Sandra Bland and Nicki Minaj, two names that have been spoken repeatedly in the last several hours.
Sandra Bland was stopped for a routine traffic violation, brutally thrown to the ground then arrested for merely smoking a cigarette in her vehicle, only to be driven away to a jail cell where she would meet her death 3 days later. Police report that her death was a suicide and that there was no foul play on their end. Her family and friends do not believe Bland would do such a thing. All this occurring after a slew of unarmed black killings.
Nicki’s name has been floating around the twitterverse the last several hours for an entirely different reason. In airing her thoughts on the entertainment industries racist undertones as to why she did not get a VMA nomination for the pop culture phenomenon that is the Anaconda video, an unwanted response from Taylor Swift alluded it to an issue of gender rather than of race AND gender.
I do see that these are very separate scenarios and the more important of the two falls on the former, death/killing is VERY serious, but both have a common thread within them, and that is the black girls lived experience.
There have been several occasions where stories of black death arise and in the same moment a pop culture event arises that sews the common thread of institutionalized racism, white privilege and a lack of compassion for the black experience. But when this pop culture story breaks loose many are criticized for being “distracted” or not focused on the “real issues” when they discuss them. As if thoughts, feelings and what resonates with you must be the “most important” thing all the time. As if we cannot conceptualize and think through these two different topics in tandem, they are not mutually exclusive. As if racism is not multidimensional, and should only be focused on as it pertains to police brutality. Like Nicki Minaji and Taylor Swift do not reflect the power dynamic and struggle that happens day to day in a black girls life ie. illegitamizing an experience, being called the“angry black woman”, being cutoff and intereupted with an unwanted 2 cents etc.
I am not arguing that an exchange of words on Twitter will have the same effect as combating our segregated residential spaces at all, but why can’t I talk about Kylie Jenner and Amandla or Iggy and Azealia Banks all in the same breath as I discuss education gaps, the prison industrial complex and police brutality?
I can bump Kendrick AND Yung Thug, because they BOTH resonate with me.
It is neither here nor there, distraction, nor gossip this is what black people go through. There are different dimensions, different levels and addressing them all is pertinent to attacking this big ugly monster called racism. It is important for us to remember that racism happens all the time anywhere, to anyone (only meaning the oppressed) and that lived experiences should not be taken away from anyone because they are famous and in the media….. gang bangers, suicidal, trans etc.