Nicki Minaj is a black female rapper who embodies femininity and masculinity at the same time. The pink outfits, girly attire, and colorful wigs and weaves are all metaphors of Nicki challenging society’s perception of black womanhood. Her being a “Barbie” is her speaking to a generation where black girls and women have never grown up to believe they were “barbies.” Barbies where only for white girls with pale skin while black girls only dreamed of being the blond barbie.
In a world where white women with blond hair dominate beauty, Nicki comes in and appropriates white womanhood by putting on the outfits and wigs. At the same time, Nicki embodies masculinity by saying, “Yes, I am a woman. I’m sexy, feminine, and appeasing to the male gaze, but I’ll still blow your heads off.” The lyrics and her style of rapping says it all. Nicki reclaims the femininity that has been denied from black women for centuries.
Nicki is not afraid to show she’ll bust a cap in a niggas ass if he disrespects her. Nicki is not afraid to stand up to women who doubt her and put her down. As imperfect as she can be, she gets the struggle of being a black woman. She gets the gender roles and misogyny that black women everywhere have succumbed to one time or another. Nicki is far from perfect or un-problematic, but Nicki’s creativity is right on the money. Nicki is a black feminist/womanist because her music and style combats misogynoir and gender roles. Although not always politically correct, Nicki is actually a good source for feminism/womanism and black female sexual liberation. Aside from other acts like Lil’ Kim and Queen Latifa, Nicki Minaj is our modern day black hip-hop feminist.
When I think of feminism and Hip Hop this is the first song that comes to mind. Salt-N-Pepa came into the rap game when no women were getting respect as emcees. Came strutting in heels and spandex and slayed the game. Respect their gangsta.
At the heart of our generation’s ambivalence about the f-word [feminism] is black women’s historic tendency to blindly defend any black man who seems to be under attack from white folks (men, women, media, criminal justice system, etc.). The fact that the brothers may very well be in the wrong and, in some cases, deserve to be buried under the jail is irrelevant even if the victim is one of us. Centuries of being rendered helpless while racism, crime, drugs, poverty, depression, and violence robbed us of our men has left us misguidedly over-protective, hopelessly male-identified, and all too often self-sacrificing.
What does it mean to have a sun-drenched intimate cathedral of space created for the questions Black girls want to ask? What does it mean to have a 21st century sacred place for their 400-year-old, my-mother-was-not-inferior-and-I- am-not inferior-either attitude? What does it mean to have a shrine of a place for the way a Black girl wants to shake and move? This is not blasphemy. This is Solhot.
This is the meeting house, where the soul and the eyes of Black Girls connect. This is the Black girl praise house, where the heart and heel, glide in. This is the open door where straight girls come eye-to-eye with gay girls and don’t always say the right or kind or politically correct thing, but learn to not look away from each other.
This is a place where incense, the perfume of the ancestor’s, alerts Black girls that they have not entered yet another house of distorted mirrors, but a room where the eyes of others, different and similar to her own, give back a reflection of truth, something real she can hold on to, where she, Black girl, just might appreciate and fathom other divine, good, and possible things about herself.
Nikky Finney, Poet Excerpt from “Pinky Swear”, in Black Girlhood Celebration: Toward A Hip-Hop Feminist Pedagogy