- Miley Cyrus’s jokes and costumes at the 2015 VMAs.
Initially, I decided that I wasn’t going to talk too much about racism and social injustices on this blog. Instead, I was going focus on my daily life and my experiences as I transition into adulthood. However, as a young black woman, I’m forced to confront racism and social injustices on an almost daily basis. In fact, I encountered racism last night as I was watching Miley Cyrus host the VMAs with a few friends.
While watching the VMAs, there were moments where I felt uncomfortable by Miley’s fashion choices and jokes. I felt as though Miley Cyrus was taking my culture, my identity, and turning it into a joke for some free publicity. While she didn’t prance around the stage saying the n-word or wearing a KKK outfit, she still committed a series of microaggressions, which reinforced racist stereotypes.
(Kevin Winter/MTV1415/Getty Images Contributer)
Locs are a part of black culture. Wearing locs acknowledges this culture and is a way for many black people to feel closer to their roots. However, black people are constantly shamed for wearing their locs. A majority of black men have to cut their locs off for schools or jobs. The army has stated that locs are an unacceptable hairstyle for black women. And people often associate locs with marijuana use. When actress Zendaya Coleman wore locs to the Oscars, she faced heavy backlash with reporters joking that she smelled like weed.
Miley Cyrus took this part of black culture, and used it as a costume during the VMA’s. A few people even called Miley’s look “fashionable” and “edgy” as if her hairstyle wasn’t an appropriation of black culture. But then again, Miley Cyrus has a history of appropriating black culture. During her twerking faze, She’s used women of color as props for her music videos and performances, while simultaneously discrediting the women who invented the dance. She even had the had the audacity to say that Elvis was “doing the OG twerking” as if twerking didn’t originate from the Mapouka dance from Côte d’Ivoire in West Africa.
Sadly, Miley’s choices only grew worse when Nicki Minaj confronted her about the comments Miley made during an interview with the New York Times. In the interview, Miley disregards Nicki’s comments about racism, and says “What I read sounded very Nicki Minaj, which, if you know Nicki, is not too kind… You don’t have to start this pop star against pop star war.” However, if you followed the Taylor-Nicki twitter debacle, you know that it was a misunderstanding on Taylor’s part, and Taylor quickly apologized and made up with Nicki. There was no war, and Miley’s commentary brushes off the issues that Nicki was addressing.
Nicki called Miley out on stage for her comments, and Miley quickly said that the interviewers twisted her words. She then continued to speak, throwing some slight shade at Nicki.
“Me. I lost this award back in 2008 and I was fine with it. Whatever, because it’s no big deal! It’s just an award and I persevered! So here are the nominees still vying for your vote. Congratulations, Nicki.”
Again, Miley turns the focus away from the issues that Nicki was addressing by arguing “it’s just an award.” By accusing Nicki of being angry because of a nomination (or lack thereof), Miley’s falling back on the angry black woman stereotype. She’s making herself the victim, and Nicki the aggressor.
And don’t even get me started on Miley’s “Mammy” comment to Snoop Dogg. I’m still baffled on how she thought it was okay to say that without thinking about the cultural context. A mammy is a caricature that slave owners used, and it shouldn’t have been used by Miley to refer to a black man (or any man tbh).
By the end of the show, I decided the VMAs were a mess, and Miley Cyrus was the worst host that I have ever seen. Her skits and outfits lacked class, it was a waste of my time, and I regret watching it.