Say No To This

Painting of Black Woman in Green Dress

I read an article about a new book that treats Thomas Jefferson’s “relationship” with Sally Hemings as a romance rather than a master raping a slave, right after watching Anita, the documentary about Anita Hill. I have also been listening to Hamilton. The song, “Say No To This,” is about Hamilton trying to resist the temptation to have a consensual affair (that ends poorly), but the words convey something else entirely.


That’s when I began to pray: Lord, show me how to say no to this, I don’t know how to say no to this.

But my God, she looks so helpless. And her body’s saying, “hell, yes.”

It’s not that the song is bad, or even that it does a bad job of portraying what might have been going through Hamilton’s mind at the time. But those first two sentences sound like an abuse victim trying to figure out how to avoid a non-consensual encounter and those second two read like a sexual predator justifying his behavior. It’s triggery is I guess what I’m getting at.

And these topics are all so deeply tied in with questions of power and gender and race. They seem intertwined in ways I can’t quite put words to. But painting it made some sense, so that’s what I went with.


2 thoughts on “Say No To This

  1. rq

    For some reason, I really want this painting.
    Probably knowing the reasons it came to be. But it’s a lovely, striking piece of work.

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