An Open Letter to Lily Allen & Miley Cyrus: Stop Twerking, It’s Racist!
Twerking may be universal, however, pegging it to black women only has racist undertones.
Lily Allen’s new song “Hard Out Here” is supposed to be a feminist anthem, keywords; supposed to be. Instead it’s a racially charged mockery of black culture and black women in particular. The songs starts:
“I suppose I should tell you what this bitch is thinking / You’ll find me in the studio and not in the kitchen / I won’t be bragging ’bout my cars or talking ’bout my chains / Don’t need to shake my ass for you ’cause I’ve got a brain”
Right off the bat, the opening lyrics conjure up an image of hackneyed hip hop stereotypes. The video is even worse; with a gaggle of scantily clad women of color twerking, slapping and pouring champagne on each other’s asses. The whole thing is simply cliche. Once you start lurking in Miley Cyrus territory, you know you’ve done something wrong.
Albeit rap culture is an easy target, I won’t try to pretend that rap doesn’t have its own problems with misogyny and consumerism. Women are regularly degraded in rap songs and their videos, and it’s NOT okay either. But what Lily Allen, Miley Cyrus and others like them fail to see is that by continuing to perpetuate these stereotypes they’re not fixing the problems, they are actually fueling them.
What Lily Allen doesn’t seem to get is that her video is no better than Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines.” Not only is her wannabe feminist flick still misogynistic, it’s also racist. Her video isn’t empowering women of color, to the contrary it’s further demeaning them. One could even say it’s blaming them for their own tribulations, by making a mockery of the struggles that black (or any, for that matter) women in the music industry and society face.
Seems to me like these white artists are so oblivious to the ever-present white savior complex that is embedded in our culture, that they don’t think twice about exploiting black women to make statements about general culture that are not theirs to make.
Women of color are consistently used as objects to make statements about the ills of society. Instead of giving them a platform to express themselves, their voices are muted by white artists who feel that they somehow know how to fix their problems better than themselves. This idea of the white man’s burden has been around for centuries; originally used as a propaganda campaign to gain popular opinion for the slave trade and so called “civilizing missions.” Now the problem lies in the fact that over 200 years later, some white folks seem to still have it in their heads that it is their duty to save this caricature of a pitiful black figure that centuries of racism and ignorance has created.
Somehow, through decades of protests, riots, and civil rights and black power movements, some white people still haven’t gotten the memo. So to clear things up;
Dear Lily Allen, Miley Cyrus, and whomever else is planning on putting out the next satirical hip hop video, we got this. We don’t need to be saved from ourselves. We have our own voices in the black community who can serve as agents for any change that needs to be made. We are capable. Same thing goes for women in general.
Lily Allen, you are right about one thing, it is “Hard Out Here,” but you’re not making it any easier.