How the Nicki Minaj & Taylor Swift Twitter Beef Showed the Differences Between Black & White Feminists


So the MTV VMA (Video Music Awards) nominations rolled out yesterday, and shortly after, things got a little…well a lot heated on Twitter. Nicki Minaj, who felt she’d been overlooked, took to the social network to express herself. Unexpectedly, Taylor Swift had something to say (to Nicki) as well.

These tweets, apparently set off an alarm in Taylor Swift’s head because she responded to Nicki, even though Nicki had never even mentioned her name.

The tweets, which have now been deleted, went a little somethin’ like this–

Then, Nicki responded with:

Ok. Were you able to take all of that in? Yea, took me a while too. So if you’re wondering what all the feminism talk is about, let me break it down for you.

1. Taylor Swift claims to be a feminist. As does Nicki Minaj. Feminist rule #1, do not discredit other women’s LIVED experiences. By Taylor derailing Nicki’s experience, she actually showed how bad of a feminist she really is. She also accused Nicki of pitting women against each other…which isn’t at all what Nicki did. Her beef was with the music industry, not with any particular artist.

2. To piggyback off of #1. Because of Taylor’s white privilege, she automatically made Nicki’s tweet about herself. Although Nicki never mentioned Taylor, Taylor assumed, (in true white privilege fashion), that the tweet was about her, centering herself, and making herself the victim, when in fact, Nicki felt that SHE was the victim of a larger institution that is the music industry.

3. Taylor’s Swift’s thoughtless kind of feminism, which we’ve seen a lot throughout history from white feminists isn’tΒ  intersectional at all. Her natural reaction was to silence Nicki as opposed to trying to get to the bottom of things. That is why, for many years, Black women have preferred to call themselves womanists.

Some of you may also remember actress Patricia Arquette’s recent Oscar acceptance speech, in which she called on Americans to stand up for equal rights for women in the United States of America. That part wasn’t so bad. But what she said backstage raised a red flag:

Β β€œSo the truth is, even though we sort of feel like we have equal rights in America, right under the surface there are huge issues that are at play that really do affect women. And it’s time for all the women in America, and all the men that love women and all the gay people and all the people of color that we’ve all fought forβ€―to fight for us now!”

It then became clear that when she said men and women, she did not mean…people of color. She also made herself, and other white women around the world out to be the saviors of all people of color. That made Black feminists & womanists around the world a little uneasy.

4. The white savior complex–speaking of that…this tweet says it all.

Instead of Taylor standing by Nicki’s side, as she made very accurate and valid points about racism in the music industry, she offered “If I win, please come up with me. You’re invited to any stage I’m ever on.”

In the words ofΒ  Anne Theriault, a feminist blogger for the Huffington Post:

I cannot emphasize this point enough — the idea that those who are being helped ought to be consulted over the matters that concern them. The idea that, before we do anything else, the best and most important work that we can do is to listen to marginalized people, give them a platform from which they can reach a wider audience, and use our platforms to help amplify their voices. This is the real work that we should be doing. Anything else — any other way of “freeing” women of color — is at best condescending and colonialist and at worst downright harmful and dangerous.

5. That takes me to my next point, which is appropriation and using black women as props.

Now let’s be clear. Appropriation is NOT the act of white people doing something that black people more commonly do/have created, etc. It’s when you take it, with little to no knowledge about it, and use it for your own personal gain, usually not acknowledging where or how you got said thing that you are copying. That was Nicki’s point here:

Via Corrine Redfern of Marie Claire:
To put it simply: When Britney Spears got naked and covered herself in sequins for Toxic, she was nominated for Best Music Video. When Emily Ratajkowski got naked next to Robin Thicke in Blurred Lines, he was nominated for Best Music Video. When Miley Cyrus stripped off and broke a million health and safety rules by riding a piece of construction equipment, she wasn’t just nominated for Best Music Video of the Year – she won it. All of the above videos have been controversial, but they were acknowledged by the industry for their impact nevertheless. But as soon as Nicki Minaj – whose black body deviates from Caucasian beauty standards – dares to own her own culture and dance in a similarly provocative fashion, it’s glossed over and relegated to sideline categories of ‘female’ and ‘hip hop’. Meanwhile, white artists who adopt black culture as their own (*cough* Miley Cyrus *cough*) continue to reap professional awards. And it’s time to stop pretending that that’s OK.

6. Then the mainstream media, who chose to paint Nicki as the aggressor, also chose to uphold the negative “Angry Black Woman” stereotype, while painting Taylor as a damsel in distress.

Many of the other images have since been deleted, namely one tweeted out by media mogul Ryan Seacrest, that showed Nicki in a harsh, angry light. Transgender talk show host and LGBTQ activist Janet Mock fought back, setting one popular media outlet straight–

And of course, the rest of Twitter put in their two cents.

So to sum this up, I think it’s pretty clear that what Nicki said isn’t a falsehood at all. She spoke up about a very important issue, and I’m not even her biggest fan, but I think she deserves some credit. I think it’s important to note the dynamics of the situation, and really consider how everything played out from start to finish. Feminism should be about the progression of all women. It shouldn’t be reserved for only those that are rich, thin, and white. If you are going to call yourself a true feminist, Taylor, I think you better brush up on womanism so you can figure out how all of this went left so damn fast.

As far as Nicki? Baby girl, just keep standing by your word. And tell the haters:


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