Anyone waking up this morning scanning the headlines, saw that Nicki Minaj called out Miley Cyrus last night at the VMAs. Minaj was responding to comments Miley made in the New York Times.
It was in the moment for myself, watching Minaj call out a white pop star, that I felt two things simultaneously:
1. You betta go off girl!
Our society far too often erased Black women, and when the media does choose to shine light on them, it is either as fetishized sex objects, or in the tired role of the angry Black female. Watching a Black women win an award, and then proceed to speak up and out against words said by Cyrus in a publication that far too often gives platforms to white journalists who insist on writing "thought pieces" on matters they are generationally out of touch with.
Two that immediately come to mind are: the David Brooks op-ed on Ta-Nehisi Coates' Between the World and Me, which reads as an extraordinary display of both what it is like to watch a white person whine about having their whiteness and the systematic racism that goes along with it called out, and whole-heartedly erasing Coates words -- his truth.The other "What Makes a Woman," was the Times response to Caitlyn Jenner coming out as trangender. Elinor Burkett not only manages to be astoundingly tone deaf, transphobic, and generally awful, but also upholds misogynistic tropes of "how women should act".
The Times has proven again and again that it's attempts to be at the forefront of liberal ideals conflicts with the fact that most of their writers are antiquated white journalists who are increasingly out of touch with the newer generation's platforms and thought systems. In that moment of Minaj speaking out, she was not only silencing Cyrus and a system that has far too often told her to bite her tongue, but also the media for constantly being on the white side -- as opposed to the right one, the equal one.
2. Miley is the wrong target.
I can not think of any celebrities, not one, who is as big as Miley Cyrus and is doing the monumental work she is for the queer and transgender community. While many celebs tweeted out their support of Caitlyn Jenner when she graced the cover of Vanity Fair, their "advocacy" for the LGBTQ community ended right there. It ended as Caitlyn's name fell down the rank of what was trending.
Cyrus is a force for the LGBTQ youth that are the ones erased in the struggle for equality. Yes, to some, to the privileged, gay marriage is their number one hurdle, but to a trans kid who was just kicked out of their home, their hurdle is survival. It is more than: "How will I eat?" It is: "How will I live?"
Early this year, Miley started the Happy Hippie Foundation the first lines you see on their website are words you would not be hard pressed to find in Hollywood, they are words that don't exist in the rest of Hollywood, they are as follows: "The Happy Hippie Foundation is a nonprofit organization founded by Miley Cyrus. Our mission is to rally young people to fight injustice facing homeless youth, LGBTQ youth and other vulnerable populations."
You rarely see the media talking about all of the good Miley is doing. Most Americans know her as that white girl who twerks, not the one who works. Miley has grown from being the epitome of peak white -- a Disney star -- to someone who is clearly doing a lot of mental soul searching, and evolving. She is young, and that evolution will continue; I can't help but wonder that if Minaj had told Cyrus why her words were wrong, that Cyrus would have taken the criticism to heart, and made the commitment to understanding how to, in the future, respond the ever baiting media, on similar matters.
Minaj chose to align herself with Taylor Swift, someone who has also had media "beef" with Cyrus. Taylor is the perfect face of white feminism, a movement committed to non-justice justice. A movement that has the platform to challenge the system, yet remains twee -- it remains racist, and it remains useless. This shows, unfortunately, that Minaj herself does not know -- or even, sadder, does not care -- to do the research in looking past short quips in newspapers, and dive past what our media tells us is important to what really is important.