Sunday, August 30, 2015

the white and black of being problematic

A lot of times when I talk about racism, I do it from a black young woman's point of view, because that's what I am. And it's really hard for me to consume media without seeing things in a black and white way, if that makes sense. 

Anyway, the VMAs were hosted by Miley Cyrus. I pretty much was on Twitter the entire time, and I noticed that a lot of people were angry with her because of cultural appropriation. For example, she called Snoop Dogg her "mammy" (the submissive black character from Gone With the Wind), and wore dreads, among other things. 

So, a lot of people were irritated. Myself included. I understand the strides that Miley has made in terms of gender and sexuality, but it's pretty difficult for me to think of them when it feels like she's insulting black people, even if she doesn't realize it. 

People have pointed this out. People keep saying that she doesn't understand that she has white privilege, and that seems to be excuse enough. We can't hold her responsible for what she's saying because she's still a child, apparently. 

She brushed off Nicki Minaj after insulting her, and Nicki cursed her out, which some people say wasn't classy. I noticed that, when Kanye went up to make his speech, a lot of people were done with him. And sure, Kanye can be confusing. He can be problematic, of course, because we all can.

My point is that, whenever black people are problematic, people JUMP on them. And that's totally what should happen, of course, without a doubt. But when white people are problematic, especially white people who claim to be fighting to equal rights (such as Iggy, Miley, Taylor, and Macklemore), we can't say anything.

It's because they're trying their best. It's not their fault that they have privilege. They just don't understand. 

I've noticed that, just because a famous white person does one good thing, they basically don't have to be held accountable for anything wrong that they might do. Which is an unhealthy attitude. 

So sure, Miley has made strides for white genderfluid people. Iggy advocates for white women. I have to specify, you see, because when they turn around and appropriate other cultures I know that they don't want to include people of color.

That's why, even though Nicki and Kanye can be extremely problematic at times, I still clap when they appear on stage. I'm still happy when they call out people and institutions. Black people don't have a whole lot of a voice, especially in the entertainment industry. White kids have people advocating for them, and we have black people advocating for us.

The idea, you see, is to try to get us all advocating for each other. But that isn't going to happen unless we are all educated, which means holding others accountable for being problematic, especially in a public space.

Lastly, if white people can still be celebrated for their accomplishments while still being problematic, so can people of color.


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