THREA ALMONTASER | Correspondent
If you caught the 2015 VMA’s, you would know that famous line means much more than the simple, “Hey, how have you been?”
Famous female rapper Onika Maraj known to the world as Nicki Minaj, called out the award show’s host, singer Miley Cyrus.
“And now, back to this b***h that had a lot to say about me the other day in the press. Miley, what’s good?,” said Minaj on stage to after accepting the award for best hip hop video of the year, referring to a past interview where Cyrus spoke strongly against the rapper’s view of the music industry’s weak support when it comes to black musicians, and how they seem to favor others such as America’s sweetheart Taylor Swift, the perfect representation of a “blue eyed, blonde haired, skinny white girl.”
Speaking of blonde, Miley also decided to sport blonde dreads at the award show, getting a lot of love from magazines like Hollywood Life, who claimed that the “host rocks amazing blonde dreads!” while many others like the Huffington Post feel it stirred a serious and complex controversy around cultural appropriation.
For those who aren’t familiar, “appropriation occurs when a style leads to racist generalizations or stereotypes where it originated, but is deemed as high fashion, cool, or funny when the privileged take it for themselves,” explianed actress Amandla Stenberg who played “Rue” in the movie “The Hunger Games”, when she shocked the country with her culturaly aware blog post in April.
It’s true that when African-American actress Zendaya Coleman wore the same hair style as Miley at the Oscars on the television series Fashion Police she was infamously described as smelling like “patchouli oil and weed” on the red carpet. This was not so true for other famous celebrities such as Cyrus and Kendall Jenner in the past, both having been revered as “amazing” and “edgy” for their new looks.
The comments from both sides of the VMA controversy received a lot of negative backlash and positive attention alike from fans on social media, under the hashtag, #VMAS2015. Some wrote in support of Minaj, posting, “Taylor Swift wins everything.” with a snooze emoji beside it, while others were with Cyrus, commenting that “Miley Cyrus killed it as the host!”
This eventful night clearly had an undertone of spoken truth beneath all the drama. The broader issue of black artist’s lack of recognition, and the ongoing growth of cultural appropriation within those red carpet events.
Australian rapper Iggy Azalea is one of many who appropriate themselves into the black culture. Known as the “drag queen” of hip hop, her performances mimic that of a southern black girl. The only difference is she can’t trace her roots back to that specific culture.
The reason people are outraged by her is because she gets profit from selling black sound while having white appeal. Azalea refers to herself as a “White girl with a ghetto ass” in her song “We Go Hard.” White supremacy just oozes out of that single lyric alone.
This type of unfair artist recognition has happened many times before. Like when Ben William Haggerty, better known as Macklemore, retrieved the 2013 Grammy against Kendrick Lamar. But, at least Haggerty sticks with his culture’s sound of a northeastern white guy. It’s still hard to ignore the obvious charm his skin color has on certain audiences which can very possibly contribute to this monetary success. Inspiration can easily become appropriation, and it’s difficult to control without upsetting or being seen as an offensive thief. And this hasn’t just been happening in recent years. Chuck Berry’s rock and roll career was outshined by Elvis Presley, “a white man who sounds, feels, and performs black.”
It’s sad not only because white artists are rewarded for using black culture, but that years of black accomplishments and musical brilliance are being thrown into the back of the closet, eclipsed and overlooked.
White advantage has been procuring black culture’s rewards time and again. This is a problem that Minaj figured had to be spoken up about, in the most clear-as-day manner she could possibly think of was during the 2015 VMA’s.