I won’t lie. I don’t listen to modern day hip hop. But you’d pretty much have to be living under a rock if you haven’t heard Fancy, by Australian hip hop artist, Iggy Azalea. This blond, ebonics-speaking cash cow is protected by powerhouse, T.I., and such grand-daddies in rap have had to bow (wow, as in Snoop Dog) down and apologize to her publicly for insulting her. While her welcome into hip hop, and by extension, black culture, has been mixed, but it’s clear she is flanked by a stable of prominent black men who have absolutely no problem throwing down their coats so Iggy can walk over puddles.
On the other hand, you have Azealea Banks, ’round-the-way black girl with a crude-yet-talented mouth, who has not been shy about expressing her disdain with Iggy, T.I. (she called him a coon) Tiny (says she can’t read) and her dismay at how the entire industry seems to be greedily accepting white people willing to appropriate black culture to make it in music. When I saw Azealea on a recent talk radio show discussing the issue, she came off hard with a mouthful of expletives. She looked like another “bitter black woman” hating on the competition. Then something poignant happened: Azealea began to weep. For a moment, all that bravado fell away and she showed her vulnerability and hurt. The tough-girl persona slipped momentarily and we could see what was really behind all of her outbursts: Hurt, feelings of invisibility, and (probably) a perception that black men chose to circle wagons around a white woman instead of her, their “sista.” But hey–Azealea is dark-skinned, weave-wearing black girl; and it looks like there aren’t many men stepping up to show her chivalry. Even within the referenced video, the hosts barely acknowledged her tears. Is she not worth a hug? And squeeze on the shoulder? An affirmation of her feelings?
Take a look. Azealia breaks down around 13:00.
What we see playing out in hip hop is a microcosm of what happening on the streets. Black women–even celebrity black women–aren’t deemed to be worth protection. While Iggy can be a tough girl during a video, society allows her to also be a delicate flower worthy of cherishing in everyday life, while Azealea appears to be fighting it from all sides with no protection whatsoever flanking her. And she cried, because she was hurt. She cried because she felt abandoned. She cried because she felt betrayed. Does this sound like a familiar scenario?
It’s hard to be sweet and demure when you’ve been pushed aside by “your own” in favor of, well…ANYTHING and EVERYONE else. Azealea may not have the mouth of a church girl, but she’s one of us. And at the very least, we can acknowledge and affirm her pain. We can support her and aim for understanding.
Now even more, my series on Femininity on You Tube seems germane…