While there are some truths in Azealia Banks’ recent Playboy interview, one writer finds the rapper just like any other uneducated racist he’s encountered his whole life. (GlobalGrind.com image)
I am black. I shared a car ride home recently with several acquaintances. I don’t drive, so this opportunity to avoid standing on a train platform with a ragged, zombie hobo (always a risk) wasn’t going to go wasted. There were four of us total, and the radio stations of their choice was anything that played rap (hip-hop is something you live, rap is something you do. Thanks, Urban Dictionary!). As everyone else energetically rapped along, word for word, I sat staring out the window from the backseat, inconspicuously bobbing my head to the beat so as to not arise suspicion because I didn’t recognize the song.
I’m not a big rap-music fan. Although I admire the rhyming skill, the tiresome themes of money, drugs, sex, power, guns, poverty, misogyny, homophobia and bravado have never been attractive to me. I grew up and continue to live in a fairly dangerous, predominantly black section of town in a city that’s garnered national attention for its dangerous crimes. I don’t need to be reminded of this, especially when mainstream rap merely glamorizes inner-city squalor for street cred and album and tickets sales courtesy of the young, white consumers who can afford it.
Some would say I’m “not black” for not liking rap music. I also don’t enjoy playing basketball, organized religion, Kevin Hart or anything with Tyler Perry’s name in the title. I’d say I have a mind of my own … and good taste. But within the black community lies a well-documented amount of intra-racism, low self-worth and insults of “acting white” whenever the slightest “non-black” thing is done.
Azealia Banks is on the cover of April’s Playboy. In the accompanying “wild and uncensored” interview, the Harlem-raised rapper provided several moronic brain farts on varying subjects, but for the sake of this article (and brain cells), I’ll focus on this one:
Is there someone whose career you’d like to emulate?
Jay Z. That’s the only person I have my eye set on. The race thing always comes up, but I want to get there being very black and proud and boisterous about it. You get what I mean? A lot of times when you’re a black woman and you’re proud, that’s why people don’t like you. In American society, the game is to be a nonthreatening black person. That’s why you have Pharrell or Kendrick Lamar saying, “How can we expect people to respect us if we don’t respect ourselves?” He’s playing that nonthreatening black man shit, and that gets all the white soccer moms going, “We love him.” Even Kanye West plays a little bit of that game — “Please accept me, white world.” Jay Z hasn’t played any of those games, and that’s what I like.
Banks also said some half-baked crap about Lorde, reparations, religion, hating America and “fat white Americans” and not wanting to speak proper English because of slavery (ugh), which lets her “call you a fag or a cracker or a bitch.”
This whole “nonthreatening black person” thing is troubling and to equate encouraging higher expectations and self-respect among black people as pandering to whites is just pure self-hatred. According to Banks, someone like Antoine Dodson or any other poorly spoken “eyewitness” on the local news is proudly blacker than Pharrell. OK, Azealia. We won’t “play the game.” We’ll all just stay dumb, angry and “black.” That’ll show everyone as we continue to fill prisons, drop outta school and be poor. Let’s make change by never changing! I’m black, and I’m proud!
Chris Rock’s awesome “Niggas vs. Black People” bit from his HBO “Bring The Pain” special covers this issue perfectly. There’s a difference between the two. The former embarrasses and annoys the piss outta the latter. I’m just surprised Banks didn’t mention how reading is “white.”
Azealia Banks is just like any other uneducated racist with low expectations I’ve encountered my entire life. Deep, deep, DEEP into the fecal matter of her rambling drivel does lie some truths. America can be a pretty lousy place sometimes (especially considering things like Martese Johnson’s arrest), but it also allows ignorant rappers like Banks to speak their small mind without fear of prosecution or death.
She won’t be accused of “acting white” because her behavior is so common and embraced by black communities and expected in every other. Man, this whole “being black” thing is tiring. I just want be happy, geek out like a nerd and listen to some Tegan and Sara. And maybe do some other “white stuff” like eat organic.