Sunday, March 25, 2012

Is Katy Perry Racist?

Womanist Musings is a blogsite which I follow. Like any blog site, it is impossible to agree with the opinions of every post.

Katy Perry recently performed a cover of Kayne West and Jay-Z's song Ni**as in Paris. WM says:

"If a song includes lyrics that you cannot say without being accused of being a rabid racist, you would think that this would be a sign that your White ass should leave it alone."

BBC Live Lounge

"So she changed the word nigga to ninja and that supposedly makes it alright?  Umm fuck no.  It's still gross cultural appropriation and seriously who needed to hear this in the first place.  I am sick and tired of White people stealing from people of colour. We don't need your take on our culture, our music, or anything else that belongs to us. The entire culture is built around Whiteness and yet that is not enough for them, nope anything that clearly belongs to a culture of colour has to be up for grabs as well. Perry can go and fuck herself."

If you're a White person who enjoys this song, must  you should stay away from it? I dislike the n-word immensely. When I hear it, I think of the KKK, lynchings, separate water fountains, slavery, and segregation. But if I'm a person who admires and enjoys a song that uses that word it only makes sense that I would replace the word with something else.

There are several songs that I enjoy that have the n-word within it. If I am to listen to one of these songs, I do not want to repeat and essentially practice the song in my head. Certainly I will replace it with something else.

I do not believe that hip hop belongs to people of color as WM suggests. And which color? Can Latino and Latina individuals enjoy this song and replace the n-word with "ninja"? I am a woman of Mexican and Caucasian decent. Where do I fit?

I do think that it is important for those of us who are not Black to look back. To understand that so many forms of music stem from Black culture. From hip hop to rock n' roll. Even so, I believe music is for us to share. It is a vital part of our life that often brings various cultures together.

Whether you like or dislike Katy Perry's rendition of this song, I believe that she has not disrespected Black culture.

 WM is essentially telling us that White folks are not allowed to enjoy songs which inhabit the n-word. It is unfair and non-sensical that she should think that she can police individuals in this way.

When a person of a culture which I do not share, speaks their mind, I find it important to pause. Or sometimes to just sit down and shut up. To listen. To understand that there are some things that I do not understand; being that I am not from that community.

One could say that because I am in a place of privilege as I am aesthetically White, I have the luxury of ignorance. Ignorance is bliss right? Well, I have examined WM's words. I read her post over and over. In the end I have determined how I feel. What I feel is concrete. 

Additionally, I've got to say that her use of profanity does add to an intelligent argument. She is a writer whom I respect, but I tend to shut down when people start throwing dart comments.

I'm not an admirer of Katy Perry's music but I think she can sing this song to her heart's content.

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