I’ve been trying to avoid saying Miley Cyrus’ her name all week. And considering it’s Friday, I almost made it.
So much has been said, written, debated, and hashed out already about Cyrus’ MTV debacle, that I felt there was nothing left to say (and damn sure nothing I wanted to add). But an interesting essay by Tanya Steele of Shadow & Act made me consider talking about ol’ girl.
In “The End of the White Girl” Steele argues that Cyrus’ antics illustrated all that is wrong with white women who attempt to appropriate Black culture.
I reside in Brooklyn for a reason. Black women run Brooklyn. There are wed mothers, unwed mothers, black women with the fiercest natural hairstyles, permed sisters who let it fall just right, well-educated and high school educated black women. I see an array. Black girls who are partnered up with hipster black boys, Black women who are partnered with hipster white dudes. Lawyer and Doctor black women, fast food working black women- the range. Black women populate the streets of Brooklyn like flowers blossoming in a well-manicured garden. This I love. This is Brooklyn.
So, when I saw Miss Miley & ‘the black music thief’ bring their circus to Brooklyn, I thought- nope, not here you don’t. The backdrop that is Brooklyn was the backdrop for this performance. People were able to see through the charade because of where Miss Miley was. I immediately saw this performance as the end of the “white girl”. This was a feeble attempt to resurrect the shallow, vapid white girl-ness that america has paraded before us for decades. It is clear to me, it is not working anymore.
Lindsey Lohan, Britney Spears, Paris Hilton and now Miss Miley illustrate that it is not enough to be a “white girl”, you have to come with something else. See, even our white girls and women in Brooklyn don’t parade their whiteness as a badge. The white women of Brooklyn are understated. The ones who do try and parade their vaginas as the center of the universe, vintage their vamp. The idle, cute blonde who simply has to toss tits or vagina Marilyn Monroe style- isn’t working, anymore.
While I understand Steele’s sentiments, I continue to reject the notion that what Cyrus was doing was jacking Black culture, instead of merely making a complete fool out of herself.
Though many have called her performance a modern-day minstrel show and continue to wring their hands over her seeming appropriation of Black culture, what I saw was s sub par performance by a former child star that may very well lead to the end of her career.
Although I differ with Stele’s premise that Miley’s struggle-twerking signals the end of White girls behaving badly (note: not “Blackly”), I can get behind her when she notes that we are in an era of women (Black, White, Latina, Asian, other) forging ahead to tell interesting, authentic stories. She highlights Issa Rae (Awkward Black Girl), Lena Dunham (Girls), and Piper Kerman (Orange is the New Black) as proof that people are clamoring for high-quality, diverse stories from women across the color spectrum, and I agree.
Instead of worrying about Miley’s antics, we need to focus on encouraging and supporting women who are being innovative and creative, not merely trolling for relevance by pandering to what she feels is hot.