VMAs: Appropriating Black Culture, but Where Were the Black Winners?

The white musicians who won at the MTV Video Music Awards have acts that are regurgitations of black sounds and imagery, yet none of the televised winners were black, Danielle Cadet writes at the Huffington Post. At Groupthink, Ninjacate explores that theme further by taking on Miley Cyrus' use of black women's bodies as props.

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Justin Timberlake (Stan Honda/Getty Images); Robin Thicke and Miley Cyrus (Jemal Countess/Getty Images)

Several of the white musicians who won at MTV's 2013 Video Music Awards have acts that are regurgitations of black sounds and imagery, yet none of the televised winners were black, Danielle Cadet points out in a piece at the Huffington Post

Everything about this year's Video Music Awards was black, from its Brooklyn venue to Miley Cyrus' disturbing twerking. What wasn't black, however, were the award winners. Zero, count them, zero of last night's televised honorees were black. Janelle Monae walked away with an award for "Best Art Direction" for her song "Q.U.E.E.N." featuring Erykah Badu, but that was off camera.

We couldn't help but notice black culture seemed to be everywhere last night, from Justin Timberlake's crooning sounds and syncopated rhythms to Katy Perry's grill. Lest we forget the majestic Barclays Center located on Brooklyn's very own Flatbush Avenue ...

Let's face it, this isn't the first time black culture has been popularized by white entertainers -- Elvis anyone? But something about it was so obvious last night. It felt like someone took a white bucket of paint and spilled it all over the BET awards. It was messy and offensive, and quite frankly, pretty sad.

At Jezebel's blog Groupthink, Ninjacate continues the theme by taking on Miley Cyrus'  "commodification of black female sexuality" through her lewd interactions with black female dancers, whose faces were covered with teddy bear masks:

See the problem isn't that they talked about slut shaming. That deserves attention. The problem is that they completely sidestepped the other glaring teddy bear in the room, and that is the commodification of black female sexuality in Miley's performance. But it's not a thing that white women deal with, so it didn't warrant inclusion or discussion by the white-led mainstream feminist media ...

What Miley did last night was easily one of the most racist displays I've ever seen. From her insistence on twerking, to her use of all black women as literal props (they were teddy bears) to her smacking of her dancer's ass and the simulation of rimming, it is very clear to me, that Miley thinks that black women's bodies are to be enjoyed, devalued and put on display for entertainment purposes.

Read Danielle Cadet's entire piece at the Huffington Post and Ninjacate's entire piece at Jezebel's blog, Groupthink. 

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