All Articles Tagged "black women"
As a student at an elite university, I am no stranger to the term “Black excellence.” Every time one of my classmates or I accomplish something new; it’s not rare to see the phrase in the comments section on Instagram and Facebook. Many would think that as I am pursuing higher education I would take pride in the phrase, but on the contrary, I can’t help but cringe every time I hear it. This overwhelming belief that I am somehow better than the average Black woman because I am soon to have a college degree not only saddens me but it also ignores underlying privilege. To me, it’s all aimless competition. So many times we hear arguments defending Black elites, saying that they deserve to be considered Black and are not sellouts and shouldn’t be told that they “talk white.” But not nearly as much energy is devoted to being there for Black people–specifically women–who live on the other side of the train tracks.
We don’t give the Shaniqua’s of the world enough recognition. Between name and outfit shaming, hairstyle mocking and the everyday tasteless comparisons to more worthy women, the hood rats of the world not only have to deal with institutional inequalities, but sloppy respectability politics as well. Black women have to deal with a lot. Racism and sexism alone are enough to disturb the best of us. However, lower income Black women have to deal with classism on top of that. This means being teased for shopping at Rainbow and Forman Mills instead of Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue. This means hurtful weave jokes, too. And ultimately, this means that we are not here for our women like we may believe we are.
When a Black woman with a unique name gets turned down from a job prospect, we as a community tend to blame the woman, instead of the racist practices that judge someone’s work ability by the distance their name has from Becky or Sarah. When a Black woman decides to wear brightly colored hair, she is ridiculed and assumed to be uneducated. Societies beauty standards continuously put Black women at the bottom of the totem pole, never being uplifted to newer heights. We tend to look past the fact that “ghetto” women, just as everyone else, are multi-faceted and complex beings, not one-dimensional caricatures to be humiliated for variance from the status quo.
And what makes a Black woman “worthy,” anyway? Her ability to code switch? The amount of money she makes in an hour? The size of the house she lives in? These narratives are beyond tired and are ready to retire to the land of nonsense.
Black elite or the “talented tenth” as Du Bois coined, do a lot every day, both consciously and subconsciously, to distance themselves from being seen as ghetto. The respectability politics ingrained in these actions causes us to ignore bigger themes of marginalization by race, gender, and in this case, class. And for what? Corporate America still sees Black as Black; no matter where you come from or how you speak or what your hair looks like. Respectability politics are backwards and have no place in our fight for social justice. To share a post on Facebook about Black representation in the STEM field, yet turn around and put down your cousin who speaks African American Vernacular English (AAVE), shows just how much “justice” you actually want.
Newsflash: before we decriminalize Blackness, lets take a step towards decriminalizing ghettoness. Speaking traditional English and having a degree makes someone no better than anyone else. I attend a prestigious institution because I had the resources and privileges–going to a good school where there were opportunities for college prep–to help me get there. Not because my brain functions any better than the woman working at McDonald’s. In other words, it’s still misogynistic to degrade the Nicki Minaj’s of the world, no matter how much you applaud the Lauryn Hill’s. Black women are not homogeneous and will never fit any cookie cutter mold handed to us on a respectability plate.
A friend of mine recently said, “Ghetto people are the most generous, humble people there are. The kind of people that are the first to give you their last.” I can’t help but to agree. So, this one is for the hood rats. The women who get told far too often that they are not worth it. That they need to change to be acceptable. That they just don’t quite reach the bar. This one is for you, and I’m here for you.
Wendy Williams is always talking crazy. And yesterday, it was Ariana Grande’s turn to get roasted.
“She’s 21, she’ll forever look 12. And I don’t mean that in a good way. I mean that in a…You know, it’s nice to look younger than you are but when you look too young and then you’re short, she’s only 4’11. I don’t look at her as like a woman.”
First, as a complete aside, I just cannot understand why Wendy was talking about Ariana Grande and Big Sean at this late date. They’ve been broken up for months now. Perhaps this show was a rerun. But more importantly, for someone whose femininity is constantly questioned, I find it odd that Wendy would say she doesn’t consider Ariana Grande a woman. Maybe she meant to say she doesn’t look a woman and just got caught up. Interestingly enough, though Williams has built her entire empire bashing celebrities, people were outraged about this particular comment.
And the hashtag #CancelWendyWilliamsShow was trending nationwide.
While I have often felt like Ariana gets unnecessarily dragged for her looks, something she can’t control (with the exception of that ponytail), I find it fascinating that people were so up in arms when Ariana’s name was besmirched when Wendy has said far worse about plenty of Black women.
She routinely calls Rihanna a whore; but when it comes to White women who serial date, like Taylor Swift, she says this is what young women are supposed to do in their twenties. She made fun of the name of Kelly Rowland’s baby, saying it will be hard for him to live up to the name Titan. She called Evelyn Lozada’s son a cash register because she thought he represented a payout for the reality tv star.
And while many recognized Wendy’s flawed morality, I didn’t see any calls for cancelation.
That’s the power of the victimized White girl, honey.
She takes priority over our honor anyday.
Call it the Taylor Swift syndrome, in modern day terms.
In addition to no one defending our, Black women’s honor, it particularly perturbs me that Wendy Williams, is the Black woman spitting such vitriol against all women, but particularly Black ones.
Is it time she toned it down a bit or should more Black people step up when she launches attacks against celebrities within our communities?
I would love for someone to speak to Debra Lee and see what happened to the vision for BET. I really thought they were trying to do better, you know more empowering content for the Black community. But last night’s announcement, during the series finale of “The Game,” proved that they might have deviated from this plan.
If you weren’t watching the series finale, you might have seen the network’s tweets.
— BET (@BET) August 6, 2015
And then this one promoting “Tip Drill.”
— BET (@BET) August 6, 2015
Who, exactly, asked for this?
Perhaps BET forgot just how much controversy the “Tip Drill” video stirred up. I was always under the impression that video, which most of us found especially degrading, caused the show’s demise.
If I’m being a hundred percent honest, I was in middle school watching “Uncut” in the wee hours of the morning before school. For one reason or another I had a television and cable in my bedroom and I watched, mystified, seeing if I could imitate those same glute movements. It used to come on at 3 a.m, followed by some televangelist praying for people and claiming healing over lives. After watching “Uncut,” that’s exactly what I needed. Though wildly entertaining, the show was not something I should have been watching as an adolescent, as it was basically, in the words of Outkast’s Big Boi, soft-core porn. Those are the things that attract adolescents though. Thankfully, I already had a solid foundation and knew that I was more than how jiggly my developing booty could shake. But we all know, the way Black women are dying from illegal booty injections, that’s not the case for every woman or little girl.
And sadly, the way women are regarded in this country, and in the Hip Hop community particularly, there’s no more room for the objectification of Black women.
Furthermore, what’s really going on with the 11 pm time frame? If I was watching at 3 am, it will be nothing for kids to watch at 11 pm. Hopefully, their parents will still be up to regulate or set some parental blocks, but children find ways.
I guess I’m just confused by the whole thing. The videos on “Uncut,” were never known for quality or even innovation. It was just gratuitous ass-shaking. And since there’s plenty of that on YouTube and other social media sites, I don’t know why we have to repeat the formula.
If BET wants to bring back a vintage show, perhaps they should start with “Midnight Love.” Lord knows, there are more than enough R&B/soul singers who could use the love.
What do you think about the resurrection of “Uncut”? Are you here for it?
In a world where everyday it seems things can’t get worse for us as a people sometimes you just wanted to feel supported, uplifted, and celebrated as beautiful. Proctor and Gamble’s My Black is Beautiful initiative is offering a way to make that happen with an #AllTogetherBeautiful social challenge encouraging Black women to publicly acknowledge other Black women in their circles who are all together beautiful, and have them do the same so the love just keeps on going.
So often we think of beauty as a purely physical thing, but the #AllTogetherBeautiful campaign is about redefining the standard of beauty “as a standard that defines beauty by integrity, strength, character and spirit, as well as values positive actions, and celebrates those who are reaffirm this standard everyday.” That sentiment filled the room at the Imagine a Future celebration dinner here in New York City in mid-June and flowed through all of Proctor & Gamble’s events at Essence Festival Fourth of July weekend. Through you and the fabulous women in your circle the positivity can continue to live on via social media by joining in the challenge yourself. All you have to do is follow these three steps:
1. Record a video that celebrates a woman whom you believe is “All Together Beautiful”
2. Share this video across your social media pages using the hashtags #MBIB & #AllTogetherBeautiful
3. Challenge another woman by tagging them on social media to do the same for someone else
For more info, visit www.myblackisbeautiful.com and check out some of the highlights of the #AllTogetherBeautiful festivities to date below.
Famed choreographer Laurieann Gibson teaches us the Move with Confidence dance at EssenceFest. For the full step-by-step instructions, check out this video here.
India Arie discusses the biggest influence on how she sees herself in the #AllTogetherBeautiful Social Newsroom During EssenceFest with Jessica Andrews.
LeToya Luckett spills her beauty secrets in the #AllTogetherBeautiful Social Newsroom During EssenceFest with Ty Alexander of GorgeousinGrey.com.
Laurieann Gibson offers advice on moving with confidence throughout life with Christen Rochon of DivasandDorks.com.
It seems that people are just learning that Derek Luke, our beloved Antoine Fisher, grew up and didn’t marry a Black woman. Though Luke and his wife, Sophia, have been photographed often, out in public together, some still didn’t know. Or maybe they did know and still felt the need to express some angst about his interracial marriage when the actor posted a picture on his Instagram page.
Apparently, the comments got under Luke’s skin and he issued this message in response.
I never usually entertain the opinions of others because everyone is entitled to they're own opinion. (Positive or Negative) But we're in the year of 2015 & when should it be a "problem" to date outside of your race? Why is that an issue AGAIN? I'm doing the unusual & going through my comments & the comments I see about my wife being another race is bugging me out. Who one chooses to date is that persons business. Instead of focusing on (Happiness) & (pure Love) for some reason some folks are still focused on (Color). Doesn't make any sense to me. But I guess that's the ignorance of OTHERS. My wife may not be Black but she is mine. And she's mine with a heart of gold. People are so quick to judge but can't even distinguish the difference of another's race. Sophia Luke is Hispanic. She's not white, she's not black, she's not Chinese, she's Hispanic. And she's mine!!
Aside from the fact that I don’t understand why Black women are mad he married a (clearly Brown-skinned) Latina, there are some other things to dissect here.
Honestly, I never understood why people get on a celebrity’s personal, social media page and start popping off about their spouses. Even if Derek Luke were going to marry a Black woman, the chances that it was going to be you are slim to none. Emphasis on the none.
And the fact that people feel the need to express every opinion on social media is another issue entirely. Quite often, for the sake of your sanity and even your pride, it’s better to just keep scrolling. Typing angrily away, on a celebrity profile, is a lose-lose situation. You’ll either look crazy or, as is increasingly happening these days, the celebrity will mention you specifically and proceed to drag you…publicly.
But all that being said, I’m not going to pretend that I don’t understand the feelings that would influence a woman, particularly a Black woman, to start tough typing on someone’s page, even if she’s misguided in this action.
Luke said it’s ignorance. And from the protective husband perspective, I’m sure that’s how he sees it. But I’d argue that it’s more a consciousness.
It’s the same way we roll our eyes, groan or suck our teeth when we learn our celebrity crush has married a White woman. For many of us, it has less to do with that particular couple but the mistreatment we’ve experienced as Black women.
And I know, you know what I mean.
Mistreatment in that our features are only celebrated on White women.
Mistreatment in the way society, particularly the media, beauty and fashion industries, continuously lift White and fair skinned, straight-haired, thin-featured women as the beauty ideal.
Mistreatment in Black men telling us we should be more like White women, like all White women are submissive, devoid of attitude and a mind.
So, while I’m sure Derek is with his wife because he truly loves her, for a lot of Black women, she represents something else.
And as real as that perception is, at the end of the day, it’s not Derek’s, society’s or even Black men’s collective job to make us, Black women, feel good about ourselves. It would be nice to be reaffirmed by others but we have to do that for ourselves first.
There’s something very unfair about projecting our insecurities onto other couples. I personally don’t know Derek Luke’s dating history. I don’t know if he abandoned Black women once he got on. And I really can’t afford to care. As a former eye-rolling, teeth-kissing, Black girl, it’s just better to assume that it’s love. And if it’s not, sucks for him. #KanyeShrug But to worry myself with his life, his love and his decisions is really just a waste of time and energy.
If anything, the Sandra Bland case speaks to two particular problems we have here in America: First, there is the criminalization and mass incarceration of the Black community; and secondly, the need for more mental health treatment, as well as awareness.
Just as it is possible that Bland was murdered, it is also possible that she was also severely stressed, if not depressed. Let’s look at the facts: she was looking for work, sad about the world (particularly racism, police brutality, and violence) and had previous bouts of depression. It is true that she had finally found a job and appeared to be in good spirits. At the same time, just as those dominoes were starting to line up for her, here comes the criminal justice system to knock them all down. That is systematic racism for you…
I can’t speak for anybody else (or even Bland because we just don’t know what happened in that jail cell). But if I were in a depressive state, I could see my wrongful arrest being the final straw on the back of an already mentally burdened camel. And yet, it seems that even acknowledging the possibility that Bland might have been triggered by her wrongful detainment to take her life is both offensive and shameful to some folks. “Suicide is for the weak.” “Mental Illness does not exist, at least not in our community.” I’ve seen sentiments like this written online and said out of the mouths of other Black people. We have people who use the defense that “black women would never” and the strong black woman narrative as a way to deny the alternative view of this case.
While it is true that regardless of her fate, Bland had no business in jail in the first place, our denial of her mental state and how it played into her demise is an example of how our continued neglect of mental health in our community contributes to the criminalization, and even deaths, of people just like Bland.
I am reminded again about how deep our reluctance to talk about mental illness runs when I seen the reaction to a video of a Memphis woman having a psychotic break, abusing a 19-day-old baby. The video is heartbreaking, and I advise you to not watch it. With that said, the video went viral over the weekend, which means a lot of you have probably already seen it. And a lot of folks have been asking for this woman to be buried under the jail. To summarize, the 13-minute video features Faith Moore speaking religious gibberish while repeatedly tossing her newborn across the room. An older child is also seen in the video, sitting on the mother’s lap, crying and trying her best to keep her mom from attacking the baby again.
According to WHBQ My Fox Memphis, the video was recorded by Christian Banks, the father of the newborn, who told the news reporter that he filmed the episode because he needed “evidence.” He also said that the reason why he had not intervened and tried to save the baby from the abuse, but instead goaded the mother on by telling her to “go head” was because he was scared. Thankfully, the children are safe and in the custody of another family member.
As Moore’s mom told the local Fox affiliate, Moore had been off of her medication since finding out she was pregnant and giving birth. The woman’s mother says that she was concerned about what the medication would do to the baby. Moore is now receiving help. Meanwhile, a warrant has been issued for Banks for aggravated child abuse. He had been arrested twice for domestic violence previously, including an incident in which he hit Moore so hard with a telephone, it left a bruise.
In this instance, the authorities stepped in and did the right thing. Not only were the children placed into safer spaces, but Moore was given the treatment she desperately needed. But that is just one case. And the reality is that our criminal justice system, and prisons, in particular, are filled with people with mental health issues. Many do not deserve to be there and are not receiving the help they need so that they can function better in society.
Unfortunately, the bias we show to people with mental health issues, including our inability to acknowledge the fact that someone might actually be mentally ill, helps the system to further alienate, if not do more harm, to these people. I can’t tell you how many comments I’ve read from folks who, in spite of her mental illness, thought that Moore should be locked away or worse.
Whether the mentally ill person is a victim of the system, or of their own delusion, jail is not the place for them. Sandra Bland was likely hurting from within and needed help. Instead, what she found was her life – as well as her mental state – compounded even more by the system. And ultimately that complication cost Bland her life. The question is: Where would Moore and her children be if authorities would have merely locked her up?
When Nicki Minaj expressed her frustration about MTV failing to nominate “Anaconda” for video of the year, we immediately assumed she referencing an issue of race. MTV has a very long history of pushing Black artists and other artist of color into the margins.
The story dominated the news cycle, particularly when Taylor Swift came out asking Nicki why she was coming for her, when she had been nothing but supportive. You know the mainstream is always here for Taylor’s victimization.
But before her performance on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Nicki addressed the Twitter discussion. And her comments made us wonder if this was about race at all…
Read the excerpts and then watch the entire interview below.
Well, first of all I spoke to Taylor Swift yesterday on the phone. She was super, super sweet and she apologized. She said, ‘You know look, I didn’t understand the big picture of what you were saying but now I get it.’
So we’re all good.
I was just saying– I posted something on my Instagram and it just showed the stats of other videos that had been nominated previously and there just seemed to be a little funny business going on.
“Anaconda” had such a huge cultural impact and on top of that we broke the Vevo record. So, this is actually my third time breaking the Vevo record and Anaconda, therefore should have been nominated for it. And I do think that if it was one of the pop girls, they would have had many nominations for it.
I think I got two nominations for Anaconda for female and for hip hop but it should have been for the year.
I think that we just have to have both images for girls. We can’t have only one type of body being glorified in the media because it just makes girls even more insecure than we already are.
In addition to mentioning body type and pop in her initial Twitter rants, she also said:
“I’m not always confident. Just tired. Black women influence pope culture so much but are rarely rewarded for it.”
She later deleted that tweet.
During her comments this morning, she softened her language a little bit, referencing body types and pop vs. rap. It’s coded and watered down a bit for the White folks but the implications are still the same. Pop= White, Rap= Black. Slim bodies = White girls. Thicker bodies=Black girls.
But maybe the predominately White crowd and White host weren’t ready for the race talk.
What do you think about Nicki’s explanation on GMA? Do you think people will understand the greater, deeper, racial implications behind her message or will they be lost in the sauce?
It doesn’t matter what profession you take on to pay the bills, no one enjoys being overlooked. Just ask Nicki Minaj. The hip hop/pop star used her social media platforms to create much needed conversation regarding race, gender and recognition.
The 2015 MTV Video Music Awards will air on August 30 and are greatly celebrated among industry talent. Sure everyone would love to win a Grammy to showcase on their shelves, but they’ll also make room for a Moon Man and other accolades. Nicki along with other notable artists like Beyoncé and Taylor Swift are up for multiple awards this year — and while you might think calling attention to a snub is being greedy, you first need to look at the writing on the wall.
“When the ‘other’ girls drop a video that breaks records and impacts culture they get that nomination,” Minaj tweeted. “If I was a different ‘kind’ of artist, Anaconda would be nominated for best choreo and vid of the year,” she adds.”
While some might argue a music video that shows booties shaking and raising dumbbells isn’t worthy of a Best Choreography nomination, you have to remember those days of “and one, and two” videos with a kick ball change and pirouette are gone.
I think most of us however are very surprised Nicki did not receive a nomination for Video of the Year considering “Anaconda” was literally a big a$$ success. Not only was the single from her third studio album, The Pinkprint extremely popular on the Billboard charts but, at the time, broke a record for the most views in 24 hours (close to 20 million). This in turn sparked tons of photo and video parodies — including funny gal and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres to getting in on the action. It doesn’t matter if you think the video was good or not, there’s no denying the impact it had on pop culture.
Nicki’s statement that “black women influence pop culture so much but are rarely rewarded for it” rings true in so many industries. Just look what happened to Ava DuVernay who was snubbed from the Best Director category at this year’s Academy Awards. She recently told attendees of a media conference “you gotta follow the white guys” when talking about how to navigate the professional world. “Too often, we live within their games, so why would you not study what works?”
As much as we should be happy to see women as a whole make progress, the sad fact remains that Black women continuously get left behind. Yes, the average woman earns 78 cents to the man’s dollar. But guess what. Black women only make 64 cents to that same dollar. Sure Nicki Minaj and others in the music biz have little to complain about when it comes to earning a coin, but that is their corporate realm — and sometimes you need to call a party foul.
Now who knows the real reason why Nicki was left out of the Video of the Year category. You might think it’s no big deal considering there are other representatives of color like Bey and Kendrick to make up for her absence. You might think nothing’s wrong considering Beyoncé and Nicki are both in the Best Female Video category. Heck, you might not even give a darn about the award show.
It might be easy to sweep the idea of Black women getting overlooked on a professional level under the because we have ladies like Shonda Rhimes , Oprah and Beyoncé in the game. If you’re cool with just one or two in a sea of talent getting the spotlight, that’s your personal conviction. Personally I think only one of five black CEOs of a Fortune 500 company being a woman shows we have a problem.
While I use examples from the entertainment industry, there are bigger disparities among other industries that are a reminder there needs to be greater progress. A study in the Law & Society Review revealed Black women are not only undervalued and paid less, but also less likely to gain a job interview or offer compared to others.
The talent is there and working hard, but don’t always get the break or the recognition they deserve.
The MTV Video Music Awards have always been more about controversy than music videos. From the Kanye West and Taylor Swift “I’mma let you finish” moment to Lady Gaga’s meat dress and the Britney, Christina and Madonna liplock heard ’round the world, you never know what to expect from the award show. But as for the nominations and the announcement of them, there is rarely any fuss over them.
That is until now.
The nominations for the 2015 MTV VMAs were announced yesterday morning, and both Nicki Minaj and controversial rapper Azealia Banks wasted no time tweeting their feelings about being snubbed. Minaj expressed her gratitude for her nominations but felt some kind of way about the lack of recognition for “Feeling Myself”:
Hey guys @MTV thank you for my nominations. 😘😘😘 Did Feeling Myself miss the deadline or…?
— NICKI MINAJ (@NICKIMINAJ) July 21, 2015
Shortly after, Banks added her two cents about her music and its lack of consideration during award season. She picked up no award nominations.
All my videos deserve VMas and my album deserves a Grammy but I’ll never get one because America doesn’t like opinionated black women. — AZEALIA BANKS (@AZEALIABANKS) July 21, 2015
This was not a new song for Banks to sing. Just months ago she took to Twitter to give her two cents about Nicki Minaj always winning Best Female Hip Hop Artist at the BET Awards.
The female rap award at the bet awards goes to nicki every year, it’s not even a real award anymore lol it’s a bit of a running joke.
— AZEALIA BANKS (@AZEALIABANKS) May 18, 2015
In both cases, Banks wasn’t wrong. Minaj has won that award six years in a row. In fact, she won so many awards this year that at one point during last month’s ceremony, she accepted one and didn’t even know what it was for. And mainstream media has no love for opinionated Black women. But Banks is unfiltered and often emotional, and this combination ends with her saying some very taboo things more often than not. It’s become so normal for her that people can’t hear her even when she makes a very valid point. In the end, her credibility and musical talents have taken a back seat to her often tone-deaf opinions.
But Minaj does not have this issue. She defends herself and brings attention to her ownership of her sexuality. Her comments on race, while rare, are usually shared without backlash–until today. After inquiring about the lack of love for her collaboration with Beyoncé, Minaj continued to retweet her fans who were in an uproar that “Anaconda” and “Feeling Myself” did not receive nominations for Video of the Year. Minaj would even go on to blame the lack of acknowledgment for her record-breaking videos on the fact that she’s a Black woman, and a voluptuous one at that:
If I was a different “kind” of artist, Anaconda would be nominated for best choreo and vid of the year as well. 😊😊😊 — NICKI MINAJ (@NICKIMINAJ) July 21, 2015
When the “other” girls drop a video that breaks records and impacts culture they get that nomination. 😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊
— NICKI MINAJ (@NICKIMINAJ) July 21, 2015
But it was this subtweet that awoke the outrage of full-time victim, Taylor Swift:
If your video celebrates women with very slim bodies, you will be nominated for vid of the year 😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊😊 — NICKI MINAJ (@NICKIMINAJ) July 21, 2015
The 2015 MTV VMA Video of the Year nominees include Beyoncé’s “7/11”, Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud” clip, Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright,” Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars for “Uptown Funk,” and Taylor Swift feat. Kendrick Lamar for “Bad Blood.” The only video in the entire bunch that “celebrates women with very slim bodies” is Swift’s “Bad Blood.” The finger-pointing and condescending happy faces proved too much for Swift to handle, and she swiftly (no pun intended) responded:
@NICKIMINAJ I’ve done nothing but love & support you. It’s unlike you to pit women against each other. Maybe one of the men took your slot..
— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) July 21, 2015
It’s a bit of a reach for Minaj to act like she wasn’t calling out Swift. And it is interesting considering that there is a public history of good will between the two superstars. Back in 2011, Minaj went on record with Billboard to publicly acknowledge Swift for introducing “Super Bass” to a new fanbase. Swift rapped the song in a viral clip after requesting it during a radio interview.
“I want to publicly say again that Taylor Swift really launched that single into another stratosphere, with just tweeting about it and rapping it and stuff. I performed it with Taylor, and she’s so cute, and she’s like a big bowl of ice cream!”
While Minaj may have been a little petty with the subtweets, did Swift need to insert herself in this conversation about the Black female plight in the entertainment industry? Nope. Not unless she was trying to boost the issue into the mainstream. Swift’s main problem is with the lack of girl power, whereas Minaj is citing issues of race. But Swift’s gender-based clap back completely overshadowed Minaj’s whole point. In no time flat, they were caught up in yet another celebrity faux “beef,” with Minaj’s statements being labeled as “jabs” against Swift by mainstream media. Swift wins yet again.
The “Bad Blood” singer is often lauded for being the innocent, bullied country-meets-pop singer who supports all girls, but even she couldn’t acknowledge the possibility of a racial disparity in the music business. So, instead, she made a moment that wasn’t about her, about her. And while Minaj’s agenda is definitely self-serving, she had a point that could have made for a great national conversation until it was successfully derailed by Swift.
There’s absolutely no denying that this issue between successful, wealthy music artists is of much lower social significance and importance than the tragedy of Sandra Bland, Kindra Chapman, and many others. But this back and forth does expose things about the racial climate in America. This is about the devaluing of Black women and the kidnapping of our narrative. When Amandla Stenberg commented on Kylie Jenner’s appropriation of Black women’s style while ignoring the plight of Black people earlier this month, she was condemned as an angry, jealous Black woman making a big deal out of nothing. As Minaj broadcasts her feelings of erasure, Swift’s interjection and claiming of the narrative makes Minaj (like Azealia Banks, Amandla Stenberg, and countless others) out to be just another “angry Black woman.”
And mainstream media helped to push that image. Right after the spat, news articles from prominent sites like Entertainment Weekly showcased pictures of Minaj with her pink wig giving crazy eyes next to an angelic, glamor shot of Swift. After those on Twitter had raised their voice in disgust, EW issued an apology without actually addressing the intent behind the selection of the photos:
An earlier version of our post on Taylor & Nicki used an insensitive juxtaposition of photos. It was a hasty choice—we sincerely apologize.
— Entertainment Weekly (@EW) July 22, 2015
Hasty? Okay. We see you, Entertainment Weekly.
Inevitably, someone will apologize, and their reconciliation will be broadcast for the world to see at next month’s VMAs. But that does not mean this issue has been put to rest. The erasure of Black women is one of the most divisive and maddening issues we face. Black women so profoundly influence culture and create movements, but are continually cast aside. Our styles are appropriated, rebranded, and we are perpetually silenced.
It doesn’t matter how you feel about the “Anaconda” video or the “Feeling Myself” clip. It doesn’t matter if Minaj’s image rubs you the right or wrong way. But it does matter that as a Black woman, whether in the public eye or not, her feelings are heard and acknowledged.
As many of us are still trying to wrap our minds around the death of Sandra Bland, there is another one you need to add to your list.
Within the same week Bland was found dead in her jail cell, 18-year-old Kindra Darnell Chapman suffered a similarly mysterious fate, dying in her cell just an hour after she was booked into the facility.
Like Bland, authorities ruled Chapman’s death a suicide caused by asphyxiation.
According to AL.com, Kindra Chapman was booked in jail at 6:22 p.m. on Tuesday, July 14 for a first-degree robbery charge. She had allegedly stolen a cell phone.
Jailers last saw her alive at 6:30. At 7:50 she was found unresponsive. Authorities say she used a bed sheet to hang herself.
She was later taken to Brookwood Medical Center where she was pronounced dead.
The Homewood police are still investigating her death and the results of her autopsy are still pending.
Chapman’s mother, Kathy Brady, refutes the explanation police are giving for her daughter’s death. In an e-mail to AL.com, she said she believes police killed her daughter. She said police didn’t notify her of Kindra’s death until 9 p.m.
A petition on change.org, calls for full disclosure and full accounting of all the interaction between Chapman and the Homewood Police Department stating:
“We are calling for a meeting with any and all investigating officers so that we ourselves can relate that information of the Homewood Police Department to our communities. This issue is brought up because of the scant information that has been released on such a serious matter through the media. We feel there are consistent and persistent patterns of police mistreatment in the state of Alabama that are not always addressed particularly as it pertains to Black Women.”
The police released a statement this morning saying:
“all reports, videos and witness statements have been forwarded to the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office for review. Statements regarding the cause and manner of death will be released through the DA’s Office at the conclusion of their review.”
They also said, “The members of the Homewood Police Department express our condolences to the family of Miss Chapman.”
Today, six Black Lives Matter protestors were arrested in front of the city jail, to protest the reported suicide of Kindra Chapman. Five were charged with disorderly conduct and the sixth with resisting arrest.
Same script, different cast.
Sadly, we have another name to learn, to hashtag and to fight for.