**There is some racial language used in this piece that some readers may find upsetting.**
I don't usually write pieces like this here, I guess this blog is fairly light-hearted in that sense, possibly to a fault. But the events of the last two days have had me thinking far too much to not write this piece. You'll have to excuse my writing style, I know it's not the easiest to read.
As i'm sure most of you are aware, Azealia Banks went on another one of her Twitter tirades last night. This time against ex- One Direction heartthrob turned solo artist Zayn Malik. The beef started with Azealia pointing out the apparent similarities between his new music video and one of her own music videos. She received some nasty and racist abuse from Zayn fans, as we've come to expect from his hardcore, mostly young, 1D fandom. Then Zayn responded with his own tweets (which he later denied being directed at Azealia at all
Now I know that in recent years Azealia has become more well known for her Twitter rants than for her songs (which is a shame because a lot of them are absolute bangers), but why aren't we talking about this woman's mental health? I'm no expert on Azealia Banks and i'm certainly not a mental health expert either, but it seems clear that she needs help. And soon. I can only assume that the Angry Black Woman trope that has plagued Azealia's career is responsible for the lack of attention that has been given to the downward spiral she appears to be on. When Britney Spears and Amanda Bynes went through their issues, discussions about their mental health were at the core of media reporting. While it was a disgusting circus in both cases, it was accepted, as a given, that there was more at play.
Although Azealia has been pulled up for homophobic language in the past (which at one point she apologised for, an apology it seems she has doubled back on), she has been outspoken about white supremacy and cultural appropriation and was a proud, self-proclaimed 'pro Black girl'. She was angry, yes, but rightfully angry... As many Black people are. She took Igloo Australia to task. She called out racism and colorism in hip hop, the music industry and the media in general. She didn't mince her words and her fiercely pro-Black stance did not endear her to the Western media. A Black woman like Azealia doesn't fit into a box. In a society that refuses to accept the idea of multiplicity in the Black identity, you cannot be a pro-Black, long purple weave wearing, festival rocking, outspoken, alternative, flower crown wearing, crude lyrics spitting, dark skinned Black woman. Those things cannot exist within the same person.
The point of alllll this is that, as is the case with so many Black women, the angry, evil Black bitch narrative does not allow her public persona any hint of vulnerability. Everything she says and does is taken as evidence of how animalistic and uncivilised she is. The unpredictable and uncontrollable Black woman. The bad Black woman held up in the media as an example to the world of the kind of Black woman society doesn't need and shouldn't accept. If we cannot see vulnerability than we do not need to admit that there is a possibility that someone is struggling with their mental health. Even if there is an overwhelming amount of evidence to support the claim. The notion of vulnerability is confined to whiteness, to women like Britney and Amanda. Not dark skinned Black women who have been openly critical of white society.
When I first saw what Azealia had been tweeting to Zayn Malik and later Skai Jackson and others, I had the same knee jerk reaction as most people. I condemned her and felt disappointed and betrayed. 'She's gone to far now' I thought 'the point of no return'. But then I started thinking about things more critically. I referred back to the inspiring things she used to say. I wondered how a woman who used to make so many spot on observations about race and power in the western world could have fallen into extremely racist and homophobic internet trolling. How can she could be endorsing Donald Trump for president when she used to mock him? How she can she be tweeting that she was bleaching her skin because she is tired of watching other light skinned celebrities get ahead? How could she be arguing with a 14 year old black girl and making horrible and personal comments about them?
This is a tired Black woman. A publicly vilified Black woman. A Black woman who has endured both subtle and overt racism throughout her entire career. A talented Black woman who has been overlooked and dismissed. A beautiful Black Woman. And clearly, a vulnerable Black woman.
White society grinds down the self-esteem of Black women and then hangs us out for our public crucifixion when we finally snap. I truly believe that Azealia needs help and support and as PoC we owe it to her and to ourselves to protect that outside of the hideous white narrative that is trying to destroy her (google it, look at how these articles are being written, look at the pictures of her most of them are using). When we abandon Black women like Azealia Banks we engage in the work of white supremacy. I for one am not trying to do that, even when it appears that trauma and underlying mental health issues are manifesting themselves in such a horrible way!
These words of Malcolm X were bought back into public discussion recently when Beyonce featured the on her visual album 'Lemonade', they feel all too relevant here today xx