Wiz Khalifa, Kanye West, Amber Rose and the Slut Shaming of Black Female Sexuality

By Arielle Newton

On a track with Juicy J called “For Everybody,” Wiz Khalifa, the estranged husband of businesswoman Amber Rose, rapped about how he “fell in love with a stripper” but “fell out of love quicker.” He opines that hoes don’t “pay attention to love anyway,” because they’re “only concerned with what the haters say” and need Instagram and reality TV to decipher their standards for quality relationships, and how its not even worth playing Captain Save-a-Ho, and some more patriarchal bullshit we’ve heard about women since the beginning of civilization.

Although he hasn’t yet publicly attributed his newfound caveman philosophy to his recent breakup with Amber Rose, we all know that’s what’s happening here. He’s been bitter for some time; tweeting underhanded comments about the mother of his children and the woman he once “loved,” and overall, acting reckless and messy like he has no sense.

In an article about the Mo’Nique-Lee Daniels blackballing saga, I said there’s four sides to every story: his, hers, the truth, and perception. And the perception here is that when Black men are done with Black women, Black women are no longer suitable, clean, or desirable.

This perception is reinforced with Kanye West’s public comments about Amber Rose in an interview with the Breakfast Club. He said that he had to take “30 showers” before Kim would let him touch her.

“If Kim had dated me when I first wanted to be with her, there wouldn’t be an Amber Rose…It’s hard for a woman to want to be with a man that’s been with Amber Rose. I had to take like 30 showers before I got with Kim. Don’t ask me no more [laughs] I just want to be respectful.”

The joke fell flat, with many (including Amber) quickly pointing out the striking irony of Kanye being so hostile to Amber’s sexuality when his wife is only known for hers. A rather underwhelming sex tape is what made her a global phenomenon after all.

Amber has yet to publicly comment on her estranged husband’s lyrics (dare I even call them that?), but we know she’s not one to run from battle. She masterfully etheredKhloe and the Kardashian Kamp, and mercilessly humiliated Kanye with the sage bravada of a woman from South Philly.

 

 

But with Wiz, she’s taken a measured approach; commenting very lightly on their marriage, while ultimately boosting her social media image with that glorious body of hers. And that’s the root of Wiz’s anger—that she, even without him, still has authority and control over her sexual identity. Amber wasn’t a ho when she was twerking on Instagram to celebrate his album, Blacc Hollywood, debuting at number 1. But she’s a ho when he no longer has ownership of or agency over her sexuality.

And we won’t get in to the double standard here. Amber Rose left Wiz after he was caught cheating on her with two porn stars. And apparently, this wasn’t the first time he’s cheated on her. But whatever. She’s a ho. A dirty ho. Case closed.

I don’t think this violent hostility towards Black female sexual identity is indicative of all Black culture, just manufactured Black culture for-profit. Kanye West and Wiz Khalifa are deeply rooted within the music industry, a capitalist patriarchal structure in which calculated, strategic actions are taken to ensure a vicious status quo that subjugates the sexualized complexity of Black women while marginally uplifting the sexual identity of white women. Ugh. And I’m over it.

So, do you Amber. I may not agree with all your choices and all your language, but I know they’re coming for you because you dared to be your intricate, complicated, vulnerable, sexual self.

—–

Arielle Newton is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Black Millennials. Follow her at @arielle_newton. For Black Millennials at @BlkMillennials.

This post originally appeared on Black Millennials

Photo: Amber Rose/Facebook

Kanye: Prophet or Punk

Kanye Grammys

By Keevin Brown

Kanye West’s playful almost interruption of Beck at the Grammy’s was an homage to his actual 2009 Grammy award interruption of Country artist Taylor Swift. The irony of the situation was meant to instill humor and to some level, show a sense of growth and maturity. We as Americans supposedly live in a “post-racial” society, but once again racism rears its ugly head and seems to be the inescapable lens in which we view society.

Due to the antagonistic and outright racist history of America, every interaction between Black and white people is seen through a racialized lens that forces us to question each others intentions. When Kanye faked us all out during Alternative artist Beck’s acceptance speech for Best Album at the Grammy’s, his actions were automatically read as “a Black man picking on a defenseless white guy.” No matter how much Kanye explains that his actions were in jest and that the voices in his head told him to do it (another joke Kanye made that was in jest) he will still be demonized as the “Black bully” who is selective in his victimization to only innocent and unassuming white people.

In an attempt at scolding the Black boogeyman, Garbage singer Shirley Manson in an open letter uses coded language to reprimand Kanye. “You disrespect your own remarkable talents and more importantly you disrespect the talent, hard work and tenacity of all artists when you go so rudely and savagely after such an accomplished and humble artist like BECK.”  Manson’s comments were said in reference to an E! Entertainment post-Grammy’s interview where Kanye espoused his opinion that the Grammy’s don’t respect artistry. Black people have been called “savages” since before the inception of America and for Manson to posit Beck, who is white, as “humble” and Kanye, a Black man, as a “savage” is nothing more than reinforcing tropes of uncivilized Black people who threaten the purity and sanctity of whiteness by virtue of simply existing.

If we are to truly move past America’s bigoted past and present, we need to level the playing field. What Kanye did is exercise his First Amendment right to Freedom of Speech. Kanye did this is 2009 with Taylor Swift and contemporarily with E! Entertainment. Manson also expressed her opinion, which she has every right to. The only difference is when a powerful Black celebrity like Kanye says something it is viewed as savagery, but when white people in the entertainment industry do it, they are touted as heroes e.g. Seth Rogan and his film The Interview. When Seth Rogan wanted to release his controversial and satirical movie that depicts North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in a less than favorable light, Hollywood stood up for him, but when Kanye feels a Beyoncé should win an award over another artist, which is extremely less controversial he is berated in the media. Hollywood backed Rogan, who will stand up for Kanye?

 

 

Stay Mad Then! : In Defence of The Right To Be Angry

Kanye Grammys

On Kanye West, Azealia Banks and a call for a deeper reading of their rage.

By Jay Dodd

Kanye’s narrative has been riddled with often sloppily generalised tantrums. While we must hold him accountable to his “seat at the table aspirations,” we often, as consumers of his frequency of Blackness, only hear him as whiny child begging for attention. In 2009, when Kanye stormed theMTV VMA’s to call out the injustice of Taylor Swift winning Best Female Video over Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies”, official lines in the sand were drawn in the Kanye Fan Club. Some supported him: critics fetishizing his Black Boy rage, BeyHive stans who wanted to do it themselves, and me, clearly (sorry bout it). Others saw this act as yet another temper tantrum from the oft caustic and flippant egoist Mr. West. 

Black artists who cry out are dismissed and sensationalized a hyper-sensitive.

In the time since, we have seen him marry into a pop cultural case study of race, class, and positionings of Blackness, all while trying to negotiate his own. And since the birth of his daughter he has taken on new forms and new languages for his work. Last night he performed both his recent homage the lineage of woman in his life , and his conversation about respectability with Rihanna (“Only One,” and “FourFiveSeconds,” respectively). Kanye, his mouth, (his dick) and his whole brand are constantly seen through a lens of anger. But recently, he has shared with us smiles and some thought things were “safe”, however: Kanye West absolutely cares about Blackness and artistry.

As part of the anti-black violence “some call cultural smudging” in the popular culture, we see this trope of the Angry Black Folk. They speak out the mouth, they clap back, they embarass & destroy. Kanye has screamed out at varying levels of injustice, and at each of them we should attempt make a space to hear it. While often misread as infraction, Black artists who cry out are dismissed and sensationalized a hyper-sensitive. While this violence on Kanye is a child like caricature and salivation at his smile, this violence is compounded for Black women.

From the grave understating of Janet Mock’s byline, to the racist vitriol from Rosie O’Donnell this week against Lauren Chief Elk; rage and clap back on Black women is shamed and essentialised. While several Black female artist, there is a particular defense available for emcee and teen witch Azealia Banks. Our conversations often position Banks as angry Black girl. Her language, often without nuance and absent critical construction, can read has “terror”-inducing and occasionally complete reproduces problematic violence. However, that explosive narrative, she also calls out the racism of the cis-queer community and resists notions of submission. In her rage, critics are quick to strip her of her openly queer identity. It appears folks want to sanitize her queerness to delegitimate her critiques.

While her responses are flippant, the accusation of Azealia’s “homophobia” seem unfounded because she has been openly queer since her first big hit“212”. Her interactions with Perez opened a flood-gate of Twitter beefs combating the racism (internalized and otherwise) in Hip Hop and the language-policing of Black artist. She has tuned her outcries toward the cultural erasure happening in Hip Hop and connected it to the larger conversation of anti-Blackness in America. There is a productive space for Azealia’s resistance. So, how are we to take these complicatedly justifed angry Black folk. For Kanye and Azealia are speaking to a bubling national conversation of Black artists, activists, people tired of being denied humanity and credibility. Though aspirations of validation are varied, there is a consistent desire to be seen .To be seen by your own, to be seen as human, to be seen as worth something. Banks and West cry out to be seen, and reserve the right to.

For Kanye and Azealia are speaking to a bubbling national conversation of Black artists, activists, people tired of being denied humanity and credibility.

Mitigating Black anger is an often used as tool in the erasure of Blackness in popular culture; capitalizing on its sub/superhuman quality, why pathologically killing Black people in the flesh. To quell, or quench or smother Black rage is an often tried tactic of institutions built around language and media. In the ways that, Martin Luther King Jr. can be painted as soft or easy or unradical, he outcried with such rage he too was target. Anger on Black bodies circumvents any performance of respectability, they will be read as dangerous in life, and eviscerated in death.Kanye decided, last night, to mitigate his own anger. He, whether premeditated or knee jerk, did not throw a tantrum on stage. He spoke to a center of pop culture in America. He laughed and smiled through crying injustice. He negotiated rage into a language he has been attempting to acquire seemingly since his debut.

If Kanye has learned anything in his fame’s trajectory, it is subversiveness breeds conversation. He juxtaposes personal understandings of class, sexuality, and most often race in culturally accepted locations. His sex-tape capitalizing wife on his the cover of Voguehis capsule collection of jeans and t-shirts; these subversive dichotomies are revealing of his new languages of resistance. Academic and Activist, Zoe Samudzi recently tweeted that: “Black Skinhead” from 2013’s Yeezus,is “a dissonance of being conscious and seeming to so desperately to want [to be] this king of the world artistic genius celebrity.” These cultural paradoxes are sometimes frustrating with his brand of brash messaging but he consistently has wanted Blackness and artistry to be linked and celebrated. He is more than just saying what we think, he is rattling our notion of popularity and disarming what we rely on as the angry Black man trope.

The Grammy’s, like other growingly archaic award shows, have made it clear that Blackness is not valued only “profitable”. Many argue that outrage against the consistent erasure and rejection of Black art is not productive. We must consider that Kanye, like Ava Duvernay in her Oscar snub, know their artistry exists whether or not these “academies” recognise it or not. While Black artists all choose to push back or respond to such dismissal differently, we need to make a space for frustration and anger that comes along with being framed as unworthy. There is a place for Kanye, and angry Black folk.

This post originally appeared on VSnotebook

Photo: Youtube/Screenshot