I came across a headline some time ago, ‘Miley Cyrus Wants to Be White Again’.
An older article written of her said, “The twenty-one year old, after performing ‘Party In the USA’ simulated giving oral sex to a backup dancer dressed up like Bill Clinton." One music video showed her sitting naked atop a wrecking ball. And yet written in another article, “Miley Cyrus left her Melbourne audience stunned when she took her wild antics a step too far, flashing her private parts, legs akimbo, staging a mock orgy and straddling a giant hotdog at her Bangerz concert.”
Had these incidents occurred during a white hiatus? And if she indeed ceased being white, what was Miley when she was in the midst of her smutty marathon?
The implication - she was ‘being Black.’
I take exception with this. I find no parallels in vulgar, druggy, hyper-sexualized behavior with Blackness or Black culture. Further, I believe some of the journalists who lambasted her so-called ‘cultural appropriation’ actually co-signed her raunchiness as that of Black culture.
What I saw in Miley’s shameless antics was similar to Madonna’s provocative persona decades ago. When Madonna released a coffee table book ‘Sex’ which depicted her naked throughout (including multiple images of her simulating sex), she was called the ‘Queen of Obscene.’ No one associated her behavior then as anything other than an artist testing boundaries, pushing limits and simply being outrageous. Madonna was not ‘being Black.’
25 years later, Miley comes along also using shock as entertainment as others have done before her. She was simply a young entertainer trying to dominate headlines as entertainers do.
Equating her brazen behavior with being Black is unfounded. Sure there are provocative Black entertainers, but there are also plenty who aren’t and we do not define the whole by a part. And to suggest that a Caucasion woman’s scurrilous actions are “being Black’ is defining the entirety of Black culture as just that.
We must not give our children (nor accept ourselves) the designation of Black culture as obscene, derogatory, demeaning or profane. Not only is this inaccurate but it negates our unlimited capacity utilized in the establishment of North America.
I’d promised months ago that this blog was forthcoming. The reason I took so long before publishing is because I always want to be clear in my writing. It is important to me that I exhaust every possibility for the reader to truly understand the intentions in my words. Therefore all of what I write undergoes multiple revisions and seldom am I truly satisfied before publishing.
So, I want to be clear, this is not an ‘anti white’ article. I have no time to waste on that sort of content. But this is an article to bring attention to the ways in which we, Black people, allow ourselves and our culture to be defined.
I teach the youth in urban areas with which I work that there is no monopoly on good living. Therefore, the Asian store owners in their communities are not the only ones entitled to thriving businesses in their communities. The neighboring communities with clean streets and the absence of drug ravaged addicts mulling about do not have exclusive rights on peaceful communities.
But when we accept the assignment of dirtiness, inferiority and vulgarity to Black culture-we not only discard our group pride but we collectively assume a substandard regard for ourselves and our condition. And this is unworthy of respect.
My grandmother always taught me that I had to respect myself first before expecting others to do so. And if we lack respect of ourselves, we compel no one else to do such.
I believe that we do a great disservice to our culture when we parallel debauchery with Black culture. There was no appropriation in Miley Cyrus’ behavior. Well, there was no Black appropriation.
Therefore the intention of this article is to remind us, Black people:
1. to be discerning in that which we assign and accept as ours
2. to reject as openly and loudly as necessary any and all mis-assignations to our culture.
In doing so, we cause others and ourselves to qualify that which is attributable to us. Because, without any quality control, we permit our culture to be the dumping ground of any incendiary actions other groups refuse to accept as their own.
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Nurah strives to enlighten, empower and engage her readers with the wealth of knowledge she has gained from her own experiences and those of others from whom she has learned.