photo-nicki-minaj-en-string-pour-la-pochette-d-anaconda-53d11965abf88

Last week, Nicki Minaj released the artwork for her new single “Anaconda,” featuring the rapper in a squat position with her large posterior aimed directly at viewers. The image was met with mostly support from fans and critics but some questioned if the image was “too racy.” In response to those criticisms, Minaj tweeted several Sports Illustrated photos with White swimsuit models in similar poses and the message “angelic” and “acceptable,” hinting at society’s racial bias that does not treat Black bodies with the same respect as White ones — a statement that was met with more controversy.

There is validity to her observation. I have written on countless occasions about society’s rampant efforts to diminish and devalue the Black female body. However, I’m surprised — considering the fact that Minaj’s entire career is built on racist body politics — that the rapper’s remarks were met with controversy. After all, Nicki’s brand capitalizes on racial stereotypes while reinforcing notions of Black female hypersexuality that are long established racist tropes.

In the beginning of her rap career, Nicki Minaj was a femcee (female emcee) known for her creative lyrical ability and street style. After signing a 360 deal with Young Money Entertainment, the rapper received a complete makeover equipped with butt and breast implants, transforming her once petite frame into a curvaceous money-making machine. In response to early inquiries about the realness of her posterior, Minaj told MTV2:

“I don’t mind the questions, I don’t mind the fascination … But I’ve said this before, it doesn’t define me.”

Nicki’s ass may not define her, but it most assuredly defines the brand that puts her net worth at $45 million. Her brand built on a spectacle, a Black woman’s backside, says something more insidious about American culture and its views on the Black woman’s body than her social commentary ever really can.

The stereotype of the over-sexed Black Jezebel has long been America’s go-to archetype used in entertainment since the country’s inception. This image is rooted in White supremacist, patriarchal ideas developed when Europeans first encountered African tribal women and in America’s history where White slave holders blamed Black hypersexuality for the rape of women slaves. For that reason, there has always been an incentivized space to display, exploit and monetize the myth of black female lewdness through images and music. Historically, it has been the easiest way for White men to avoid taking responsibility for the abuse and misuse of Black female bodies.

In today’s America where the CDC reports that Black women are between 6-17 times more likely to suffer from sexually transmitted diseases due to social and economic conditions including poverty, income inequality, unemployment and low educational attainment, the need for a modernized scapegoat used to avoid culpability for the Black condition has never been more dire. Nicki Minaj is the current walking embodiment of that tradition of stereotype-enabled victim-blaming, proving that as a society, America has yet to defeat its racist notions and will even continue to invoke them to the economic and social benefit of the Whiter man.

This implicates Nicki Minaj and her brand in an unforgivable way. As the face of the modern perpetuation of a stereotype created to serve and justify White male dominance, Minaj and her multi-million dollar empire represents everything wrong with our current perception of blackness and more specifically, Black female sexuality.

In the entertainment business, brands are shaped by what we — the consumer — consider realistic and socially acceptable. For example Blonde-haired, blue-eyed Taylor Swift can build a brand around the image of “The All-American Sweetheart,” because there is still a common belief that “Whiteness” connotes All-Americanness. Imagine a Mexican-American or Chinese-American singer making the claim that she is the All-American girl next door. She most certainly would not be as widely accepted because our collective consciousness, shaped by White supremacy, still cannot connect the country’s multi-ethnic reality with the longstanding and widely-accepted fictionality that “American” equates
“White.” The fact that the American psyche still holds a space for the myths of Black hypersexuality to be exploited and to have an audience big enough to generate millions of dollars, says everything we need to know about how we collectively view Black women’s bodies.

If Nicki Minaj existed in a world where racial bias and stereotypes did not reign supreme and the Black female body was treated with the same respect as the White female body, then her brand would be a major fail. For that reason, it is best that she not challenge the status quo — not if she wants to continue having a successful career, anyways. For us, the consumers and participants in this continued injustice, we must begin to question and challenge our beliefs if our shared goal is, indeed, equality for all women. And we most certainly should not wait for those participating in and profiting from the degradation of the Black woman’s image to tell us to do so.

[Vibe]

The Frisky

This post originally appeared on The Frisky. Republished with permission.

38 Comments

  1. Nerdstradamas

    2 Live Crew had all the booties on their album covers. I am finding it difficult to be offended by Nicki’s butt cheeks. I also find it difficult to make the way Nicki chooses to represent herself a collective issue. I understand the need for representation that is more complex and diverse, for that reason I seek such projects and I support them.

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  2. Melissa Bell

    There are many White British Professional Women like MYSELF & many others either DATING or MARRIED to Mexican or Hispanic Men in America that American Society & the American Media wants to IGNORE!!! that recently ATTENDED the 2014 World Cup Soccer that Germany WON the 2014 World Cup Soccer by venturing out to Brazil’s FAVELAS by paying TRIBUTE & SOLIDARITY to the GANGSTERS & BAD BOYS of Brazil’s URBAN SUBCULTURE ENVIRONMENT where the THEME was the RAP or HIP-HOP Music Culture & Fashion Narrative of Brazil’s FAVELAS where White British Professional Women were celebrating DANCE MOVES like BAILE FUNK, PROIBIDAO, FUNK OSTENTACAO & PROIBIDAO within Brazil’s FAVELAS during the 2014 World Cup Soccer in Brazil that was UPLOADED to FACEBOOK, TWITTER, MySpace, LinkedIn, YouTube & many Social Media sites that would make American Rap Singer Nicky Minaj ANACONDA look PRETTY LAME!!! The White Women of the United Kingdom, America & Europe ABANDON their MODESTY of a PRIVILEGED & SHELTERED UPBRINGING to POSE or MODEL for STREETLOW Magazine of San Jose California USA or LOWRIDER Magazine of Los Angeles California USA along with Dangerous-Looking Brazilian CHOLO GANGSTERS with a Shaved Head & Tattoos along with their LOWRIDER cars that bounces UP & DOWN where the White Women of the United Kingdom, America & Europe wear RAUNCHY STREET WALKER ATTIRE that is EXPLICIT & PROVOCATIVE in 3-inch & above Black High-Heel Shoes with Black Stockings with Suspenders or Black Fishnet Panty-Hose with Suspenders ATTACHED to a Mini-Skirt & Tank-Top or Shorts & Lingerie REFLECTING the Fashion Styles of Brazilian Women of Brazil’s FAVELAS through PROMOTION & LEGITIMACY!!!! As a SEX RADICAL White British woman, White Women in America, the United Kingdom & Europe STOP the LYING & HYPOCRISY of their MODESTY & ACCEPT the FACT that many celebrate the RAP or HIP-HOP Culture!!!!

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