WARNING: I chose to write this post in a state of raw emotions as I have made the decision to be extremely candid in verbalizing my stance on this issue. While, I am very unfiltered, I would probably stand by everything I have said in any later discussions as I have thought through these feelings well before even taking to this post. I suggest you keep a very open mind to what I have to say and also think through your thoughts as what I say may challenge many ideas you may or may not have had prior to this post. As always, I am open to debate and discussion. I promise to respect your opinion, as you refrain from disrespecting mine.
So I really dislike giving basic human beings any more attention than they deserve, but after seeing this video above earlier today, I couldn't not share my thoughts on the VMA performance and thereafter. So in an efforts to close this all off in my head, here are...
Three Reasons why Miley should STFU:
1). YOU STATED (via radio interview with Ryan Seacrest): "I can't sing, I can't act... but I can twerk..." --NEGATIVE. You can't. Whoever approved your "skills," probably don't know much about twerking either.
- Lets get this out of the way, I did appreciate your original video of you doing the wop (ps: "the wop" is NOT twerking. You did a wop video, not a twerk video, although it may have contained elements of "twerking"), because I like to support people challenging stereotypes and being liberal in the person they want to portray. Essentially, you took yourself out of the box people may have put you in and that my friend, is an awesome and bold step to take. Hoooowwwever, when you begin to flirt with cultural re-appropriation, that's when my insides begin to tingle and it's not because I feel excited...Honestly, that was the only reason you're video made me laugh initially, it was unexpected, candid, and ironic. Now, you've claimed to "want to make music for black people" and consider yourself a certified "twerker" despite your lackluster ability to gyrate your booty in a way that surpasses being merely comedy, but Destiny, do you even know the relationship of the booty to the black community?
2). YOU ALSO STATED (via Twitter): "i know what my skin color is. you can stop with the friendly reminders bitch." --Actually isn't that what you asked for?
- Destiny, Destiny, Destiny...where do I even begin to deconstruct the layers of problematic-ness of this tweet. I know you may have lived a life of privilege as a Texan upper-middle class suburban young lad from a heterosexual white family, but you can't chose "make music for black people" because you want to and it seems "cool." FYI, Black people, you know, the people you want to make music for, we're reminded of our race constantly, day in and day out, whether it's a confused glare at my volumunous hair that seems to make everyone envision me in the shower with questions of how it's washed, to straight up being seen as threatening when walking home at night causing little white girls to cling to their mom's hands and mom's the cling to their clutch. Of course, there's way more to being black than combatting stereotypes but I'll leave it there for now.
- White people have been commercializing off "black culture" for centuries so believe me when I say, you're not the first and you won't be the last. I mean, take this video on a niche practice called "B-Style" in Japan. It is literally a Japanese young lady attempting to "be black." What does that even mean? Let's not even look internationally, in the U.S., we see white people reinventing the "Harlem Shake" from its original version, there are constant references to slavery as a subject of humor, and one of the biggest blows, is when we do it to ourselves. Todrick Hall, I'm calling you out. He's made some very problematic YouTube content (here, here, and here) and Shanna Malcolm continues to be the black guinea pig, doing just about anything for a laugh at the expense of black people. That's right, they're actually black people out there preaching to other black people to either completely get over slavery, or simply just laugh at it. I say this to make the point that, it isn't only race that can give us agency to discuss or do certain things, we should also be informed and have a secure knowledge base to stand firmly behind our well-thought out claims. Does race matter, yes. Obviously as a black person I am much more likely to have experienced certain aspects of the black experience than white folk. So you dismissing criticism about your newfound love for black people and it's culture, has ramifications and some follow-up questions that can not be simply overlooked Ms. Cyrus.
3). "So because I'm white, I can't twerk?" So...you didn't actually ask that question on twitter... or in any interview but I'm pretty sure you've probably said it in a small group...right? Right. So... --That's right! Yes Destiny, because you are white, you can NOT twerk.
- Sorry Miley, but in the world I am unlocking (and continually so), there are some rules to who has the agency to do and say certain things. In my humble opinion, twerking, is one of those things. I'm not exactly saying "don't twerk" but here me out while I break this down:
- Twerking isn't even really just "twerking"... it's ass "poppin" or simply, "booty shaking" and before that, probably "gyrating." It existed before the cool name and the official definition in a dictionary (SN: See how Miley is credited for this term's legitimacy enough to put it in a dictionary even though black people been using it for years?). Destiny, you can not partake in a certain aspect of "black culture" without partaking or understanding the whole. Do you know Sarah Baartman? Do you know about access? Agency? Do you know how black women have been sexualized and dehumanized for their "incredible" buttocks for centuries? Do you know white masters raped black women out of fascination (among others), one aspect of that being their curiosity about their behinds? Do you my friend know what it means to be black in America and make to music that is dedicated to truth telling that serves the black community in a way that educates, and builds connection and consciousness? NO. NO Miley, you don't. Why do I know? Because your black consciousness has neither been built nor established based on your actions. You are not even conscious about your OWN whiteness, because if you were, subsequently you'd be more careful with how you categorize the black community and justify your actions that you claim represents "who I am."
- So who the hell are you? Well, as I stated in section 2, you are "a Texan upper-middle class suburban young lad from a heterosexual white family," you my friend have privilege, not just because you are white (race), but because of your socio-economic upper middle-class status (class), and your seemingly heterosexual preferences (sexuality). Essentially, your marginalized identity, is being a woman.
- So let's talk about identity(ies). Blackness is an identity that people carry, affording them certain disadvantages (some privileges but mostly disadvantages) that can't often be escaped, not even with wealth. I.e. I am a middle-class black woman attending a predominantly white institution. I am well-off in term of attaining a secondary education that will most likely afford me a middle-upper class life, but if I am walking down the road on a Saturday night from Trader Joe's, I am still a black woman that faces being labeled as (insert black woman stereotype here). OR, say I'm at my job, right? As a self-identified woman, I hold certain privileges and disadvantages (again, mostly disadvantages because these are "oppressed" identities): I am typically underestimated and overlooked in terms of advancement and alas, on average, I still earn less than men. This Destiny Hope Cyrus, is an identity. It's an identity- a black woman, it is the very identities- plural, that affords certain advantages and disadvantages (again, mostly disadvantages both socially and institutionally). So, being a BLACK woman in the work force, double wammy. Let's say identities were a maze...Person A is a white, heterosexual, able-bodied, straight, Christian (etc. etc.) woman. You get one alternate route to navigate because while it is still an oppressed identity to be a woman in the U.S., all of your other identities are sanctioned, widely accepted as the norm. Person B is a black, heterosexual, able-bodied, lesbian, atheist woman, you now have four identities that will potentially work against you because they are not widely accepted so you now have four alternate routes to navigate- being a woman, being black, being a lesbian, and being an atheist. Essentially Person A and Person B could end up in the same destination, it would just take Person B longer, and it would be a lot more difficult to navigate without proper supportive resources (some of these resources include scholarships for people of color to pursue higher education, social support groups and the ever-popular institutional established, affirmative action).
- Now I know, I know, this is crazy to hear for some. Believe me, I had no clue about identities before college. Isn't America the land of the free? "Miley can twerk all over the stage if she wants." Robin Thicke is married? "Who cares, we're all about the sexual and creative freedom"...actually, we're not. LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Transexual, Queer) communities are still marginalized, and while laws are changing, is society? Are they more accepted and no longer deemed an anomaly? I don't really think so. Basically, we ain't at the informed place to excersize such freedoms as you displayed at the VMAs because education still sucks so put the public twerking away especially, if you're making $$ off of it - that's cultural re-appropriation by the way.
|...but really. | SHOP it, and tweet Miley to STOP it.|
Alas Destiny Hope Cyrus, we can't always "do what we want to..." not even if we're "bout that life."