The Wrong Conversations Are Being Had About Azealia Banks

I’ve had my issues with Azealia Banks over the years. I used to be an avid fan of hers but lost interest a couple of years ago after several instances of her popping off at the mouth on Twitter. If it had been the normal shit-talking that I’ll even admit to participating in, it wouldn’t have bothered me as much. Sadly Azealia’s shit-talking on several occasions delved deeply into trans phobia. It was a really disappointing, because I really enjoyed getting to see a dark-skinned black girl be both talented and outspoken in an industry that likes to pretend we don’t even exist anymore. But even the most outspoken #problackgirl can quickly lose my interest when she reveals herself to be trans phobic and unapologetic about it.
Over the past few months the idea of being a fan of Azealia has rocked back and forth in my head a few times. The release of ‘Broke With Expensive Taste’ reminded me of why I liked her in the first place. Azealia is a talented rapper lyricist with a style that is influenced by Hip-Hop, Caribbean music and NY Ball culture. In the prism of Black Cool, Azealia has found her niche and is good at what she does. Her presence on twitter however, will have moments of genius awareness before sliding back down to being seriously offensive.
Last week during an interview with Hot 97, Azealia broke into tears at least two times when asked about her feelings on the cultural appropriation of hip-hop music. During the interview Azealia breaks down in her own words how appropriation is slowly erasing blackfolks out of hip-hop, specifically black women. Those with less fluency in issues like this were quick to paint the interview as Azealia being jealous of Iggy, including the pop artist herself who called Azealia a bigot on twitter.
It’s hard to explain to those who aren’t familiar with or fluent in the lives of black women that Azealia Banks is trying to express her frustration with a world that wants her creativity but doesn’t want her. She’s fighting an uphill battle, and every time she speaks up about it she gets backlash that is highly racialized, especially when it comes to her “feud” with Iggy Azalea. In the interview she points out the Forbes article from earlier this year that claims that Hip-Hop is becoming a white dominated genre of music as an example of how the media is trying to erase black people from it. Forbes also claimed that Iggy was running Hip-Hop this year, and proceeded to say that Nicki Minaj deciding to stop making Pop/Top 40 centered music left “a void to be filled by none other than Iggy.” That statement alone derides Hip-Hop as a genre of music and places it’s value only in what could be sold on Pop charts. Even now in 2014 in order for black artists to be legitimate they need to cross over into the white dominated pop charts and in order for black music to be appreciated it needs to be performed by white musicians. It’s a larger problem that will be ignored in order to paint Azealia Banks as an aggressive, angry black woman and belittle her talent.
That isn’t to say that Azealia doesn’t have anything that needs to be critiqued. Her above mentioned trans phobia as well as her recent tweets about Bill Cosby are beyond problematic, they’re just plain wrong. People do have a right to be upset and not listen to her because of it. If she is going to be critiqued she should be critiqued for that and not for page clicks.

Storm Is Dark Skinned and Other Controversial Ideas Shared On Twitter (Actually Just That One)

Sometimes I forget that sharing your thoughts on twitter make other people think your tweets are an invitation for a counter argument. I’m not going to lie, in my earlier Twitter days I’ve made that mistake myself, but have since learned to generally keep my opinions out of other people’s mentions. Unless the tweeter is my friend or if something really offensive has been said and needs to be addressed. This is a personal rule for me, but sometimes I get a little irritated when I open my Tweetdeck and see what seems like an aggressive counter argument that I didn’t ask for in the first place.

“I <3 Kate Graham but Storm is dark skinned. I know sommayall think Ororo was Hall[e] Berry shade but that’s a lie Fox told you.”

I made the mistake of putting that on twitter after reading about a casting rumor. I just typed it out and hit ctrl + Enter. I wasn’t really expecting much of it until I got a a few responses that ranged from “It’s no big deal!” to “Who cares?” Which really got under my skin because obviously, I care.

Growing up, one of the things that I searched for constantly in anything I consumed, whether it was books, tv or movies, was for characters that looked like me. Being that I’m both black and female, those representations were hard to come by. Even at a very young age I noticed that there was a particular shade of black that was acceptable when you went in movies and tv. Storm was a character that I, like many other young black girls, treasured because in both the comic and that cartoon series she was a medium brown to dark skin tone.

Now I know people will write this off as nerd rage, or try and convince me that the fact that Kat Graham is black should be enough; that may be ok for you, it’s not for me. Black people come in several different shades, and I think it’s lazy casting to ignore that. There are so many talented actresses out there that are mid-tone to dark skinned, it makes no sense not to cast her as such.

Representation is important for a myriad of reasons, but media shouldn’t take shortcuts and just represent one aspect of an entire people. Until it stops taking shortcuts, I’m going to continue speaking out when I feel like it’s failing. Why? Because I care, that’s why.

Pre-Blocking for Personal Health

I’m on Twitter a lot. Like it or not, Twitter is one of the best sources of breaking news. If used properly, you can find first hand information as it happens instead of waiting for news outlets, which though they say they aren’t, tend to be biased in some of their interpretations of events. Twitter can be educational, fun and also help friends who live far away from one another keep in touch. Unfortunately, despite all of the good Twitter can do, it can also be used for evil.

You may or may not know it (let’s be real here, you know), but Twitter has issues with harassment. Anyone who’s participated in a trending topic knows about the Egg Icon’d accounts that pop up to say all manner of mean things, but sometimes there’s a picture, or a full profile and identifiable person behind those threats and abuse. When you’re bothered by these trolls, they could be at it for hours and it can range from mildly annoying to extremely triggering and scary. Just ask anyone who participated in the #GamerGate hashtag in the past few months.

I’ve dealt with enough trolls in my time on the internet, and am constantly trying to figure out how to make the places I frequent safe spaces for me without having to go entirely private. Luckily a friend told me about his method of keeping trolls away. He pre-blocks. Pre-blocking is easy. Normally when  friend on twitter gets into an argument with an obvious troll I just open the trolls profile and block them (or mark them as spam, depend on how fake it looks or how offensive they are). Then I just wipe my hands and walk away. That’s it. It keeps those trolls away from my profile long before they have a chance to bother me.

That’s not the only method of pre-blocking people, there are many apps on the internet that will do the work for or with you. Another method I use is The Block Bot, which has been a tremendous help because it has tiers you can subscribe to and the lists are compiled by people and if necessary, subscribers can request a troll be added.

These are just two of the methods you can use to make Twitter comfortable for you, and hopefully they’ve been helpful. If you know of any other methods or apps to use, share them below!

Hello!

Today is the day this blog was supposed to have officially opened. However, because of the events of last week and the fact that I had the space available, I decided to ignore my originally planned start date and post a list of black owned businesses for people to shop at during Black Friday. That list has officially been moved here, so please check it out and let me know if you have any more businesses to add.

Now on to the main question: who the heck am I? Honestly the short answer is nobody. The long answer is I’m nobody who runs amuck on the internet being a smartass, specifically on Twitter. I’m also a podcaster for Nerdgasm Noire and co-own an online clothing store. If the name of my blog (and my podcast) didn’t give it away, I’m a huge nerd, but I’m also really into pop culture too, despite me being very critical of them both. I promise I’ll add all the places you can find me in an about me page later on.

I plan on using this blog to let my thoughts about all of the things I enjoy out. Hopefully they’ll come out concise, organized and humorous enough for people to read it. So please enjoy, comment and share if you like.