A generation ago children across the US were introduced to the magic of “Sesame Street” and an array of delightful characters both human and puppets. Master puppeteer Jim Henson created what he called “Muppets”—combination monsters and puppets to entertain us all. One such Muppet was a shaggy, furry blue puppet known as the “Cookie Monster.” At the mere mention of the word, “cookie” Cookie Monster would go crazy. He stuffed his face with cookies and could never seem to get enough of them. He would do anything for cookies. Well, I fear I have become a Cookie Monster.
However, the Cookie that has me crazy is the character that Taraji P. Henson plays on Lee Daniels breakout television hit, “Empire.” This ghetto fabulous woman is my alter ego and, truth be told the alter ego of a lot of us Sistas who are constrained by the politics of respectability. Below are some reasons I (and a lot of my friends) love Cookie:
1. She’s smart – Cookie understands the music and entertainment business; she understands economics; she understands the streets; and she understands people. People only underestimate her intelligence ONE time.
2. She’s good at what she does – Despite a 17 year absence (for a stint in prison) she still knows the business and she knows it well enough for her ex-husband to realize it is better to have her on his team than on the team of an opponent.
3. She has her own sense of style – Unlike the muted grays and soft cream colors of Olivia Pope, Cookie is all about the animal print. She rocks snakeskin, leopard skin, zebra print…you name it. She wears it, has it hanging in her apartment, and anywhere else she is. The outrageousness of her style is an exercise of power. It’s telling the world, “I’m Cookie…You better ask somebody!”
4. She’s a Tiger Mama – Despite her harsh exterior Cookie LOVES her children and will turn the world upside down to ensure that they get what is rightfully theirs. She’s not afraid to get up in their faces but she’s not the least bit shy about saying, “I love you” to 3 grown men.
5. She’s loyal – Seventeen years of hard time has not allowed Cookie to forget who has been on her side and she is committed to staying on their side. How else can you get someone you haven’t seen in almost 2 decades to shoot up someone you suspect has it in for you?
6. She’s complex – This character is not just some loud, obnoxious ghetto girl. She has dreams and visions. She was the brains behind the empire and she knows it. She wants to hate her ex husband but she understand the bonds of love, marriage, and family run deep and no matter what has transpired, it’s just not that easy to walk away from some things and some people.
7. She knows how to make an entrance – Only Cookie comes in to the boardroom with wide brimmed, 70s style disco hats and 9-inch heels. Like her or not, you do have to notice her.
8. She knows how to make an exit – Oh my, in the last episode where she was sorely disappointed about hearing the news of Lucious’ impending marriage to Anika, Cookie showed her vulnerability by letting everyone in the room know she came prepared to get busy with her ex as she opened her coat and exposed the fact she was wearing a sexy piece of lingerie. Any other character would then dissolve into a puddle of tears and humiliation. But, Cookie turned around, displayed her generous and nicely maintained backside and let her rival know what time it really was. (cue: Elvis has left the building).
9. She’s fearless without being stupid – Cookie is no daredevil. She’s not looking for trouble. But she’s not one to cut and run. She let the federal prosecutor know that by forcing her to testify before the grand jury she was one, “Dead B- walking!” But knowing this did not have her cowering in fear…she began initiating plans to deal with impending danger.
10. She’s just BadA$$– This is the woman many Black women have lurking deep inside of us. We want to mean what we say and say what we mean. We want to be unapologetically Black without being a caricature, stereotype, or less than feminine. We want to control our sexuality without being turned into sex objects. We want to be able to rock a name like “Cookie” whether we are 14 or 44.
I am loving all things Cookie and am not ashamed to tell folks, “I am a Cookie Monster! You better ask somebody!”
Stay Black & Smart!