I have stood by Azealia Banks through a long and sordid history of Twitter spats, inflammatory remarks and NSFW clap backs because she is a talented artist and very intelligent despite her standoffish demeanor. I wanted to give her a chance. Several chances. I didn’t like seeing her constantly dragged because it always immediately became about how ‘ugly’ and ‘black’ and ‘bitchy’ she is. All words used to dehumanize women of color. All words meant to trivialize the often valid points being made by the only people that can speak to a particular lived experience and its ramifications. All words that trigger me when hurled at black women, especially in a public forum.
I also conscientiously stood by her because we tend to stand by our men. Right or wrong. Without question. I watched in horror as the black community stood with R. Kelly. and Chris Brown. I stared at my phone mouth agape when we also did not stand by Kehlani, but rode for Erykah. I see who we support and who gets left in the dirt and I don’t want to participate in our tendency to ignore the abuse of our women or support harmful rhetoric that facilitates that abuse.
I am a fierce defender of black womanhood and the sanctity of black girls. I can’t include femmes because as much as I would like to I know I have not yet reached my full potential in the way I advocate for them in my daily life (or the lack thereof.) I acknowledge this. As I work toward being a truly intersectional advocate for women, one thing I know for sure is that black women have to protect each other at all costs. Even when we don’t agree. That is the true test of sisterhood.
Can I maintain my view and still be respectful to my sister? Must I resort to verbal abuse in order to get my point across? Can I see the God in her even when I feel like squaring up, and bring myself back to a space where the love is unconditional? These are questions I try very hard to consider in my interactions with black women. But it’s becoming clear to me that our love can and in fact should be conditional. Not on the basis of superficial categorizations like clothing or hair texture, but on the basis of the character of the women we may wind up disagreeing with.
Now we could talk all day about ‘character’ in a trivial sense and I know this. Men question our ‘character’ when we dress for hot weather. That is misguided. Elders question our ‘character’ when we become mother’s without husbands. Also misguided. So when I use the word character here I’m referring specifically to the behaviors, actions and words displayed by an individual over a period of time. And based on Azealia Banks’ character, I can no longer support her, black girl or not.
When she came for Kendrick Lamar’s head after a Billboard interview about police brutality In which he stated, “ What happened to [Michael Brown] should’ve never happened. Never. But when we don’t have respect for ourselves, how do we expect them to respect us? It starts from within,” I completely agreed with her resounding ‘speak for your fucking self!’
Don’t get me wrong. I’m a fan of Kendrick Lamar, David Banner, Lupe Fiasco, Novel and other emcees who have made this troubling, trivializing and dangerous remark. And I even understand why they would say it.
But I vehemently disagree with them saying it in white media and publications, without adding context or commenting on police brutality itself and instead placing blame on their constituents exclusively.
When she came for Iggy Azalea? Of course I chuckled. Any pigmented person on this planet is tired of seeing cultural appropriation winning in the mainstream while we are criticized for the very same styles and sounds that always find their way onto white bodies and into white discographies to receive mass accolades. The common occurrence of cultural theft for profit and popularity with no regard to the originators is worth conversing about and I was thankful she was so unapologetic about it. But some things you should be apologetic about. And some things should just never happen.
When shady Mcgrady aka Azealia Banks came for Zayn Malik in a tweet because she felt like their videos were similar it really didn’t have to be a big deal. But the nature of Social media and boy band fandoms saw to it that the situation escalated quickly. That’s to be expected. Zayn’s fans responding by calling Azealia a nigger? Unacceptable. Her deciding to clap back with the same amount of hatred and vitriol? Embarrassing to say the least.
Now I’m all for black women defending themselves at all times in all scenarios and Banks had every right to come for fans calling her the N word, young or not. But the racist rhetoric exposed in her tweets directed at Zayn Malik are a clear indicator of her Trump supporter status. She literally talked about his mother being a ‘refugee,’ the ‘US bombing his country’ and referred to him as a ‘curry scented bitch.’ But let someone call her a ‘fried chicken eating slut!’ They’d immediately receive a 4-part tweet about how they are racist and sexist and Banks would top it off with a ‘see how they treat black women?’ To her fans.
I’ll be transparent here. Writing that made me very uncomfortable. But that doesn’t make it any less true. As someone who was following Banks on Twitter up until just last night I have seen first hand the way she uses sexism and racism to play victim when she is guilty of some of the most ignorant rhetoric imaginable. I never imagined I would ever string those words together about a black woman and it causes me immense uneasiness to continue down this train of thought but we must be honest with ourselves and one another.
To put the nail in my Azealia Banks fan girl coffin I witnessed her vicious verbal assault of a Black female child and that child’s black female mother. When Disney star and fashionista Skai Jackson came to Zayn’s defense with a cool, calm and collected ‘Azealia Banks needs to simmer down’ Banks retorted with a string of tweets that can only be described as shameful.
Her response to Skai’s initial tweet? ‘Grow some hips and get your menses. Stay in a child’s place.’ What? Did a grown woman just body shame a little black girl? The same one constantly crying about how black women are mistreated and abused? You felt the need to shade a child on Twitter? You couldn’t leave that one alone? Oh, ok.
Then she took it a step further by insulting her career, continuing to body shame this child who is still developing and suggest she get surgery done because Disney ‘doesn’t like girls like her’ so she should ‘enjoy her success while it lasts’ although she’s ‘just a meme.’ The classiest of broads, Banks closed by suggesting Skai’s mother would have to resort to performing sexual favors for the TV execs if the young star was to stay relevant, after accusing her mom of ‘pimping her out’ to the network in the first place.
Are you kidding me? In what world is going at it with somebody’s baby girl a cool thing? I’m glad Skai had the classy clap backs ready but she has already had a rough week being cyber bullied and body shamed because of a photo she recently posted facing away from the camera where her completely acceptable 14 year old behind is centered. And here is Azealia Banks- a black woman- adding to that ‘you’re not enough’ narrative.
I started feeling froggy when my sister told me to check out her response to Beyonce’s latest work but I still couldn’t leap. Even after she referred to the visual album as ‘anti feminist’ and ‘pathetic,’ a critique which lacked any depth (We know how Bell Hooks feels about Beyoncé. Luckily Bell is not in charge of black feminism and she does not make you poppin’ for agreeing with you.)
I thought to myself, a lot of people are still missing the point of ‘Lemonade.’ Hell, most people are still missing the point of ‘Formation.’ Why should I cut Azealia off but not unfriend all the people downplaying Beyonce’s critical role in putting black women front and center in all their multidimensional glory just because she likes her hair blonde and her outfit of choice is a leotard?
Then I remembered she was a Trump supporter. Giving her the black girl benefit of the doubt I sought out the periscope video in which she explains her views on the presidential candidates. Banks seems to think that while Hilary is untrustworthy, Donald is forthcoming with his views, and that the media is only showcasing his most inflammatory statements, so we should do our own research. Apparently his ‘tax plans’ have the potential to give black people the upward mobility they need to prosper in this country and be successful. And she doesn’t need him to ‘want to be friends.’ She needs him to run the country. Girl bye.
I tweeted her extensively about how misguided her selection was. How can you trust him if you don’t trust Hilary? How can you defend the remarks he’s made? How do you as a black woman benefit from any ‘tax plans’ he may have. Do you think they would apply to you? No response. As much as I love black women I have to do right by black girls first because there is always still a chance with children. Banksy Baby is just too far gone.
I still love her on principle alone. She simply is not someone I can continue to support and make excuses for because of that love.
She needs to grow up, and maybe get some help, but what she definitely doesn’t need is another person cheering her on while she echoes the sentiments of the Republican Presidential front runner with violent, xenophobic remarks and bullies children on the Internet.
Azealia Banks fandom,
I bid you adieu