Cultural appropriation and erasure of Black women: Rapper Tyga uses Black women as props in his new music video

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News circulated about rapper, Tyga’s new music video, which was filmed in Jamaica, that featured a White love interest wearing bantu knots. Many people became enraged over the fact that he didn’t choose a local Jamaican woman to portray the love interest in his music video. Others didn’t really care about the controversy surrounding the rapper choosing a White female lead for his music video. However I was truly disgusted by the blatant cultural appropriation and erasure of the Black woman’s image in the release of his new music video.

I am not a fan of Tyga nor do I listen to his music. I don’t even listen to mainstream music particularly not Hip Hop however I was intrigued to read about the controversy surrounding this new music video. I found it ironic how he didn’t even choose a local Jamaican woman to play a lead in his music video, ”1 of 1”. Instead, he chose a half German half Pakistani model named Amina Blue to portray the love interest in his music video. Personally, I didn’t really have a problem with him choosing a non Black woman as a lead in his music video. My issue is the fact that he promoted the appropriation of Jamaican culture and heritage in the music video. Here is where cultural appropriation comes into play. What particularly disturbed me was that he had her wear bantu knots, wear a Jamaica shirt and beads. Bantu knots(known as China bumps in Jamaica) is a common hairstyle that many Black women choose to wear. Wearing beads is popular among many Jamaicans as well. Did he not understand that allowing a non Black woman to appropriate aspects of his culture would initiate controversy? The irony of the whole debacle is the fact that his paternal ancestry is from Jamaica.

Here are some of reactions from ‘Black Twitter’ to Tyga’s music video, ”1 of 1”:

 

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Personally, I also believe that the video was a slap in the face to Jamaican culture. My lineage and heritage is from Jamaica despite being born in Manhattan, New York. My earliest memories is eating mango and listening to Bob Marley’s The Redemption Song however Jamaican culture runs deeper than just the food and the music. Jamaican culture is a culture is very influential and far reaching along with very connecting to others of Jamaican descent. Having someone put together a cheap video where cultural appropriation and a lack of emphasis on the culture itself is a huge insult to many Jamaicans who connect with their culture. Particularly if one subliminally promoted cultural appropriation and the erasure of one’s cultural aspects that makes the culture what it is.

His music video also promotes the erasure of Black women. Black women particularly monoracial Black women’s image is either erased or watered down by having a biracial woman portray her in the media. Black women particularly not Black women from Jamaica weren’t chosen as love interest but instead they were tossed to the side as ”props” instead. Props used to uplift non Black beauty and put Black women to the side. Again, there isn’t anything wrong with having a non Black love interest however what I am against is the unfair and lack of representation that Black women receive in all media outlets.

Most of all, I believe that the best way to counteract such images is to stop financially supporting these colorstruck, misogynist male entertainers. Stop buying their music. Stop listening to their music.  Start standing up against whatever cultural appropriation, erasure of Black women and bashing of Black womanhood wherever you may see it. Hence I believe that more of us would make a difference once we tell others that enough is enough.

15 thoughts on “Cultural appropriation and erasure of Black women: Rapper Tyga uses Black women as props in his new music video

  1. I agree with you on many points, but since she is half Pakistani, she is not white, but a woman of colour……which doesn’t excuse the appropriation of Jamaican culture, but DOES complicate the picture.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I mentioned her ethnicity in the post but Middle Eastern nationalities such as Pakinstani(Her own nationality partially), Iranian etc falls under the Caucasian realm of humanity. Personally, I don’t see her as “White” per se but she does benefit from the privileges of being a White/light skin woman in society.

      I only use woman of color to refer to Black women because that is how I see us. My concern is about my welfare and the welfare of other Black women. While I do not hate non Black women, their issues and concerns doesn’t generate much outrage and concern from me. More of us need to look out for our own interests and stop trying to picket and advocate for the causes of others when these same people don’t advocate for issues and concerns surrounding Black women. Again I have nothing against other races of women but I refuse to call them “women of color” or include them in our plight when they don’t include us Black women.

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      • With all due respect Angela, but you’re wrong on this one. Pakistan is certainly NOT in the Middle-East; it’s in the Indian subcontinent and shares a culture & language with India, and, to lesser extent, Bangladesh. Pakistan isn’t Middle-Eastern ethnically or culturally. Not all Muslim-majority countries are Middle-Eastern; as a matter of fact, most aren’t. Pakistan is the second biggest Muslim majority country (Indonesia is the largest)

        The Middle East consists of what was used to be called the Levant, so Syria, Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and maybe by extension Iran and Turkey.

        All people from those countries are brown people, and there are also black people there: There are Afro-Arabs, Afro-Persians, Afro-Pakistanis, Afro-Palestinians and Afro-Iraqis.

        My concern is for all people, and specifically of colour. Yes, it’s true that black people have suffered specifically from slavery and global anti-black racism, but other people of colour also suffere(d) from colonialism, racism, occupation(s) and ofcourse Islamophobia, from which all Muslims, including blacks (like me) suffer.

        Some people of colour with passing privilege identify as white out of anti-black racism, or because of the constant pressure to act, live and look as “white” as possible. But when many Indo-Pakistani women are just as brown -and sometimes even browner/blacker- then you and me, and all these people are yellow(ish), redd(ish), brown(ish) and black(ish) it’s silly to deny that they’re people of colour. They are. And there are many people of colour who stand in solidarity with their black brothers and sisters and include us, like for instance Muslim feminists like Egyptian Mona Eltahawy and Malalai Joya from Afghanistan.

        I DO have concern for other people of colour and I think we all should. I care about the fact that the war in Afghanistan, waged by Bush c.s. cost 9000 innocent civilian victims. I care about the fact that women of colour in such diverse countries as Egypt, Sudan, Somalia, Kurdish areas of several countries, Indonesia, parts of Latin America, parts of India and parts of Pakistan are victim to fgm. I care about acid attacks, dowry deaths and the savage Delhi gang rape. I care about the fact that Saudi women can’t drive, and about honor killings in countries as diverse as Colombia, Turkey, Southern Italy, Palestine, Egypt, Jordan, India, Pakistan. I care about the fact that in the last 10 days of Ramadan, which are the most sacred, hundreds of innocent people died in terrorist attacks in Somalia, Turkey, Afghanistan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and Iraq. I care about the fact that Iraq was turned into a living hell by the U.S. and NATO. I care about the many innocent Latina women getting killed because of sexist violence. I care about the cause of Native Americans, who were massacred and still suffer from the destruction of their culture, their selves and their bodies.

        We, as people of colour, have to care about all lives – especially the lives of POC who suffer daily. We are all human beings who inhabit one world/planet, and none of us will be free unless we’re all free. It’s as simple as that. And thank God, more and more people are starting to realize this. I hope you will, too.

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  2. By the way, or actually not, I DO think we should discuss, condemn and eradicate anti black racism worldwide, because anti-black racism is pervasive under many non-black people of colour. It’s a big taboo, even more so then to speak about anti-black racism from white people. Skin straightening, bleaching, only light skinned people getting to come on tv is a huge problem in Latin-America, the Arabic speaking countries and the Indian subcontinent.

    I lived in Egypt, and it was always very strange to see that almost all Egyptians around me had the colour of cinnamon, chocolate or cafe au lait, and on tv there were only people who were pale even for West-European standards.

    Also, anti-black racism predated colonialism (another taboo) But colonialism & divide&rule certainly increased the problem. Blacks are the first to suffer from that racism, and Afro-Latinos, Afro-Arabs, Afro-Persians, Afro-Pakistanis and all other Afro-communities suffer.

    But also women from those countries who are brown suffer from these opressive beauty standards. In the end, our lives and struggles are connected.

    And about the term “Caucasian”: Using that word as a blanket term for everything white, is NOT correct. The Caucasus is a mountain range in Russia, and Caucasian refers to a specific culture, language, music, dance, people etc. The whole name “Caucasian” for white comes from racist race theories, that aren’t only morally wrong, but also scientifically wrong. There is no such thing as “race” – There is only one race, the human race. Race is a social construct, so race doesn’t exist, but racism does and we should fight both racism as race theories.

    One excellent vid about these subjects: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GKB8hXYod2w

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know that there is anti Blackness worldwide towards brown skin women in Asian and Middle Eastern countries but other people of color didn’t have to deal with the trauma and angst that those of African descent went through. The anti Blackness in these cultures gives privileges to the lighter members of their group much like the colorism in Black America. That is why you see only light skin and White looking people on Latin American soap operas called Telenovela. That is why only light skin actress are given more acting roles in India’s Bollywood films and Nigeria’s Nollywood films. There are documentaries of women in Southeast Asia bleaching their skin and getting surgeries to look more Westernized. I am aware that many Muslims are unfairly labeled terrorists based on the actions of a few, ISIS members and are dealing with the effects of the Crusades and other Western regimes that have harmed the interests of their countries’ resources and landscape. I know that many Hispanic women have to deal with the Machoism from their men in their cultures and that Native Americans have had their land taken from them, their culture eradicated and limited resources and education to achieve mobility in society.

      Have you wondered if these same people are as concerned about issues that affect Black people as you are about issues that affect other people of color? I used to think like you until I saw that many Hispanic, Asian, Native American, Pacific Islander, Middle Eastern etc held anti Black views. I’d hate to concern myself with issues that affect others then they not reciprocate back the same energy into caring about justice for causes that affect Black women.

      Also the Census Bureau has listed Middle Eastern and North Africans under the Caucasian category of racial category but there is a pushback to have Middle Eastern and North Africans have their own racial category apart from Whites. Personally, I don’t consider either Middle Eastern or North Africans ”White” and I believe that giving them their separate category apart from Caucasians is the right step.

      http://www.census.gov/topics/population/race/about.html

      http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/census-bureau-considering-new-category-arab-americans-2020-count/

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The video you showed me was excellent and I appreciate you posting it on my blog. I agree that race is a social construct and doesn’t have any genetic basis but we are living in a very racist, White supremacist and patriarchal society that puts so much emphasis on race. It sucks but that is how it is.

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  4. “I am also aware that not all Caucasians are White in the typical sense but somehow the common belief is that Caucasian = White.”
    Well, that’s actually more of an American thing, because few people in Europe even use the term “Caucasian”. And moreover, that view is erroneous and racist.

    “Also the Census Bureau has listed Middle Eastern and North Africans under the Caucasian category of racial category….”

    Yes I know, but I don’t really care how many people and institutions claim that, but it simply isn’t true, and it’s racist. Thank God, there were -and are- many North-African Arabs and Imazighen that are waking up and fighting this racist nonsense & openly identifiying as Africans, whilst also standing in solidarity with their black brethern. (Even though I most say that they still are a minority – most Arabs are VERY racist towards black people, and even discriminate against their own fellow Arab Afro-Arabs. Sad, but true)

    but there is a pushback to have Middle Eastern and North Africans have their own racial category apart from Whites.

    “Personally, I don’t consider either Middle Eastern or North Africans ”White” and I believe that giving them their separate category apart from Caucasians is the right step. ”

    Exactly, and I would say, just call them people of colour, and if one wants to be more specific, Arab speaking folks, North-African, Middle-Eastern, and/or Arabs or Imazighen.

    They clearly are NOT white. Apart for some light skinned Imazighen and some Lebanese folks, they are yellow, black and brown, not light skinned, and they are not from Western or Northern Europe. Full stop.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I guess that the main difference between us is not our views, but where we put the emphasis, and that I see the glass more as half full and you more as half empty. But we shouldn’t loose hope, though.

    The world is clearly changing, what with Black Lives Matter and other vibrant anti-racist movements worldwide (also in Holland and all over Western Europe).

    So it’s an exciting & beautiful time to be alive, really. A change is gonna come, so keep your head up! (Yes, these references were intentional 😉 ) We WILL be free, and anti-black racism WILL end some day. Lots of love&respect to you for your work!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. “I know that there is anti Blackness worldwide towards brown skin women in Asian and Middle Eastern countries but other people of color didn’t have to deal with the trauma and angst that those of African descent went through. The anti Blackness in these cultures gives privileges to the lighter members of their group much like the colorism in Black America. That is why you see only light skin and White looking people on Latin American soap operas called Telenovela. That is why only light skin actress are given more acting roles in India’s Bollywood films and Nigeria’s Nollywood films.”

    Exactly!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I was agreeing with the sentiments and views on here because it is obvious that you are more knowledgeable about global geography than I am. The only time I have been overseas was to visit relatives in Jamaica. My cultural heritage is why I wrote this article because I was upset that a half Vietnamese half Jamaican American rapper, Tyga culturally appropriated Jamaican culture. It means alot to me. Otherwise, I believe your sentiments come from the right place and believe that it will take years if not centuries to eradicate White supremacy, homophobia, patriarchy, misogynoir, colorism and classism in our society.

    Liked by 1 person

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