Episode 5 of the Black Girl Dangerous podcast is here! Listen to Black Girl Dangerous herself—Mia McKenzie—and guests Jamie Nesbitt Golden, Pia Glenn’s Triflin’ Cousin Yvonne, and ray(nise) cange discuss Meryl Streep’s Suffragette t-shirt fail, Rihanna calling Rachel Dolezal “a bit of a hero”, Amber Rose’s SlutWalk and the pushback from ashy dudes, that NYT profile of Nicki Minaj and more!!
Full transcript below!
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Welcome to the Black Girl Dangerous podcast. I am Black Girl Dangerous, Mia McKenzie. This week we are gonna be talking about those unfortunate t-shirts that Meryl Streep and Carey Mulligan and the rest of those folks from the Suffragette movie, wore for a photo shoot, that said, “I’d rather be a rebel than a slave.” We’re gonna talk about Rihanna calling Rachel Dolezol “a bit of a hero.” And we’re going to answer a question from one of our listeners. Then later, Pia Glenn’s trifflin’ cousin Yvonne will be here to give us her thoughts on the backlash against Amber Rose and her slut walk event. And later, Jamie Nesbitt Golden is gonna join me to talk about that New York Times profile of Nicki Minaj. So you definitely want to stick around for all of those things.
Joining me right now is BGD contributor Raynise Cange. Hey Raynise!
Raynise: Hey, how’s it going??
Mia: Um, I’m kind of a little bit frazzled. I had to take my cat – I was talking last week about how my cat got herself injured somehow and I had to take her to the vet and she went back for her follow-up visit today and she’s doing terrifically. She’s great and she’s all back to normal, but I’m just kind of, I don’t know. You know when you have so much work that you just stare, like you just sit and stare.
Raynise: Yes, yes.
Mia: (laughter) That’s basically my day of just staring, like, “Oh man. That’s just a lot of work.”
Raynise: I’ve been staring a lot at my desk and computer.
Mia: Yeah, yeah, totally.
Raynise: So, I’m gonna call all of this, “White Feminist Fuckery.” I think that’s just a great way of looking at everything that we are gonna talk about. So the first thing is the Meryl Streep t-shirt that technically for the suffragette movement but Meryl Streep was really the big woman who did it – that we all noticed. They all were wearing this shirt that said, “I’d rather be a rebel than a slave.” Which was mean to inspire women to help – to go out and vote. The quote that they have is actually from Emmeline Pankhurst who is a British suffragette and they were all kind of just saying, “Oh but like you know, this woman said it so it’s ok.” And I’m like, “uh, I disagree” and I would love to know what you think about it and I would love to hear how you feel about, I will say, white feminist fuckery.
Mia: Yeah, definitely white feminist fuckery. I did see it (laughs). So, first of all, this is the kind of thing that happens when there are no women of color in the room. When there are no Black women in the room, when everyone is white, and there’s no concept of race, this is the kind of thing that happens. Right? Because white women have a hard enough time remembering that Black women exist when we are right there looking at them in the face. Right, but (laughter) when we’re not even there at all, forget it. We don’t exist, we just cease to exist all together. But you know, at least if there is a Black woman in the room, or really a Black person of any gender really, they are gonna look at those t-shirts and go, “Mmm… Is this a great idea though? Mmmm..” (laughter)
Raynise: Maybe you should think of another word that is not racially charged.
Mia: Exactly, because you know, some of our ancestors were actually enslaved, not that long ago. But instead you have a room full of white folks and it either never occurs to them or they don’t care enough about alienating Black women to make a different choice.
Raynise: I also have been thinking about this quote is from a woman who was British and in that time – that context is very different. But in the American suffragette movement, a. race is so important because one of the biggest issues that white women took up was that Black men got the vote before them. And then you have Black suffragettes like Ida B. Wells who faces so much racism and who was born a slave.
Mia: I mean this whole like, “It’s ok because she really said this in this context”, or whatever. Right ok, we know its quote. We get it. We understand. All these trolls being like, “Oh, you just don’t know that it doesn’t have anything to do with..” Like, we know. We understand where it comes from. We know who said it. We know what context it was said in. And guess what? It’s still a messed up thing to put on a t-shirt for a bunch of white women actors to parade around in. Right, cuz we don’t live in a vacuum. We live in the U.S. and the U.K. where this film is opening. This is the audience for this film – the U.S. and the U.K. and these are places that have a history of enslaving people that didn’t end that long ago.
Raynise: I think that we have this idea that these people who say things, these statements are timeless. And it’s like no, it’s problematic when you actually break it down.
Raynise: It’s just white women fuckery. That’s all it is.
Mia: Right, right. I mean, even the whole quote, I mean, like you said. I don’t think it’s a good quote. I don’t think even at the time, that’s kind of mmmm… That’s actually kind of really disrespectful to people who descend from slaves, but also the whole, “I’d rather be a rebel then a slave,” like, there was no rather. There’s never been a “rather” for enslaved people. There hasn’t been a lot of choice in the matter.
Raynise: I think you’re wrong. I think that they were on the cotton fields like, “You know what? I’d rather be here today. I’m gonna go ahead and pick this cotton. This is where I’d rather be today. I have a choice to sit in this hot ass sun to pick cotton for this white man so I’m gonna go ahead and do it.” (laughter)
Mia: Right, right. “I have all the choices available to me and I have determined that slavery, this is the best way to go.” Yes, it’s ridiculous. It’s a ridiculous quote. It’s a ridiculous thing to put on a t-shirt and then to casually put that t-shirt on Meryl Streep smiling with her hand on her hip, taking photos, it’s just all a hot mess. No. No.
Raynise: You know, I tweeted this, I feel like Meryl Streep is the prime example of why we can’t trust white women or white allies. Cuz like, she had such a good run of being really here for people of color, you know, she was there, and then this happened and it’s like, “Oh, it was great knowing you Meryl, it really was.”
Mia: This is the power of white feminist fuckery. Meryl Streep is all good and then she makes a movie about white feminism (laughter) and it oozed off the page into her and know, well, you know, white suffragettes stayed throwin’ Black women under the bus and now I guess –
Raynise: Black folks in general under the bus.
Raynise: And I think that’s something that when I hear people talk about the suffragette movement it’s always this white washed history and for Black folks – there were Black women part of the suffragette, Ida B. Wells, a phenomenal suffragette. Also a phenomenal anti-lynching activist. She was just bomb. She was a boss ass bitch. She was the equivalent of that in the 1800’s. But also voting for Black people. Our suffragette movement, when looking at Black women, was really in the 40’s and 60’s when they were daring to register people to vote and we made the right to vote something so white that we ignored so many Black women who were doing so many things and actually risking their lives for Black people to have the right to vote. The way that this is a white movie, that’s so much bullshit. They are not gonna talk about the racism. I think that Suzanne B Anthony or maybe it was Elizabeth Stanton. But one of their secretaries refused to take notes for Ida B. Wells. They were having a conversation and she was like, “Will you taken notes?” And she was like, “No, I don’t do that for negroes.” And these are important things to talk about because what it means that you have this white movement and you did open this up to Black women and of course there is the history of white feminist that Black people got to vote, or like Black men were legally allowed to vote because you know. White women were like, “Excuse me? You’re gonna let these negroes vote before me?” And then it became this rampant racism in the suffragette movement. To paint this as this great thing is just ahistoric. I feel like, as someone who is into history, to paint something ahistoric gets at me so much. The suffragette movement is not a white movement. What about Harriet Tubman who was another boss ass bitch who actually cared about voting? We don’t talk about how she cared about voting, we talk about how she freed slaves, but she actually cared about voting. She cared about having power. She cared about the disenfranchisement of Black folks and she knew that slavery wasn’t the only way that Black people were disenfranchised. It’s just the ways in which, like, who gets to be a suffragette is where I have a problem with it.
So, moving on to, a little bit white women fuckery too, but Rihanna threw herself in the mix. (laughter) Rihanna decided that she was gonna call Rachel Dolezal a hero. I think the exact quote was, “A bit of a hero.” I just, I don’t, Uh, like, this was my reaction, ok, I like literally was eating an apple before I got to work and I saw that I was like, “I’m just gonna close this chrome book, hop on the 2 train, and carry my ass to work today.” (laughter)
Mia: Yeah, that was a lot. Yeah, and I mean, you know, I get what Rihanna is trying to say, like so much of the narrative around Black womanhood is that no one will want to be us. And that this white woman wanting to be us us then somehow a positive. So I get what she is saying, but no. That’s ludicrous because Rachel Dolezol doesn’t want to be a Black woman. She just wants the good experiences that come with Black womanhood. She wants that she gets to be prominent in a Black organization. She wants to stand in front of Black students and have them look up to her. She wants the good stuff. She doesn’t want to be over looked for a job because she’s a Black woman. She didn’t apply to a white organization while in Black face. She didn’t apply somewhere where her chance would have been lower because she was a Black woman. But the thing about being a Black woman is, with all of it’s triumphs and all of it’s hardships, you’re stuck with it. You’re stuck with all of it. You don’t get to opt out when it make your life easier and the good and the bad are there together. They are inextricably linked. Black face, you can take off when it gets rough and I promise you Rachel Dolezol took it off when it got rough. I promise you she took it off when she got pulled over, I promise you she was looking for an apartment she took it off. When she was trying to get a loan, she took it off. And that’s not what it is to be a Black woman. That’s not what it is to be a Black person, to just want the good parts, the cool parts, the parts that are useful to you of someone else experience and that’s it. And that does not make her any kind of hero so, sorry, not sorry Rihanna. Yeah no.
Raynise: So, yes, Rihanna, girl just stick to smoking weed and throwing shade on Twitter cuz that’s what we love you for. But I also, something that I found very interesting is the ways in which thing are sensationalized. Because Rihanna actually said some also really important things in that interview around domestic violence and those of you who are listening, if you haven’t looked at the interview, she said some great things about how much it sucks for people to always ask her about being a survivor of domestic abuse because it’s really hard to tell that once. Imagine having to tell it 200 times. She said some really great things and I think that, while yes, what she said was completely, “I don’t know where you got that from. I found it so interesting that, that is the only thing that people talk about from the interview. No one else is talking about anything else and I think it’s, for me, it reminds me of like, when Nikki was talking about what it is like to be a Black woman in the music industry, and Taylor Swift, then make it about her and everyone was like, “Nikki attacked Taylor.” And that’s not what happened at all. This Black woman was talking about something that was really important and it became about – I think Black women particularly feel like their interview on what their saying – they take that one thing and they just ignore everything else. Especially when you’re saying really important things. I know what Rihanna was saying about domestic violence was something that was important, it was beautiful, it was something that we don’t hear. It’s the first time that she was like, “I need people to stop asking me about this.” I was just like, “Girl, you need to stop about Rachel Dolezol is a hero, but also, moving on from that two lines from an interview, Rihanna says some great stuff and I think we don’t expect – I don’t think society allows Black women to produce knowledge and have thoughts outside of the shit that we can sensationalize.
Mia: Yeah and I agree with what you are saying. The way that the media looks at these things and selects these things about Rihanna and what she says or about taking some little thing that Nikki Minaj said, or whatever, just taking the pieces of it that are useful or not unlike the way that Rachel Dolezol took the pieces that are useful. Black womanhood is always being taken apart and most of the pieces are pushed to the side and then folks just take what was useful to them in whatever way, for whatever they are trying to accomplish and that becomes the main thing. That’s what happens in media, that’s what happens in society, that’s what happens with individual white women like Rachel Dolezal and it’s just, it’s a lot.
Raynise: She, I can’t. I’m so, upon seeing her name again I was brought back to the transracial conversation.
Mia: That was a really dark time in our recent history and I don’t think we fully recovered from it. Having it come back to us like this.. BTW, who the fuck is asking Rihanna about Rachel Dolezal now, anyway on October 2015? This shit happened months ago. Why is this even coming up again? Oh god.
Raynise: So no we have a question from Teneshia in Philli. She asks, “How do you talk to your family about issues of oppression that they don’t get? As Black people my family understands racism, but other like sexism and homophobia, they perpetuate. Do you have any advice on how to deal with this?”
Mia: So, hmmm… Yeah. I can kind of relate to this question. Being from a Black family that, well, honestly my family doesn’t have super admirable political views about almost anything. (laughter)
Raynise: I hear that. My Caribbean father is not here for most things, to be honest.
Mia: They are good about somethings. They are very prone to respectability politics. They are very prone to that. They have some pretty gendered views. But other things they are ok. They are ok about queerness for the most part. Everyone accepts and embraces my partner. Even my 80 something year old grandmother. So they are good about some things and they are iffy about other things. I understand wanting, particularly when we leave our families and we go out into the world and we sometimes build these consciousnesses where we are trying to be better then we have been in all sorts of issues and then we go home and we are talking to our folks and we’re like, “Oh my god. What are you saying right now? Everything you are saying is offensive and terrible and that can be hard. I actually get this question a lot from students at universities, because they have basically, that’s what happened. They’ve left home and now they are taking these classes and they’re getting involved in these movements and they are learning all these things and they start to feel really disconnected from their families because they feel like their families don’t get these oppressions, these other sorts of things that they don’t themselves experience and so they are like, “What do I do? I don’t know how to handle this.” And I would say, two things. First I would say, always remember that when your the person with more privilege that you have to give the person with less privilege more room and more space. And so we don’t always think of ourselves that way, as having more privilege over our parents, but particularly if we’ve left home, particularly if we’re students, we’re off in the world, we’re learning things, we have this access to this education that maybe our family doesn’t have, then we are in this privileged position. And it’s not for us to expect them to kind of accommodate us or do things the way we want them to do things. We need to make a little space for them, because maybe they didn’t have the opportunity to to take that class. They didn’t have the opportunity to have that radical conversation in this environment that you were in. Particularly when it’s people that we really care about, people that we feel connected to and want to stay connected to, like our family members, I do feel like we should recognize that and try to give them space to come around. So that’s the first thing I would say, and then, I would say, to give folks a chance. Sometimes I think we assume and we don’t always give folks a chance. I know that when I was – a few years ago, I was – this is a story i tell about my grandmother. My grandmother is in her 80’s now. At the time she was in her late 70’s. This was when, there was a big story about a transman who was pregnant and he was all over the news and he was on Opera. One day I was in the kitchen making a sandwich and my grandmother was there and she was watching TV and she was watching this on Opera. So I hear this going on in the background and I’m making my sandwich, and I’m kind like, “Huh, I wonder what my grandmother is thinking about this?” She’s kind of making sounds, listening to Opera, listening to the show, going “Mm, mm, mm, mm.” (laughter) I’m like, ok, ok. And so at some point she turns to me and she’s like, “You see this? You hear about this?” And I’m like, “Yeah, yeah, what’s going on?” And she’s telling me about what’s happening on the show and she’s just kind of shaking her head like, “God, hhm, I don’t know.” And so I said to her, “Well, you now mom-mom” – so I call her mom-mom – I was like, “You know mom-mom everybody is not like everybody else and sometimes people have an experience of life that’s different than other people’s experiences and they just want to be seen for who they are and what their experiences are. And my grandmother goes, “Huh, yeah I guess you’re right.” And I was like, whaat????? Wow. What?? It was just so cool because it was this moment of just me opening this space for her to be able to consider this and she just walked right into it. And I never really expected this. I expected her to be like, “No, this is wrong. Jesus said…” But she really didn’t. She was really like, oh, yeah, that’s true. People are different than other people and not everybody does have the same experience. And it was just really, really wonderful. My grandmother, since then, has always embraced – I’m not trans, but I’m queer – and my grandmother has always embraced all of my queerness and my partners and my wife that I’m married to now. It’s been great. I would say, give folks a chance. And it’s not like they are always gonna come through. Every story is not gonna be that one. I have an uncle who just like, he’s just so ridiculous and he’s just in the stone ages about gender and I have tried to say things to him and he just doesn’t get it and so I’m like ok, fine, we don’t need to have this conversation. So I think it’s just for us to kind of think about our family, different members of our family, what we think we can – the space that we think we can make for them to give them a chance and it might surprise us. I’d also say, try to remember the days when your politics maybe weren’t so great and have compassion for their process. All that said if there are people in your family who are hurting you with their words or actions around your identity, you don’t have to accommodate that. If you think they are worth the time and you’ve given them a chance and they are not trying to hear it, then I would say think about whether that’s a person you want to keep in your life.
Mia: So this past Saturday actress and model Amber Rose staged a slut walk even in LA to bring awareness to sexual assault and to spread the message that it doesn’t matter what a woman wears or who she has consensual sex with, it doesn’t make her deserving of rape and sexual assault. It was an emotional event and Amber tearfully forgave Kanye West and Wiz Khalifa for mistreatment and misogynist comments about her. As you might expect lots of ashy fools took to Twitter and other social media to rail against women who are brazen enough to think they can choose who they have sex with, which of course, makes them hoes. Joining me now to talk about all of this is Pia Glenn’s trifflin cousin Yvonne. Hey Yvonne! It’s good to talk to you.
Yvonne: Ooh it’s good to be talkin’ to you too. I see you out in these podcastries doin’ your thing.
Yvonne: Thank you.
Mia: Ok, so what do you think about the whole Amber Rose slut walk thing and the ensuing cishetmale fuckery.
Yvonne: Ok, I would love to talk about Amber Rose and the slut walk, but first I got to shout out Amber Rose’s mother. Like my god. Did you see the pictures of her from the walk? Why they both so fly? Damnnn, I know they from like Salsa Verde or whatever
Yvonne: But like, my god, they make some beautiful people there. But like anyway, Amber Rose is the shit. Like you know how she had done that walk of no shame video which I thought was hilarious because we’re all grown. A lot of us know that walk, right? Sometimes you had yourself a good time and the sun rise done snuck up on your ass so you put your panties in your pony tail and you keep it pushin’. [laughter] But first of all this is the thing. A lot of people think that Amber Rose invented the slut walk when really like they been around for a while, but you know what, good for her for puttin’ her name on it, because like, she gets it some more attention and we need to pay attention to this. We’re supposed to pay attention to respecting women and knowing that we can all make our own choices for our own pussies, right. Like if you a grown ass woman dealing with other grown ass people and y’all are safe and it’s consenting and what not you can fuck the whole starting line of the Nicks if you want to. Or not. See that’s the other thing. People out here acting like slut walk is about like recruiting people who ain’t fuckin’, tryin’ to make sure everybody is fuckin’ and that even it. Like, women been fuckin’ mama. It’s about holding your head up high and having people respect you irregardless. Ok? Like if you don’t get down like that, pssh, you could be the Virgin Mary out this bitch. I don’t give a fuck. Just like if Amber Rose or Cyley Sue at your job or whoever, wants to keep the whole roster – fresh dick to break her off when she feels like it – what you can do about that is mind your entire business. Ok? Don’t be out here thinkin’ you better than anybody just cuz you ain’t never had no sperm at the back of your throat, ma. Aight? [laughter] And of course you know I want y’all to get it in however you want to with whoever. I don’t mean to just be talkin’ ’bout dicks goin’ into pussies and la da da. But like, you know if we keepin’ it real it’s straight men who got the issues with slut walk, right? Here’s the problem fellas. Here’s my issue. If y’all need to stick your dick in something every 15 minutes to maintain your masculinity, but y’all spit on a woman with a body count higher than one, who are y’all expecting to fuck, boo, boo?? I need one of y’all ashy dudes to help me out with those mathematics cuz right now one plus one equals bubble gum. If you’re dusty ass wants to only respect some of us and then treat the rest of us like garden tools or holes just for your anonymous pleasure you can go the hell on and buy you one of those plastic pocket pussies off the Internet and leave all of us alone! Good damn bye!
Yvonne: Ooh I didn’t mean to get all riled up like that but you know how I be having emotions and shit. Thank you for having me on. I’ll talk to you soon.
Mia:You’re listening to the Black Girl Dangerous podcast. I’m Black Girl Dangerous, Mia McKenzie. Joining me now is freelance journalist and co-editor of Hood Feminism, Jamie Nesbitt Golden. Hey Jamie!
Mia: How are you?
Jamie: I’m great. Happy to be here.
Mia: Good, I’m super excited to have you on the podcast. You’re one of my smart, hilarious, Twitter faves. Yes! And I’m really eager to get your thoughts on that New York Times profile on Nicki Minaj that came out yesterday. Um, so, yeah. In case folks haven’t read it, a writer by the name of Vanessa Grigoriadis profiled Nicki Minaj in a piece in the New York Times and titled it The Passion of Nicki Minaj. Now the piece is really interested for a lot of reasons, mainly because Nicki says a lot of dope stuff about race and cultural appropriation regarding Miley Cirus and her ilk and calls out some misogynoir fuckery by the interviewer, which we will get into in a bit, but also because I think it’s a really telling example of how – anyway, it seemed to me (to strike me this way) and I want to know what you think, Jamie, but to me it seemed like kind of, a really telling example of how white women talk to and about Black women. There are these moments of skittery Black girl where the writer talks about Nicki like she’s kind of afraid of her. Like, “the looks she gave me made me curl my hair”, kind of stuff. And it’s possible that I just don’t trust white women writing about Black women at all at this point. But I don’t know. What do you think of her approach to Nicki?
Jamie: Well, I feel like what you are saying is definitely valid, because if we get this fantastic back story about Nicki’s ascension in the piece and for what it’s worth – I cannot pronounce her last name for the life of me. I am not even gonna try – but the reporter, the writer is very talented, however, you can clearly see the cultural disconnect. If that were one of those one fluffy Vanity Fair type pieces where you pretty much watch a writer fond all over the ingenue of the moment. It’s very much this zoo, you know, animal feeling, like, “she’s observing this woman in her natural habitat. I don’t know if there’s a respect for what Nicki does, to what Nicki represents, but it doesn’t come off that way. I noticed that towards the end, after she is dismissed from Nicki’s room, she’s all apologetic and she understands she put her foot in her mouth and whatever. And maybe she thought that would make for a more interesting story. I don’t know. To me it didn’t come off that way. To me it was just sort of, self-flagellating and it really didn’t need to be. Sometimes you just suck it up, you apologize and you try again. I think that there has to be a level of respect for the subject, for the person you are covering, and respect for the craft. I think, at the very base of it. And I didnt’ get that from this piece. At all.
Mia: Right, neither did I. I was kind of reading it, and yeah, I love what you say about how she kind of, after she does this kind of weird, asking Nicki this weird question about drama has nothing to do with Nicki and Nicki rightfully is like, “Yo, this is fucked up – bye, ” (laughter) “I’m gonna get the fuck up out of here.”
Jamie: Like, “Biiiiiiitch, really???”
Mia: Right (laughter) Exactly. And you know she does this kind of, she doesn’t make it like Nicki’s flying off the handle or anything, but at the same time it doesn’t, there’s still this element of scary Black girl thing going on that’s weird.
Jamie: I feel like perhaps the writer felt like she was being brave by even venturing into this territory and given the response to Nicki even responding to criticism from mainstream media, from other artists, like we get the idea that we are supposed to have this idea of Nicki Minaj being the big scary Black girl or the Black girl with a chip on her shoulder because she’s not given what’s due her. And, instead of looking at it in the context of this is a woman who’s been in the game for almost ten years and still can’t get a VMA nod because, you know, Taylor Swift and Miley Cirus are out here appropriating Black culture and apparently doing a better job than actual Black people. So, I noticed earlier, like I am a big music video fan. I wake up to VH1, well it used to be MTV because I’m old now. What I notice when I am watching these blocks of videos in the morning is the dearth of brown faces. Your hard pressed to find a rap video on VH1, even though they play rap music now, unless it’s Macklemore or something, or somebody more appealing like Iggy Azalea (god, I hate her). But it’s very safe, very radio friendly, and that’s fine, but there are also pretty radio friendly Black artists. Particularly Black female ones that should be also getting some shine. And that’s what Nicki’s addressing. The fact that as time progresses the VMA’s get whiter and whiter. It’s kind of amazing in that way. When we were growing up (I don’t know, maybe I am dating myself here), but back in the 90’s it seemed like VMA’s were more open to actual diversity. You had Black folks or Black rappers who were actually in the Black rapper category who won awards for what they were doing. And now you have Azalea who hasn’t been able to sell out a concert in forever, who is garnered with all types of awards, but artistically she’s trash.
Jamie: So basically I feel like Nicki was speaking on something that’s very real, particularly for Black female artists who are in this game. They don’t get recognized or if they do, they have to be Beyonce. A lot of these kids that are in the game now are not getting the push that say, L. King, the chick who sings X’s and O’s, they are not getting that push that she’s getting. They are not getting that push that little blonde haired girl that was on BET (laughter), um, the BET awards a few months ago, (I cannot remember her name). And she’s got a great voice but it’s also very telling that we don’t want anyone too dark to be, we are doing our very best to make sure that our pop stars, our R&B stars, our soulful singers, are a lighter shade of pale.
Mia: Yeah. I’ve said before that I’m not a Nicki Minaj fan and it’s not because of any dislike of her. I’m just old and I don’t really connect to the music.
Jamie: Right, right. Definitely same here. It took me a while to be like, ok she’s not that bad. You know I grew up with Little Kim and Foxy Brown and the same conversations that surround Nicki and Beyonce, and other Black female artists having the same conversations that folks were having 20 years ago. Like, nothing has changed, except everything has changed. The field has gotten no where in terms of who is able to ascend to mainstream success. And who gets away with what. And the same stuff that Miley Cirus can get away with, clearly, when Nicki Minaj does it, they are judged differently and unfairly for it.
Mia: Right, yeah. And you know, like I said, even though I don’t listen to Nicki’s music, she’s really growing on me and I think it’s because I feel like she’s saying things that a lot of people in her position wouldn’t say. Especially, this person who, and they were talking about it in the New York Times article, has kind of managed to cross over from hip hop into pop and there’s not a lot of people who have been in this position before. And she’s still willing, even having that, to say these things. In the New York Times article she says about Miley Cirus, “You’re in videos with Black men and you’re bringing out Black women on your stages but you don’t want to know how Black women feel about something that’s so important. Come on you can’t want the good without the bad. If you want to enjoy our culture and our lifestyle, bond with us, dance with us, to have fun with us, twerk with us, rap with us, then you should also want to know what affects us, what is bothering us, what we feel is unfair to us. You shouldn’t not want to know what.” And I just feel like, YES. YES, exactly. She’s articulating cultural appropriation and the wearing of Blackness like a costume and pretty fucking perfectly. And who else with her level of fame is willing to say that? Because everyone I look it’s nothing but “New Blacks” who are telling us that racism and cultural appropriation don’t exists.
Jamie: Oh yes. Yes. Unless it affects them directly and of course, no. Like, hi Kanye, I’m talking about you. But otherwise, “No, no, no. Like, classism is the new racism. I don’t feel at all marginalized when I am out here performing.” So we get that a lot. And it’s refreshing for Nicki to be brave enough to talk about this because no one’s really willing, especially now, it seems like to have the honest conversation about what’s going on in mainstream music. We want to sweep it under the rug, we want to talk about soulful white people, or the latest Miley Cirus antic. But we don’t really want to have a conversation about what it means to be a Black artist in the new millennium. And what that entails and the shit that you still have to deal with even now. Even when the playing field is supposed to be level, which is bullshit. Even when you achieve a certain level of success that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re not gonna deal with some really bizarre racism along the way.
Jamie: And we see that now. I think the Grammy’s eliminated the hip hop awards recently. The whitening of soul categories and stuff like that. It’s a very insidious, it happens in this insidious way, that you don’t really pay attention to, but when it happens it’s like, “Jesus Christ, really?” We see that and it’s important to continue having these conversations and hopefully folks get it. Folks understand. Or if not, they will just write us off as angry Black people.
Mia: Right, right. And again, that is what I find so interesting and fascinating and refreshing and amazing about Nicki. In terms of talking about this stuff, and because in her position there can be consequences, and also the whole idea of a lot of folks want to shy away from the angry Black woman stereotype. The angry Black woman stereotype is often really effective in silencing Black women. And that includes famous Black women. And Nicki doesn’t seem to really give a fuck. And maybe that’s hip hop. Maybe that’s the boss bitch persona, right? But to get to see on a national and even international stage, and I just respect it so much.
Jamie: Mm hmm. And I really hope that it inspires more artists to be honest about where they are and what they deal with. Especially, as brown people in this industry.
Jamie: To be honest as far as the future of folks in this industry, particularly Black women, I’m not really optimistic I guess? Because I feel like we’ve been having this kind of thing for the last 10-15 years. Like, there can only be Beyonce. There can only be Nicki Minaj. And, ok fine, well Beyonce, Rihanna and then Nicki Minaj. But these are the only three. No one else! And meanwhile we have the Mileys and the Taylors and the –
Mia: Endless amounts of room for mediocre white women, basically.
Jamie: Exactly! I mean I feel like there is a lot of room for pale and mediocre women. Like the door is wide fucking open, man. Anything! Like if you are white girl with a guitar, an acoustic guitar, you’re fucking future is set. Just hop on YouTube, do a fucking acoustic version of the Neh Neh and a bitch is on fucking Cathy Lee and, well Cathy’s no longer on, but you on they are on GMA or Today, like the next day. Like, “Oh my god! Musical sensation!” Mediocre white girl!
Mia: Right. Right.
Jamie: Let’s clear the scene! But yeah, it’s harder for us to get that recognition. It’s harder for us to get that shine. And it also speaks to the intraracial colorism of it, because I haven’t seen a dark skinned woman in R&B in the last ten years. There’s definitely something wrong there. We had all shades in the 90’s. We had everybody from Yo-Yo to MC Light to Queen Latifah and now all I see are the same women who look the same way, doing the same things, and that you know, needs to be addressed. Or at least, looked at.
Mia: I remember being in college and this was a minute ago, obviously cuz I was in college, but it was in the 90’s and I remember I was hanging out with my friends outside a club or something and we were having this conversation about how hip hop and R&B where a dark skinned, not thin woman, could thrive. And I’m amazed. Because that was actually true at that time. And that’s completely gone.
Jamie: Yeah, they are like, “Nah, fuck that. We have you Whitney Houston. You’re time is over with.
Mia: Missy is over. Missy happened. Just look at it nostalgically. It’s never gonna happen again.
Jamie: Right, “You had that, look back at it, remember it fondly, but no. If you’re not a lighter shade of pale and at least a 3 or a C. Or not, because it really doesn’t matter how big your boobs are now. But the colorism thing definitely is disturbing when you think about it. Again, I’m not particularly – But then I could be wrong because things happen in cycles, but there are definitely patterns. But I’m just not optimistic about it.
Mia: Yeah, me neither. But we’ll see. We’ll see what happens. Thank you so much for joining me on the podcast, Jamie. I’m so delighted to have had you here.
Jamie: Thank you for inviting me. I was super flattered. And I’m glad that all of my electronics worked.
Mia: Listeners, if you’re not doing so already you can follow Jamie on Twitter @thewayoftheid. If you do follow Jamie on Twitter just don’t come with no fuckery cuz you will get the clap back. (laughter)
Jamie: Listen, I’m a kitten.
Mia: (laughter) You’re such a kitten. Thanks also to Raynise Canje and Pia Glenn’s trifflin’ cousin Yvonne for joining me this week and to everyone for listening. See you next week.
The Black Girl Dangerous Podcast is a production of Black Girl Dangerous® Media.