You Can’t Be Pro Black AND Pro Blackface

You Can’t Be Pro Black AND Pro Blackface

The issue I see all too often is the disconnect between pop culture and reality in America.  I don’t understand how we can speak out or march in protest against police brutality while supporting the blackface antics of Iggy Azalea.  These issues are not separate.

Paul Mooney said, “Everyone wants to be Black, but no one wants to be Black.”  Iggy Azalea is no different.

White people want to dress like us, speak like us, darken their skin, etc, but want nothing to do with us.  Too many of them turn a blind eye to our dilapidated schools, our political disenfranchisement, and to our men and women dying at the hands of police officers.  And the reason why is not a mystery: a level playing field for Black people would mean they would have to actually excel where they are currently mediocre.

In response to Azealia Banks going in on her on Hot 97, Iggy said Banks was crying on the radio because of her lack of success.  That alone proves that she is ignorant to the reality of the Black girls she for.  An anonymous contributor had this to say “…what Azealia became emotional over is the messaging being projected to and received by our Black youth and the extent to which white America has stripped and hijacked Black people and culture.  It’s not about Iggy Azalea.  It’s about the targeted effort to marginalize and discredit and discount Black people and make us feel inferior.  That’s why she was crying, because she feels the pain and suffering of our people and because she is frustrated, as all of us who are conscious are.”

Iggy’s response proved that she does not understand the gravity of the situation or how what she is doing plays a role in it.  She’s continuing the tradition of white people who LOVE Black culture but don’t give a fuck about Black people.

You can’t be against police brutality, against systematic racism, and pro Black while also being pro blackface.  Supporting the likes of Iggy Azalea and others means you support the actions of white America stealing from Black culture while also disenfranchising and killing Black people.  You support the idea that it’s okay to steal our expressions and identify while also attempting to make us feel inferior, as if who we are and what we do has no value.   

Iggy Azalea won best Hip Hop album of 2014 at the American Music Awards.  Are you kidding me?

What would happen if Nicki Minaj or Angel Haze or Azealia Banks or a legend like MC Lyte or any other Black female rapper dropped ‘The New Classic’?  We would be criticizing them, blasting their basic lyrics, and largely ignoring them.  So why the different treatment for Iggy Azalea?  You know why.  We all do.  Azealia Banks was 100% correct when she talked about the messaging being sent when someone like Iggy Azalea is seen as being at the top in a space originated and dominated by Black people:  [to Black kids] “you don’t have shit, you don’t own shit, not even the shit you created for yourself”.

In her response to Q-Tip’s history lesson, Iggy said it was ‘ignorant’ to assume she has no knowledge of the history of something she is inspired by.  Will.i.am and others have stepped up in support of Iggy suggesting that Hip Hop is ‘global’ and there is a place for everyone.  It is true that Hip Hop is now mainstream (as it should be) and that everyone is welcome.  Millions of people are inspired and influenced by Hip Hop.

What gets me is the thinking that being inspired by something means you imitate it.  When you’re inspired by something you make take elements from it, but you make it your own.  Iggy Azalea is not original or even all that talented.  She’s white and widely regarded as beautiful.  Throw her into a space dominated by Black men and you have a recipe for superstardom.  Iggy Azalea’s success is predicated on the feelings of other white people that they want to be Black too.  I get it.  As I’ve said before,  if I wasn’t Black I’d want to be Black.

Having said all that, I honestly don’t care who enters the world of Hip Hop or how much success they obtain.  The inclusion of non-Black musicians in Hip Hop is ultimately good for the genre.  What I do care about is people like Iggy Azalea who want to be Black, but show no sincere interest in alleviating the blatant systematic disenfranchisement and targeting of Black people.  What I care most about are Black people who don’t seem to see the importance of what’s happening right now and who are showing support for Iggy Azalea and related buffoonery such as the slew of reality TV shows that highlight ignorance from a minority of Black people that shapes or confirms the assumptions and perceptions about the majority of Black people.  Do you think those shows are popular because Black people are watching in droves?  No, it’s because white people are.  Regardless of the progress that’s been made, too many of us are still tap dancing and too many of us have become desensitized.

It comes down to this: either stand up and shut up.  If you’re going to rock with Iggy Azalea and others like her, then rock with them.  But don’t also try to blend in among those of us who actually give a damn and aren’t afraid to show it.

Miya W.

Living, working, and writing anonymously in the Chi.

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