A few nights ago, Macklemore gave an extensive interview with Hot 97. In it, he spoke about being a successful white rapper in a historically black genre. He spoke at length about what he said was white privilege and how it afforded him certain opportunities that aren’t always extended to black rappers. I strongly recommend that you watch it- all of it – I find it really touches some great points on the subject. I am also adding a few excerpts from the Complex article “We need to stop talking about Iggy Azaelia” that sum up its most important points in my opinion.
“We need to stop talking about Iggy Azalea. (…) We don’t need to stop talking about her because she’s white. But we need to stop talking about her because her whiteness has granted her a privileged position in a conversation about race that we’ve been having all year, and in all that talking, we’ve learned nothing and changed nothing.
And now, as the year closes, we are still talking about her when she shouldn’t be the story at all; when talking about her comes at the expense of Azealia Banks, and what Azealia Banks has to say about the music industry and the world we live in is way more important that anything Iggy Azalea has ever said.
Despite releasing her long-delayed debut album, Broke With Expensive Taste, to significant critical acclaim, Azealia Banks is likely better known for her caustic and combative social media presence, which has seen her exercise no amount of chill. (…) Yet, in a recent interview with New York’s Hot 97, she was able to soften the corners of her argument with a tone and level of humanity missing from her online outbursts. Even through Ebro’s unnecessary interjections and condescension while trying to prove to be the smartest person in the room; even though Peter Rosenberg played the informed everyman while trying to make it all about him, Azealia Banks refused to be a black girl lost in the shuffle. She refused to be who we all thought she was. And she had the nerve to talk about the kinds of macro observations of the industry that are akin to bringing up abortion rights over holiday dinner with the in-laws. More insightful than inciteful, she was all over the place, touching on industry politics and revenue streams (she’s happy to be independent and deal with her fans directly via the Internet forevermore), media conspiracy theories and race (“We have Eric Garner, Mike Brown and Trayvon Martin, and y’all fucking talking about Bill Cosby, like, what the fuck?”), the classification of hip-hop and the swagger-jacking of black culture—even bringing up reparations.(…)
“There are huge corporations that are still caking off that slave money,” she said. At this point, she broke down. Her voice cracked. She choked. There were tears, and she could barely finish her next thought: “At the very fucking least, y’all owe me the right to my fucking identity and to not exploit that shit,” Banks demanded. “That’s all that we’re holding on to—hip-hop and rap.”
If her identity as a black, non-heteronormative woman isn’t the intellectual fulcrum of her worldview, the interview proves that it’s her emotional one. Many of her strongest statements sprang from this center: “It’s like a cultural smudging, is what I see,” she said when discussing the Grammys. “And when they give these Grammys out, all it says to white kids is like, ‘Oh, yeah—you’re great, you’re amazing, you can do whatever you put your mind to.’ And it says to black kids: ‘You don’t have shit. You don’t own shit—not even the shit you created for yourself.’”
It’s not a surprise that this part of the argument has been glossed over by just about every non-black outlet speaking on the interview—because that’s how white supremacy works. White supremacy is not always hidden under white hoods, advertised via Aryan tattoos or announced with a skinned head. Those things are definitely white supremacist signifiers, but equating them to white supremacy (…) misses the point that white supremacy at its core—even at its most benevolent—is simply about putting the white experience front and center.
A discussion where Azealia Banks literally cried that everything she had has been taken from her, that the only thing she has is what she creates—even that very conversation is taken from her and given to the white woman. (…)
Put her in the pop category. Put her with Katy Perry, put her and Miley Cyrus in the same fucking box together. Don’t put her in hip-hop. Just because she’s not singing does not mean it’s rap music. —Azealia Banks
(…) Azealia Banks wasn’t making things up. For some time now, the trend has been for white women to culturally appropriate via black-leaning visuals and code words in order to jumpstart an album into the pop sphere. This initial campaign is almost always followed by abdication of any allegiance to black culture, loudly echoed by a muteness on black issues. Azealia Banks said she was tired of it. Unfortunately, she said this in the year of Iggy; it’s the year where we learned everything and nothing. Hopefully, next year we’ll learn to stop talking about Iggy Azalea and start talking about Azealia Banks. Because, even though we should always talk about poseurs in the public sphere, we should never, ever be talking about the imitator at the expense of the original.”