Dear Iggy Azalea, Can You Not?

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 05:  Recording artist Iggy Azalea performs onstage during KIIS FM's Jingle Ball 2014  powered by L
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 05: Recording artist Iggy Azalea performs onstage during KIIS FM's Jingle Ball 2014 powered by LINE at Staples Center on December 5, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for iHeartMedia)


Dear Iggy Azalea,

Hey, girl. I'm glad you canceled your tour and are finally getting a break. It sounds like you're also going to take the time to do some rebranding. That's a good idea. Something that would also be a good idea is not accessorizing yourself with the black American South.

While you are chillin' and ordering Papa John's to a themed pool party with Britney Spears, there are some things you should think about:

1. You are not black.

2. You are not from the American South.

3. You are not a black person from the American South.


Honestly, just repeating those things to yourself might be helpful. The thing is, Iggy, you are actually a white lady from New South Wales. When you say things like "Tell me how you love dat," you are not being artistic. You are adopting the tonalities of Southern black women and belittling their manner of speaking by totally removing it from its context. "The line is offensive because this Australian born-and-raised white girl almost convincingly mimics the sonic register of a downhome Atlanta girl," wrote Brittney Cooper for Salon.

This might seem harsh, Iggy. But you are not only disrespecting the culture of the black American South. You are also accessorizing yourself with it for profit. It is wrong (and often racist) to play the part of a marginalized person without having experienced their version of marginalization. You are not entitled to pick and choose certain elements of cultures. You are basically treating black American culture like it is a Claire's in a local mall, and you are a bored 12-year-old with sticky fingers.

Culture reflects the core of a person's being. It defines their experiences and perspective. It is inextricably linked to social, political and economic realities. It is not something you can just "put on" like a funny hat or the lip balm you conspicuously sponsor in that booty video with J.Lo.

I hope you don't think people have a problem with you just because you're a white rapper, as you'll be missing the point. Granted, the black community has rightful ownership of rap and hip hop (along with jazz, blues and soul), because of the origins and social significance of those genres. (While taking your break, you might consider streaming Ice-T's "Something from Nothing" on Netflix for some background there.) When you come back to us, however, we suggest you stop antagonizing Azealia Banks and remember that you can be a white person and partake in the art form without appropriating blackness or, more specifically, the black American South.

Pretty Much Everyone

P.S. If you need to quickly re-familiarize yourself with Australia, you might consider watching the turn-of-the-century classic "Our Lips Are Sealed."

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Follow Lauren Duca on Twitter: @laurenduca



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