Sunday, August 30 was the MTV Music Awards hosted by Miley Cyrus. It was also the night Nicki Minaj won the award for Best Hip-Hop Video for her song “Anaconda” and then called Miley Cyrus out for talking shit about her in The New York Times. It was epic. Nicki accepted her award from Rebel Wilson, thanked her pastor, told girls not to base their worth on boys, and then turned it back to Miley with the well-placed, “And now back to this bitch that had a lot of stuff to say about me in the press. Miley, what’s good?”
I cheered. I fucking cheered. I know I talk a lot about trying to be mature and look at things from all angles, but I loved Nicki’s call out. It was unexpected, it was to the point, it was succinct, it was angry, and it was on national, live television. What an incredible way to let people know you’re not going to put up with someone’s nonsense.
But let me back up a bit. A lot of people don’t understand why Nicki called Miley out, and I’ve had a few friends initially lash out at Nicki, calling her trash. If you’re getting the story from word of mouth (i.e. “Nicki blew up at Miley at the VMAs!”), then I can understand how you’d be tempted to believe that, especially if you’re already predisposed to think Nicki is trashy and oversexualized, so let’s back it up.
As you may know and as I wrote in this post, a little over a month ago, Nicki posted how dissatisfied she was with her nominations for the awards and, more importantly, how black women rarely get the credit they deserve for their work. Media darling Taylor Swift then stepped in because she felt personally attacked – only to apologize several days later and make up at the MTV Music Awards. However, several days ago, Miley Cyrus did an interview with The New York Times in which she was asked about the supposed beef. At first, she admitted that she didn’t know anything about it – only to quickly start criticizing Nicki for how she said what she said and generally being selfish, overly race-motivate, rude, angry, and not worthy of getting any kind of positive message out. Don’t believe me? Click on the link.
If someone had said all of that about me and dismissed the racial injustices in this country, I would be pissed too. Especially since it was said without any knowledge of the issue, any knowledge of the so-called beef, and by someone who consistently appropriates black hair styles, dance moves, and culture. By contrast, Nicki was measured and in control. She didn’t throw a Tyra and start screaming. She didn’t throw a Trump and start blasting her in social media. She looked her in the eye, let her know that she wasn’t pleased with her, and then went on with her day. It’s the single most powerful thing I’ve ever seen a woman do. And I mean that.
But people are still hating on Nicki. They’re condemning her for being sexual while praising Miley for owning her sexuality. They’re hating on her for being angry while applauding Miley’s passive-aggressiveness. They’re denigrating her by conveniently forgetting the thousands of dollars she’s given to charities while excusing Miley because of her philanthropic work. They’re attacking her body while congratulating Miley on hers. And that needs to stop.
You can think that it wasn’t “classy” for Nicki to call Miley out at the awards – that’s fine. Calling people out and speaking out against racial and sexual inequalities isn’t about being “classy.” It’s about garnering attention so that the problem can be addressed. You can dislike Nicki because of her music. You can be uncomfortable with how comfortable she is with her sexuality and her heritage. But don’t dismiss her and her words just because they made a white girl uncomfortable. Think deeper. She and other black women deserve better.