[image courtesy of rollingstone.com]
By: Liam McGurl @Liiiammm1996
Rapper Azealia Banks is most commonly known for her foul mouth, which she has excused by calling her verbal daggers a part of her “crass, New-York-City sense of humor.” I’d have some serious questions for anyone who would accept such a poor excuse for vulgarities; regardless, it is likely Banks supporters would agree the 24-year-old rapper’s taken things a bit too far this time.
After a March 31 Newslo article’s release, jokingly telling that former Alaskan governor Sarah Palin said blacks “accepted [slavery] willingly,” Banks took to Twitter, voicing her thoughts on the statement.
Unfortunately for Palin, Banks’ comments were nothing short of humiliating. Even worse for Banks, the comedy-based article was falsified. That’s right, Palin never made the remarks in the first place, despite Banks’ all-too-real comebacks.
While I’ll spare Banks’ specific indecencies, the “212” rapper essentially said Palin was deserving of being gang-raped by a group of black men. Of course, Banks didn’t leave it there. She went on to described exactly how the sexual act of violence ought to be carried out, never ceasing to spare the most gut-wrenching images associated with rape.
There are a few issues here. First, the obvious, Bank’s mouth. She’s disrespectful, thoughtless and hurtful—and her aggressive remarks have extended beyond the world’s politicians, with Lady Gaga, Pharrell and A$AP Rocky among the ranks of her victims.
More often than not, Banks’ irrational tweets stem from a lack of prior research on her part—as she tweets on immediate impulse—and this Banks-Palin feud is no exception.
There’s also a discussion surrounding Twitter’s allowance of these unwarranted postings, even after accounts filed complaints; however, Twitter thrives off the usage generated through controversial content—even if it’s user’s policy explicitly restricts the
promotion of violence”—so that ruling isn’t overly surprising.
Of course we can sit around and debate if Banks, believing Newslo’s article to be true, was justified in her reactionary commentary. After all, she’s a black woman and, while I’m inherently Caucasian, I wouldn’t take kindly to others undermining the world-shattering, pained experiences of my ancestors. With that being said, Palin didn’t lighten the experiences of African Americans, or at least not in this case, so, Banks’ comments become subject to criticism. When an individual rises to a certain level of celebrity—although I wouldn’t say Banks has risen to the upper echelon of industry respect quite yet—they’re unofficially held to a certain level of public expectation.
Banks failed to meet the expectations I hold for the consistent letdowns in my life. She spoke unfairly—offering a measly apology, saying she apologizes “for any emotional distress or reputational scarring [she] may have caused [Palin].” To me, Banks’ words sound more like added self-promotion, as she assumes her career has potential, heavily-weighing impacts on Palins.
It’s worth noting that I identify as “liberal” and haven’t held a record of tolerance for Trump-esque characters—undermining and excusing the experiences of marginalized populations. And, so, it takes a telling caliber of pride-swallowing to defend Palin, who’s made her fair share of questionable comments in the past.
While Banks was aiming to both gain some sort of media attention and, giving her the benefit of the doubt, defend the black population, she only perpetuated black stereotypes and current violence-related issues.
I’d think Banks wouldn’t wish ill will on other women—especially in the form of rape, an atrocity already plaguing a disgustingly large contingent of the female population. There are plenty of punishments for one to face in the midst of publicly-voiced racist sentiments (such as being charged with hate crimes). As I see it, rape wouldn’t be a logical punishment. On top of that, mentioning black men—well, actually, she referred to them as “negroes”—and gang rape in the same sentence, Banks perpetuates a racial stereotype plaguing black men. I have a great deal of male friends, who happen to be black, and I can indefinitely say they’d never carry out this heinous crime—no matter how offensive a woman’s words. I hope Banks realizes this, too.
In essence, Banks’ attempts to play “advocate” resulted in one brilliantly shining takeaway: Banks’ career is limited to “pushing the envelope.” Maybe I’m overstepping my boundaries here—because I can’t exactly spit a bar myself—but, as I see it, Banks is aware of her limited artistry and, so, she banks (no pun intended) on a shock value-fueled career; she’s used slur after slur, both in-and-out of her music: proudly exclaiming the word “c*nt” in “212,” shouting gay slurs at the paparazzi, telling the media she sees no harm in the word “f*gg*t” and stereotyping “white Americans,” telling Playboy, “I hate everything about this country. Like, I hate fat white Americans.”
It’s 2016: we have knowledge at our fingertips and there’s no excuse for ignorance. Still, the battle for racial equality is far from over. What Banks fails to acknowledge is that she’s unfairly placing right-minded, white advocates for change alongside brute-like perpetrators of racism. In turn, Banks furthers the divide between white and black America.
If she’s genuinely concerned about acceptance, Banks should tear the slurs from her vocabulary and look for a healthy dialogue with white citizens, gay citizens and anyone else that she continually crams into the “stereotype box.” Time and time again, she’s told white America, “You’re not invited into this conversation.” And, while I agree with Banks that there are certain conversations white individuals are better left out of, I also feel the fight against racism is best met with an open, interracial dialogue.