Nominations for the 2015 Video Music Awards were announced and Nicki Minaj is none too pleased about her perceived snub for “Video of the Year." After sharing a few shady posts on her Instagram, the Anaconda rapper took to Twitter to explain her frustration with a series of tweets. The tweets incited a response from Taylor Swift (the only other female nominated in the category besides Beyoncé). What started as an entertaining round of tea soon turned into a very serious conversation about how Black women are often not acknowledged for their contributions to pop culture.
Let’s be clear: I’m not here to argue the merits of the Anaconda video. However, Minaj revealing her disappointment about not being nominated for "Video of the Year" is not solely based on ego. This comes at an especially sensitive time for Black women. The media continues to trivialize Black women’s style, bodies and very existence.
The Amandla Stenberg and Kylie Jenner “feud” is a key part to the conversation. While Nicki did not use the phrase “cultural appropriation” she implied that White female artists benefit from styles originated by Black women. And just as they crucified Stenberg for calling out Jenner for her cornrows, mainstream media couldn’t wait to vilify Minaj. The exchange between Nicki and Taylor took place merely hours ago and already media powerhouses such as TMZ and Ryan Seacrest have sensationalized the incident. By painting Nicki Minaj in a negative light, she is given the “Angry Black woman” narrative which serves no purpose other than to diminish her very valid points.
While Minaj's dig on "slim bodies" was a classic example of body shaming, I understand her underlying message. Slim, white female bodies are often glorified while more curvaceous, black female bodies are either shamed or objectified. Yet, if those same body parts most commonly associated with Black women are found on the white female form, they are celebrated (i.e. Kim Kardashian's ass or Kylie Jenner's lips) and hashtagged "White Girls Do it Better."
As the tragic story of Sandra Bland unfolds, there is an especially heightened awareness of why the mantra “Black Lives Matter” continues to be a relevant and necessary social movement. Following her death, it was revealed that Bland was educated and extremely vocal about racial inequality. While the death of Bland is far more serious than Twitter banter, Minaj seems to be drawing from these current events when she expresses general frustration with the mistreatment of Black women.
Taylor also seems to be missing the bigger picture. Swift calls out Nicki for “[pitting women against each other]” however her perception comes from a place of privilege. Don’t get me wrong, we are discussing two extremely wealthy and famous women but it is clear that Taylor’s good-girl image and Whiteness, make her America’s sweetheart. Taylor Swift’s condemnation of Minaj for not having the “girl power” mentality, allows Swift to ignore the clear racism that takes place within the music industry and the world at large.
When Swift took a stand against major media corporations such as Spotify and Apple, she was applauded. When Nicki chose to stand by Tidal, the general consensus was that she and the other artists (namely Beyoncé and Jay-Z) were being greedy.
Whether you would define the ass shaking in Anaconda as art is not my concern. Let’s just agree that Minaj was spot on when she acknowledged that Black women don't get enough applause, on stage or off.