Soniah Kamal

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'Islam is not Pakistan's religion; Marriage is'

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Joshunda Sanders, Lucky Star and Madonna and Me

Leading up to my 'Madonna and Me' talk at the Decatur Book Festival, I will be interviewing my fellow contributors. Today it's Joshunda Vitctoria Sanders' turn. Joshunda's essay 'The Black Madonna' recounts her surprise when Madonna identifies herself with 'African-Americans', and Joshunda's journey towards understanding this. My favorite bit from Joshunda's essay "As a white artist who was unafraid to express her affinity for black culture in a time before it was cool, Madonna set the stage for a new generation of women-- celebrities and regular folk alike-- to express themselves outside of racial classifications'.

And here's Joshunda herself.

Favorite Madonna song and why?
 It's hard to pick just one, but Lucky Star is tired with Holiday as my favorite Madonna song. They were my introduction to her music and remind me off dancing to her songs as a kid.

Favorite video and look? 
I loved Vogue because the dancing in it was so great. I didn't know when I saw it that I was inspired by men of color,  but when I researched my piece, I could see the connection between Vogue and Paris is Burning. I love that Madonna makes her own style and consistently reinvents herself as a woman and a brand. I liked her when she was starting out a lot more, since she was pushing the envelope for what a pop star could do with her sexuality and fashion back in the 1980s.

Madonna with Nickie Minaj and MIA: Ultra Diva or Desperate?
I think that woman pop artists have to be shrewd about using the images they sell to promote themselves and what they symbolize. I'm not sure I think she falls into either category for collaborating with Nickie or MIA. Since she had been a celebrity and businesswoman for a long time, I think of these things as strategic more than anything else. 

Can you tell us a little about your writing and revision process for 'My Pocket Madonna'? 
 When I was thinking about my musical tastes and my love for pop, Madonna was one of the only solo white woman that I could remember being inspired by. Writing and revising The Black Madonna allowed me to think more carefully about how and why I felt connected to her. I was most surprised by a quote from her long ago saying that she had always felt a connection to black culture, which I think came across most vividly during her work in the 1990s. As a maverick, trailblazer and icon, I could imagine that she was viewed by most as an outsider as most black people have been viewed in America, which is the conclusion I was trying to reach while working on the piece.

What are you working on now? 
I'm working on a an eBook based largely on some of the stories I tell on my blog at called Single and Happy. I'm also writing a memoir.

J. Victoria Sanders has been a journalist, essayist and poet for more than a decade. Her writing has appeared in VIBE Magazine, The Root, Publishers Weekly, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Dallas Morning News and Bitch Magazine.
Her work has been widely anthologized and her publication credits include Secrets and Confidences: The Complicated Truth About Women’s Friendships, Click: When We Knew We Were Feminists, Homelands: Women’s Journeys Across Race, Place and Time, Quiet Storm: Voices of Young Black Poets and Madonna and Me. She lives with her adorable dog Cleo in Austin, TX. She blogs at and at

Tomorrow Q &A with Sarah Sweeney

Read the Q & A with editor of the anthology Laura Barcella

Read the Q & A with Wendy Tokunaga  

Sept 1, 2012. Decatur Book Festival. Local Prose Stage. 3: 15.
Soniah Kamal will be talking about growing up Muslim with Madonna. She will also read from her essay 'Through the Wilderness'. Please join her.

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