November 9, 2016

ATARISTOTLE | Black Women, Don’t Get Trick’d

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It’s 2016. Donald Trump is the president. Kanye finally dropped an album. The Cubs won the world series. We, as a society, are witnessing the unfathomable before our eyes. And just when you thought life couldn’t get any stranger, it did. Trick Daddy, a Southern rapper known for his club jams “Nann” and “Shutup” from the 90s, recently posted a video on Instagram in which he made racist and sexist remarks which have come across to most as demeaning and degrading toward black women. “These spanish, these white h**s, they just started getting finer than a m****f****r. Ya’ll black h**s better tighten up,” he warns, glaring into the camera. “I’m telling you tighten up. Ya’ll doing all that extra s**t for nothing. You not achieving nothing, b**h. You get y’all a** done, ya tities done, ya paying $150 to get your makeup done just to go to a local club, b***h. Tighten up, h*e. These Spanish and these white h**s getting very spiffy on y’all. They f**k around and learn how to fry chicken you h**s is useless.” To add insult to injury, the following day he posts a photo on social media of two white women in bikinis poking their backsides out with the caption, “Who needs black girls anymore?”

Before anyone starts a riot, we need to provide some background to Trick Daddy’s comments, because despite their gross inaccuracy, shed light on the inherent struggle between varying perceptions of beauty today. In 2016, as African-Americans, we find ourselves in the midst of two main conflicting perceptions of beauty. One perception is based on the resurgence of the idea that ‘black is beautiful’, which emphasizes the uniqueness of natural African physical features and serves as a means of embracing one’s natural self. No matter how light or how dark one is, these features tell the world the following: 1) he or she is black and of African descent and 2) that mere fact is beautiful and empowering.

The other perception I’ve come across states that black beauty has a hierarchy, determined by mixed lineage. The more mixed you are with another race, the higher you are valued or exoticized, while the less of your lineage is of another race, the lower you are ranked. Often people of mixed racial background have an appearance of lighter skin, straighter/less curly hair (“good hair”), and lighter colored eyes which are perceived to be more attractive or desirable. In essence, the whiter you look (and therefore the less black you look), the more beautiful. Essentially, this perception of beauty is based on colorism, which uses whiteness as a litmus test for black perceptions of beauty. Colorism derives from slavery, in which the color of a slave’s skin determined whether he or she worked in the fields in the hot antebellum sun or worked in the slave master’s home. These century-old distinctions have conditioned current black identity and thus black perceptions of beauty. Today, African-Americans oscillate between the two ideological orientations as they age, with younger children sometimes growing up seeing blackness as ugly while older generations have learned to take pride in their appearance and natural features after years of systemic oppression.

Trick Daddy seems to tread along the second perception of hierarchical black beauty. However, by saying “these spanish, these white hoes just started getting finer than a m***f***r”, Trick Daddy is alluding to the fact that white and hispanic women are appropriating more traditional African physical features, making them more beautiful. The Instagram photo he posted the next day of voluptuous white women in bikinis confirms this. In other words, when a non-black person takes on black physical characteristics, their value somehow increases. Then he claims that black women are going through surgery  to further accentuate their natural curves as a failed means to compete with white and hispanic women. The solution: “Ya’ll black h**s need to tighten up.” I find it confusing that he exoticizes white and hispanic women for features black women have, rather than praising white and hispanic women for their own natural features. He doesn’t mention anything about straight hair or light colored eyes. Do you like black women, or do you like other women…who look black? Let’s break this “m*****f****r” down.

First of all, Trick Daddy, women are not ‘h**s’ or ‘b**hs’. They are women, equal to men and I shouldn’t even have to say that. By using this language, he implies that women are commodities to be exploited and seems to suggest that dating white and hispanic women, in a way, elevates a black man’s status. Otherwise, why would he prefer these women if they look the same as black women? Seeing white and hispanic women as an ‘upgrade’ is not a unique idea, but clearly ignorant and can be debated in a different article. Strike one. Secondly, did Trick Daddy ever wonder how these white and “spanish” women are suddenly becoming more voluptuous, in many cases, seemingly overnight? In fact, it’s ironic that he points out that black women are getting cosmetic surgery to compete, when these white and hispanic women are becoming ‘finer’ to him because many are undergoing identical augmentations to compete with black women. Strike two.

It’s also worth noting Trick Daddy’s comments shed light on the double standard of interracial relationships. It’s somehow okay for him to be selective and date women of other races, but black women need to modify themselves in order to be with black men like him, as if black men are their only option. If he woke up, maybe he’d realize we live in a society where there are no rules as to who you can and cannot date–black women can be just as selective with their partners as they are with their hairstyles. Strike three. At this point I’m laughing as I write this article, because I’m sure most black women aren’t even concerned about his comments in the first place. Honestly, his attacking of black women has only made us black men look bad because I surely don’t hear men of other races shouting about how their women need to “tighten up.” Sadly, I have black male friends who would be quick to agree with everything Trick Daddy has said. And at the same time, I really don’t care. They can live as they please.

Trick Daddy’s comments are overall sexist because he implies  that black women’s only values lie in beauty or domesticity. Otherwise, they have nothing else to contribute to society. Let’s not perpetuate this ignorant rhetoric. I’d like to affirm to the world that black women are intelligent. Black women are powerful. And black women of all shades, shapes, sizes and talents are beautiful. Oh, and about that fried chicken comment Trick Daddy made. Just between black women and me, I’d like to be the first to let ya’ll know ya’lls chicken is magical.

And Trick Daddy himself couldn’t deny that.