"Pitting Nicki Minaj against Sandra Bland is a false dichotomy because both represent the very literal snubbing of black excellence. Maybe it is more palatable to see this in Bland because one of the ways we have grown accustomed to talking about how we are silenced [is] through police brutality. We see the revolutionary dimension of her righteous rage as she loudly and proudly articulates her rights and her unwavering fight for them to an ego driven and unnecessarily emasculated police officer. But so too was Minaj. She was making a broader point about the systemic ways black artists, especially black women, are denied their due for their influence in cultural production. However, white supremacist respectability blinders seduce us to not see the similarities. We continue to feed the formula of divide and conquer even though we should be bringing Bland and Minaj together in a fight that is both-and."At the end of the day, both "Anaconda" and "Feelin' Myself" broke records and "stopped the world." As mentioned in this Saint Heron article, "Anaconda" broke viewership records for Vevo with 19.6 millions views in 24 hours. Nicki Minaj deserves respect and there's no reason that "Feelin' Myself" should have been snubbed completely at the 2015 VMAs. Our agency and voices as black women should not be silenced or erased in any sphere.
As Nicki Minaj began to expand on her commentary about the lack of VMA nominations for "Feelin' Myself" and "Anaconda", mainstream media took the usual route of reducing her comments to a "Twitter spat" and painting her in a negative light. Taylor Swift, demonstrating vapid mainstream white feminism at its finest by inserting herself into the conversation, only further derailed the reporting of her comments and ultimately centered the conversation about herself instead of Minaj. In a response to a fan expressing adoration of her confidence, Minaj highlighted the fact that black women's contributions to pop culture are rarely rewarded. https://twitter.com/nickimpasties/status/623616583500480512 https://twitter.com/NICKIMINAJ/status/623617003153035264 Of course, before we could sit on this and discuss this actual problem that sits at the intersection of feminism, black women's agency, the perpetual fetishization of black women in the music industry and more, Taylor Swift inserted herself: https://twitter.com/taylorswift13/status/623616796277506048 https://twitter.com/NICKIMINAJ/status/623618047673106433 And the derailing and diminishing of Nicki's original discussion began... https://twitter.com/onikascubbycatt/status/623620610556579840 https://twitter.com/NICKIMINAJ/status/623620980896722944 Ryan Seacrest posted an original headline that stated Nicki Minaj was taking jabs at Taylor Swift, but she was never discussing Taylor Swift to begin with. Taylor inserted herself as you can see here: https://twitter.com/NICKIMINAJ/status/623631068680163328 Taylor went even further to extend an opportunity for Nicki to join the stage with her. (As if Nicki needs that or asked for it...) She, too, is missing the point and needs to have a seat: https://twitter.com/taylorswift13/status/623628086614036480 By Taylor offering her two cents that no one asked for, their conversation was described as a Twitter beef by many popular news outlets and Nicki Minaj was associated with every negative connotation and image possible. Twitter users captured these "receipts" before they were deleted like Ryan Seacrest and Entertainment Weekly's tweets. Several prominent black female Twitter users reacted below: https://twitter.com/nochillzabree/status/623627092765356032 https://twitter.com/BougieBlackGurl/status/623650016532516864 https://twitter.com/SoulRevision/status/623653982200664069 https://twitter.com/SoulRevision/status/623654516584378368 https://twitter.com/crissles/status/623694057706024960 Minaj went on to highlight how Seacrest was wrong for the headline he originally used and brought up the comparison of her accomplishments as an artist of color, compared to Taylor Swift and others, using the launch of Tidal (which was met with much criticism that Jay-Z eventually addressed) as an example: https://twitter.com/NICKIMINAJ/status/623634204257943552 https://twitter.com/NICKIMINAJ/status/623634625001172992 As with much slander against Black women, unless these large publications are called out, particularly by someone of prominent stature, they will not acknowledge their mistakes or reverse what they have done. Janet Mock, renowned trans advocate, author of Redefining Realness and host of
#SoPOPular on MSNBC called Entertainment Weekly for their negative portrayal of Nicki in their original tweet below:
Entertainment Weekly issued a statement and apology a few hours later for their initial coverage of the piece:
Of course, this isn't the first time a black woman made a comment that exposed an issue and was dismissed as an "angry black woman" in the media.
Several black women on Twitter attempted to discuss concerns about Nicki's comments, highlighting the violent implications of being seen as an "angry black woman."
EBONY.com senior editor, Jamilah Lemiuex, and Brittany Packnett, protester and organizer from Ferguson, commented on the connection between the murder of Sandra Bland and Nicki's comments.
What has been most interesting to me in the past 24 hours is that people are operating in the same way that white supremacy and patriarchy do, diminishing and dismissing her comments, further detracting from Nicki's core argument about the erasure of black women's contributions to pop culture.
One common sentiment is that "Feelin' Myself" was a TIDAL exclusive, so that's why it was not considered VMA eligible. I need receipts. My concern is not that her "TIDAL exclusive" video is not considered eligible for a VMA nomination simply because it was on TIDAL. I'm calling a flag on the play, because other artists, including Taylor Swift herself, have migrated their content from other digital platforms to TIDAL and have not suffered. I am certain that if these artists were concerned that their content existing on TIDAL would affect nominations from award shows such as the VMAs, they would not be using it either.
Other comments that I have read so far allude to the elephant in the room when it comes to Minaj and other artists like her. Nicki Minaj is not seen as a respectable black female artist in pop culture, and that is why you're not willing to come to her defense. She is not the type of black woman you're willing to stand behind. You don't understand how "Anaconda" shattered the respectable viewing lens we have of agency in hip-hop videos where video girls are normally silent and scantily clad. She knowingly and proudly proclaimed a desire for a spotlight and an anthem for curvy women to twerk to. To some, that's demeaning. And to many curvy women, including myself, it is empowering. "Anaconda" itself samples Sir Mix-A-Lot's song that bashes commonly-adored flatter posteriors and includes him repeatedly saying that he prefers big butts. Nicki took ownership of that very imagery every step of the way. Much like the backlash against Janelle Monae for taking a new direction with her latest record, "Yoga," you are being selective with what kind of feminism and what kind of black woman you want.
Blavity contributor Victoria Massie discussed the impact of silencing Nicki's sentiments coupled with the overwhelming influence of patriarchy and white supremacy and worded it perfectly:
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