This past week, nominations for the MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs) were announced and Nicki Minaj took to Twitter to point out of the systemic inequalities that exist in many spheres of the US, including the VMAs. She tweeted about how if she were a different kind of artist, her video Anaconda would have been nominated for a lot more awards (including video of the year). Minaj implied that if she had been white, more nominations would have happened for Anaconda.
If I was a different “kind” of artist, Anaconda would be nominated for best choreo and vid of the year as well. 😊😊😊
— NICKI MINAJ (@NICKIMINAJ) July 21, 2015
After a bit of Nicki Minaj tweeting about racism within the music industry, Taylor Swift jumped in and tweeted about how she had done nothing but support Minaj over the years. Swift seemed to take Minaj’s tweets as a very personal call out, tweeting:
@NICKIMINAJ I’ve done nothing but love & support you. It’s unlike you to pit women against each other. Maybe one of the men took your slot.. — Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) July 21, 2015
However, Nicki wasn’t passive aggressively calling out Taylor at all but was instead addressing the issue of racism within the music industry and how black women hardly ever get credit for the hard work they do that impacts culture. Ellie Woodward wrote an article over on Buzzfeed talking about Nicki Minaj’s faved tweets show the reason reason for the Taylor Swift “feud”, many of which address the cultural impact of the Anaconda video, how Taylor totally missed the point, and how the media started painting Nicki as an angry black woman and Taylor as the innocent white woman in the Twitter fight.
(Janet Mock’s below tweet was so great at pointing out the racist implications of the imagery that was being used in reports of the fight and asked for the imagery to be reversed.)
Dear @EW: Let’s reverse the imagery & not uphold the #angryblackwoman stereotype. pic.twitter.com/INNPP4Az90
— Janet Mock (@janetmock) July 21, 2015
Nosheem Iqbal wrote a great article about this issue over on The Guardian, highlighting the main points of what Minaj was tweeting and how the debate is much bigger than Swift’s ego. Among so many other things, Iqbal wrote that:
The broader point Minaj is making is clear: throughout music history, black women aren’t recognised in the popular music canon in the same way their white counterparts are. As Minaj tweeted: “If your video celebrates women with very slim bodies, you will be nominated for vid of the year … I’m not always confident. Just tired. Black women influence pop culture so much but are rarely rewarded for it.”
And oneofthosefaces wrote another amazing thinkpiece about the feud, talking about how Taylor Swift is still not a feminist, and brought up so many other great points. At the beginning of the article, oneofthosefaces highlighted that Minaj wasn’t taking jabs at Swift (like so much of the media seems to report) but that Minaj was in fact talking about the racism within the music industry, saying that:
… let’s be clear about who Nicki was talking about when she was indirecting. The ‘Anaconda’ video, which Nicki felt was deserving of a Video Of The Year nomination, snatched the VEVO record from Miley’s ‘Wrecking Ball’ (which did earn a VOTY nom) and reclaimed black women’s bodies for black women… after Miley spent the whole of 2013 building an adult career on the back of strapping on a fake booty and twerking her way to stratospheric success. If you rundown Nicki’s tweets and retweets, she was drawing parallels, not suggesting any of this year’s nominees had taken her spot. Her argument was specifically about the difference in the way white bodies and black bodies are portrayed. It’s an argument she’s made before, when she compared “acceptable” white girls in bikinis to her “unacceptable” ‘Anaconda’ cover art.
The good news is that Taylor Swift did finally apologize to Nicki Minaj for making the entire situation about her, although I do think that’s an exceptionally low bar. Instead of reacting to Minaj’s tweets and making a conversation about systemic inequality about her, Swift should have asked herself many questions and should be reading up on intersectionality to become a better feminist.