So You Wanna Be Black?

Recently, Hunger Games star Amandla Stenberg posted a video online criticizing Madonna, Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus for their exploitation of black women. In her video, appropriately titled “Don’t Cash Crop My Corn Rows”, she referenced Swift’s music video for “Shake It Off”, Miley Cyrus performing “We Can’t Stop” at the VMAS, and Katy Perry’s music video for “This Is How We Do”.

I’ve listened to these songs and never really thought about the possible exploitation of black women, at least not to the point where it caused me to stop listening to the song. But then I saw Amandla Stenberg’s video and something clicked within me. When I rewatched the videos and listened to the lyrics, I found myself repulsed by these songs. Here were women who constantly preached about female empowerment, but found no problems exploiting other women.

These are the same artists who are quick to attack sexist comments or social media posts, but glorify black women twerking in their videos. Am I the only one who sees something wrong with this picture?

I want to go even farther and say that not only have these white artists exploited black women, but so have some black artists. We are quick to become defensive and angry when someone like Miley Cyrus has big bootied black girls twerking during her peformance, but say “That’s my sh*t” when a black artist talks about women being strippers in his song. It’s not to excuse the white artist, but shouldn’t we also take a look at the music that we, as African Americans, endorse?

There’s nothing wrong with liking a song, but when it exploits a race, then something needs to change. Maybe instead of making songs about black women’s bums, why don’t artists make songs about the injustice of police shootings or poverty? If they’re so obsessed with a black woman’s body, shouldn’t they be concerned about how she and her family are living, or in some cases, not living?

Note: I’ll post the link to the video in a separate post.


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