This weekend, I got caught in the crossfire of yet another Miley Cyrus twerking debate, and I realized that race is a feminist issue now as much as it ever was. For decades (centuries!), the fight against race and gender inequality have been intimately bound together, all the way from Ida B. Wells’s anti-lynching papers, which completely disrupted stereotypes applied to both black and white women, to the public outcry against the objectification of black women in Cyrus’s performances. Tragically, the media continues to over-sexualize African American women.
This week, the feminist discussion of Miley’s VMA performance came to a head in the boycott of Juicy J’s twerking scholarship. Rap star Juicy J officially announced his $50,000 scholarship, which he intends to grant to the best twerker on the internet, and the women over at the Hip Hop Liberation army were immediately outraged. Seeka the Teacha, an Army leader, thinks the competition is “degrading, especially for black women.” Teacha explains her desire for black women to be rewarded for their intellects rather than their dance moves.
The Army is calling for a boycott of Juicy J’s new CD, and I completely understand why. Juicy J is capitalizing on Miley’s exploitation of black female culture (he even featured her twerking in a concert a while back), and he is using the contest to promote his new album. But is the idea of a twerk scholarship really that bad? How would awarding women like the awesome Big Freedia, women who really know how to twerk, be any different from any other athletic or artistic scholarship? I totally agree with the boycotters in that the cultural context for this competition is concerning, but maybe a serious twerk scholarship would help to bring this New Orleans dance into a more respectful light? Twerking at its roots is a form of female expression, not of exploitation and degradation, and a scholarship for authentic, beautiful twerking could be really cool.
What do you all think about the scholarship? About the boycott? Will you be buying Juicy J’s new music? Let us know in the comments section.
Thanks to BET
Photo via BET