What I learned from last night’s Soul Train Music Awards is that you can be anything you want in entertainment, just not a woman. Or a girl.
What I mean is that in her opening monologue, soul singer and Soul Train award show host Erykah Badu took a swipe at absent Aussie rapper Iggy Azalea for being a failure as a rapper.
More specifically, while making light out of her personal exclusion from hip-hop award shows (and pretending to ban all rappers from the Soul Train Awards because of it), Badu pretended to take a telephone call from Azalea and then said:
“Oh, no, no, no, no, you can come. ‘Cause what you doin’ is definitely not rap.”
It was funny, you see. Because Azalea is terrible. And a cultural appropriator. And a white woman. And all of those aforementioned attributes means she has no business in Black music, especially not rap. Besides, we all know that she was sent to kill hip-hop. Because rap music is only for real Kangs who are about nation building, respect for our people and having something meaningful and worthwhile to say to The People. Like Young Thug. And Rich Homie Quan. and perpetual show-offs like Rick Ross.
Therefore let’s all have a good laugh at her audacity. And let’s mock and ostracize her for being so disrespectful. To the culture. To the community. And to all that is good and righteous about this world. Because clearly, she is the evil one here.
And then R Kelly performed. And nobody laughed.
And not only did they not laugh, but folks actually sung along. And then they applauded. And gave standing ovations. And so did the home audience. Many of who said things like, “Yeah I know we are not supposed to like R Kelly because of what he did to those girls and all, but I can’t help it when his old stuff comes on…”
Yes, I am being snarky.
But it’s hard to not be sadistically amused about Badu mocking Azalea – and everyone applauding that – while totally missing the real joke, which was performing at the end of the show.
As previously noted in a piece I wrote earlier this summer entitled, Is Sexism to Blame for the Downfall of Iggy Azalea:
“I started to feel this way around the time Snoop Dogg decided to go in on the poor girl on Instagram. Again, I am not a fan, but I didn’t believe that she deserved to be cyberbullied. Folks were coming out of the woodworks, accusing Azalea and her lack of lyrical abilities of killing hip-hop. However, the same could be said for a lot of other hip-hop artists on the scene today. And yet, I have not seen one petition created denouncing Young Thug and any of his gibberish.
Nor do I recall many folks being concerned about cultural appropriation and the future of rap when Eminem came on the scene with all of his I-hate-my-mom-so-much-I-should-just-kill-everybody-and-myself white boy angst. There were no boycotts and public denouncements after it was discovered that Eminem once made a racist song that also called Black women specifically “bitches.” And yet, a few questionable tweets on Azalea’s part had folks ready to lead NAACP marches on her a**.
Likewise, Riff Raff, Paul Wall, Mac Miller, Yelawolf and a few other white boy rappers also mimic the style and aesthetic of cultures not of their own. Yet they all seem to get a hood pass, which very few of us were willing to give to Azalea or her fake cakes. Matter of fact, with white people making up a large chunk of hip-hop consumers (those who buy albums and attend concerts), it is hard to see how any concerns Black folks may legitimately have about cultural appropriation would even be a factor. So again, why the Azalea hate?”
For the same reason it is easier to shade Azalea – and get national headlines for it – than it is to shade R Kelly.
It’s because we, as a society, sell out women and girls all the time. For both money and appearance.
Listen I get it: Azalea is a hot-arse mess. And I am not defending her “artistry” in the least. But how come her crime against the culture is more egregious than what R Kelly did?
And how come we as a society ostracize her and yet give shelter and protection to R Kelly?
No, I’m really asking…
As what I witnessed last night was a complete disregard for the suffering and anguish of not only R Kelly’s victims, but of victims of sexual abuse and assault everywhere.
When the committee behind the Soul Train awards made the conscious decision to give an artistic platform to a man who has legally skirted by on well-documented charges of sexual abuse of young Black girls (none of which he has atoned for), it said those women and girls don’t matter.
When we dance and sung in our living rooms to his performance while giving a flippant, “well I can’t help it. I love R Kelly and those girls shouldn’t have been fast in the pants anyway…” to anyone who dared to challenge our support of him, we also said those women and girls don’t matter.
And when the mainstream decided to run with Badu’s mockery Azalea, meanwhile giving praise to R Kelly for a stellar performance (and not mentioning the audacity of him being there in the first place), it said not only do those women and girls not matter, but we don’t care about any women or girls for that matter.
Because, and in spite what your cousin Hotep Supreme True God wants you believe, White America does not give a damn about protecting women neither.
Just ask the Duggar girls.
Just ask Ke$ha.
Just ask the victim of Roman Polanski.
Just pay attention.
As a society, we have decided to give cover to the most indefensible of behaviors, particularly around sexual abuse and rape, just because a person – a man person – entertains us. And as a society, we continue to say that we will throw any and all women under the bus to do so.
And yes, I know this sounds preachy (that is my speciality), but it does not hurt us none to recognize how rape culture is perpetuated.