“Miley, What’s Good?”


Photo Credit: Viacom/MTV & mypinkfriday.com/media

Alexis Harvey

My culture is not your accessory.

At the 2015 MTV Music Video Awards (VMAs) Nicki Minaj had choice words to say to the host, Miley Cyrus.

In an interview with The New York Times, Cyrus made comments about Minaj that the hip-hop superstar was obviously unhappy with. This caused the backlash that was broadcast all over the world. After thanking her pastor for the award for Best Hip-hop Video, Minaj then confronted Cyrus stating, “Back to this bitch who had a lot to say in the press. Miley, what’s good?”

In my opinion there is a current cultural surplus of non-black/brown people using parts of black/brown cultures (i.e. faux locks, corn rows, geisha attire, bindis and head scarves) in their own fashion. These things, and many more, have a specific meaning to one’s cultural upbringing.

When someone of privilege waltzes into a culture, picks and chooses things to wear and calls them “urban” or “edgy” it is not okay.

It’s called cultural appropriation-Miley Cyrus is the queen and Iggy is the duchess. The most recent occurrence of her inability not to offend occurred at the VMAs where the pop star donned a ponytail of dreadful dreadlocks. When a black person wears locks no one calls that person edgy. We get snubbed for job interviews because of them and kicked out of academic conferences because to others they look too “unpolished.”

The origin of dreadlocks is not one that can be pinpointed to a specific people; all of the origins lead back to people of color be it in Africa or India and in certain parts of the world the style holds great spiritual significance.

I’ll paint a picture for you. You really loved your dog Buster. He was the most beautiful dog in the world. You played with him and brushed his fur. Unfortunately, Buster got old and died. You bury Buster in the backyard and have a little doggie funeral. The next day you see the punk neighbor kid wearing a necklace of your beloved Buster’s teeth with matching earrings. He literally went into your back yard, dug up Buster and extracted his teeth for fashion.

Moving from appropriation to vocabulary, Cyrus also referred to Snoop Dogg as her “mammy.” Mammy is a racist caricature used to reassure white people that black people were happy as slaves. For a white woman to call a black person ‘mammy’ in any context is just like she is saying the n-word. It is not okay.

Cyrus was not the sole offender at the VMAs. Before the whole Minaj debacle, Rebel Wilson introduced the award for Best Hip-hop Video by making a joke about police brutality.  The “Pitch Perfect” star stated that while some people may have a problem with the way the police are treating people of color, she has a problem with “police strippers.”

Not only is this offensive in general, it is insensitive to the fact that this is a joke about police brutality right before giving an award for hip-hop.

These celebrities are just a small piece of the fruitcake that is the entertainment industry. The VMAS are planned months in advance. There were production meetings, stylist consultations, rehearsals etc. and at no point did anyone do anything to stop what happened on that Sunday.

It is unfortunate that there are so many parts that work together in producing an awards show and none of those parts can recognize racism and insensitive content.  Celebrities are simply a mouthpiece for what the industry at large has to say and at this day in age it says, “We don’t care about people of color.”