The now iconic scene from America’s Next Top Model in which Tyra Banks screams at ousted contestant Tiffany Richardson, “I was rooting for you! We were all rooting for you!” sums up my feelings about Harlem rapper Azealia Banks.
While Banks has been spot-on in calling out the entertainment industry for its anti-Black racism and sexism, her problematic–often offensive–rants make it really hard to pull for her in a real and public way.
For every well-placed jab she took at Iggy Azalea for co-opting Black culture, Banks also casually dismissed, or even flat-out dissed, other communities that would likely have her back if she wasn’t so obtuse and preoccupied with being a badass on social media.
Back in February, Banks took to Instagram to defend her use of the word “f-ggot,” after many called her out for being homophobic.
While her reasoning seems uncomfortably close to white folks trying to justify their use of “n-gger,” Banks still continues to use the word. This time, she was caught on camera lobbing it at a man on her flight.
According to Banks, the man hit her in the face and prevented her from getting off the plane, but witnesses told TMZ a different story.
A passenger sitting next to Banks tells TMZ, when the Delta flight landed just before 1:00 AM Tuesday, Azealia made a beeline for the front door. She had been sitting in seat 6A but a French couple in the 3rd row was blocking her exit as they pulled their luggage from the overhead bin.
The eyewitness says Azealia tried to squeeze by the couple when the French man put his hand out. Azealia, we’re told, went nuts. The eyewitness says she spit in the man’s face, punched him in the face and clawed at his shirt.
At that point we’re told the flight attendant grabbed Azealia’s bag and told her to calm down. She lost her balance, fell to the seat, stood up and then a tug-of-war over the luggage ensued. This is where the video begins.
While it’s unclear which version of the story is true, Banks’ problematic reaction–hurling the f-word–is one reason it’s difficult to rock with her.
Even if Banks’ version is correct, employing a homophobic slur isn’t the way to tell someone off. She could have called the guy an asshole, a jerk, a racist (if she felt that’s what he was), but a “f-ggot”? Seriously? C’mon, sis.
To be clear, I’ve been watching Banks’ career for years, and I want(ed) her to win. Her position as an outspoken, brown-skinned Black woman in an industry–and world–that prefers whiteness/lightness made me root for her. On top of that, her music is brash, bold, and a necessary breath of fresh air.
But as Banks has continued to make problematic statements on social media about gay folk, access to abortion, and immigration, while engaging in random beef with 50-leven people, it makes it increasing difficult to cheer her on.
I hope this is merely a phase Banks is going through; after all, she’s only 24. But if she continues on this IDGAF-about-anything-and-anyone path, soon folks will treat her as a mildly interesting sideshow and stop listening.