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Shut up about Kreayshawn being racist

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by Kelly McClure

In the last few days I’ve gotten into two very intense debates via Facebook about whether or not Kreayshawn is a racist.

Naturally Facebook would be the perfect forum for such a topic, as it would for a debate about any number of things that could also be neatly listed under the heading “stupid crap”, but it’s also a forum where you can type the most well-thought out point ever and still be presented with a response that’s the equivalent of “just because”. The most common, negative opinion of Kreayshawn is that she’s a racist, privileged, appropriating, female misogynist. You’ll primarily only encounter these opinions coming from the mouths and furiously typing fingers of women however, and do you know why that is? Because women are taught to turn a questioning eye towards any other female who has, or is doing, something that she herself doesn’t have or do – and because men don’t give a shit. And whyyyyy don’t men give a shit? Because if Kreayshawn was a male artist instead of a sassy white broad, she’d be called The Beastie Boys, and there’d be nothing to talk about. And because literally every male rap or R&B act that’s come out in the past 10 years did exactly what Kreayshawn is attempting to re-create for herself now and received NO flack for it. More than an argument about possible racism and appropriation, this should be peeled down to reveal what it’s really about: nasty ass bitter haters. Or, to put it in a more civilized way: girl on girl abuse.

When approaching any debate, on ANY subject, be it peanut butter to the collected works of Maya Angelou, you need to go in to it with the understanding that everyone in the world is WAY more sensitive than they should be in order to lead a healthy life or have a rational conversation (myself included) and that if you’re having a discussion with women about another woman, you need to be ready for rebuttals against why the woman in question is or isn’t “crazy”, or “a hipster”, or “a bitch” because these are the standard labels given to girls that make other girls foam with, and let’s just say it clearly right now, jealousy.

In case, after all this, you’re reading this and not even aware of who Kreayshawn is, she’s an Oakland, California based rapper who’s song ‘Gucci Gucci’ has reached viral success over the past month. In the video for the song, Kreayshawn and her friends flit around town talking about how “standard ass hoes” wear such labels as Gucci, Fendi, Louis Vuitton and Prada, but that she and her friends don’t need to, because they’re cooler than that.  With her in the video are clusters of African Americans who are referred to as being ornamental by those who are on team “Kreayshawn is a racist”. This is curious to me because I wasn’t aware that having friends outside of one’s own race, or wanting to include other races in your artistic works was ornamental. Seems like sort of a racist thing to say if you ask me. I mean, isn’t hanging out with, and working with other races pretty much the dictionary definition of NOT a racist? I mean, it’s not like she has them doing her laundry or serving her drinks in the video, they’re just hanging out and doing what any other popular rap outfit enjoys doing, smoking pot and talking about “snatching all your bitches”.

Taking on the terms being pinned on Kreayshawn one by one, let’s start with “appropriating”. The dictionary definition of appropriation is: to take without permission or consent. Put into the context here, it seems that people have a problem with a pretty little white girl taking on the tone, swagger, subject matter, and style of what is commonly associated with African Americans. To that I say: and so is every other person you see walking by you on any given day, from the streets of New York to the grain fields of rural Illinois. This planet is nothing BUT appropriation. We take on elements from other races and cultures, elements that we value and appreciate, and incorporate them into our personality map. Granted some people do this in a douchey way and some people don’t, but there’s no getting around it, and there’s also nothing wrong with it. I can so easily bring up a recent memory of a friend of mine who’s from Kentucky getting all bent out of shape and calling another girl an appropriator because that girl (who was not from the south) had started using “ya’ll” in casual conversation. Seriously? Take an aspirin. Do you know what happened the last time a group of people tried to maintain the fine lines of cultural traits? Hitler.

The claim that Kreayshawn is perpetuating misogyny is another issue that pops up often. The definition of misogyny is: hatred, dislike, or mistrust of women. Well first of all, if I was a new female artist who was trying to carve a name for myself in a strong out spoken way, and going into the world to creatively make my own money without the help of a spouse or government assistance, and being met with swarms of ladies on the internet calling me a misogynist and a racist, I’d be distrusting and disliking that shit too. Really though I’ll go back and point out that although hosing down the world with more talk of smacking hoes and shooting bitches isn’t exactly the coolest thing to do, she’s not doing anything different than any other male rapper. The argument, “Well she should know better because she’s a female” just doesn’t cut it because 1) she’s allowed to talk about whatever the fuck she wants and will make her money whether you’re crying about it or not, and 2) These are songs we’re talking about. If every artist was judged and prosecuted based on the acts they performed in their songs, every artist would be behind bars for life. Shit, even Simon And Garfunkel wrote about getting high and smoking crazy blunts.

Kreayshawn isn’t a racist, she’s just another artist who is being paid more than any of us will ever be paid in our lives to do and say the things we wish we could. I would look like a damn idiot fluffing my feathers up and down the street and talking about having “swag coming out my ovaries”, just like I’d look like an idiot wearing a cowboy hat, or with newly formed dreadlocks, or participating in a drum circle (all things that could be pinned with appropriation) but somehow she could most likely pull all this off, and more, and that’s why SHE just signed to Sony Music and I didn’t. I know, I know, it stings, but I think that maybe if we focused on how to gracefully accept the achievements of others, and use them as inspiration for working towards our own, we’d get more out of it than calling people who we’ve never met, and never will meet, a racist bitch. (Just because.)

25 Responses to Shut up about Kreayshawn being racist

  1. timothy June 17, 2011 at 2:44 pm

    She also shouldn’t be unaccustomed to punk provocation; her mother was in the trash women in the Bay Area.

  2. Ian Rogers June 17, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    I think anyone could be jealous of how well she dances with two drinks. I’ve never found that task especially easy or subtle but she really makes it work.

  3. Wallace Wylie June 19, 2011 at 1:54 pm

    I think perhaps if she were a guy she’d be Snow as opposed to The Beastie Boys. Or Mr C.

  4. sleevie nicks June 20, 2011 at 10:40 am

    if you sync up the kreayshawn album with the movie mississippi burning it matches up, so kreayshawn might actually be racist.

  5. Naa Naa June 22, 2011 at 9:11 pm

    “I think perhaps if she were a guy she’d be Snow as opposed to The Beastie Boys. Or Mr C.”

    Nah ah, she has more talent, than the one-off Snow.

  6. casemods June 24, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    Who cares, she’s a low-class oakland bitch

  7. cryptid June 26, 2011 at 12:10 am

    You may find this article to be an interesting read, and a different perspective from your own (if you haven’t read it already, that is):

    http://crunkfeministcollective.wordpress.com/2011/06/06/on-kreayshawn-and-the-utility-of-black-women/#comments

    :-)

  8. Joey June 26, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    As a man (yes, you read that right), I have serious issues with Kreayshawn. You can look at this at the very shallow and individual-level that you do (aka – people are jealous), or consider a very complex and sensitive past of race in the United States. White performers – from the minstral era and probably before – have historically stolen the cultural goods of black people and made them safe for white audiences, all the while caricaturing their culture to a lowest common denominator that often feeds into the worst stereotypes of black people. Explain to me how a woman named Natalie who takes on a very black-sounding name and raps about bling, drugs, bitches, and guns is not doing this very thing? And no, “she’s allowed to talk about whatever the fuck she wants” is not a good answer.

  9. Kelly McClure June 30, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    Joey –

    “Made them safe for white audiences.”

    So you feel unsafe around the “cultural goods” of black people then? Because I don’t. And I don’t think Kreayshawn does either. No one “good” belongs to any one “culture” and you’re living in a very small box if you choose to think otherwise.

  10. Anonymous July 1, 2011 at 5:25 pm

    Joey-
    “Explain to me how a woman named Natalie who takes on a very black-sounding name and raps about bling, drugs, bitches, and guns is not doing this very thing?”

    Are you saying only black people are allowed to have these types of names and they are the only group you think of when you think about bling, drugs, bitches and guns? Way to look like a racist trying to point the finger at someone else who YOU THINK is doing the same thing.

  11. Jed July 13, 2011 at 4:36 pm

    Also, Joey is right. Look if you enjoy this then fine but don’t try to defend its cultural value. As far as I’m concerned this is post-modern half-snarky/half-serious cartoonizing of hip hop culture by a hipster white girl. If the Beastie Boys had continued on doing stuff like “Licensed To Ill”, history would have remembered them similarly, but they didn’t, then made “Paul’s Boutique”, which is a hip hop masterpiece, even if I stopped listening to it years ago. If you don’t find her smarmy shit obnoxious then I probably don’t want to hang with you.

  12. Jed July 13, 2011 at 4:44 pm

    I love post-modernist identity politics. “I AM WHAT I SAY I AM BECAUSE WHATEVER I SAY….IS. IF I SAY I’M AN ELEPHANT, EVEN THOUGH EVERYBODY ELSE LOOKS AT ME AND SEES A DONKEY, I AM STILL AN ELEPHANT BECAUSE I SAY SO. BE CHILL BROS, DON’T JUDGE”

  13. Katie July 20, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    I do think you make a solid though debatable argument against Kreayshawn being a racist. Hip-hop has become so conflated with some idea of “hip-hop culture” that you can’t really create the former without trying to inhabit the world of the latter or wear the guise of someone who does, and since hip-hop culture is more of a commercial product that exists at a distance from any real lived experience that you could call, say, “Black America,” her appropriation/use/embodiment of the hip-hop culture and its tools is not an imitation or black people per se, but anyone who participates in hip-hop. When she boldly comes out with lyrics about basic hoes and doing drugs, she is imitating Eminem just as much as she is imitating Lil Wayne.

    However, you really fall short on your argument that she is not a misogynist. In fact, it doesn’t appear to me that you try to make an argument at all. First, you justify it and seemingly give reasons why she SHOULD hate women. Then, you say that she’s just like any other male artist who perpetuates misogyny (I agree), but argue that she has the right to and we shouldn’t put her in prison. Don’t you think I could be of the opinion that she is perpetuating misogyny without being of the opinion that her right to free speech should be suppressed? You seem to be purposely avoiding the subject because you have no argument against it. “I don’t give a fuck” is perfectly fine to say, but don’t dress it up like you’re disproving the point when you simply aren’t.

  14. Rick August 3, 2011 at 7:45 am

    Katie is pretty on point about the misogyny angle. You basically said “who cares? those guys over there are misogynists and nobody complains about them” except…we do…well not “we”…but “they”…i too am perfectly ok with misogyny in lyrics…but only b/c i dont think objectification is the same as misogyny despite their complex and intertwined relationship

    i dont think most people “hate” women…i think people hate the way gender roles affect them…objectification is common though…if the roles were reversed…misandry would be a bigger topic…masculinism wouldn’t sound ridiculous and all that jazz

    but it is appropriation…but the significance of appropriation, gentrification, is being muddled by years of repetition and apathy…so yea…i could care less but only bc i dont see the point in fighting the losing battle

  15. Breanna August 8, 2011 at 7:29 am

    what the hell.?? she aint racist.!! stop hatin.! :)

  16. kevin erickson September 27, 2011 at 3:47 am

    It is a very very fucked up thing for a white person to tell people to “shut up” about racism.

    Kelly, nothing in this article suggests in the slightest that you’re interested in actually paying attention to what people’s actual arguments are!

  17. Naa Naa December 10, 2011 at 8:11 am

    “and that if you’re having a discussion with women about another woman, you need to be ready for rebuttals against why the woman in question is or isn’t “crazy”, or “a hipster”, or “a bitch” because these are the standard labels given to girls that make other girls foam with, and let’s just say it clearly right now, jealousy.” I’ve followed the criticism …. and think it’s actually young (black) males who are hating on her the most …..

  18. Naa Naa December 10, 2011 at 8:13 am

    “I think perhaps if she were a guy she’d be Snow as opposed to The Beastie Boys. Or Mr C.” Um, no, she’s actually far more creative, than a Snow …. The problem is that she’s not a particularly good singer ….

  19. Naa Naa December 10, 2011 at 8:15 am

    “http://crunkfeministcollective.wordpress.com/2011/06/06/on-kreayshawn-and-the-utility-of-black-women/#comments” Bullshit.

  20. Naa Naa December 10, 2011 at 8:18 am

    “White performers – from the minstral era and probably before – have historically stolen the cultural goods of black people and made them safe for white audiences, all the while caricaturing their culture to a lowest common denominator that often feeds into the worst stereotypes of black people. Explain to me how a woman named Natalie who takes on a very black-sounding name and raps about bling, drugs, bitches, and guns is not doing this very thing? ” The culture has been around in the mainstream since about the 70′s, you are deluded if you think it is all and only about “black” culture now, it’s a multicultural culture …. since a couple of decades.

  21. Karah February 2, 2012 at 6:12 am

    @sleevie nicks: ROFL x 100

  22. C. June 12, 2012 at 12:37 am

    A white woman telling other people to shut up about another white woman being racist.

    Surely that’s not an unfortunate choice of title.

  23. Marie September 11, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    I don’t think she’s a racist, but I do think she’s a poser who is more a gimmick than anything else.

    “she’s just another artist who is being paid more than any of us will ever be paid in our lives to do and say the things we wish we could.”

    Oh yes.. SO brave! Cut the crap. The most annoying argument is to excuse someone is to say that there are miles of other douche bags in the world and as a woman, she has the right to be just as lame.

    No, I don’t agree. If the message was to point out the fact that these idiots exist, that’s one thing. If your aim is to be just as bad as them, then congratulations, you will be just that.

  24. Golightly September 11, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    To my English eyes she looks like a Scally which the northern England word for a Chav. Please check this out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chav
    Chavs are almost always white in the UK. As is this singer. I know the whole subject is fucking idiotic, but I thought when I saw her first- “wow she looks cool and she sounds cool too” but my immediate thought was that she was an especially stylishly dressed Scally with and American accent! I thought that was unique and different…
    except that I had already listened to Bunny Holiday records so I was already used to Kreayshawn’s vague sound and vibe as it’s so similar. BH is not an American Scally to me though, she’s a leotard wearing american apparel model who makes odd music with pop levi sometimes.
    And isn’t she dressed like Amy Winehouse on a particularly chavy day but with added wow factor to her look? Correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t Amy Winehouse er ‘appropriate’ her sound… because isn’t it all about being influenced by whatever inspires you and whatever you love?
    What’s the difference? http://img.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2008/01_03/AmyChav2BIG_468x608.jpg
    Popularity? Credibility? Or is it because Amy was so busy destroying herself that no one felt the need to do it for her?
    Kreayshawn is cool and talented and I want to be as cool as her again coz I used to be once upon a time and she’s got me all inspired. But I didn’t read this article until just now because I didn’t know who she/he/it was and felt I’d need to hear someone accuse her/him/it of racism before I was compelled to hear why such a thing should stop. Anyway, glad I read it coz it’s full of good tunes and inspiring fashion. And Kreayshawn is cool. Not many people are.

  25. Yeun July 31, 2013 at 3:08 pm

    I must really be out of the loop – I thought the “Gucci, Gucci” video was a spoof…

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