When my big brother shared Azealia Banks' interview on Hot 97 in the video below, I cried. Banks clearly articulated the pain felt by black creatives when their art is misappropriated by white people who they then must watch become wealthy while they languish, be awarded while they are left empty handed. It was decided, I would conjure my Black Girl Magic to rally around Banks and ignore the problematic points in her argument (is she shedding tears for Bill Cosby?) because I cape hard for black women. I cape especially hard for NW45, Deep Dark outspoken, women artists.
Skip to the 7:52 mark to hear the discussion pertaining to the effects of cultural misappropriation in hip hop and rap music.
For how the exchange between Banks And Zayn Malik led one of the Top 10 Reads of All Time (by a child) between Banks and Skai Jackson which then led to Azelia Banks' Twitter account being suspended the internet is bursting at the seams with details about her failure. I'm not here to rehash that. I'm here to talk about the immense sadness I felt when I realised that no amount of Black Girl Magic was going to save Banks from the the onslaught released against her. I felt utter helplessness when I learned the Home Office is investigating whether Banks' tweets warrant a ban from entering the UK. With the disgustingly racist things Banks tweeted, she effectively tied my hands in running to her defence.
In "Marvel's Black Panther Has To Be Twice As Good If It's Going To Succeed" for MTV.com Ira Madison III chronicles the uphill battle faced by a the fictitious Wakandan King T'Challa if he is to be considered as worthy as Spiderman of his own superhero franchise. You see a black man can't just be a superhero like his peers to exist at Thor's level in the Marvel universe, he must also be a monarch. To be black you have to be twice as good to get half of what your white counterparts have- Azealia Banks knows this! It is what she is argues in her Hot 97 interview yet she so willingly conspired against her own brilliance. Despite understanding the high level of excellence demanded of women of colour, black women especially, she committed an awe-inspiring act of self-sabotage so spectacular we are forced to watch on, impotent to render assistance to a woman I would normally defend to the end.
Azealia Banks took to whatever social media platform you use when Twitter is no longer available to your trigger fingers to explain her tirade. She penned an essay defending her stance against Zayn Malik. "His people suffer at the helm of white supremacy just like mine do. He has NO RIGHT to treat me like I am not worthy of anything." That's all good sis, but that's not what you said on Twitter. No, you used every derogatory, offensive slur you could think of and the joke is most people will never know why. Banks' original point was a pertinent one that harks back to the reason I donned my Black Girl Magic cape for her back in 2014. Zayn Malik's latest music video takes inspiration from Banks' and she was asking him to address the issue. Artists steal from each other all the time, but to be dismissed the way she was is triggering when you feel as she does that she has been "belittled, berated, stolen from, called crazy." People with greater privilege appropriating the art of black creatives and getting away with it is unacceptable but what is equally unacceptable is Banks' tomfoolery argument that "calling him racial slurs was my way of angrily trying to remind him that he is in fact not one of them, he is one of US." *le sigh*
In her blog Ella December calls for consistency with Twitter's suspension policy. There are celebrities across the social media platform with equally as egregious views as those expressed by Banks yet their accounts remain active. Why? Azealia Banks is a black woman thus must "behave" above reproach at all times. Yes! I know it is unfair, but black people living in the West both in the US and in Europe know the how the system is stacked against people of colour. Banks cannot expect the freedom of racist expression afforded to Paula Dean, Donald Trump, Katy Hopkins, Ann Coulter and Tila Tequila, respectability politics requires black women, especially dark skinned black women, conduct themselves on public forums with decorum. Fuck that! I expect a black woman of her calibre to not rain a litany of vile, racist diatribe down on a man belonging to an equally oppressed, disenfranchised group. That's what I expect. No, I demand it. I hold her to a high standard when it comes to hurting people. And that is what she did. Read this excellent piece by Simran Randhawa featured in Gal-Dem Magazine to understand what I'm talking about. Azealia Banks fell short of the glory and for that take it all, suspend her Twitter privileges, bar her access to the UK, strip her of her headline spot at Born & Bred Festival, drop her from her bookings' agency... wait a minute.
What is enough? How will Banks' pay for her crimes against morality? What penance will be enough to prove that she is once again worthy of the social media platform? The powers that be behind Twitter felt so convicted after her rant they snatched away Banks' ability to share her parasitic views, yet these egg accounts are left free to run into the mentions of prominent black activists reminding them of their nigger-ness whenever they tweet about Black Lives Matter or any other social justice cause. LOL. Look, the level of punishment fits the crime; chat shit, get banged, innit? But everyone must be held to the same standards. I want equality everywhere - in representation and punishment. Alas, that is a fantasy, the reality we live in means if you are a black woman who says caustic, racist shit, you will lose everything, if you are a white man who spews divisive racist shit you have a 50/50 chance of being the President of the United States of America.
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