Celebrities / Culture

Racism, Homophobia, and Iggy Azalea

Iggy AzaleaI love listening to pop music. That’s not to say that I love all pop songs and artists, but I appreciate most of what I hear on the radio because of what it tells me about our current culture. As the parent of a teen and a tween, I like to know what they are listening to, what their peers are saying about it, and what messages they are receiving. Basically, I turn it on for the reconnaissance into youth culture and I stay for the catchy refrains.

The first time I heard Iggy Azalea’s song Fancy, I thought it was fun and I loved the melody and the rhythm and rhymes. They played it constantly so it didn’t take long before I had the song’s refrain memorized and would sing along whenever it came on the radio. One day, I was driving my son home from soccer practice when the song came on and I started to sing along and he said, “Mom, that song is so problematic.” I pride myself on being a critical thinker and, though I hadn’t spent much time listening to the lyrics, I couldn’t immediately identify the problem. I asked him why and he said, “Iggy Azalea is a white woman from Australia trying to sound black.” I had no idea she was white because I assumed by the style of the music and the word choice and accent that she was a black woman. I was at a loss for words in that moment and my son said, “She’s making money off a culture that isn’t hers.”

Over time, I’ve done a lot of reading about Iggy Azalea and the best article I’ve read to date remains Brittany Cooper’s article for Salon, Iggy Azalea’s post-racial mess: America’s oldest race tale, remixed. This line made so much sense,

I resent Iggy Azalea for her co-optation and appropriation of sonic Southern Blackness, particularly the sonic Blackness of Southern Black women. Everytime she raps the line “tell me how you luv dat,” in her song “Fancy,” I want to scream “I don’t love dat!” I hate it. The line is offensive because this Australian born-and-raised white girl almost convincingly mimics the sonic register of a downhome Atlanta girl.

The rest of the article goes on to address issues beyond just the performative appropriation, including the way black women are pushed to the side in hip hop music. But that piece doesn’t address Iggy’s more overt racism which include lyrical references to being a “slave master” and offensive tweets about Mexicans, Asians, Blacks and Native Americans. She also posted a photo and used the word “niggas” in the caption When faced with criticism, she has been unapologetic, claiming that the comments were jokes or, in the case of the photo caption, claimed she had the right to use the language of hip hop culture which only proves that she doesn’t have a strong grasp on issues of race nor any sense of social responsibility.

This was enough for us to stop listening to Iggy and we certainly have not supported her by buying her music.

And this leads me to the news that Iggy cancelled her appearance at the Pittsburgh Pride festival next weekend. She wrote,

I am a firm believer in equality. Unfortunately in the past as a young person, I used words I should not have. The last thing I want is for something so carelessly said to be interpreted as reflective of my character.

I meant no harm and deeply regret ever uttering those words. As an adult I would never use them because I understand they play a detrimental role in the fight for issues that I do truly believe in.

The words she used as a young person? She tweeted using the words “dykes” and “homo” and also reportedly referred to Nicki Minaj as a “tranny.” Referring to Nicki Minaj as a “tranny” was definitely meant as an insult but I don’t think the tweets using the words “dykes” and “homo” were meant to demean the community. However, intention is irrelevant and impact is everything. Those words have all been used against the LGBT community and she must be mindful of that when using them.

So, she pulled out from the event because of her past homophobic and transphobic remarks, but she should have never been invited to perform in the first place because of her race politics or lack thereof. As a community, we cannot wait to act only when our community is singled out and must act every time any minority community is targeted. This is Human Rights 101. I’m glad there were LGBT groups connected to Pride that put pressure on organizers and Iggy herself to cancel the performance but ashamed of those who put the idea of a headliner above principles. We have to do better than that.

PHOTO CREDIT: INSTAGRAM

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2 Comments

  1. A weird choice for performer at a Pride event, for sure, but sometimes not-for-profits get into a “take what we can get” mentality.

  2. This kid has a great mom (I use the spelling to indicate a lack of ignorance of U.S. spelling in this Australian!) or a great school, or both. It’s taken me until mid-forties to grasp this basic principle.

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