If you didn’t watch the VMA’s last night, I’m sure you’ve seen clips of Miley Cyrus’ tasteless performance. At the very least, you’ve seen screenshots of her bent over in front of Robin Thicke, a very married man, in a nude two-piece.
Luckily for you, this article is not about cultural appropriation, a term that has been widely misused and abused in recent months. MTV’s 2013 Video Music Awards revealed much more about the state of Black popular culture than Miley ever could.
I find it deeply problematic that most of the people in my news feed criticized Miley, Robin Thicke and 2 Chainz for objectifying Black women and women in general without directing a word of their concern towards the women who willingly agreed to exploit themselves on national television.
For every Miley Cyrus, there are three scantily clothed Black women twerking beside her. And I’m sure that 2 Chainz didn’t have to search long before finding a full squad of booty-bouncin’ Black women eager to accessorize him for a day at the VMAs. At what point will we stop blaming the “other” for our own shortcomings?
Yes, Miley Cyrus needs to have an eternal seat and Robin Thicke needs to seriously reflect on his marriage vows and misogynistic tendencies. But I’m just as troubled by the fact that Kanye, Drake and 2 Chainz didn’t feel at all compelled to utter a word about Trayvon Martin or social justice a day after the 50th Anniversary March on Washington.
How is it that Macklemore has the social consciousness to proclaim his support for gay rights in his acceptance speech and then again through a live performance of “Same Love,” while Kanye’s busy claiming that he’s down for his “n*ggas” over a sample of Nina Simone’s “Strange Fruit,” a song originally written to protest the lynching of African Americans?
I’m having a hard time understanding how to advocate for women who choose to objectify themselves. How can I fight the devaluation of Black bodies when Black women are allowing Miley Cyrus to repeatedly slap their rear end on stage?
I can’t protest Robin Thicke without calling out 2 Chainz and all of the other rap artists who contribute equally, if not more, to America’s rape culture and the hypersexualization of Black women. I am well aware of the fact that today’s “ratchet culture” exists in a complex historical context of physical and psychological oppression and am not at all suggesting that anyone deserves to be silenced. Instead, we need to find ways to educate and empower our brothers and sisters so that they, themselves, can make informed decisions about the behavior they choose to emulate and its societal implications.
In the meantime, we must demand more from our popular leaders and the conscious people who make their sick fantasies a reality. If we continue to justify and condone media that is misguiding our youth, our sons will grow up thinking that women owe them something and our daughters will think that it’s cute to twerk half naked in public. They already do.