Nicki Minaj calls out the racist double standards black women face in new interview
Rapper Nicki Minaj — who's built a career not just on her lyrical genius but also a message of self-empowerment — doesn't have time for your racist double standards. In an interview with Marie Claire, Minaj spoke out about the unfair criticisms slung her way that white women are largely exempt from.
Minaj recalled the perfect case in point: Kim Kardashian West's now-infamous nude selfie.
"When Kim Kardashian's naked picture came out, [Sharon Osbourne] praised it, and my fans attacked her for being such a hypocrite," Minaj told Marie Claire. At the time, Osbourne tweeted out her own nude selfie, writing that she was "inspired" by Kardashian West and felt "#Liberated." Meanwhile, when sounding off on the cover image of Minaj's 2014 single "Anaconda," Osbourne had said on The Talk, "That looks like a cheap porno cover of a DVD... I love women's bodies. I love nudity, but that is cheap."
The hypocrisy isn't lost on Minaj.
"So it wasn't trashy and raunchy when a white woman did it, but it was when a black woman did it?" she asked Marie Claire. "It's quite pathetic and sad, but that is my reality, and I've gotten accustomed to just shutting it down."
Every time Minaj has had to tackle these biases, she's done so in a laudable, straightforward manner — but people tend to muddle her message.
When Minaj didn't receive a video of the year nomination for "Anaconda" for the 2015 Video Music Awards she wrote on Twitter, "If your video celebrates women with very slim bodies, you will nominated for vid of the year."
Singer Taylor Swift ended up igniting a feud with Minaj when she interpreted the tweet, which was aimed at industry's subtle racism and body normativity, as solely a criticism of herself.
Of course, these double standards go deeper than any one artist. Fans of Minaj's music need only pay attention to people's response to the rapper's lyrics for a glimpse into the way Minaj's reclamation of her body and sexuality gets misinterpreted.
While discussing Minaj's lyrics in August, Ohio State University women's, gender and sexuality studies professor Treva B. Lindsey told Mic that her listeners hear every line "through the lens of sex," which means Minaj is often seen solely as a sexual object.
"People denigrate Leslie Jones as somebody they don't want to have sex with — it's this offensive, deplorable way of talking about her body," Lindsey said. "But with Nicki, it's this exclusively hypersexualized 'You think you have access to her body,' and Nicki is always having to confront that."
But when she does, Minaj doles out the clapbacks with such precision, they're masterworks in and of themselves.