On Miley Cirus and why Identity Politics are academic

Oh My G, did you see Miley Cirus at the VMAs? I mean dancing around with sad teddy bears, sticking her tongue out, twerking? What does she think she’s black?!

So yea, I wasn’t super excited about her performance either. It was pretty silly, not super classy. Not sure what she’s doing up there, but I am okay with not liking it, I mean I hate her music so what difference does it make to me?

What is getting under my skin is the academic nonsense I keep seeing on Facebook. I read this article along with the comments fb activists are posting, and am like, really?

First of all, is she really “acting black” by twerking in a unicorn suit, or jumping around stage with sad teddy bears? And why can’t she have black people on stage with her without using them as props or for “street cred”? Her taking aspects of Hip Hop like twerking or a grill doesn’t offend me. I’m not sure you gotta be black to do those things.

Which brings me to.. Second of all, Miley is a young artist coming into her own, and although she may kinda suck, why isn’t she allowed to pull aspects from Hip Hop music? No one owns hip hop, that’s what’s so great about it. The culture that comes out of it is ours, all of ours, well no not all of ours, I don’t think it belongs to the capitalists or the white supremacists but the rest of us. I don’t get the sense that she is being a hipster, and those aren’t even the critiques of her. The critiques are:

“blackness is not a piece of jewelry you can slip on when you want a confidence booster or a cool look. And playing at being poor — while earning a profit by doing so — is just distasteful…(as is) the role you play in the appropriation of someone else’s exploitation.”

So by twerking is she really doing all that? I mean damn the woman is one 20 year old white girl. Are we now calling her responsible for the exploitation of black people, is MC white supremacy?

And here I get to my point on identity politics. None of these folks have put up a positive critique of MC. Instead she is responsible for some of the most racist acts by twerking and having black backup dancers.

Instead, why don’t we place MC in society and not isolated her from it. She is one individual person, an artist on top of that. Maybe she is mimicking hip hop culture because she is inspired by it, and? But MC is not white supremacy. White supremacy is a sum total of social relationships. It is the history that has lead us to today, it is the ever changing and ever expanding social division along lines of race where certain kinds of workers (race) get access to certain benefits due to their race, and this keeps them from uniting, and it keeps the cost of labor down (and free at times) for those who make money off of our exploited labor. If we want to attack it, we don’t do it by smashing on performers who “act black”, we do it by organizing. MC is not in a position to exploit black people’s labor. She is claiming some of the legacy of black music that has come before her, but she is not doing it to oppress or exploit black people the way capitalists do.

Which brings me to my final point: identity politics are academic. Academics would leave us in the realm of ideas not action, i.e. identity – MC is a white girl, stop acting black. End of story. And as we continue down the path of identity politics, no one is dark enough, no one is poor enough, no one is oppressed enough to do anything about anything.

So I ask you, what do you really want from MC? Do you want her to kill herself? Would that be better for the world, would white supremacy no longer exist if we just killed off all the MC’s? Or would you rather her stop performing in this way and stick to “white culture”, whatever that means? Am I not allowed to twerk or dress hip hop because I am chicana? And whose permission do I need to get before I do?

Identity politics leaves everyone helpless and uplifts no one. It makes some people feel righteous in smashing on individuals instead of organizing. You don’t want to live in a world where white supremacy exists? Then get off ya high horse and do something about it.


Music Videos

Just so y’all know I make music videos, so expect some old ones to come. Right now me and my partner are working on a new one.. it is the dopiest one I’ve made so far. Coming soon. Until then here goes my first one.

Apathy – we get down

The “n-word” word

This is a story I wrote up a while back around a conversation about white hip-hop artist, V-nasty, using the word nigga in her songs. This article is kinda dated now but basically V-nasty was given a hard time about saying nigga, even though this is a word she used in the bay and shit, it is part of her vocab, part of who she is. After a lot of pressure she said she would stop using it – a mistake I think. She could’ve and should’ve defended herself!

Black folks don’t have ownership on the word nigga. There are plenty of brown folks that use it, black folks, even white folks. Growing up I heard all kinds of people saying nigga and no one ever tripped about it. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been in situations with black friends and a white stupid motherfucker will try to get away with saying it – not something they normally say but they think it’s cute to call a black person nigga – and they were called out for it. But no one tried to stop people who were down from talking the way they talk. It’s not until you get out of your own hood, like in V-nasty’s case – where the black and white liberals will say “hey! you can’t say that! that’s offensive!” and instead wanna say “n-word”.

Mistah F.A.B stood up to say “At the end of the day, if we’re talking about abolishing this word, then that’s something I can humble myself to. But if we’re talking about who can say [it], then we’ve got a whole lot of fighting to do,” he said. “Along today’s line of activism…Whites, Mexicans, Latins, Filipinos, Samoans, anybody else says ‘nigga’ more than African-Americans do. You could be like this, ‘You was at Sea World the other day? You see Seamu? That nigga Seamu is a fool’…where it’s like, ‘Oh, I’m racist for calling the whale a nigga?'” lol!
He also stands up for her here:

There is always a lot of conversation around this issue – people using the word nigga, or people “acting” black. For me being black is not a skin color, it is a state of mind. There are plenty of black folks who act just as white as white folks, and there are plenty of white folks who are down as hell!

For black liberation activist and theoretician Steve Biko “Being black is not a matter of pigmentation – being black is a reflection of a mental attitude.” Brown people – same goes!

So what is the deal with people tripping on V-nasty’s usage of the word nigga? This is who she is, this is how she talks. I think instead of trying to stop people from using the word nigga we should try to get people to stop using the word “n-word”. I think Louis CK makes a good case for it!:

When I started thinking more about this experience she was having it reminded me of my experience of living in Oregon. When I was 15 my family moved from LA to Oregon for about 9 months. I can’t remember all the reasons my dad decided to drag us to one of the whitest fucking places on earth but one of the reasons was we had an uncle there. I hated it. In LA all of my friends were either brown or black, my culture was a mix of chicanisma and black culture. Now I was in whitesville – and not just in color but in attitude – feeling so out of place and bonded with other black folks who felt the same way I did. Here is what I wrote as my reflection on my experience there:

When I was in LA I had a lot of black friends mainly, and brown friends. I went to Oregon for 9 months and went to high school there – super culture shock! I ended up being friends with two black chicks, two of a handful in the entire school! I would hang out at my friend Jessica’s house a lot. We would always rag on white people. We both felt a lot of alienation at that school standing out of these super pale people (literally and culturally). Jessica really struggled with it because she was really dark and poor. Chioma was more popular than us two – she was light skinned and was kind of a token black person. People would try to get a reaction out of her, get her to raise her voice or whatever, and they’d laugh and shit. It was ridiculous, super fucked up. Well, Jessica was way more low key but she struggled with not fitting in. Hence, we really bonded over talking shit about white people – the way they acted, the way they dressed, even the way they smelled!

So one day I was hanging at Jessica’s house and her mom started talking shit about white people. I joined in and she turned against me! She was like you’re white too. I was like what? No I’m not! She was like, you gotta be a little darker if you wanna roll with us. It really hurt my feelings and I couldn’t really come back with anything. I never once was called or considered white before. And to me this meant a whole lot more than just a skin color. I didn’t understand it very well at the time, but my attitude toward white people came from this alienation I was feeling there in Oregon. I had some white friends, but they were the “cool white people”.

Anyway, my point is, it is interesting how when you approach the world you do so from your experiences, who you are. But sometimes people don’t see you as the sum of your experiences. They take one look at you and put you in a box – what is acceptable for you to say, the way you should or do behave, etc. But in the case of Jessica’s mom, I think it also came from her own feelings of alienation being in Oregon. She just couldn’t see that I experienced that too. I feel like the argument against using the “n-word” is ignoring people’s experiences.