You don’t want to miss what this duo has to say about Beckys everywhere. On this episode of the Black Girl Dangerous Podcast, Chanelle Adams (@nellienooks) hosts Phoenix Calida (@uppittynegress) to analyze the larger impacts of bell hooks’ critique of Lemonade, the rise of Skai Jackson, and the last straw for Azealia Banks.
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Full transcript below!
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Chanelle: I’m Chanelle Adams, Managing Editor of BGD. and today we have a show for you that covers – for better or for worse – lots of drama in the Twittersphere and within black feminism but before we get to that I want to introduce you to our special guest today, Phoenix Calida.
Chanelle: Hey! How’s it going?
Phoenix: I’m great, how are y’all?
Chanelle: Good. You know allergies, sinus stuff, kinda hard. [laughs]
Chanelle: I don’t know if you’re into astrology at all but there are five planets in retrograde the past couple of weeks.
Phoenix: [laughs] Yeah, yeah. I’m hugely not into it but I’ve heard that that’s a bad thing and I’m just gonna blame our current Midwest weather struggles on that.
Chanelle: Yeah, I just wanna chalk up all the general fuckery to that right now, because there’s just no explanation.
Chanelle: So Phoenix, I saw a post you wrote about the term “Becky”. It showed up on my Twitter timeline and I thought it would be a great idea to have you on the show to read it and we could hear it in your own words.
Chanelle: If you wanna read it to us and we can talk about why this was so necessary for you to write.
Phoenix: Yeah, I’ll read it!
Phoenix: White women are saying “Becky is a slur.” Y’all wrong. It’s not a slur, but trust – I’m in your corner on this one, white women. I hope and pray Becky does become a slur. I hope it becomes so offensive we have to write it with an asterisk. I hope we can’t say it on TV, or in public, but we still whisper it when you walk past, hoping you hear it. Fox News will host a debate about whether or not Becky is the worst slur ever, but no Beckys will be present during the segment. You’ll wonder how you failed as a parent when your child gets caught calling another student *gasp* a Becky. You’ll wear hats and wigs to cover your shameful Becky hair. You’ll dye your hair black till you die so you’re never called a blonde Becky again. You’ll spend hundreds of dollars on hair products to try and rid yourself of that Becky hair You’ll spend thousands on plastic surgery to get rid of that Becky face. Folks will be smug and say you’re cute–for a Becky. In 30 years, feminist discourse will discuss their merits of reclaiming the word Becky. But when you try to have a Becky only safe space, it will be interrupted constantly by non-Becky feminists who call you divisive for bringing your Becky bullshit to the table. You’ll be called names because you’re ignoring Brad. Entire movements will spring up in opposition to you. But neither Brad nor non Becky feminists will truly have time to deal with your unique situation. You will, of course, still be required to consistently divide *your* time between non Beckys and brads though! #solidarity. You’ll argue with your daughters when they listen to edgy pop music and call themselves Beckys. You’ll walk down the street and men will scream Becky at you from car windows. People will touch your hair without permission because they’ve never felt genuine Becky hair before. People search you out on dating websites because they want a genuine mayo Becky sexual experience, and you should be flattered they considered you for their Becky experience. People will ghost you after sex, because nobody wants to bring a Becky home to meet mom. You’ll constantly wonder if you didn’t get hired because the interviewer thought you were just another Becky. People will ignore your legitimate criticisms of racism and sexism because we all know how Beckys are whiners. When a stranger grabs your butt on the subway, we’ll tell you should be grateful anyone even wanted to touch a Becky. People will put up “no Beckys” signs on their lawns. You’ll be followed around stores because nobody trusts a Becky. Police will harass you because stopping and frisking Beckys keeps the community safe. You’ll be denied jobs and housing but be told the real problem is that Beckys don’t bootstrap well. You’ll make less than a non-Becky, but be fired if you complain. You’ll constantly be Called Becky because all Beckys look alike, and it’s too demanding to expect us to learn your names. You’ll be called Becky because it’s an easy name, not like those weird Anglo names nobody wants to take time to pronounce. I mean really, why call you Genevieve when you’ve been told to answer to Becky?? Y’all wanna be oppressed so bad, and pretend you’re just as marginalized as Black women. You want to act like a Black woman calling you a Becky is just as bad as anti-Black racism? Or a woman of color is oppressing you by calling you a Becky on Twitter? Fine. You want the oppression? Take ALL of it. Not just getting called out your name, but living in a world where the name put on you becomes the only understood version of you. When one Becky steals, it’s proof all Beckys are thieves. One Becky gets fired, it means all Beckys are lazy with no work ethic. One Becky cheats on Brad, all Beckys are hypersexual. You want the Black woman treatment to prove you’re oppressed? I’ll let you have it, so be careful what ya wish for, Becky.
Phoenix: Yeah, I wrote that! Twitter likes it. [laughs]
Chanelle: Wow! And also, just hearing it, too. I really wanna watch you say that to a Becky or just, like, breathe that out and fire it at a Becky.
Phoenix: It’s funny, as I was writing, I was saying it as I was writing it, typing all angry. Like, FINE! You wanna be a Becky? Be a Becky! Be a Becky! I’ll call you out! I was so angry. [laughs] I was so angry.
Chanelle: I also like that you make the category of “non-Beckys”.
Phoenix: Yeah, “non-Beckys” [mumbles]
Chanelle: So, obviously this is written about familiar experiences.
Chanelle: Right, so this isn’t about Beckys having these experiences, it’s about Black women being treated this way. For those of you who may not be aware, and at this point I might be alarmed if you’re not aware, the whole Becky conversation is coming up again post-Lemonade. So there’s a line in Beyoncé’s song about “Becky with the good hair” and in response there have been a lot of, frankly, Beckys getting upset they were called out. There’s been Becky debates on the Twittersphere and all the blogs. “Is Becky a slur?” Of course, Iggy Azealia had to come out and take her platform on it. The Queen of Beckys. And so, were these the conditions under which you felt you needed to write this?
Phoenix: Exactly. That’s exactly what it was. In the position where being a woman and then being black, it’s that awkward position where nobody really has time for you. Either you’re here for black liberation or women’s liberation and there isn’t a space for black women specifically. In light of the Becky thing, “thing”, coming out a lot of white women are like, “But that’s mean and it’s a slur! And if you want to be a feminist you have to solidarity with us because it’s wrong and slurs are bad and it’s just as bad when it goes the other way!” And I’m just like, no the fuck it’s not! [laughs] You got called a Becky and your feelings got hurt. Somebody didn’t say, “Rebecca Watson? The fuck kinda name is that?” throughout your job application. You know? Nobody came up to you and just punched you in your face because you look like a Becky and it kills me when you know women as a class do suffer oppression but being called a Becky is not it. And there’s this whole white feminism pumpkin spice Ugg boots stereotype of the Becky and they are trying to use that to be like, “Well, we’re oppressed because you’re making fun of us!” And it’s like, that’s literally all we’re doing is making fun of you. [laughs] Police are not doing no-knock raids on your house because you’re a Becky.
Phoenix: You’re not you’re not being assaulted in the street. Your children aren’t being gunned down in the streets, you might be sexually harassed in the workplace or on the street but that’s because you’re a woman not because you’re a Becky and I just have run out of patience with white women in general that somehow act like getting called Becky is you know their genuine oppression and that it somehow comparable to what black women have to deal with. It’s just not. Stop.
Chanelle: Right. And it’s often what happens when a group of people who don’t have identifiers put onto that are given one, right? Where it’s like, “Oh, I don’t want to label” or “You know I don’t fit in any boxes we’re all women”. #notallbeckys When really, I think something that’s in jest, calling people Becky is obviously a stereotype. Everyone who says it knows that and that’s the point. But there aren’t violent implications in the same way that people who do get categorized, who are oppressed, like black women. Being a black woman is a category. If you’re placed in that category you are going to experience a dramatically different type of life. People are going to treat you differently in negative ways that actually have repercussions not just like, “Oh, this Becky is annoying, I’m gonna ignore her”. You know? It’s so different.
Phoenix: Yes it is. I know we crack Becky jokes, but I do think that’s also gonna end up hopefully ultimately being part of a larger narrative as well. It’s like white people oftentimes have this obsession with pretending that they’re oppressed and they got where they are because they overcame some kind of adversity.
Phoenix: You know, a lot of times these things that they pretend are oppression aren’t actually oppression or they misnamed it, right? You know, like right now, there’s a lot of white women who feel offended by “Becky” so they’re trying to rename misogyny as a whole as a Becky oppression. No! It’s not! You’re not overcoming anything because someone called you a “Becky”. You are not overcoming. You ain’t got a struggle over “Becky”. It’s not a struggle.
Chanelle: Yeah, and it’s when those sorts of labels become acquainted with labels that are much more violent. Where, yes on the scale of terms like “Becky” is definitely derogatory but it’s not even on the same magnitude of what we have to put up with.
Phoenix: A lot of these things in the piece are things that either I personally have experienced or friends and family, other black women that I know have experience. A lot of people like, “oh it’s tongue-in-cheek” and yeah it is, but it’s also it’s not hyperbolic. When I say things like you’ll spend hundreds of dollars on hair products are trying to rid yourself of your hair because you perceive it to be shameful, that’s not hyperbole. Like, if you wanna get hired at a professional setting and you have that black hair, you do have to do these things. There is a debate about reclaiming slurs that have been thrown at black women. There is the debate that what do you do, you know dating as a black woman when white men will be like, “I’ve never been with a black girl before would you like to be my black girl experience?” Like, what the fuck is that, you know?
Phoenix: And they want to say that Becky is a slur but they do not want those repercussions of what their lives would be if it was genuinely a slur. They want to play at oppression but not actually be oppressed.
Chanelle: Absolutely. And specifically also the line you’re talking about, where it sounds like you’re alluding to plastic surgery or a lot of makeup and I swear an image of Lil Kim flashed in my eyes.
Phoenix: Right? Yeah.
Chanelle: And she has even said, like listen I internalized a lot of stuff that people told me, which is why I look like this today.
Phoenix: Yeah, that was also definitely something that was in my mind because I kept seeing people trying to drag her on her Instagram because of all the surgery and the skin bleaching she had done but I didn’t really see people addressing the fact that a few years ago, she had come up and said, “I was constantly getting cheated on because men were telling me I wasn’t pretty enough to stay with and I was always made to feel inferior about my looks, like, I didn’t look European my hair wasn’t good enough.” I think, I certainly do not want to speak for her, but I can’t help but look at things she said 10 years ago and look at her now and not wonder if those are some of the underlying factors and you know that makes me incredibly sad to think about. I’m also disappointed just in a larger context about black women and beauty. It’s like, y’all told her she was ugly and she did everything that you told her to do. You know she’s got contacts and she’s got light skin and she’s got the good hair, but you still call her ugly. She did exactly what you told her she needed but no matter what, you just wanted to call a black woman ugly. I see you.
Chanelle: It’s setting her up for failure and in a sense I actually think that’s sort of what bell hooks has done in her analysis of Lemonade which came out earlier this week. It is an article that bell hooks posted on her website. It’s called “Moving Beyond Pain” and it’s basically her analysis on Lemonade. I just feel like we ask so much of Beyoncé and can anyone say she’s not trying? There was absolutely no recognition that a lot of the things that bell hooks has been asking Beyoncé to do for years she did in this video but then it’s still not enough. You can tell Lil Kim, “Oh no, you’re beautiful just the way you are but just change a little, just change a little. Then when she looks like the way she does now, it’s “oh you didn’t do it right.”
Phoenix: Yes! That is something that has bothered me about bell hooks for a really long time, actually. Intentionally or not, I find a lot of her critiques of people to come off as condescending. Like, “I understand liberation better than you do and you’re not doing this thing that you do in a liberated enough way but I’m not gonna like drop the ultimate handbook knowledge, that step by step guide on how to do it properly. I’m just going to critique you for doing it wrong.” I think that that’s really unfair and when it comes to bell, in the back of my head there was that time not that long ago where she was calling Beyoncé a terrorist.
Phoenix: I think she just doesn’t like Beyoncé and I don’t necessarily understand that. I mean, I guess we could have a conversation about “Beyoncé isn’t as woke as bell”. It’s like, ok but literally bell was writing books about black feminism and liberation when Beyoncé was in diapers, literally.
Phoenix: You know? [laughs] And Beyoncé didn’t become a feminist until pretty recently. I am not going to use the same yardstick to measure Beyoncé and bell hooks.
Chanelle: Well, they’re not that different. While there are points of convergence between being in the public eye, bell hooks is an academic. She’s a public intellectual and Beyoncé pop star. Like, obviously they’re going to have different expectations and limitations and control over how their images are produced and also what messages they get across and the reasons why they do it. Like I think, kind of what we’re seeing is the difference between philosophy and practice where bell hooks can write about it and think about it and say you know, “In my world liberation doesn’t have any violence.” And in a lot of our lives and also the way Beyoncé demonstrates, it’s like we don’t always have that choice. We can’t just imagine ourselves contemplatively out of it.
Phoenix: I question the whole violence thing too. She wasn’t in the streets fuckin’ people up. She was damaging property. I’m not considering the standpoint of Lemonade about being betrayed, being cheated on, never being good enough no matter what I do and hitting a moment of just complete and utter rage and frustration, like smashing car windows. Coming from somebody who has lived a black woman experienced her entire life, I’m not necessarily ready to be like, “that’s violent!” Like, what? I almost wonder if that is a respectability politics thing because during a lot of Black Lives Matter marches and protests, I don’t remember bell hooks being like, “Why are you being so violent and breaking police car windows?” Because we’re mad and nobody’s listening and there’s nothing else to do and we’re just fucking frustrated and like fuck this car. You know I’m not ready to call that an act of violence when you live in a world that has literally been created to suppress you, be violent to you, and silence you. It’s a car. It’s not that serious.
Chanelle: Yeah, I think definitely you’re pointing to this line between art and actual life that I think gets blurred in this analysis where bell hooks is taking Lemonade as absolute truth and not as a creative vision that can have so many metaphors. A lot of what people are trying to read into, are what are the truths biographically about Lemonade? You can’t really separate them out and I think that’s the beauty of it.
Phoenix: No, I do think that it’s something also to take into account. Beyoncé does not get enough recognition as an artist because a lot of people are like oh you know pop music! And pop music is supposed to just be catchy and not really have any sort of depth to it, but her art, as far as her videos and as far as her lyrics are on the more artistic not just commercial pop made for mass consumption. I don’t think she gets credit for that, honestly.
Phoenix: Which is kind of funny cuz I’m not even a huge Beyoncé fan but I do think she’s talented. [laughs] I know, don’t tell anybody I just said that.
Chanelle: They’re going to come for you, watch out!
Phoenix: I do think she’s incredibly talented, in an artistic creative way but because people see her as a black woman sometimes who dances sexy and does pop music that she’s not allowed to expand and she sort of boxed. I think that for a lot of people that makes it harder to see her as more and I think that’s where bell hooks gets a little bit caught up sometimes. But at the same time, we’re talking about liberation but we refuse to allow Beyoncé herself to be liberated. So what are we doing, really? What are we doing?
Chanelle: Yeah, I think also, to strengthen her argument, I don’t understand why shouldn’t use Rihanna’s videos as a supplemental emphasis of violence. So in this case, I actually think it’s relevant because you know in Rihanna’s video “Needed Me” and also in “Bitch Better Have My Money”, she’s shooting up people and she’s chopping them up. These violent videos and I think Rihanna has her own sort of liberation philosophy that she’s cultivating in her life where post being in an abusive relationship, all of her lyrics are about doing her own thing and coming into her coming into loving herself and then we see Beyoncé experiencing these violent feelings and idealizations but then opting to be with a partner throughout that process. I don’t know, something about that would have added some sort of depth to this argument about violence and I don’t understand where it’s coming from, I’d say.
Phoenix: I think that there’s a lot of things that confuse me about bell hooks, honestly. I know she’s one of the icons of Black feminism and I’m not really supposed to critique her but I would like to think nobody is above genuine critique. Not just criticism, like, “Why you doing this? Why you doing that” but have a genuine discussion about it because when it comes to some of these things it honestly does seem like she just dislikes Beyoncé and doesn’t have anything good to say about Beyoncé. I think that that’s a little bit dangerous to be so harsh on Beyoncé for everything because you know, that’s not only is Beyoncé relatively new to feminism, I think that Beyoncé’s influence or the end result of what Beyoncé is doing are not being recognized. A lot of people are like, “Oh well, you know formation wasn’t that great and you know lemonade is just an artistic thing” but a lot of black women felt it and I think that we can never talk about that. We’re giving black women in space to feel a sense of sisterhood and a sense of unity and a sense of understanding and a place to put some of the negative emotion, frustration I don’t think bell is respecting that necessarily. Maybe that’s because bell doesn’t have to, but for women who don’t have access to black feminist academia and don’t have access to black intellectuals, you know, we need this. We need someone. Representation matters, right? Basically that’s the end of it. That’s what we need to see. Representation matters, we need to be able to see somebody who is representing the pain that we feel on a day-to-day basis and gets us. I think that one of the problems with the more intellectual approach is that it leaves a lot of women behind because it feels very cold, it doesn’t feel like you’re truly connecting, not everybody has access to the language. But you could put a black woman, whether she has a degree or not or whether she’s a feminist or not, whether she has a PhD in Women’s Studies or not, can watch Lemonade and connect to it on a level and I think that that’s something that bell is not necessarily appreciating or understanding or acknowledging. That is huge for black women, I think.
Chanelle: You’re definitely pointing to a huge disconnect I picked up on. I mean, even in the first paragraph when she just like compares Lemonade to a little girls lemonade stand.
Chanelle: I was like wait, what? That was your first take on Lemonade? It wasn’t goosebumps? It wasn’t tears? It wasn’t silence? You’re thinking about how she was making money? Maybe even how she was going to make her money talking about it afterwards, right.
Phoenix: Yes, yes. I’m very anti-capitalism myself but I do have to point out though that bell hooks is all, “Oh, well Beyoncé’s doing this whole capitalism thing and it’s dangerous and it’s bad!” But it’s like, don’t you get paid to write books and talk to people? I mean, we all to a certain extent are involved in capitalism but – and this is something that does bother me as well about Beyoncé – is that there’s a conversation about “Oh, she’s making all this money and she’s a capitalist”, but she also pays for people to get out of jail when they can’t pay their bail. She does that. She funds Black Lives Matter movements. She gives money to local organizations that are giving food and helping with housing and yes, she’s very well invested in capitalism and she was succeeding very well in capitalism but there are times that she also gives a lot back to the black community and I think that maybe that’s not being appreciated. But my other thing with bell, though, specifically is that she’s very upset with Beyoncé participating in capitalism but [she] loves Emma Watson for some reason. What is Emma Watson?
Chanelle: Yeah. Who’s also hiding all of that money! She was revealed in the Panama Papers, so it doesn’t seem like bell hooks is critiquing all of the feminists surrounding her with the same integrity and that’s frustrating. I mean bell hooks has written some really amazing stuff and has helped a lot of people, including myself, reconceptualize relationships to other people in my life and going through pain and so, I just wonder if she came at Lemonade in a different personal moment, maybe, where like this is her reaction. I think part of what made Lemonade so powerful, is that it has so much to do with what you brought to it. It’s like what you can get out of it.
Phoenix: I think that that’s a consideration. I also think – this is just my own personal observation of her – a lot of time she comes down on women who are perceived to be a little too girly or too femme because their sexuality is less valid or their presentation is less valid or they’re not doing womanhood in a completely liberated way. But you know, I would like to think that there’s multiple paths to liberation. You don’t have to approach from one way and I’m not sure that bell hooks is necessarily on board with that. But then the problem becomes, you know bell hooks has been in the game for a really long time and we’re still oppressed. We haven’t reached liberation, so instead of holding onto a very rigid sense of “it has to be this way, it has to be done this way, and it has to look like this”, what if we expand? Start encompassing other ways and embracing other ways to reach liberation and maybe being in a really pretty dress looking like Oshun, smashing car windows can be part of that, you know? Maybe it can! Because what we’ve done so far hasn’t worked. We’ve made huge progress but we’re still not there, so I get a little bit frustrated with some people who have been in academia for a long time because I understand what you are saying but at the same time everything you put work into hasn’t gotten us to the goal yet. So why don’t we try to do acting and try a new approach, you know? There seems to be some resistance to that and it disappoints me.
Chanelle: Absolutely and even that things don’t need to be changed but there needs to be multiple ways, like you said, so that if Beyoncé’s road to liberation isn’t bell hooks’ road then I think she needs to acknowledge that that’s also valid.
Phoenix: Yes, yes! I would love to see that! And I don’t think bell will do that, unfortunately, but I would love to see it and I am concerned that the takeaway for some people is going to be that it doesn’t matter what Beyoncé does, it’s always going to be the wrong thing. It’s never going to be good enough because that is creating a monumental pressure not just on Beyoncé, but also on people who look up to Beyoncé, right. We also have to realize the larger impact of what we’re saying. What are we really saying when we critique a Beyoncé? So if Beyoncé, right, so gorgeous, very thin in shape, multi- probably a billionaire at this point, you know? First name recognition, the Super Bowl scheduled itself around her, drops albums without promotions, and she’s still not good enough. What does that mean to the average black woman? I don’t have a college degree. I’ll probably never have a college degree. You know, poverty is a thing. If Beyoncé, who has all these achievements that I will never see in my lifetime, isn’t good enough where does that leave me? That’s kind of the scary place and that needs me hesitant to engage with certain people and in certain situations where we’re talking about black feminism and liberation and particularly from an academic standpoint. From the start, I feel like I’m not really wanted there. Wherever the liberation is there, that’s very distant from me. I don’t think that people necessarily consider that when they’re critiquing someone like Beyoncé. It’s where it leaves everyone else cool feels inspired by Beyoncé or who will never have the same accomplishments as Beyoncé. Where do we fit into this liberation puzzle?
Chanelle: Right, I think that’s why a lot of people are rooting for Beyoncé, because she does embody a certain type of black femininity that is oftentimes called frivolous or over the top or not genuine and you know he or she is doing it and I think it is important that we take her seriously.
Phoenix: Which I think is also just an interesting reclamation in and of itself because there’s the assumption that black women aren’t allowed to be feminine.
Phoenix: We go back and we’re talking about you know the plantation stereotypes, “Like yeah she’s a woman but put her in the field! Right, she can work alongside the men because they’re basically the same!” And then you know as we keep going on and it’s constantly, constantly, you know black liberation movements even though they’ve been predominantly led by men, there are still always women there who are expected to be in the streets and be giving support and be writing the think pieces and donating the money and donating the time. In churches, it’s usually a male pastor oftentimes leading the church but there are still the church ladies who keep the church running because they’re doing the day-to-day activities. And so there’s always this constant need to rely on black women as work horses and mules, not as women and it bothers me to see Beyoncé looking like a woman and talking about “I feel like a woman and I’m a woman and I’m pretty and I’m here and I’m doing the thing!” and people being “well that’s silly and that’s frivolous!” Maybe she just doesn’t want to fall into that trap of the stereotype of what black womanhood is which is not allowed to be feminine, allowed to be pretty, not allowed to be fragile, you know? But she just got tired and wanted to be more than a work mule. Can we? Maybe? Maybe?
Chanelle: Can we give her that? [laughs]
Chanelle: Okay, I could talk about Beyoncé probably forever. There’s endless material. But I do think it is worth noting who I think the MVP of the week is: Skai Jackson, the 14 year old girl from the Disney Channel who I honestly have not known about her until I saw the meme of her posted up in a chair with her blue dress giving the camera that look and the you know “When are you gonna be home?” and all the memes that come up with that, oftentimes right next to the Beyoncé one of her in the sweats on the couch.
Chanelle: I love that duo, their eyes say it all. But so Skai actually jumped into Zayn’s defense when Azealia Banks went a little haywire on Twitter this week. Did you see that?
Phoenix: Haha, yes. I saw that entire thing. I have feelings about the whole Azealia Banks thing and Skai. All the feelings. I am so disappointed in Azealia Banks on so many levels. So disappointed. I’m also bothered by a lot of people in her fan base because they’re distancing themselves from her now but where were you when she was launching homophobic assaults on black gay people prior to this?
Phoenix: And when she was defending Cosby and slutshaming women and saying that we should deny access to reproductive health services. It’s like where the fuck were y’all then? Y’all showed up for this, fine whatever. I guess you’re here finally and I’ll take it, but I see all of y’all.
Chanelle: The secret there is that she came for Zayn and when you come for Zaddy, that’s it.
Phoenix: So disappointed. Her whole rhetoric, I think – is a lot of people are surprised – but my thing is I was checking her Twitter before it got taken off Twitter [laughs] I was checking out her timeline and she supports Donald Trump? And it’s, well, if you support Trump I guess I can’t be shocked or surprised when you come on Twitter talking about xenophobia or the Islamophobia or the anti-Middle Eastern sentiment that was going on with Zayn because you support Trump. People are like, “I can’t believe she said that!” And it’s like, no. What she said on Twitter is perfectly aligned with someone who supports Donald Trump, so you shouldn’t be shocked by that. I’m incredibly disappointed that she came for Skai though. Why are you attacking children and talking about menstruation and get your boobs done and get butt implants and talking about her mother? I was like, all of that really is unnecessary.
Chanelle: Yeah. It was too much. I think, obviously, she’s demonstrated in the past that she has some Twitter fingers that are very unpredictable. The reason why it finally was the last straw for so many people is because they just watched her try to drag a literal child on the internet. I think she must be really confused or something because in what realm is that okay to do?
Phoenix: Yeah, I’m incredibly disappointed in the choice to drag a child. I’m incredibly disappointed too that it was particularly not just a child, but a black girl. Body shaming or talking about her body was used as a tactic, that was ridiculously inappropriate and harmful and I think it’s just, the whole thing is just so weird to me. Why would you do that? I am, I guess, concerned that Azealia has gotten in the habit, “I can say anything I want no matter how inappropriate, or offensive, or rude, or dangerous my rhetoric is, it doesn’t matter because I can just do what the fuck I wanna do.” And I think that is just a huge, huge problem. And people are dragging her on Twitter and all the memes are happening. I can’t really be mad at them. We’ve tried very patiently for a long time to help Azealia, y’know, the calling in and “you can’t say that” and trying to educate and love and respect. But when someone chooses to continually be abusive, you need to let them go. Let them go.
Chanelle: Yeah. I think she’s just out here swinging. She had that awful thing happen with her record label where she only had out one song. She got famous on one hit. She posted on YouTube, so she’s come a long way. And even, I watched an interview with her where she went on Hot 97 and was crying about Iggy Azalea stealing music from Black women. Obviously, she has good intent sometimes? And then she turns around like this. I don’t have anybody in my life who acts like that. I don’t really know how to deal with it and as an artist I don’t know that I can support her anymore. I didn’t like her newest mixtape, so that makes it a little bit easier.
Chanelle: But her first album, I thought it was really great. I would walk around listening to that! But now I just feel sick when I hear her voice because she’s just kind of twisted.
Phoenix: Being upset about the right things sometimes, as far as the cultural appropriation with Iggy Azalea, yes I’m here for that. She was like, I’m coming from a place where I’m trying to support black women and black women having their artwork stolen or going underappreciated while mediocre white women are getting all the praise. I feel you and I’m here for you. But when you come for a black child…?
Chanelle: Yeah, no.
Phoenix: How down for black women are you really? Did you mean all that shit you said? Because you literally tried to body shame a child, so I mean how down are you for black women? And because I’m kind of cynical, in my head, I’m like are you actually upset that Iggy Azalea is getting popular because it was cultural appropriation or just because you happen to be in the same genre as her and she was taking your shine? Admittedly unfairly taking your shine, because I do think Banks is a better artist than Azalea because Iggy Azalea is fucking terrible, but you know, is that what that was about? Because your other behavior, slutshaming women, and the stuff she said about accessing reproductive health, and “the Cosby victims were asking for it” or “the Cosby victims wanted it”? And then coming for this child, but are you really here for black women though? And that bothers me. A lot of people are rushing to say, “She has a mental health issue!” Okay, I understand mental health issues. I have mental health issues myself. But having a mental health issue does not give a person a pass to be abusive and I’m concerned that people are just sort of saying, “She’s got some mental health stuff going on” and brushing it off as if that somehow excuses her behavior. I’m not comfortable with saying it’s okay for her to behave this way because she might have a mental health issue that I haven’t heard confirmed, so. It’s like, that doesn’t make it okay either. We just need to flat out admit her behavior is being abusive and I think that that’s a larger conversation to have and nobody knows where to begin with it because when you belong to marginalized groups – she’s not light-skinned, she’s black, she’s a woman, she’s trying to make it as a celebrity and in the music industry – so she has all these layers of oppression but that doesn’t mean she cannot also be an abuser herself.
Phoenix: That’s a conversation we need to have. What happens when people who share the same types of marginalization become abusive or oppressive towards others? That conversation needs to happen. How do we demand accountability to that? How do we fix that? How do we heal people when these things happen? People do not want that conversation.
Chanelle: It’s difficult, that’s why.
Phoenix: It’s a hard one.
Chanelle: Things are already starting to happen. People are cancelling bookings. There was a headlining spot at a festival where they cancelled her after this happened, Twitter deleted her account, so I think it’s gonna be really hard to make any type of comeback after this. She’s gonna have to lay super low like Kanye West-style after going really wild on Twitter. [laughs] Take it in. Go for some walks. Maybe talk to some family members. But I really felt good about the way Skai responded because it still had this positivity and I think that was the best part of it for me, where she’s like, “I already had a career, I’m always gonna have a career, I’m really sorry that you’re bitter and miserable, fix your life, my mom was amazing, you’re giving Black women a bad name, don’t do that”. Nudge, nudge we’re on the same team. And then she said “I’ll be praying for you”, which is all we can do for her at this point.
Phoenix: Yeah, it is. The way Skai handled it, the level of maturity she showed for her age is really remarkable.
Chanelle: I know!
Phoenix: I would have been so petty.
Chanelle: Oh gosh, I wouldn’t have done that, yeah! She didn’t even live up to the meme! She coulda really come out with something.
Phoenix: Yeah, she could have, but she didn’t. Honestly, I think that’s a really good example that I think a lot of black women could take to heart and be like, “Well, I could drag you. I could read you to filth. But I’m gonna just say a few things and be done with it.” I think that the way she handled it was honestly just remarkable considering her age. She obviously is an incredibly poised young woman.
Chanelle: Also, it’s really amazing to see an amazing young black woman come out of the Disney Channel and not end up like Raven-Symoné.
Phoenix: Whew! Yes! [laughs]
Chanelle: And is actually saying the right things and is positive, which Raven was when she was younger but is actually pro-Black women.
Phoenix: Mhm! Yes!
Chanelle: And for starters, identifies as one. So.
Phoenix: Right! [laughs] The first step is the most important: actually identify as one. Yes! And I think that is huge. Maybe we should start a petition to let Skai replace Raven on The View.
Chanelle: Oh! That would be very fun!
Phoenix: I’m here for that. [laughs] Yeah! I think Skai is just fantastic and I think that she handled the whole thing really well. I so hope that she has a support system. I do generally hope the people are checking on her to make sure that the things that were said to her aren’t affecting her negatively. To be black and to have someone shaming your body, particularly when it’s another black person, especially a black woman, it just fuckin’ hurts. So I hope that she does have her support system that’s helping her if she needs help with that. But, yeah! Team Skai all the way.
Chanelle: Also, so strange, Azealia has the same body part. So that’s another layer of question marks for me.
Phoenix: Honestly, I just got confused with her when she did the Playboy shoot and was talking about white supremacy. I was like, “But you? Okay.” I’m not anti-photoshoot but you intentionally opted to pose in a Eurocentric sexy way on a magazine that’s primarily bought by white men but okay.
Phoenix: You know, you know. It was an odd place to talk about white supremacy but maybe somebody read it and got something out of it. I don’t know what to do with Azealia Banks because I think that there’s a lot of people like her within the community. Obviously, Azealia’s the most outspoken and well-seen and well-known for that behavior, but yeah. The abusive behavior, it can be off the chain sometimes.
Chanelle: And that’s it for this podcast! Thanks again for listening!
Chanelle: Black Girl Dangerous Podcast is a production of Black Girl Dangerous Media.