I love it when non-Black people express bewilderment when they find out I do not look up to or subscribe to the teachings of Black celebrities they deem important, impactful, or positive. Yes, it’s me, but that last sentence wasn’t sarcasm—I truly do love it. In those moments, I get to learn how other communities perceive us and our icons, and it’s almost never with the same purview. I view it almost like field research that can come in handy at a later date, especially as I continue to spread the message that Black women and girls need to be set free of the mountain of expectations society places on them because no other group is willing to live up to them.
Take Oprah, for example. Most women love her, but white women are particularly fond of her. When white women find out Oprah is not the queen of my universe, they almost seem offended.
Similarly, I can remember visiting with some of my husband’s friends in Los Angeles, and one racially ambiguous man professing his complete adoration for Cardi B. Cardi isn’t Black, but she’s marketed to Black audiences, so she’s included here. When I explained to him that I don’t care for her because of the implications of what she represents, he was baffled. “Cardi is poor representation for Black women,” I explained to him, before he retorted with, “But she’s so cute and funny and tells it like it is!” He had his opinion of her and I had mine, yet his actions in that moment implied that without my co-sign of his adoration, there was now an issue between us.
Non-Black people get the luxury of being tourists in the Black sector without having to truly live with the realities of our burdens. Currently, conservative media is throwing support behind Nicki Minaj for her openness on vaccine hesitancy, but it all seems like a cheap trend to benefit all parties involved rather than an actual show of humanity. Nicki’s energy behind this seems fueled by keeping her husband’s name out of mainstream headlines than it is about public health. My unwillingness to think differently has non-Black people confused and believing that I somehow see people like Joe Biden, Chris Cuomo, or Don Lemon as heroes. What?
Candace Owens, who is Black but largely aligns herself with conservative, white ideals, openly feuded with Cardi B last year on the grounds of what she represents, pointing to her “illiteracy” and promiscuity as shameful attributes. Nicki represents many of the same things Cardi does, yet Candace supports her in 2021 on this vaccine issue. That seems like a marketing tactic to me, not solidarity or sisterhood. Candace is a brand, too.
Meanwhile, conservative media has not bothered to weigh in on Nicki’s husband’s ongoing legal battle surrounding his alleged sexual assault. No conservative news outlets reported on the intimidation, harassment, and eventual doxxing of Kenneth Zoo Petty’s (alleged) victim Jennifer by Nicki and her team. Nor have they had anything to say about her troubling antics on social media over the years, such as hijacking hashtags reserved for missing Black girls as a vehicle for dissing Black women or calling dark-skinned detractors “ugly” for having a difference of opinion from her. Even her rap lyrics, which she writes herself, include casual digs at Black women, such as: “These little nappy-headed hoes need a perminator…”
But conservative media loves Nicki in this moment for seemingly opposing Joe Biden, and that’s what matters. All of that is fine, I just wish those of us who see her for the destruction she’s aided in didn’t have to be demonized by people who dislike the vaccine mandate. Hey, I don’t like it either. I hate what this mandate is doing to us as a country because we claim to want equity across races and genders, yet we are rapidly ushering in segregation all over again by shunning those who are not vaccinated.
But that’s the part where the tourists exit. Nicki is their tool for this one issue, they dig their heels in and make a stink, then get to excuse themselves when I or others like me try to point out that perhaps Nicki isn’t the noble martyr they want to take her as. That part is tiring and confusing, and it’s the reason I write this today.
People will always be more loyal to their comfort than they will be to the truth, and the Tucker Carlson-led brigade of support for Nicki Minaj is the latest example of this.