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“I’m tired of seeing black women be supported only for social media to decide that it’s time for them to go when they haven’t done anything wrong,” writes VOX ATL staff writer Zariah Taylor. “Black women are not animals who you can misuse anytime you want to be entertained, and we do not have an expiration date.”

Art collage by Zariah Taylor

Blacklisted: How Black Female Artists are Being Persecuted By The Media

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On September 3rd, 2019, Lizzo’s sleeper hit, “Truth Hurts” reached the number one spot on the Billboard Top 100 charts. This was a huge milestone for the singer/rapper, as the achievement gave her the honor of being the sixth female rapper to reach number one as well as making “Truth Hurts” the longest-running Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 by a solo female rapper. Along with her other singles such as “Juice,” “Good As Hell” and “Water Me,” Lizzo was on a solid run with continuous career wins to show for it. Many black women, including myself, rooted for Lizzo to continue moving up the ladder of the music industry.

It took only three months for almost all of Lizzo’s support to shatter. It happened when Ari Lennox went on Twitter to express her frustration with being snubbed at the Soul Train Awards. Her album, “Shea Butter Baby”, lost in the Album/Mixtape of the Year category to Lizzo’s album, “Cuz I Love You.” Although Ari stated that her intent was never to, “shade other nominees,” people still took Ari’s outrage as an excuse to tear Lizzo apart.

 

It didn’t help Lizzo’s case when only a day later, the Recording Academy released the Grammy Nominations, with Lizzo leading with eight nominations. You would think that Lizzo would be receiving overwhelming support from the general public for this amazing accomplishment. However, the nominations only garnered even more hate towards Lizzo as many felt she wasn’t deserving of the honors. Some of the hate even included jokes that referenced Lizzo’s weight.

“UNPOPULAR OPINION: She’s overrated,” says one commenter on social media.

“She’s overrated,” says another.

“Are we listening to the same music?” asks another commenter.

“Lizzo is an industry plant idc.”

“Lizzo fat ass is not a rapper.”

“Can you f*cking believe Fat Lizzo got nominated for a grammy?’

“I ain’t even know Lizzo made music I just thought she was fat,”

“Lizzo wouldn’t be Lizzo if she wasn’t fat. It’s just that simple. Ain’t sh-t about her soulful except the type of food she eats.”

Lizzo should be on top of the world right now and drunk with happiness from all her success this year. But instead, the same people who were once rooting for Lizzo to succeed or bopping to her songs are now turning on her. 

As a fellow plus-sized black woman, I was pretty disappointed by the reactions that Lizzo faced all over social media. However, that disappointment was soon replaced with deja vu. I’ve seen this pattern over and over again. A talented underground black female artist slowly starts to pick up ground in the music industry. She is initially rooted for and starts to slowly build a solid fanbase. She gets big and rides the waves of success for a while.  Eventually, the general public gets tired of her and some controversy causes people to turn against her, including her former fans.

Take Ari Lennox for example. Before this year, Lennox was a relatively unknown R&B artist signed to J. Cole’s Dreamville label. Many members of her fanbase rooted for her to reach mainstream success. It wasn’t until the release of her album “Shea Butter Baby” that she was launched into relevance. Lennox went on to be recognized by Billboard, Rolling Stone, NPR, GQ, etc. However, Lennox’s frustration-fueled twitter rant about her loss at the Soul Train Awards caused a lot of controversies. Very quickly, many people, including fans of Ari, felt as if she was acting entitled by expressing disappointment about the loss. The criticism she received only reinforces the fact that black women are not allowed to show emotion or be upset without being cast as angry or stuck-up.

Summer Walker’s rise and downfall is almost an identical scenario. Summer Walker was the rising R&B artist of 2019, further evidenced by her album becoming the most streamed album by any R&B artist.  However, her reputation started to soil when nasty rumors arose claiming that  Summer was unhygienic. However, the real stench is the stench of ignorance that reeks from the public conscience. Summer, who has always been open about her struggles with social anxiety, recently has received criticism for expressing her emotions. A multitude of insensitive jokes have popped up all over social media, most insinuating that Summer is over-exaggerating her anxiety. Yet again, the general public is taking black women’s emotions and weaponizing it against her.

Ella Mai, another black woman who previously dominated the R&B scene, was torn apart when she publicly criticized and took legal action against male singer Jaquees for taking her song “Trip” and profiting off of it for his remix. Ella, who only made a claim over her own art, suddenly was villainized and treated like an entitled brat. The girl who formerly controlled the charts had been turned into the bad guy in a matter of months.

Kehlani, is yet another successful black female artist who became popular due to her hit songs, “Crzy,” “The Way,” and “Gangsta.” However, it didn’t take long for rumors to take hold. Many people started saying that Kehlani had a body odor due to stereotypes associated with her tattoos and piercings. The rumors became so popular that Kehlani herself had to deny the rumors publicly. In many ways, these rumors damaged Kehlani’s reputation. 

Megan Thee Stallion has taken the world by storm with her fiery rap skills. Initially, people loved Megan as she served as a fresh face to the female rap scene. However, as soon as the general public got tired of her, many criticisms arose, ranging from her fashion choices to her personality. Megan went from female raps next it-girl to being picked apart for her every misstep.

I could keep going with even more black female artists. Is the picture becoming clearer now?

The point is, the general public is starting to have a nasty pattern of using black women as entertainment only to throw them away as soon as they’re tired of them. The sad thing is, black people are complicit in this. Instead of supporting our own artists who are putting on and representing us well, we so easily turn on our very own. 

I’m tired of seeing black women be supported only for social media to decide that it’s time for them to go when they haven’t done anything wrong. Black women are not animals who you can misuse anytime you want to be entertained, and we do not have an expiration date. Black women do not exist only to please you until you decided that you’re bored of us. 

And to black female artists, this is your year. And the year after that, and the one after that. Keep doing you because the time of the black woman will never be up.

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comments (2)

  1. Nia McKenzie

    Thank you for shining light on this. THANK YOU THANK YOU. All of the ladies are talented and beautiful and hope all of them are able to push past this dark time where they are tored down by their own sisters. Its digusting. Its wrong. Its disrespectful. I really enjoyed your blog. I hope see more of you around. We need more sisters like you preachung unity and support.

  2. Pam

    Well let me say I’m rooting for you my young sister!
    I’m almost 52 and remember following the music industry in my 30’s.
    This vicious cycle you’ve described continues to distract us from the individual talents of all of our artists. It’s the same poison we keep drinking to avoid processing our own insecurities. Who are we too inject our expectations on an artist?
    I loooovvvesss me some Jill Scott, Lord knows I do. But Jill don’t owe me ****! Unless Jill asks me my opinion, my only expectation of her is to keep developing her craft and sharing the experience with her audience. To me, that is what being a fan is to me.
    I clicked on this article because until I saw the criticism at the Houston game, I didn’t know black folks were tripping. I saw other artists backing her up like Janelle Monae and I thought we’re showing Lizzo her due. Your article however speaks to my conscience in that too many of us still don’t celebrate the full spectrum of who we are as a people.
    But is reassuring to know young women like yourself are here to shed clarity for the people.
    You’re on point with Lizzo. Personally, I have been rooting for her for a while now. She’s an excellent live performer and her presence will endure. She can crossover and that may feel threatening.