We all know the story: Minaj took to Twitter to express her discontent with not being nominated for Best Video of the Year. And in true white feminist form, Taylor Swift got caught up in her feelings and tweeted back to Nicki, accusing her of pitting women against each other. When Swift got dragged by Minaj and Black Twitter, she backtracked and apologized. Yet, weeks later, Cyrus came out of her mouth to the New York Times calling what Nicki did as “not nice.” Days later, Minaj took to the stage calling Cyrus a “b***h” and uttering the most tweeted and repeated phrase of 2015 thus far, “What’s good?”
While there’ve been dozens of think pieces hypothesizing and dissecting the incident, in a recent New York Times interview, Minaj set the record straight on why Cyrus’s actions bothered her so much and the hypocrisy of it all.
“The fact that you feel upset about me speaking on something that affects black women makes me feel like you have some big balls. 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, 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 that.”
Yeah, she went there and back.
In this same interview, she also tackled sexism in the industry, why female empowerment is so crucial and how there is more to life than having babies at a young age. She even kicked out the journalist out at the end of the interview for asking a “disrespectful” question claiming the rapper liked drama because of the beef between Drake and Meek Mill and Lil Wayne and Birdman.
Yo, it’s clear that Minaj is not the one.
But most importantly, she shows us again that she isn’t just some silly Barbie-esque rapper with a big butt. She's an incredibly smart and eloquent Black woman with something to say. And what she’s saying is right on point.
Think about the countless examples of how Black culture has been constantly jacked by white folks, from Afros to baby hair to cornrows, and how we receive little credit for our contributions. Or how when we speak out against racism, call out the privilege that white women receive and how hard it is for Black women in this world, we are often told to “quit complaining and stop making it about race” Nancy Grahn-style.
At every turn, they try to silence us or shame us into submission.
And this is why I applaud Minaj for keeping it all the way real, because we know that there’s a lot at stake when you do. Thanks to White America's unwillingness to acknowledge oppression and privilege in any real way, we know that talking about certain isms in an unapologetic way can hurt Black celebs and, most importantly, their pocket books.
And while people’s politics and how they choose to display them is their own business, I find it refreshing that in these blatantly racist, sexist (and homophobic) times, we have celebs like Minaj, Viola Davis, Amandla Stenburg and Zendaya who are not afraid to be this honest, racial and intersectional with it.
They are the courageous truth tellers and that, my dear, is what actually takes big balls.
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(Photo: New York Times Magazine, October 2015)