Boss rapper and all round inspiration Nicki Minaj has continued the dialogue on the treatment of black women within society by readdressing her dispute with Miley Cryus in a recently published article for The New York Times.
For anyone that requires reminding, after the announcement of this year’s VMA nominations, Minaj expressed on Twitter that she felt that the highly successful ‘Anaconda’ video had been overlooked for nominations for Video of the Year – which she attributed to the consistent undermining of black women and their contributions in popular culture. Fellow pop star Taylor Swift interpreted the tweets as being a jab at her, particularly “if your video celebrates women with very slim bodies, you will be nominated”. There was a media move to make a ‘Minaj vs Swift’ – one which Minaj quickly dismissed and any bad blood (see what we did there?) was readily resolved between the two with apologies being given and a kick-ass opening duet at The VMAs themselves.
@NICKIMINAJ I've done nothing but love & support you. It's unlike you to pit women against each other. Maybe one of the men took your slot..
— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) July 21, 2015
As we all tried to move on with our lives and pretend we no longer buy into media-fueled celebrity fights, suddenly Miley Cryus appeared on the scene.. In her interview with New York Times, Cyrus gave her opinion of the whole situation, which essentially boils down to a white woman chastising a black woman for talking about about race in a context and manner that she finds unacceptable.
“You made it about you. Not to sound like a bitch, but that’s like, “Eh, I didn’t get my V.M.A”. If you want to make it about race, there’s a way you could do that. But don’t make it just about yourself. Say: “This is the reason why I think it’s important to be nominated. There’s girls everywhere with this body type. What I read sounded very Nicki Minaj, which, if you know Nicki Minaj is not too kind. It’s not very polite.”
Minaj, being the inspiration she is, didn’t take Cryus’ words lying down. As she accepted her award for Hip Hop Video of the Year she thanked her pastor before saying “back to this bitch who had a lot to say about me the other day in the press, Miley, what’s good?”.
It was a moment that defined this year’s VMAs and has spawned many a gif and meme. It resonated because it was unscripted, emotional and more importantly it threw Cyrus’ tone policing back in her face. The media were quick to try and cast Minaj as the ‘angry black woman’, but ultimately, rather than passive aggressive back-and-forth through tweets and interviews, this was Minaj confronting the damn situation head on.
A month on and the disagreement is still on Minaj’s mind, with her interview with New York Times detailing why she felt Cyrus was wrong in what she said.
‘‘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.’’
It’s hard to avoid the temptation of simply writing ‘YAAAAAAAAAASSSSS’ and finishing there. After being marginalised and categorised as ‘the angry black woman’ by a person who has essentially become the face of cultural appropriation, Minaj has extended a hand forward in offer; asking that Cyrus educate herself and understand the significance of black culture and what it means to the people who create it. People of other cultural standings can enjoy black culture and lifestyle but they should never dismiss that its elements have originated from an environment where people are oppressed and systemically discriminated against. Like she says, “you can’t want the good without the bad.”
It’s not the only gold moment of the interview with Minaj also discussing rap music and body image;
“‘Back in the day, in hip-hop, the thick girl was glorified. Now the rappers are dating skinny white women. So it’s almost like, ‘Wait a minute, who’s going to tell the thick black girls that they’re sexy and fly, too?’ ’’
As well as her own self-confidence;
‘‘I’m not always confident. Just tired. Black women influence pop culture so much but are rarely rewarded for it.’
Finally when asked a poorly formed question of whether she thrives off drama – in particular the recent spat between friend Drake, boyfriend Meek Mill and fellow rappers Lil Wayne and Birdman – Minaj responds brilliantly, stopping the interview in its tracks.
‘‘What do the four men you just named have to do with me thriving off drama?’’ she asked. ‘‘Why would you even say that? That’s so peculiar. Four grown-ass men are having issues between themselves, and you’re asking me do I thrive off drama?…That’s the typical thing that women do. What did you putting me down right there do for you?…Women blame women for things that have nothing to do with them. I really want to know why — as a matter of fact, I don’t. Can we move on, do you have anything else to ask?’…To put down a woman for something that men do, as if they’re children and I’m responsible, has nothing to do with you asking stupid questions, because you know that’s not just a stupid question. That’s a premeditated thing you just did.’’
And on that note: YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAASSSSSSSSSS.