‘Those two burnt black women’: Young Thug and misogynoir
09 Dec 2016
This morning, I woke up to the news of yet another rapper parading anti-blackness, something which really should no longer come as a shock but still manages to sting every time.
Having arrived at the Atlanta International Airport too late to check in for a flight to Seattle, the rapper launched a verbal attack on two Alaska Airline attendants, calling them “nappy”, “peasants”, “ants” and stating that “they look like Africans”. The women can be heard asking to not be filmed while the rapper, with presumably his entourage filming the confrontation, mocks them by offering $15,000 in cash for them to quit their jobs. The rapper then took to Twitter with the simple statement of “BTW that message wasn’t to all my Black women…… it was to those two black burnt women” followed by a series of laughing crying face emojis because it was really that funny.
HollywoodLife posed the following question to their readers: “Do you think Young Thug’s rant was vile and cruel? Or was he just letting off steam at not getting to board his flight?” Unfortunately, it’s very plain to any dark-skinned black women that this is yet another case of misogynoir.
Coined in 2010 by Moya Bailey, a black gay feminist American academic, the term describes “the unique ways in which Black women are pathologised in popular culture”; the word encapsulates the unique oppression faced by those who are both women and black. This can range from troubles faced dating as a black woman to having employment opportunities revoked due to your hair or even being refused entry to a nightclub because it favours light-skinned patrons. Misogynoir is when your black womanhood is twisted and distorted into a liability, a hindrance and a shortcoming.
Y’all thought he was so avant garde & liberated cause he wore a dress but he came through with the vicious misogynoir & anti-blackness like pic.twitter.com/T7zEWxL19x
— liquorice (@Neo_url) December 8, 2016
However, what is probably most jarring about this is that it is misogynoir from a black man. It’s difficult to comprehend how someone can level the word “nappy” as an insult to someone when they themselves probably sat between the legs of a female relative when they were young to have the knots in their hair combed out. I struggle to understand how you can derisively snort “they look like Africans” when you yourself are a dark skinned black man who came from the same place as the rest of us. It’s truly a feat to refer to another’s skin as “burnt” because you view them as too far from eurocentric beauty standards (otherwise known as white) when you also find yourself do not meet the criteria.
As explored by gal-dem’s skin lightening series earlier this year, Eurocentricity has left its mark on the cosmetics industry with the constant underlying rhetoric that fairer and lighter skin results in superiority, greater desirability and an all-round easier life. While it can be easier to tune out the racial coding from an industry that is predominately white, it’s a lot harder when openly mocked and scorned by a member of your own race for not having “good” hair and being too dark.
So what happens when one of Young Thug’s daughters, who is by no means light skinned, becomes old enough to understand the diatribe he directed towards two black women just doing their job? The rapper has six children by four different women, ensuring that his children will be a variety of skin colours, no doubt with different hair types to match. What if his darker-skinned children were to develop a complex over the way they look because of the way they see and hear their father treat “burnt” black women? If his rant is anything to go off, what’s to say that colourism or bias doesn’t seep into his style of parenting and whether he treats one child more favourably than another?
After a lifetime of being used to other races dismissing you in favour of those with lighter skin, sometimes you forget that there are those within your own race who have internalised this same anti-blackness. When they remind you in such a jarring fashion, it’s a bitter pill to swallow.