Miley Cyrus Wants Something That ‘Feels Black’

An interview with the writers of her latest single gets people talking about blackness and ownership.

Miley Cyrus (Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)
Miley Cyrus (Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)

(The Root) — Miley Cyrus is quickly becoming the poster child for cultural appropriation, evidenced by the dry, questionable “twerking” she’s been doing all over the place. As if that wasn’t enough, she now has a gold grill. And if thats not enough, she’s flat-out going for a “black” sound with her new music, according to Rock City, the writers of Miley’s new single, “Planet IV.” In an interview, they quoted the singer as saying, “I want urban. I just want something that feels black.”

OK, listen. I’m generally all for people doing what they want to do and being who they want to be, but this whole thing just pokes me directly in my eyeball. I have a bit of a problem with people taking from and profiting off of a culture while generally not caring about or giving back to it. Things that are frowned upon and labeled “ghetto” and “ratchet” when black people do them — twerking, wearing gold teeth, getting multicolored weave — are suddenly hip and trendy when adopted by white folk.

This is the problem with the idea of postracial America. The goal of deconstructing race is only evoked when it comes to the privileged having unchecked access to the cultural trinkets of marginalized people. People show significantly less interest in making sure that race doesn’t matter when it comes to things like stop and frisk and unjust jail sentences.

If Miley wants a “black sound,” there’s plenty from which to choose, but she’s not trying to get her Marian Anderson or her John Coltrane on. She doesn’t want black; she wants stereotypical, and judging by this new black costume of hers, she’s going for it full-speed.

Twitter has been talking about Miley’s search for a “black” sound for several hours, and E! News allegedly referring to Miley as a “gold-toothed ghetto queen” has reignited the convo.