“On Her Hustle” is a monthly series of interviews with women of color artists, entrepreneurs, healers and activists who hustle hard for our communities. Colored Girls Hustle uses this series to amplify the work, talent, and passions of other women and girls of color. Click here to read more about our series and to nominate someone to be interviewed.
For women’s history month we are featuring Kathleen Adams, the co-founder of an amazing women-centered and empowering space: Momma’s Hip Hop Kitchen. Read her full interview below to learn about how she uses hip-hop and reproductive justice to hustle hard for women and girls.
Colored Girls Hustle: Tell us about Momma’s Hip Hop Kitchen: How and why did you co-create MHHK? And what does MHHK do the rest of the year?
Kathleen: Momma’s Hip Hop Kitchen came about through my business partner’s (Lah Tere) as well as my own love of hip hop and women’s issues. I love going to concerts and shows and I felt like women were always singing the hook for songs or were background singers. I wanted to create a platform for women to perform and take center stage. I also wanted this environment to be a place where we could shine a light on HIV/AIDS and reproductive justice issues. This year with MHHK we are hoping to encourage the community to get involved to lower the achievement gaps in our schools and also to advocate for comprehensive sex education in all schools! Besides our annual event, MHHK participates in workshops within the community and also does college tours. This year, we are hoping to put on smaller events within the community!
Lah Tere and Kathleen at the MHHK 2013
Colored Girls Hustle: Why the name “Momma’s Hip Hop Kitchen”?
Kathleen: It’s called Momma’s Hip Hop Kitchen because women congregate in the kitchen to talk about ideas, thoughts, etc… We create a metaphorical kitchen with our events so women can feel comfortable speaking their minds through their performances.
Colored Girls Hustle: Tell us a bit about this year’s event: why “Knowledge is Power” as the theme? How did it all turn out?
Kathleen: This year’s theme is “Knowledge is Power” because we want to honor Hostos Community College’s 45th anniversary of excellence in higher education and cultural preservation. The theme is also “Knowledge is Power” because we are advocating for smaller class sizes, the closing of the achievement gap between the rich and the poor, and a more comprehensive sexual education curriculum.
MHHK 2013 performers
Colored Girls Hustle: Lets talk about the artists you featured this year and in the past: how have their individual art forms contributed to the MHHK mission and vision?
Kathleen: Over the past 6 years, we have featured hundreds of artists in our events. One artist in particular, NeNe Ali is a 15-year-old spoken-word poet who is the only artist who has been with us since Vol. 1. NeNe Ali’s spoken word poetry has contributed to the mission and vision of MHHK by inspiring other women, young and old to be fearless and showcase their art to the public.
DJ Jasmine Solano is an inspiration to our audience. She has been able to gain the attention of mainstream media by going on tour with Wiz Khalifa and through her hit song “That’s Not It” featured on MTVU.
DJ Jasmine Solano at MHHK 2013
Colored Girls Hustle: How does MHHK view the current status of hip hop in general, its relationship to women and its impact (potential and actual) on issues concerning women?
Kathleen: To this day, Momma’s Hip Hop Kitchen still views women, especially women of color in hip hop as in a state of emergency! Through our events we aim to educate, include, and empower women on issues surrounding their life. All of our events, not matter what the specific focus is of the year, incorporates a reproductive justice framework—the right to be a parent, the right not to be a parent, and the right to parenting your child. I know for a fact that we’ve had a major impact on the communities we work with because women have come up to us after our events and talked about how they have changed their lives in terms of eating habits (the year we spoke about healthy eating), and how some have left abusive relationships because they got the courage from attending our events!
Colored Girls Hustle: What is MHHK’s definition of hip-hop feminism?
Kathleen: MHHK’s definition of hip-hop feminism is pretty broad and holistic. We believe that once women are in complete control of their bodies, then they will be able to healthy decisions for their families and their communities. To be a feminist in the world of hip hop, you must be in control of yourself and in control of your music.
Colored Girls Hustle: MHHK always has lots of community support. How do the tablers and vendors add to the overall MHHK experience?
Kathleen: The tablers and vendors add an extra dimension to our event! Our attendees are able to purchase goods from local vendors and also obtain free confidential HIV and STI testing from our tablers. The tablers and vendors are like our family. We always look forward to seeing familiar faces at our event, year after year from the tablers.
Colored Girls Hustle: How do you define “hustle” and how do you “hustle hard” for women and girls?
Kathleen: My definition of “hustle” is TCBing (Taking Care of Business). If you TCB, that means you are always on your grind and will be successful! I “hustle hard” for women and girls because I always make sure my actions positively influence my community.
Colored Girls Hustle: Describe yourself in three words.
Kathleen: Explore Creative, hard-working, ambitious
Colored Girls Hustle: You wear a lot of hats and are involved in a lot of different organizations. How do you prioritize self-care and effectively manage your time?
Kathleen: I feel like I don’t sleep! For me, staying busy helps me stay focused. I make sure that in whatever I am doing, that I am happy. As long as I am happy I don’t mind being busy! I make sure to take long vacations and explore the world—that is how I stay sane! I also am good a delegating tasks to others so that I am not in charge of projects completely on my own. This method allows me to be involved in multiple projects at once, but also allows me to share project responsibilities with others!
Kathleen Adams is the co-founder of Momma’s Hip Hop Kitchen, a multifaceted hip hop event designed to showcase women artists, especially women of color. Kathleen’s passion in life is with organizing around reproductive justice and HIV/AIDS issues. To learn more about Momma’s Hip Hop Kitchen you can visit their website, Facebook or twitter.
My first guest blog post! Read it on nicole-clark’s blog:
***This AMAZING guest post is by Taja Lindley, a full-spectrum doula, tactile visual artist, performing artist, and reproductive justice activist addressing the challenges of women of color through creativity, personal transformation and entrepreneurship. She is the founder of Colored Girls Hustle, an initiative that uses art as a tool to create affirming and celebratory images, messages and adornment for, about and by women of color. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Etsy.***
By now we are all too familiar with the preoccupation with the unmarried Black woman in the media. The question that keeps getting raised is: “Why can’t a Black woman understand, find and keep a man?”
Fundamentally I don’t have a problem with conversations about love and relationships. I have them all the time. What’s unfair about this question, and the conversation that follows, is what’s at stake because when single white women search for love, they get an HBO series (Sex and the City). But when unmarried Black women are approaching, at, or over the age of 30: it’s a crisis, it’s a catastrophe with severe consequences for the ENTIRE Black community, warranting late night specials on major television networks and talk shows dedicating entire segments to finding us a man.
The conversation always becomes “what’s wrong with Black women? “ and we get demonized as: unlovable, broken, undesirable, domineering, angry, aggressive, incompatible, uncompromising, too compromising, (in the words of Tyrese) too independent, possessing unrealistic expectations…and the list goes on.
Then here come Black-male-entertainers-turned-experts on their horses with shining armor to save the Black woman from herself! To save her from her own pathological destruction so she can do a better job of successfully creating and preserving the Black family. (Damn, that must be a lot of responsibility.)
Conversations like these put Black women on the defensive where now we need to explain what we think, how we act, and for what reasons so that these so-called experts can give us paternalistic and patriarchal prescriptions for solving the so-called crisis of the unmarried Black woman.