Azealia Banks’ recent twitter beef with Zayn Malik and Skai Jackson got her Twitter account suspended. I don’t really need to rehash what happened, but I do want to talk about the framing of Azealia’s disposal as this demonized ain’t shit-ass Black femme.
Suspending her account on Twitter speaks volumes to how we silence Black women and femmes who are inconvenient and deemed problematic. There are literally neo-Nazis, white supremacists and anti-Black folks spewing violence and slurs all day every day that go unchecked. But suddenly the cure and end-all-be-all to racism and violence is removing Azealia Banks off of Twitter? What, girl? I can’t. I never could.
The way that Facebook, Twitter and Instagram operate by only policing Black women and femmes is very intentional and strategic. When Instagram reported Rihanna for nudity but allows white women to post what ever they want, no consequences — it was clear that sexualizing Black women and femme bodies is seen as grotesque and indecent while whiteness and white sexuality are protected. Similar to when Facebook reported my status on Stacey Dash being problematic — I was reported for explicit content and breaking Facebook community guidelines cause I also used the word “nigga” in it. Sigh. This is a pattern, and it’s an echo of the white supremacist capitalist world we live in.
Regardless of what she said and did, Azealia does not deserve to be silenced or have her Twitter snatched from her. I say this because Black women, femmes and girls don’t always get it right, nor do we always do right even when we get chance after chance. But our stories, our pain, our histories always deserve another chance. Does that chance inherently mean that everyone has to like us? No. Does that space given mean that we’re incapable of harm and violence? No. But we deserve the space to evolve, grow and change because we have never been given chances, the benefit of the doubt or the humanity to be multidimensional, complicated people.
None of what I’m saying excuses or gives a “pass” to what Azealia has done. This isn’t about the specific harm she has done, but rather our responses to the Azealias and the other inconvenient Black people in our life that are seemingly toxic or harmful. Personally, I don’t believe that Azealia is inherently toxic — I think her hurt and her power shows up in different ways that may conflict with our expectations, desires and ideas of safety and comfort. But even if you don’t agree and you don’t have time for Azealia anymore, she is still not disposable, y’all. And if this is about protecting Skai Jackson, remember that we can hold space for Skai and Azealia without having to sacrifice one of them to move through this current political discourse and trauma.
We must question why we’re so quick to cast people away like being wrong is so one-dimensional and so permanent; as if our mistakes, our decisions, and our behaviors exist within a vacuum. Trauma evolves into daggers. White supremacist violence turns our survival into clapbacks. Dragging people when the world is constantly taking from you, draining you, stealing your work, eating off you is a reality for Black femmes like Azealia.
What if Azealia’s wrong doesn’t look like our version of wrong? What if Azealia’s survival conflicts with our survival? What if the hood femmes of the world without an arsenal of social justice language and specialized healing mechanisms only know how to make it by harming other people so they don’t get harmed? Can we complicate how our experiences do not lead us on the same path of woke-ness? What if we never get better? What if Azealia never changes? Where do all the inconvenient Black women and femmes go?
Community seems conditional — as if it only extends to people who act the way we want and perform to our convenience. We cannot dilute liberation to dichotomies of right vs. wrong, disposable vs. valuable. It doesn’t work that way. Moving through pain doesn’t work that way. This work will never be easy and it will not always feel good. And we will not all share the same physical, emotional or political spaces.
What if we didn’t see her commentary as pure vitriol but as a complicated discourse of pain, projection of the fucked up shit she’s experienced and protection for herself? What if we complicated everything Azealia said and see her beyond making us uncomfortable/ hurt? What if we didn’t push the narrative that black femmes can only win if they ether/drag another black femme? Who determines when/if we get held, when/if we get another chance, when/if we get forgiveness, when/if we get to be seen?
So often, the only way we mitigate trauma and pain is by leaving people behind or engage in call-outs that end in disposability. But when can we move through trauma enough to hold both Azealia and Skai? To hold the Black people Azealia harmed while also asking questions about how we got here? What does accountability truly look like for Azealia?
If we’re not considering the fact that there are millions of Azealias surviving and navigating our personal spaces off the internet that are never held or seen, or even talked about — there’s a huge political and personal disservice we have maintained. Azealias exist in our personal lives, and how we handle and hold space for those people speaks volumes about our personal survival, political ideology and ideas about accountability.
Again, this isn’t inherently about defending Azealia and what she said, did, or been done. This about recognizing that Azealias are everywhere in our communities and have said worse shit, no receipts or Twitter @’s. I just wonder if compassion exists for them, for us, for her in different contexts.
Let me be clear, though: I’m not asking for all black women, girls and femmes to hold space for Azealia Banks. I’m asking that we stop shaming the idea of still holding Azealia for those of us who have the capacity to. I’m asking that we make room for ain’t-shit-ness for Black women, girls and femmes when it hurts, when it’s inconvenient, when it’s not easy. Because if we don’t … Where do all the ain’t-shit black women and femmes go?