Racialicious

Racialicious is a blog about the intersection of race and pop culture. Check out our updates on the latest celebrity gaffes, our no-holds-barred critique of questionable media representations. If you've been on the blog, you know how this Tumblr works, too. Including the moderation policy.
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Posts tagged "Azealia Banks"

White gay cis men have cultural access to the bodies of black women and black femmes, cultural access that black women and black femmes do not have in relation to white gay cis male bodies. This cultural access allows white gay cis men to caricature black femininities, through mannerisms and voice intonations, as rambunctiously depraved and outlandish. It is a form of ontological mockery that reinforces dehumanizing narratives and racist tropes about black femininities. Perez Hilton, who personifies a homonormative politic, has systematically tapped into the cultural access to which I refer at various points in his career. Indeed, the sassy lexicon he, and so many other upper middle class non-disabled white gay cis men like him, employs rests on the commodification and appropriation of black femme identities. Hilton interjecting himself in a social media dispute between two black women, Azealia Banks and Angel Haze, precipitated the Hilton/Banks altercation, which is emblematic of his (problematic) cultural access.

Because our society subscribes to an insidiously misogynistic sociocultural paradigm, to insult someone, notwithstanding gender, is to invoke the feminine. So what better way for Banks to cut Hilton down to size than to call his masculinity into question? The Banks/Hilton feud had absolutely nothing to do with sexual identity (read: homophobia), but rather, gender power dynamics (read: femmephobia). Azealia calling Perez a “messy faggot” suggests an attempt to assert her status as a no-nonsense, hard ass femcee in a largely masculine of center dominated hip-hop industry. Masculine of center queer men, notwithstanding race, appropriate the word bitch. Very often, they use it pejoratively, and with impunity. They’re seldom called out on the ubiquity of their misguided misogyny. Yet, when it comes to Azealia’s use of the word faggot, she’s quickly characterized as homophobic, reinforcing the dominant narrative that people of color are somehow inherently homophobic, to echo Janet Mock’s recent sentiments. Although Azealia Banks is queer, she is not part of a population that would have this slur used against her. That being said, there are other words that are deeply entrenched manifestations of oppression that go unchecked each and every day. Ironically, many gay men who are up in arms over Azealia’s use of the word faggot are the same men who render femme-identified men invisible and undesirable.

Azealia Banks’ career allegedly hangs in the balance and Perez Hilton’s remains firmly intact. She’s now regarded as the ratchet, violently homophobic black woman. By virtue of his white gay cis male privilege, Hilton did not have to contend with the implications of calling will.i.am a faggot several months ago. This isn’t two wrongs make a right, but rather, one wrong is minimized, and the other, pathologized.

Edward Ndopu, “On Azealia Banks And White Gay Cis Male Privilege,” Crunk Feminist Collective 1/10/13

As a trans woman, there’s rarely a time when I’ve been able to applaud the portrayal or someone’s commentary on a woman like myself in mainstream media. As a fan of many shows, entertainers and writers who’ve belittled “my people,” I have a bittersweet relationship with what I consume. If I wrote off every famous person or show that offended me, I would have nothing to watch. And for some this is an effortless protest. For me, it is not. That’s why I’m a critical fan.

There are many things that I choose not to offer my commentary on because I just want it to go away and I don’t want to be bombarded by the stans who will surely say that I am “too sensitive,” that it was “just a joke,” that “tranny” is not a slur because “my friend’s cousin is a transgender and she uses it all the time.”

Being a critical fan means that you love a famous human being, knowing fully well they are flawed and can make mistakes due to their privilege-blindness or outright ignorance (whether knowingly or unknowingly practicing misogyny, transphobia, homophobia, ableism, racism, etc.). When they f*ck up, it is your duty as a critical fan to make them better, call them out and educate them. Your job is not to create excuses and adamantly defend their mistakes because they are so fierce in your eyes.

I know Banks will not be the last famous person to say something foul and Hilton will not be the last person to receive it. What I know for sure though is that we will not heal until we learn to love ourselves, embrace each other’s differences and push one another to be better, especially when we –- the famous ones and the ones covering and following the famous ones — make mistakes.

'Cause y'all know we crush—OK, just me, but still—on Azealia Banks around here. So, here latest vid for her cut, “1991.” (Yeah, I clicked the replay button quite a few times while I was finally finishing a long-overdue, cloud-casting-over-my life project. And the song helped me through it, like her songs usually do.)  

This is the part where I thank y’all Tumblrites—especially fab peeps like so-treu, ethiopienne, and dumbthingswhitepplsay, among others—for introducing me to the Racialicious Crush Of The Week, Azealia Banks. 

Like I said in the main post, the It cut folks were (and still are) loving hard is “212.” (No lie: ExHOTic, one of the burly-q ladies in Brown Girls Burlesque, stripped to this last weekend.) But I find myself thoroughly hearting “Liquorice,” partly because it’s a Diplo diss

And the performance-school dropout Harlemite got people running behind her breezy stylings, namely Rhianna. It reminds me of Ciara and Beyonce taking on gender roles: whereas Ciara went in on gender roles in the (still) genius vid, “Like A Boy,” Beyonce sallies up with her "If I Were A Boy" vid…that shows images of a staid conversation about women working in law-enforcement roles. (Has Beyonce never seen female cops in her life?) Similarly, Azealia’s effortlessly potty-mouths about how good she is spitting rhymes and in bed (and with only a couple of vids), and here comes Rhianna doing the most on SNL for her “Birthday Cake” song. (It’s like, bless your heart, RiRi, but Banks got this. But I love your "S&M" vid, gurl!)

I breathlessly await the release of the “Liquorice” vid. In the meantime, I’m giggling and wiggling to Banks’ Black-girl amazingness.