The Devastating Effects of Colorism and Shadism: Azealia Banks’ Transformation Part One

News of troubled rapper, Azealia Banks bleaching her skin came to light across social media. Many people were angry, surprised and betrayed by seeing these images of Azealia Banks with lighter skin because it is contrary to her stance on social issues and pro Blackness. However, her skin lightening transformation is similar to her predecessor, rapper, Lil Kim’s transformation into a lighter skin, wavy haired woman. Azealia Banks and Lil Kim’s transformation is the butt of jokes by many Black people yet they fail to understand the underlying cause of the reason why these women chose to do what they did: colorism and shadism.

Azealia Banks before and after skin lightening.

Sad because she was very pretty before bleaching her skin.

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Now with lighter skin due to using bleaching cream, Whitelicious:

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Azealia Banks looks great here but she still looks lighter than usual.

Azealia Banks came on the Hip Hop scene as a beautiful, confident and talented rapper. She released singles such as 212 and her album, 1991 was released in 2012. She also released albums such as Broke With Expensive Taste in 2014 and recently released Slay Z in March. She held a lot of promise and her music became popular with gays and so called alternate people. Despite her enormous talent, she isn’t known for her musical accomplishments. Azealia Banks is better known for getting into online beefs with Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj and most notoriously rapper, Iggy Azalea. In her online feud with Iggy Azalea, Azealia Banks pointed out that Iggy Azalea failed to speak out against racial issues Black people face in society but doesn’t have a problem with culturally appropriating Black music to get ahead in the music industry. Azealia Banks appeared on Hot 97 radio show back in late 2014 to discuss cultural appropriation of Black music and art. Her interview sparked a national conversation about race, cultural appropriation and how it affects the social and political landscape of society.

 

She is also notorious for saying that she ”hated” fat, White Americans in an interview she did for Playboy magazine in 2015. Her rants on an airplane, calling a gay couple a fag and legal problems with biting a club bouncer at a nightclub also made headline. She was in an online beef with Disney child star, Skai Jackson earlier, where she called former One Direction memeber, Zayn a curry smelling faggot. However Azealia Banks did raise and say some very thought provoking things on the social issues that plague society from immigration, cultural appropriation etc. But what didn’t go unnoticed was her inferiority complex about being a dark skin Black woman in an industry that favors and prefers light skin Black women and non Black women.

Here are her tweets about her experience of being a dark skin woman. I can relate to how she feels because I have always felt that men treated me less for being dark skin and not fitting the Eurocentric standard of beauty. I was and still am told that I am somehow less attractive than light skin Black women and other races of women, either back handed or outright. Or denied job and housing opportunities due to my racial background. For Azealia Banks, she is overlooked by many in the music industry due to the fact that she is a dark skin Black woman despite being very talented. Her uncouth rants on Twitter and behavior doesn’t help her cause either. Many dark skin singers such as Kelly Rowland have been overlooked for being dark skin despite their enormous talent. It doesn’t help that most Hip Hop music videos only show light skin Black women, biracial women, Hispanic and White women as desirable and beautiful while leaving dark skin women out of the equation.

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Azealia Banks also called out those who promoted skin bleaching creams and self hatred. She seemed like a pro Black champion for change until it came out that she called another dark skin Black woman a tar baby and darkie on Instagram. Many people were shocked by her nasty words to this beautiful, dark skin woman since she prided herself on being pro Black and against White supremacy. Unfortunately, her behavior towards this woman signifies her hatred of her dark skin and Black skin. Worst of all, she attacked Disney Channel star, Skai Jackson on Twitter over her putting former One Direction member, Zayn Malik on blast. Skai Jackson is a fourteen year old Black girl and one would expect that Azealia Banks to be more respectful towards her. Hence her behavior towards this young woman and Skai Jackson personifies the lingering self hatred based on being dark and her frustration of her career not going anywhere.

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Here is a picture of fourteen year old, Skai Jackson

Kids In The Spotlight's Movies By Kids, For Kids Film Awards

LOS ANGELES, CA – NOVEMBER 07: Actress Skai Jackson attends the Kids In The Spotlight’s Movies By Kids, For Kids Film Awards at Fox Studios on November 7, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic)

 

Colorism was and isn’t the only force behind Azealia Banks’ frustration and anger. But colorism intensifies her anger and frustration. Her anger is based on the fact that her musical talents and creativity is overlooked in a racist, sexist and colorist industry that caters to men and their light skin and non Black proteges. It was partially why she called out former One Direction member and singer, Zayn Malik over Twitter because she saw that the designs he used for his music videos was similar to the designs she used for hers. Many Black artists go through their works and arts being stolen and discredited unless a White artist takes up the same art. Then the art is praised and seen as innovative. Colorism intensifies this issue because Azealia Banks feels that her dark skin held her back on many career opportunities that she felt she should have had. She was quoted saying in one of her Twitter rants that she had to ”bleach her skin” to get ”respect” as an artist. Seeing prominent Black women in the Hip Hop industry such as Nicki Minaj, Beyonce and Rihanna achieve success also made Azealia Banks feel some kind of way. Nicki Minaj, Beyonce and Rihanna are highly successful, performers and musical artists but they also happen to fit into the mold of Black beauty: perfect hip to ass ratio, light skin, Eurocentric features and leaning on racially ambiguous. For this reason, Azealia Banks felt the need to bleach her beautiful, cocoa brown skin to a lighter skin so that she can achieve mainstream success and wider appeal for her music and artistry.

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The responses to Azealia Banks’ bleaching her skin from Black media was rather problematic. Many people were mocking her and calling her all kinds of names for her decision to bleach her skin. No, I don’t agree with her bleaching her skin. Yes, it is obvious that she is a troubled, young woman that needs guidance and help. But mocking her wouldn’t solve the issue of colorism and shadism. Instead of wondering why she chose to do what she did, why not try to tackle colorism when you see it? Acknowledge that colorism exists. Once we acknowledge that colorism exists, then we can do something to tackle and dismantle it. Rebuke the young, Black male colorist who bashes dark skin women. Allow equal representation for dark skin girls in Black media outlets. Teach your children that all shades of Black including dark skin is beautiful. Start acknowledging and putting forth the beauty of dark skin women to the forefront. Stop lining up to support rappers and other entertainers who bash and put down dark skin women. I can go on and on about this but we will keep on producing more of the Azealia Banks of the world if we don’t tackle colorism and shadism in our communities.

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