Friday, October 4, 2013

What's the Matter With Miley: How Miley Cyrus Represents a Bigger Problem

Ever since her awkward “twerking” at the VMA’s all I’ve seen all over the blogs, on facebook and instagram is Miley, Miley, Miley and honestly I feel like that younger sister on the Brady Bunch, I’m tired of hearing it.  What annoys me isn’t the fact that twerking, a very old creation is now a phenomenon because a white former Disney star has decided to do it everywhere she goes, or the fact that she’s shaped like a lower case “I” ( just head and a straight body no curves), I can live with all that.  What bothers me is the fact that her oversexualized behavior, rebellious attitude, and overt drug references are somehow being portrayed as her trying to emulate black and hip hop cultures.

Since her first twerking video critics and fans alike have said that Miley is trying to “black” or part of “black culture”.  Apparently being “in the club high off purp” and dancing provocatively is what being black is all about, according to Miley and the media at least.  What Miley and some of the rappers co signing her don’t seem to be aware of or acknowledge is the fact that black women in particular have historically been portrayed as overtly sexual and promiscuous.  The Jezebel stereotype has it’s origins in slavery but has continued to be prevalent in America. From 1970’s movies about amazingly skilled black prostitutes to films like Monster’s Ball, black women in popular American culture has often been depicted as sexual deviants.   So when Miley brings a horde of black dancers to gyrate on stage while she slaps their behinds and people refer to that as acting black or copying black culture, I can’t help but to find it offensive and eerily similar to “ghetto parties” (pictured above)  hosted by college students on campus’ of universities like University of California San Diego where white students attend the party in their “black costumes”.

Twerking and drug use is not representative of black culture just like taking meth and the KKK are not representative of white culture, and it’s offensive to me to see some suburban Disney teen queen attempt to break her child star image by acting out and calling it acting black.  Furthermore now when other critics look at her behavior they are directly associating her wildness (and eventual downfall) with blackness.  All the negativity she exudes is simply a product of her new found blackness and adoption of Hip Hop.  Artists like Kanye West approving her actions as part of the hip hop culture only goes to prove what many white Americans believe, black people are wild and Hip Hop is all about sex, drugs and trouble.

Miley also brings up a bigger issue within Hip Hop, musical capitalism.  A handful of rappers have cosigned for Miley and her ratchet ways which makes any Hip Hop purist ask why?  The answer seems pretty, money.  If for no other reason than sheer controversy Miley is generating a lot of buzz so being featured on a track of hers or having her jump on yours can mean more exposure and more money.  At the end of the day Miley equals money and for a lot of artists that’s all that matters.  It seems as though too many MCs have been concerned with making a million and not speaking or representing something of substance.  Collectives like the Native Tongues have been replaced with YMCMB and a reactionary music that was rooted in lyricism and storytelling has transformed into a profit driven machine with Miley as its poster child.  The rapper Danny Brown states it best,

 I think anybody doing that just trying to eat. Ain't no nigga worried about their own music worried about her. Kendrick Lamar is not trying to do no song with Miley Cyrus. It's just like this, man. It's like the little white girl in the hood that might get you a plug on some pills or some shit. You gonna be nice to her to get your plug or whatever you need to get. They trying to eat,".

Back At It Again: Azealia Banks sturs up more controversy


The government might have been shut down but I’m back! Yeah I know it’s not as exciting as hearing that congress has magically decided to get along and scores of people can get back to work but hey, it’s the best I can do.

 As I was combing through the internet to read something that wasn’t about partisan politics for a change I stumbled across a bit of controversy from no other than the queen of twitter beefs herself Azealia Banks.  In case you’ve missed the hype, Banks is a 22 year old, pretty popular up and coming rapper from Harlem whose impressive skills are often overshadowed by her penchant for drama.  Recently she took to twitter to enlighten the masses on some little known black history facts.  Banks writes,

“Like black American culture is ESSENTIALLY some adapted version of British culture, Because American culture is bastardized English culture”

And then

“So strange... Santigold can sing indie rock songs and no one accuses her of wanting to be white..but white women twerking is the new evil.”

“Why is Black Culture such an exclusive club??? ... I'm asking myself this question as well. I'm guilty of this.”

And these gems

“struggle remembered and rehashed like as if we need some kind of fucking medal for being oppressed”

“lots of people have been enslaved throughout the course of history. THAT'S HUMANITY”

 From there she began to argue with a couple of followers and then eventually retreat stating that she was “bored”
I’m not sure if Ms. Banks got her education from the David Duke School of African American studies or if this is what New York public schools are teaching these day but honestly I’m a little confused. 

For starts if anything black American culture is adapted from African culture more so than the British.  Our mannerisms, communalism, music and even the ways in which we worship in the black church are very African in nature.  The cultures of Caribbean islands like Jamaica are more culturally similar to the British due to colonialism and even that is a slight stretch.

Now as far as the whole white women tweaking twerking Miley, black culture BS I’ll get to that in a different post.

The most upsetting tweet to me was the last one.  Apparently Banks feels like black people talk about being oppressed too much and we should just get over it because after all enslavement, cultural genocide, de facto and de jure segregation, oppression, systematic discrimination, terrorism and intimidation among other things are just “HUMANITY”.  This logic is exactly why discussing the struggle of blacks in America is necessary.  It seems as though many people my age are so busy thinking we’ve overcome we don’t want to even remember what we’ve overcome to begin with.   Or they’ve adopted this “post racial” notion that if you mention race or racism your somehow the racist whose stuck in the past. 

 The fact that black people have been resilient, determined and triumphant in the face of insurmountable odds is beyond impressive.  The struggle and fight of people like Denmark Vesey, Marcus Garvey, Fannie Lou Hammer, John Lewis, Stokely Charmical, Bobby Seale, James Farmer, Andrew Young, Harry Moore, and countless others should never be forgotten.  Not one person would dare say the US should forget about Pearl Harbor, Jewish Americans should disregard the holocaust or Native Americans should simply forget everything that has happened to them so suggesting blacks should seems slightly preposterous.  And in fact we do deserve a medal not for BEING oppressed but for SURVIVING and THRIVING.
All this being said, I  think Azealia Banks is a very talented MC who is often overlooked but comments like and constant twitters beefs kind of turns me off. Long story short leave the social commentary to someone else and work on an album