In the face of white privilege to say we as Black people have encountered numerous injustices is a gross understatement. The nature of white America is to syphon off anything that is deemed popular or is a staple of Black culture and demonizes it. Once the denigration is set in place the next step is to co-opt it and monetize it. Black skin and Black features are simultaneously vilified and praised and which vein it’s viewed in is largely incumbent on who is talking about it and who benefits from it. White skin is the apex of beauty, yet there is a billion dollar tanning industry with the dominant narrative being Black isn’t as beautiful. Big lips are made fun of on Black people, yet Angelina Jolie’s lips are praised. Since the time of Sarah “Saartjie” Baartman, white men have ogled over her large buttocks and it was a source of a weird mixture of sexual arousal, fascination, and disgust. Perhaps most sickening is the fact that she was paraded around like a circus animal for white men’s pleasure and profit. When a Black woman has a large butt she is told from society that she is not beautiful and that she should lose weight in order to fit the mold of white people’s standards of beauty. Having a big butt was not popular until Jennifer Lopez hit the scene and then white mainstream society could accept it just as long as it wasn’t on an identifiably Black body. Hip Hop culture has also been co-opted in order to monetize it. The glory goes to white artists for doing the exact same thing Black artists have been doing for years with little to no shame about it. The fact that 50 Cent can come out the gate as a new Hip Hop artist and sell 10 million albums and have arguably one of the most recognizable singles in music history with “In Da Club,” and then get snubbed at the Grammy’s for “Best New Artist” to a forgettable white band, is proof positive that Black isn’t good enough no matter how well you perform.
It comes as no shock then that Azealia Banks criticism of Iggy Azalea manifests itself in twitter rants…its cathartic! Seeing others profit from things your culture helped produce could be frustrating to some degree, but when those who profit do not look like you and use racist language with reckless abandon, it makes the matter all the more irritating and depressing. Iggy Azalea is no stranger to using racist imagery and language in the past with lyrics referencing herself as a “runaway slave master” as well as debating people over the alleged unfairness of her not being able to use “nigga” in her songs. Where do we as Hip Hop heads, Black people, and people in general draw the line? Why do corporations, Black people, and people in general continue to support her, but when Mel Gibson went on his racist and misogynistic rant he disappeared? (Blackballed?) Why do we criticize Azealia Banks for persisting to combat these injustices and simultaneously support T.I. who jumps to Iggy’s defense no matter how damning her actions are? I don’t know why, but I do know that there will never be an end to these kinds of injustices in the Hip Hop community, in the Black community, and society at large if we don’t interrogate them seriously and not give allowances to ignorance because its popular or can make a quick profit. Here is some parting food for thought. Isn’t it odd that ever since the rise of Iggy Azalea and her “large” butt and white skin, there is a slow down in Nikki Minaj momentum? What’s the real message behind the changing of the guards?…hmmm