to both educational and employment opportunities. Today, women continue to be regarded as the sexual toys of powerful men, men whose social relationships with women are controlled more by the heads of their penises than the heads on their shoulders, men whose main modes of reasoning conditions them to think that they can either buy or take a woman’s body. Today, rape continues to be one of the most common and unreported crimes in America. Today, childcare continues to be virtually nonexistent and/or exorbitantly priced.

One sure sign of sexism is the objectification of women’s bodies, the turning of women into commodities to be bought, sold, bartered for or stolen. The gains in women’s rights, just as the gains in civil rights for African-Americans, are seemingly becoming little more than paper formalities and highly touted token adjustments.

African-American women are still the most exploited stratum of american society. In fact, throughout the world, the lower class woman of color is on the bottom of nearly every society within which she is found.

Virtually every indicator of social inequality proves this to be the case,, whether we are discusiing employment or illness, educational development or access to leadership and decison-making positions.

In conclusion, I urge that we open our eyes to the reality of sexism and fight it. I urge everyone, particularly men, to speak out against sexism and support the struggles of women to defend and develop themselves. I urge greater attention to be paid to the social and material conditions which lead to an reinforce sexism, a deeper and more accurate analysis needs to be done, and resolute and uncompromising action needs to be taken.

The denial of any human right is always based in the political repression of one group by another group. Sexism does not exist because women are “unclean during their monthly periods,” nor because women are weaker than men, nor because “god’ was unhappy with the behavior of women. Sexism exists because men have organized themselves to oppress and exploit women.

Sexism will be eradicated only through organized resistance and struggle. Women’s rights will be won only when we consciously overturn all vestiges of patriarchy and “bourgeois” right. No person has the right to either own, oppress, enslave, or exploit another person. Sexism is not a right–it is a wrong.

We must stand for what is right and fight against what is wrong.

My attempt has not been to analyze in detail the denial of human rights for women, rather I had a more modest goal in mid. I seek to place on the agenda of human rights the question of women’s rights as a top priority item.

I hope that this topic has shown “Pandora’s box” to be a myth created by men who want to keep “women, coloreds, and other inferiors” hidden in the dank caves of injustice and reaction as a top priority item.

I hope that I have broadened the view on what human rights is, and indeed, on who human beings are. It is so easy in america to forget that women are human beings, to forget that women have rights. Hopefully, this presentation will stir up opposition to sexism, will bring women and men out of their shells of self-denial and isolation, and into the light of truth and justice.

It will not be easy to win rights for women, just as it will not be easy to defeat South Africa, just as it will not be easy to stop nuclear power, to clean up the environment, to end economic exploitation, to plan and control the economy, or to win national liberation for  African-Americans. But it can be done. Sexism can be smashed.

My hope is that from this day forward we will not hesitate to stand for women’s rights, to place it on any and every agenda of progressive social development. Know that when you stand for women’s rights you stand beside the most courageous and progressive people who have ever lived. You stand next to men and women who are not afraid of the future because they are willing to struggle in the present to correct historical wrongs.

A great woman by the name of Sojourner Truth once gave a brilliant speech which included the famous phrase “ain’t I a woman!” This is continuance of that woman’s work. In the spirit of Sojourner Truth, I urge you to join in the struggle for women’s rights, whether you are woman or man. If Sojourner were here today she would challenge you in the same way. Sojourner is not here, but her spirit is. Although I ain’t a woman, I say without hesitation that women’s rights are human rights. I am committed to and call for the smashing of sexism and the securing of women’s rights. I believe that we will win women’s rights.

1Cabral, Amilcar. “Return to the Source.” Monthly Review, 1973, p. 85.

2Diop, Cheikh A. The Cultural Unity of Africa. (Chicago: Third World Press, 1959), p. 45

“Women’s Rights Are Human Rights” was first presented at an international Human Rights Conference that was held during November 1978 at Xavier University in New Orleans; later, it was published in BLACK SCHOLAR (Vol.10, Nos. 6,7).

This essay is contained in the book: Our Women Keep Our Skies From Falling


Cover Drawing by Douglass Redd  copyright July 1980 By Kalamu ya Salaam






Funk-U logo

17 octobre 2014






meshell 01


En Concert Au Apogee Studio

Meshell Ndegeocello Performs In Badalona

De passage en Californie, la bassiste Meshell Ndegeocello a donné un concert intimiste au Apogee Studio entourée de ses musiciens Chris Bruce (guitare) et Jebin Bruni (claviers). Au programme, des relectures envoûtantes de ses derniers albums Weather et Comet, Come to Me ainsi qu’une interview en compagnie de Chris Douridas. Un petit avant-goût de sa nouvelle tournée française qui passera par le Divan du Monde à Paris le 12 novembre prochain, Reims le 13 ou encore Nîmes le 16.

Set List :

Living In Vain
Shopping For Jazz
Comet, Come To Me
Folie à Deux
Good Day, Bad Day
Dead End








split lip


$12.00 USD


Submission Deadline: December 31, 2014Prize: $200 + Publication + 20 Author Copies

Final Judge: Meg Pokrass. Info on Meg can be found HERE.

Eligibility: Fiction, Poetry, CNF or a hybrid. Previously published, stand-alone works are fine, but the ms must be an unpublished body of work. So no book excerpts or do-overs. Simultaneous submissions are just fine; however, the reading fee is non-refundable. Please simply withdraw the ms from Submittable if the work is picked up elsewhere. All submissions must be in English. Translations are not ideal for this contest. If you have cover art, great, but please do not send it with your submission. B&W illustrations may be included within the body of the ms though.  

Reading Fee: $12

What We Seek: Here’s some suggested reading from our magazine’s archive to get a feel for what we like.
Fiction 1
Fiction 2
Poetry 1
Poetry 2

Guidelines: Please send mss of 20 – 36 numbered pages with a table of contents. Please do not include acknowledgements or thank-yous. Submitted mss will be read blindly, so keep all identity and contact info in the Submittable text boxes, and avoid putting that info on your manuscript. We are only accepting submissions through Submittable.

Further Rules: Regarding the usual “no friends of the editor” mandates, Split Lip takes a Clinton-esque approach: “Don’t ask; Don’t tell.” Remember, reading is done entirely blind. One editor will see names, but nobody will be pulling any strings. We’re chill, relaxed, casual––chill-axed-ual––and there will be no trickery. Favoritism is intolerable. 

Finally: We look forward to the privilege of reading your work, and though competitive, we hope that writers will see this as an opportunity more than a dog-eat-dog competition. 

Good luck!







new media writing prize


What Are The Prizes?

There are three categories/prizes -

Main Prize: £1000 donated by if:book UK.
Student Prize: 3 months paid internship at Unicorn Training, Bournemouth, UK, working with Unicorn’s writing and design team.
People’s Choice Prize: Details TBC.

When Is The Deadline?

Main Prize Friday 28th November 2014 by 12 noon GMT; Student Prize Friday 12th December 2014 12 noon GMT. Shortlisted entrants will be invited to the Awards Ceremony, Wednesday January 21st 2015 at Bournemouth University. Winners will be announced at the Ceremony.

What Are We Looking For?

We are looking for good storytelling (fiction or non-fiction) written specifically for delivery and reading/viewing on a PC or Mac, the web, or a hand-held device such as an iPad or mobile phone. It could be a short story, novel, poem, documentary or transmedia work using words, images, film or animation with audience interaction. Interactivity is a key element of new-media storytelling.

We are looking for creativity, so try to be imaginative to create an engaging story i.e. combining any number of media elements, such as words on a screen combined with images and video clips. New media writing can be created using a variety of tools i.e. a word processor, DV camera, social networking tools (i.e. Twitter), mobile phone/s, a scanner, Augmented Reality software – anything goes!

What We’re NOT Looking For:

We are not looking for a story/poem which you can upload to a web page or place on a disc.
We are not looking for screens of words uploaded to your blog, and we are not looking for a slideshow of photos uploaded to Flickr or a video uploaded to YouTube.

What Are The Judging Criteria?

The judges will be looking for the following:

  1. Innovative use of new media/transmedia to create an engaging, satisfying narrative, poem, or as-yet-specified form.
  2. Ease of accessibility for the reader/viewer.
  3. Effective use of interactive elements.
  4. An example of how new media can do things traditional media can’t.
  5. The potential to reach out to an wide audience (i.e. not just specialist interest groups).

For the Competition Rules, please click here.

Who Can Apply?

Anyone can apply! Whether you’re a student, a professional, an artist, a writer, a developer, a designer or an enthusiast, the competition is open to all. It’s also an international competition, open to all outside the UK. For the Competitions Rules click here.

How Do I Submit My Work?

Each entry should be submitted by email to by Friday 28th November 2014 by 12 noon GMT. Closing date for students is Friday 12th December 2014 12 noon GMT.

Each emailed entry should contain an active URL for the judges to access your work. However, if your entry is for viewing on a mobile phone, wearable, or other electronic device, please provide clear instructions on how to view your piece.

It is important that you read and understand the Competition RulesYour entry will be disqualified if you do not comply with these Rules.

- See more at:











Around the Corner: Deadline for Submissions

to 10th Conference on

Cuban and Cuban-American Studies


Dr. Jorge Duany (Director of the Cuban Research Institute at Florida International University) reminds us that the deadline to submit proposals for panels and papers for the 10th Conference on Cuban and Cuban-American Studies is October 31, 2014. [Also see previous post Call for Papers (Reminder): 10th Conference on Cuban and Cuban-American Studies.]

The conference, sponsored by the Cuban Research Institute at Florida International University, will be held in Miami on February 26-28, 2015. The central theme of the conference will be racial politics in Cuba and the Americas, but numerous topics related to Cuba and its diaspora will also be considered. The event will be dedicated to the prominent Cuban economist Carmelo Mesa-Lago [see photo above].

Organized around the thematic title “’More than White, More than Mulatto, More than Black’: Racial Politics in Cuba and the Americas,” the conference will take place at the Modesto A. Maidique Campus in Miami, Florida.

Dr. Carmelo Mesa-Lago is Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of Economics and Latin American Studies at the University of Pittsburgh since 1999. He was Professor and Research Scholar on International Relations and Latin America at Florida International University in 1999-2002. He received the following degrees: Bachelor in Law from the University of Havana (1956), Doctorate in Law specialized on social security from the University of Madrid and the Iberoamerican Organization of Social Security (1958), M.A. on Economics from the University of Miami (1965), Ph.D. on Industrial and Labor Relations specialized on social security from Cornell University (1968).

Past President of the Latin American Studies Association, he is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Social Insurance and of the Editorial Board of the International Social Security Review and six other academic journals.

He is the author of numerous books on Cuba and over 300 scholarly articles/chapters in books, most of them dealing with social security, published in seven languages in 34 countries. His most recent book is Cuba under Raul Castro; Assessing the Reforms (Lynne Rienner, 2013). Other books include: Social Security in Latin America: Pressure Groups, Stratification and Inequality (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1978), Ascent to Bankruptcy: Financing Social Security in Latin America (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1989), Portfolio Performance of Social Security Institutes in Latin America (World Bank, 1991), Health Care for the Poor in Latin America and the Caribbean (Pan American Health Organization, 1992), Changing Social Security in Latin America (Lynne Rienner, 1994), Do Options Exist? The Reform of Pension and Health Care Systems in Latin America (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1998), Market, Socialist and Mixed Economies: Comparative Policy and Performance (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000), Las Reformas de Pensiones en América Latina y su Impacto en los Principios de la Seguridad Social (ECLAC, 2004) and Las Reformas de Salud en América Latina y el Caribe: Su Impacto en los Principios de la Seguridad Social (ECLAC, 2006).

For more information on the conference, see

See more on the speaker at














The Other ‘Nasty Gal’: Betty Davis


One of the most scrutinized trademarks of the last decade is “Nasty Gal,” the name Sophia Amoruso chose for her fledgling fashion store turned e-commerce juggernaut.

The unexpected moniker comes from a song by Betty Davis, a singer and the former wife of Miles Davis. And while you might suppose a name like “Trash & Couture” or “Chic Girl Clothes” would have been an easier sell, once you get a load of Davis and her story, you understand why the idea seduced Amoruso and, rather than being a turn-off, for many young women it’s both seductive and empowering.

Davis was a tall, leggy model and singer whose music exuded such funk and raw sexuality that it unsettled more than a few; some even boycotted her shows. 

Screaming, purring and singing her way through songs she penned, she demands freedom to be her own woman and to express her sexuality.

In the mid-’70s, she made a handful of albums. And while they never gained wide commercial appeal, they were so bold and ahead of their time that today they sound utterly contemporary and refreshing.

Her best songs have a strong funk groove with bluesy undertones. Davis’ voice rides the rhythms, cascading between playful girlishness and earthy, feline growls. Screaming, purring and singing her way through songs she penned herself, she demands freedom to be her own woman and to express her sexuality.

Many have compared her to Madonna, but not even Madge took her womanist vision to the level Davis did. Take, for instance, the following lines from “Nasty Gal”:

Betty Davis in 1976 / SOURCE Getty

“You said I was a witch now. My way was too dirty for you. Ain’t nothin but a nasty gal now. Why you want this nasty gal back now?” 

Her songwriting is vivid, uninhibited and risqué with the sort of sexual bravado one expects from men in rock ’n’ roll and hip-hop.

“I left you in bed hanging by your fingernails …”

“No, I don’t want your love because I know how you are …”

“That’s why I ain’t gonna love you because you like to be in charge …”

“I beat you with a turquoise chain …”

Plenty assumed that her lyrics were autobiographical and referred to Miles Davis or, a few postulated, to her friend Jimi Hendrix. But she has remained mostly mum on the subject.

Miles Davis’ seminal “Bitches Brew” album was either named by her or for her, depending on who’s telling the story.

She married the legendary jazz musician in 1968, when she was 23 and he was old enough to be her father. It lasted one year. Yet Miles and others have acknowledged that she had a major influence on him and his music. Betty exposed him to rock ’n’ roll and funk. She introduced him to Hendrix and other rockers, influenced the way he dressed and how he thought about music.

Betty’s face graces the cover of Filles de Kilimanjaro and one of the songs, “Madam Mabry,” is dedicated to her. 

In fact, without Betty, Miles’s turn to new jazz might never have happened. His seminal Bitches Brew album was either named by her or for her, depending on who’s telling the story. In a 2010 interview, the now reclusive singer told Brit newspaper The Guardian that she gave the album its name. In the jazz world it’s widely acknowledged that she had something to do with the album title and its fresh direction.

After their divorce, she focused on her own music career, with top musicians of the day playing on her records and the Pointer Sisters occasionally providing background vocals.

Betty retired from the limelight in the late ’70s but you can see her lusty, no-holds-barred approach to music and personal style reflected in a number of funk and R&B artists who followed: from Prince to LL Cool J, a few of her songs have been sampled. And now, with the ascendance of Amoruso’s “Nasty Gal,” renewed attention is being paid to the woman who wrote and performed “Anti Love Song” and “They Say I’m Different.” Don’t miss them.

Here’s a listen to “Nasty Gal.”

 Constance C. R. White