She sparkled under the stage lights, dazzling the audience with her charm, humor, and risqué costumes. Seduction poured from her and she basked in it.
She unapologetically took control of her sensuality and became a legend for it.
And in a time where Black women had to work infinitely harder than white women to fight against respectability politics, Baker’s erotic performances weren’t merely entertainment. It was her taking a stand.
A legacy from slavery that’s often treated as taboo to talk about is how enslavers sexually assaulted and objectified enslaved women, but then had the audacity to say these women were hypersexualized.
Knowing this context, for Baker to have taken the agency she did over her sexuality was radical. She understood that to control her erotic narrative was empowering. It meant that only she had the power to define herself.