Last night, I made the conscious decision not to watch the VMAs. After tuning in and suffering through it for the last two years for the sake of you lovers of the Zoo, I decided that I needed a break from the tomf*ckery, mediocrity, and shenanigans that are the VMAs.
And judging by the various amount of devilment that when down, including Rebel Wilson’s tasteless police brutality joke, Miley Cyrus sporting wannabe, Rachel Dolezal faux locs, Miley calling Snoop Dog her “mammy”, Miley showing us her flapjack/Hank Hill ass again (basically, Miley being all-around insulting to the five senses), it appears that I made the right call.
However, towards the end of the night’s events, I received various messages regarding whether or not I had peeped Nicki Minaj’s epic call-out of
Lucifer Miley. As I had initially missed it, I naturally ran to see what the hype was all about.
And I was not disappointed.
In this vision, I foresaw the media eagerly painting Nicki as the aggressor in the situation. The Angry Black Woman™, if you will. I also foresaw her being raked over coals for “being out of line” and attacking lily-White, baby Bambi Miley.
Like clockwork, before the night was even over, it happened.
Since this time, various other think pieces and news articles have emerged and I do not doubt that there will be more, seeing as it is very likely that White Feminists™ everywhere are banding together Autobot style to answer the squawks of their Kween Miley. I have no doubts about them rising to the occasion in order to defend her from the Big Bad Wolf, Nicki.
If I am to get over the sheer predictability of these events, my next thought and question is this:
Was Nicki, in fact, the bigger person in this situation?
It’s hard to say right now.
Perhaps we should unpack some things first.
Let’s start with this: many are seeking or will be seeking to call Nicki the aggressor in this situation. This is something I do not agree with.
Granted, I’m sure the media would like to omit Miley’s shade-tastic comments to the New York Times about Nicki’s “beef” with Taylor (which, you know, was really a beef with the erasure of Black women and other women of color in mainstream music and media, but I guess ol’ Miley doesn’t want to get stuck on semantics, am I right?), but who’s not about to let that happen?
Citing Nicki’s open letter on Twitter and acknowledging that she barely knew sh*t about the situation, she goes on to imply that Nicki was simply “jealous”. She continues by adding that she “got” what she was saying about racism, but couldn’t “respect her statement” because Nicki was too “angry” and not “polite” and “made it about herself” (New York Times).
Part of her statement is below:
“If you do things with an open heart and you come at things with love, you would be heard and I would respect your statement. But I don’t respect your statement because of the anger that came with it,” Cyrus said. “And it’s not anger like, ‘Guys, I’m frustrated about some things that are a bigger issue.’ You made it about you. Not to sound like a bitch, but that’s like, ‘Eh, I didn’t get my VMA.'” (Rolling Stones)
Lovers of the Zoo.
This just in: Miley has solved the problem of racism.
If marginalized folks just smile and explain their plights and the beast that is systematic racism, politely, while playing patty cake with their oppressors, everything’s going to be a-okay.
And while I’m not the first (and I most certainly will not be the last) to say this, f*ck all these things. With a cactus.
Moving on, Miley’s willingness to speak on things that either a: don’t directly affect her or b: she knows absolutely nothing about exemplifies the audacity of White Feminism™ and its ugly need to invalidate and erase the grievances and experiences of women of color.
Because Nicki is opinionated, she is automatically “angry” or “emotional”. And being either of these things automatically means she can’t POSSIBLY be making a good point, right?
This, once again, is erroneous and directly feeds into the disease that is respectability politics in that it perpetuates this belief that Nicki MUST act a certain kind of way in order to be taken seriously and in order for her complaints to be granted their due validity, when in reality, she doesn’t have to (This makes Nicki and her outspoken nature as well as her sexual agency very irksome for folks who believe this sh*t).
I know this is hard for some folks out there to grasp, but love her or leave her, Nicki’s point is still the same, despite the packaging it comes in.
And I hate to break it to Miley—actually, scratch that. I’m going to love breaking this to Miley, since it’s clear that it hasn’t gotten through to her thick ass skull:
Racism runs deep and it is very ugly. So, naturally, fixing it is not going to be pretty. A lot of unpacking has to happen and if you think that it is going to be an uncomfortable experience, you are goddamn right.
So Miley, if you’re expecting someone to sit you down, politely, and write you a lovely, scented 500-2000 word essay detailing how, where, when, and why racism affects their lives, I’ve got two words for you:
And with my brief bout of childishness aside, I’d like to revisit my initial question:
Was Nicki in fact the bigger person?
My answer is “no”.
And that’s okay, because she doesn’t have to be. She is a human being with emotions who chose to stick up for herself. And there is nothing wrong with that.
And to be quite frank, I am annoyed—and bored—with this “bigger person” bullsh*t, because it is exactly that: bullsh*t.
Since way back when, marginalized folks of all colors, creeds, constructs, and categories (re: Black/Latinx/Indigenous/Asian/etc, fat, queer, short, disabled, etc) have been expected to “be the bigger person” when someone comes at them wrong. When aggressors flex whatever privilege they have over them and shove their face in the dirt.
They are expected to shoulder the bullying, the belligerence, and the harassment with the quiet dignity and grace of saints.
If they chose to be the “small”, they run the risk of themselves becoming—or rather, being perceived as—the aggressor. The bully. The “small person”.
Kat Blaque summed it up perfectly:
“Be the bigger person” just always reminds me of being told to sit silently and accept/not react to people who have harassed me. Does that work sometimes? Sure. But silence also communicates to people that this shit is ok. Sometimes all it took was me to cus a bitch out for everyone to understand that they couldn’t fuck with me. I used to get bullied so much, but it wasn’t until I made it clear that I wasn’t the one that they pretty much stopped. I mean “being the bigger person” is a cute concept, but it’s not a fixall.
This expectation to “be the bigger person” is not a new concept when it comes to Black women. In fact, it is applied to them almost quadruple fold. Black women are expected to ignore and/or be above the abuse that they receive for being in the precarious position that they are in, which is at the intersection of race and gender (and if they be queer or anything that deviates from “the norm” aka the heteronormative, sexuality is included too).
They shoulder nonsense from White men. They shoulder nonsense from Black men. They shoulder nonsense from White women and even other women of color. Everybody is included in this pile-on.
And while Black women shoulder the debris, they are expected to shut up about it or risk being dismissed as and/or heckled for being an Angry Black Woman™.
Because they had the audacity to speak up.
Because they had the audacity to have an opinion.
Because they had the audacity to defend themselves.
I mean, it’s almost as if people expect Black women to exclusively be these stoic, unabashed, unfeeling, and “strong” human beings versus thinking, feeling, and yes, flawed ones.
Personally, I say f*ck it. Be “small”.
Considering all of this, do I think Nicki could have reacted better? Maybe.
Am I still here for her reaction either way? You bet your ass I am.
Because, at the end of the day, f*ck “being the bigger person”. F*ck allowing people to take a steaming sh*t on you and expecting you to be smile through it. F*ck being “polite”.
“Polite” people don’t have strong opinions.
“Polite” people don’t start movements
“Polite” people don’t change history.
Therefore, in closing, and in regards to this so-called “feud”, Nicki’s clap-back, and its potential ramifications, I’m going to invoke something that AJ has often said to me in times of severe wrongdoings and great duress:
“People who talk sh*t, ain’t sh*t”
And it is likely that these same sh*t talkers will always expect you to be the bigger person when they themselves are not and will never be. And seeing as Miss Cyrus is a certified sh*t talker, no amount of “media manipulation” is going to change that.
Sources: Rolling Stone, Facebook, New York Times
Images From: Tumblr, Fuse, Pandawhale.com, Rapgenius.com, Giphy.com, Ruhee.ca, Madagascar.wikia.com, USA Today