On Sex, Race and Tyga at Harvard

Tyga (Mike Windell/Getty Images)
Tyga (Mike Windell/Getty Images)

In a piece for Manifesta magazine, Joshua Hernández and Rachel Cheong, two "self-identified feminists of color on the Ivy League grind," take on the issue of the rapper Tyga's invitation to perform on their campus. The takeaway: Controversy aside, it's time to come together as a community to fight racist patriarchy. 

Let's start off by acknowledging that Tyga's lyrics perpetuate a form of sexism. His songs are real basic, so what you hear is what you get: glorifications of hypersexualized violence and predatorial sexuality. But the question we have to answer isn't whether Tyga is sexist or not. It's more complex than that.

If we want to talk about Tyga, we first have to talk about how his image as a black rapper is packaged and sold to an American public. The real questions are: What tensions have come up because of Tyga's booking at Yardfest? Why do we care? And what should we do when, as feminists, we disagree about how to answer these questions? …

It's true that we live in a culture that perpetuates sexual violence. It's no less true that black men have historically been brutalized because of the racist assumption that they're sexually violent –– a stereotype that's made big bucks for the music industry. Tyga is a rapper who has been plucked, polished, and repackaged by recording labels to sell a profitable image of black male sexuality, the performer of a racially-charged role that makes him an easy target for mainstream feminist critique …

What we need right now is solidarity. Racist/Sexist/Racist/Sexist. Let's talk about racialized sexism, about sexualized racism. Pitting our oppressions against each other only prevents us from seeing the intersectionality of our struggle, creating divisions when we most need support. This is not about Harvard feminists winning against Harvard people of color. This is about coming together as a community to fight a racist patriarchy, and we can start by recognizing that there are many legitimate ways to respond to Tyga's performance at Yardfest …


Read more at Manifesta magazine.