I was perusing the internet streets like I always do looking for what’s good in the hood when I came across an article from BuzzFeed that made me clutch my pearls, then touch my chest and say, “Why, I never!” The headline? “We Found the Girl Who Danced to Living Single’s Theme Song and Sis Looks Good as Hell.”
The article, penned by BuzzFeed staff writer Essence Gant, is one of those joints that I assume was written by somebody young(er)—according to this the Life Currency interview, she’s likely 31 now—who maybe came across Living Single more recently and was excited and enthused about the lives of Khadijah, Max, Regine, Synclaire, Overton and Kyle and probably binged the show after it was made available on Hulu back in January.
Nothing about this is a bad thing. It is a great show and bingeworthy, and the theme music and the opening dance number are awesome. My guess is that the writer took a shining to the intro and was like, “I wonder who that is. I’m a writer; let me dig into the crates.”
Now, those of us who grew up in the ’90s, both on and with hip-hop, know and have always known that it was Leslie “Big Lez” Segar in that dance number. Her silhouette was distinctive and we knew her from hosting Rap City, acting and choreographing videos for damn near everybody—from Michael Jordan to Mary J. Blige. While I’m not going to pretend that Big Lez was a mainstream household name, in the hip-hop world (a large part of the target demo for Living Single), we knew Big Lez.
Back to me clutching my pearls and shit. When I read the headline that referred to Big Lez as “the Girl,” I felt like some unintentional shade was being thrown. I say unintentional because if you read the actual article (who does that?) you’ll see that Ms. Gant thinks highly of Big Lez:
After digging around the internet, we found out that the infamous choreographer is Leslie “Big Lez” Segar, @yourgirllez on Instagram, and sis is #skingoals, #fitgoals, all the goals.
She’s been a professional dancer and has worked with some of music’s biggest legends. This video of her and Mary J. Blige is the cutest #blackgirlmagic nostalgia.
And who wouldn’t? It’s Big Lez, famed VJ who had some classic interviews and episodes of Rap City. She’s a real basket of kittens and always has been. So again, I’m sure Gant knows this and feels this and means no harm by referring to Big Lez as “the Girl”—hell, the title ends with “Sis Looks Good as Hell.”
But would it have been that much trouble to add her name to the title instead of making it seem like she was just some woman who danced in the intro and wasn’t a somebody BEFORE she did that? We knew who she was. By “we,” I mean hip-hop. In my view, calling her “the girl” diminishes her star. It implies that most people—or likely most people who read BuzzFeed—wouldn’t register her name enough to warrant mentioning it.
Even still, “We Found Big Lez, Who Danced to Living Single’s Theme Song, and Sis Looks Good as Hell” works just as well as the current title, no? I didn’t know what she’s been up to, and I wager many folks don’t. But not even calling her by her name? That feels unnecessarily disrespectful. But maybe I’m making a mountain out of a molehill. Maybe it’s just fine.
But since I don’t know, I’m gonna take it as disrespect, even if it’s unintentional. I’m not going to turn it into a larger discussion about marginalizing black women; after all, the author of the “article” is a black woman.
Also, you see how I put the word “article” in quotes? Here’s the situation: I’m not sure if the source piece is actually an article—the letters are huge, there are tons of hashtags, and it’s largely GIFs and pictures. Hell, it’s basically a list of pictures with lots of captions. But it’s a byline, so it’s an article, right? I don’t know. I don’t want to not call it one—get your money, girl—but me adding those quotes makes it seem like I’m mocking or belittling, basically being disrespectful. But I don’t mean it that way.
Anyway, is it me? Am I tripping? Or does the headline seem mad disrespectful, even if unintentionally?
Inquiring minds would like to know.