Note from BW of Brazil: You know, I gotta say that you never know what you may ending writing about on the internet. I admit, from about the mid 1980s to about the mid point of the first decade of the 2000s I was a fan of Rap music. I liked various forms of the genre from the Jazz-inflected Hip Hop, to conscious and even gangsta Rap. Then after becoming familiar with the best that Brazilian music had to offer, I discovered some cool flavors of Brazilian Hip Hop. But by about 2005, I kind of fell out with the genre because I just wasn’t impressed with the direction that the genre was being taken to. It music (at least the stuff that was played on the radio) was making the art form appear to be a parody of its once original, creative self. Nowadays, if the artist isn’t a familiar voice from the early years of Hip Hop to about the first 25-30 years of its existence, I could very well be listening to a Rap tune and not even know who the artist is.
That would most definitely be the case with the American rapper Azealia Banks. To be truthful, if I’ve heard one of her songs I wouldn’t know it and I know more about her from the various controversies she’s been involved in over the past few years. So when my friend Daniela posted a story about Banks online and I read the headline, I gave it quick glance. I would never have thought that I would be writing a story about Banks but as the nature of story has to do with an online beef she had with Brazilians and the topic of race and racism entered the story…SURPRISE! Azealia Banks made it on to Black Women of Brazil! Maybe some of you have already heard about Banks “taking on the whole country of Brazil”. Let’s first get into what actually happened for those who may not have heard about the story…
Rapper Azealia Banks attacks Brazilians in social networks: “I didn’t know you had internet in the favela (urban slum)”
Seven reasons that Azealia Banks’s history with Brazil is more serious than it appears
Courtesy of R7 and Brasil Post
Azealia gets into another mess
Rapper Azealia Banks doesn’t stop causing controversy in the social networks.The rapper, who has already had fights with Katy Perry, Rihanna and Lady Gaga, began 2017 starting with a new mess – this time involving singer Sia and thousands of Brazilians. After publishing a video in a place where she sacrifices animals for her religion, she was criticized by celebrities like singer Sia and also by other internet users. The images she posted were considered very strong for social networks.
The singer Sia was annoyed with the video and posted a critique on Twitter:
Banks soon responded to Sia
From there, fans of Sia came out in defense of the singer, disapproving of the rapper’s response. The confusion between the singers soon earned many comments from Brazilian fans on Azealia’s networks – including racist attacks.
In the sequence, the rapper called the Brazilians who attacked her “abnormal” and “stupid immigrants”.
Azealia was also criticized by some Brazilians, since she has a good fan base here. Except that the rapper was furious and came out attacking her fans in comments on Facebook.
“When are all of these third world freaks going to stop spamming my page with broken English over things they know nothing about. It’s hilarious to be called a “black whore” by a white Brazilian. Did they check their economy first tho?!”
After many fans became upset because of her comments, Azealia continued and the situation got worse.
“I didn‘t know they had internet in the favela”
It was enough for thousands of Brazilians to make jokes about Azealia and creating a hashtag – that would get the profile of the rapper on Twitter suspended on Tuesday (3).
For many, this story has shown the power of the Brazilian jokes on the internet. However, some people drew attention to the severity of the episode of racism and misogyny suffered by the artist.
Here are just a few of the racist attacks made by Brazilians:
“This disgusting black, Azealia Banks, should die sacrificed too, but not even the devil wants her, because no one likes ‘neguinhas’ (little black girls).”
“Azealia Banks??? I didn’ know that in the ‘First World’ monkeys spoke?!! I’ll give you a banana so you can calm down. PS: I hate racism but she deserves it.”
“Tell Azealia Banks that in the third world favelas there is internet. I wanted to know if she has it in her slave quarters also…”
“Wow, Azealia is calling the LGBT community racist and misogynist, who does this monkey whore with hard hair think she is???…”
“Wow, I wake up and see this monkey Azealia trending….”
“Azealia Banks thinks that it’s ok to criticize someone, that circus monkey.”
“Who is Azealia Banks, to speak bad of Gaga, this stinking black with the face of a monkey!???????”
“Azealia Banks a monkey that flopped”
The rapper ended up deleting her comments.
Azealia performed in Brazil in June 2016 in São Paulo, and at the time was impressed by the energy of the Brazilians. She has also become interested in Brazilian singers and follows Ivete Sangalo, Anitta, Ludmilla and MC Carol on social networks. In addition, Azealia wrote on Twitter a list of places she wants to see before she died and Bahia is in first place.
The rapper is always asking for Portuguese tips for her fans.
Many fans have commented on the controversy on social networks.
“It’s not right for Azealia to suffer prejudice because she is black and because of her religion. This is horrible and wrong! But nothing gives her the right to fight against bad things by using more bad things, being sexist, elitist and prejudiced.”
“Brazilians have always supported Azealia. This is one of the places in the world where she has more fans and she treats us like that? You need to review your concepts.”
“You don’t fight prejudice by using prejudice. Azealia is out of control!”
“I stopped defending Azealia. As long as she doesn’t learn to respect, she will never be taken seriously.”
But then came a selection of tweets from people who – despite not agreeing with Azealia’s position – drew attention to the unnecessary racist and misogynist attack that she, a woman and black, suffered.
The first points out how racism is ignored
“You all ignore racism in many situations. The case of Azealia is one.”
The second speaks on misogynist and racist tones
“Azelia talking shit does not open brackets for you to be misogynist and racist”
I wanted this force of will and unity of the people to overthrow Azealia Banks to be the same to fight racism, machismo and lgbtphobia
One wants to know if racism doesn’t in this discussion matter?
– “White gays are racist against Azealia”
– “Azealia is an ass when responding”
– “All of BR unites to defend”
But racism fucks you, right?
Another believes it’s no use complaining and also cursing
“It is no use complaining about the racism/prejudice of Azealia and calling her a monkey, as I saw friends posting on her face(book)”
Another asks if her attitude justifies misogyny and racism?
“Is azealia banks an ass? Yes, very much so. Does this justify misogyny and racism? No. No, it doesn’t.”
“I won’t comment on Azealia Banks. But pay attention to one thing: Nothing justifies RACISM and MISOGINY. Period.”
As opinions on the controversy continued to roll in, some black Brazilians adopted a decidedly more militant stance and stood in solidarity with the controversial black American rapper seeing similarities in the way that white Brazilians treat black Brazilians with that of the way they attacked Banks.
Cesar via Denise: “Reflecting…Before being Brazilian. I am black and the Racist Brazilian States always hated blacks. So, a Black patriot For Brazil is eternally deceiving, Brazil is a white man’s Land and that loves whites! And I will defend the black woman, yes, I’m on Azealia’s side…agree with the racists? Never!”
Claudia: “A Globo TV (trash) reporter ended up affirming that the rapper Azealia Banks offended Brazil, she only didn’t say that the fact occurred because “white” Brazilians were attacking the rappers’ profile in the same way that they do to famous black Brazilians, who here go to the police, register a police report and remain with the said by the unsaid. They don’t like being called monoglots.”
Lua with Carlos:
“Know your racist Brazilian-ness”
On the Azealia Banks case and if she went beyond the tone or not I only have to say:
One. Since when is it that Brazil and the countries of the third world exploited by descendants of snow, by the countries of the first world, in collusion with their cousin deliverers (many of them little offended by the post) from here are not really favela? If she had said that to a guy from here it would be very erratic, a colonial disease and we would solve this among us. But if she “cursed” white brazookas (Brazilians) to me it doesn’t matter. Solidarity zero. It does not bother me or affect me. Our people DID NOT CREATE FAVELA, we were pushed and crushed in it and bravely RE-EXIST IN IT. At most I would not give whites the title of favelados (inhabitants of favelas) because not even what their ancestors created for ours is worthy of these people. The favelados are our people, the best of this slave ship country. But she didn’t call them slum favelados, she said “she didn’t know they had the Internet in the favela.” But tell me was she not playing master calling whites favelados? Why were they offended? I leave it to the family, reflect.
Two. I am not a Brazzzilian, I am an African in the forced Diaspora, more appropriately exile of the soul, for countless previous generations plundered in this Brazil. I want more than the slave-holding descendant elite and middle class to burn in the fire of the misery of weapons that their genocidal policy points against me and my equals.
That is all. Happy 2017! Hotep (Peace)”
Note from BW of Brazil: So, how do you see this whole controversy? Was Banks wrong? Were the Brazilians who insulted her wrong? Does this all even matter? Well, as I wrote in the intro, I’m not a Banks fan and the only reason I’m even analyzing this situation is because of the racial overtones it quickly descended into. First, as a person who considers himself pretty well informed on both American and Brazilian matters, I will say I DO take issue with a few of things that Banks said both because they come across as very condescending on the one hand and a but ignorant on the other. I’m not really sure if she was joking in her comment about not knowing that favelas had internet. Was she insulting those who were harassing her by implying that they lived in favelas? Did she make the comment because she noticed that those who were attacking her racially were Brazilians who most likely were/saw themselves as white?
Another thing is that, as much turmoil as Brazil is politically and economically, the comment Banks made on the Brazilian economy could easily be leveled at the US as well. Anyone who has studied the US situation just in the past decade knows that that economy is also nearly on life support, trillions of dollars in debt, suffering from a constant hemorrhaging of jobs and future that is pointing at the biggest economic collapse in the world’s history. Don’t believe it? Well that’s another topic that goes beyond what I’m discussing here, but let’s face it, the writing is on the wall!
What I really want to analyze is the racial turn that the dialogue took on. Of course this blog is literally filled with the everyday racist comments that white/near white Brazilians make every day about its own black populations, but was it necessary for them to delve into racist insults against Banks? Some may say, well, she started it by insulting Sia. But wasn’t that a squabble between Banks and Sia? OK, but then you say that Banks provoked the comments because she insulted Brazilians. My thing is, Brazilians will swear up and down that they, meaning blacks and whites “are all equal”. If that is true why do such racist insults roll off of the tip of the tongue, or in this case, keyboard, so quickly? Insults comparing Banks to a monkey as they do so often with Afro-Brazilians. If they are in fact not racist, they wouldn’t have even had the thoughts or vocabulary to insult Banks in a such a way.
What I find very intriguing here is a shift among some black Brazilians in terms of how they see race and nationality. Social scientists have long argued that one obvious difference between black Americans and black Brazilians is that black Americans tend to identify themselves as black first and American second, while black Brazilians identify themselves as Brazilian first and black second (that is, of the Brazilians of African descent who see themselves as black in the first place). But what we are seeing nowadays due to an ongoing process of consciousness raising is that some black Brazilians are starting to identify themselves with a struggle against racism/white supremacy from a more diasporic perspective. As black Brazilians are coming to the conclusion that whites in Brazil can be just as racist as any other group of whites in the world, some are beginning to see a common struggle with other African descendants around the world. Yes, Banks may have made some ridiculous comments about Brazil, but through everyday experiences with Brazilian styled racism, (some) black Brazilians see that they may have more in common with Banks than with their whiter-skinned countrymen. Let’s be clear that this solidarity with the African Diaspora rather than Brazil doesn’t represent all black Brazilians for sure. But it again symbolizes a rising shift in the politics of racial identity.
And all of this because of a controversial American rapper? Naw….Not really!