Branding Cultures

Earlier in the semester we discussed the reading Whiteness as Property where the claims were made that the characteristic of being white resembles property because there are certain rights and privileges that come along with being white and there are certain functions that whiteness allows a white individual.  These functions are important because they include the right to enjoyment, right to reputation, and the right to exclude. I completely buy into the idea that whiteness is a form of property. There are examples in modern society that uphold this notion and show that minorities also recognize that whiteness is viewed as a desirable trait.

One of the most recent examples of whiteness as property comes in a widely publicized feud via Twitter. Iggy Azalea and Azealia Banks had several exchanges via the media over how race has played a part in Iggy’s recent rise to fame. Azealia Banks posited that Iggy Azalea’s success is largely due to the fact that she is a white woman, claiming that Iggy isn’t better than any … black girl that’s rapping today. What do we make of her claims? I buy into them. Iggy has no defense for herself other than claiming that Azaleah is trying to make Iggy’s success a racial or political matter (more on that here). It is racial and political, though, isn’t it? Instead of taking time to realize the position that she has been afforded in such a short amount of time, she has chosen to assert that it is all from her own hard work. Now I’m sure that she worked hard. However, did she work any harder than women in the same position that just so happen to be of a different race?

Iggy’s race has given her privileges and rights that other black female rappers, as pointed out by Azealia, have not been afforded. There needs to be dialogue around that. Instead of embracing and discussing the cultures in America, it appears to me that the new trend is for white celebrities to put their name on something that others have labored over. Sound familiar?

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13 thoughts on “Branding Cultures

  1. I wish that we could say that this is a specific instance where this ocurred, however as we all know this is not the case. When looking at whites and how they let others do the work to just come in and take the credit it seems that this happens more and more as time goes on. This example is a perfect showing of such an incident, but there are so many more in the less pop cultural world that go without attention on a daily basis. I would love to see some kind of statistics if possible of whites who come to a job and take the place of someone who came before them who was of a minority and how the white person was able to take the job over and then does one thing right and gets all the credit. I know that in the entrepreneurship business there are hundreds of blacks and other minority people who work hard to achieve their dreams and goals. The second that they cannot achieve these goals not because of their talent levels or experience it seems as though we see whites come in to “help” this help is more often than not just a racial barrier that those minority members cannot get their ideas across to all of the public just based upon race. The white members then help bridge this gap which can be seen as a benefit for those minority entrepreneurs because they are finally increasing their economic gains that they wished they could have alone. The sad truth though is that once these white members do come in and help it is as if they are taking over power and become the control units for whatever the ideas may be. This in turn causes the same situation as we see here with the two rappers and how one gains fame by her skin color while the other had to work the hardest to get the same fame. There is nothing that can be done to avoid this situation in my opinion because it ultimately comes down to not the workers themselves but the public because their opinions matter the most.

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  2. I think this is really interesting, if you think about it as Iggy trespassing on a genre of music that is attributed to blacks. While I agree with your thoughts about Iggy potentially using her whiteness as a means to fundamentally be better than her fellow female rappers, it brings into question why there is an assumption that in order to be a successful female rapper you must be black, and any whites who attempt to make in the ‘rap game’ are outsiders. So it seems to me that each genre of music have an assumed racial label. From this I wonder if one can find racial dominance in other forms of entertainment, such as professional sports and other high-earning professions.

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  3. First, in response to Nick, I completely agree! I think that the media can be both a gift and a curse because it does shed light on important issues that need attention; however, at the same time this means that there are other issues that are not being covered. Unfortunately pop culture is given a lot of attention because it is more entertaining. I would assert that this racial issue was only publicized because of the element of “drama” that accompanied the racial aspect due to the language and the manner in which the feud took place.

    Second, in response to Amanda, I agree also. But. I would also push back against the question you pose of “why there is an assumption that in order to be a successful female rapper you must be black, and any whites who attempt to make in the ‘rap game’ are outsiders,” that this is only viewed to be problematic because it “disadvantages” white people. Should musical genres be accompanied by an assumed racial label? No. Yet why was there such an uproar when Darius Rucker (a black man) took off quite successfully in his transition into the country music genre. Note the use of transition because he did not start off as a solo black male in the country genre. He began in the rock genre with three white band mates. Coincidence? I don’t think so, but that is a topic much larger than the current thread would allow.

    In general I think that race definitely helps dictate which careers a person is able and almost expected to succeed in. Sad but true.

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  4. I really like this post, and I find the discussion on Iggy Azelia’s rapping career to be fascinating. Not only has she used her white privilege to gain access to all sorts of benefits of the racial hierarchy, she also appropriates upon black culture while doing so.
    There have been so many black scholars and artists that have commented on Iggy’s racism, and yet she remains one of the most prominent female rappers today. She uses the parts of black culture that are appealing to a white audience, and exploits them by using her white skin as a method for portrayal. The same happens with Miley Cyrus, Kylie Jenner…so many young female artists of our generation are abusing their ability to transgress racial lines without being shamed in order to gain fame. Ugh.

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    1. The idea of transgressing racial lines that Tina mentioned is really interesting me and it’s something I’d like to try to sort through a little more deeply. We’ve talked about this idea of white space and black space a lot and the crossing between never really seems to be a positive thing. Obviously it needs to be in order for better understandings and being better people in general. But why does it always seem to have a negative connotation?
      I understand that with the specific Iggy Azalea case it’s more a form of cultural appropriation than anything else which is super not ok. But what about in some of the other stuff we read? I think in the same whiteness as property reading it was mentioned that a non white woman, working in the white world is looked down upon by the non white community. Or definitely in my previous blog post about the episode of Scandal: the main character a successful black lawyer, Olivia works in the whitest space of them all (the government) and is seen as at traitor by many blacks. How can we encourage pop icons or celebrities or even our friends to engage in dialogue across these spaces without offending anyone?
      Thoughts?

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      1. I agree with you, Leah, that it is important for citizens to be able to transgress racial lines in a positive way. It is especially important for celebrities and other icons just because they play such a big role in being models for others in society. For this to be taken in a positive light I think that the person attempting to transgress racial lines needs to acknowledge the history of those they are trying to associate with. I don’t mean that to say that different races cannot interact without a full understanding of one another’s backgrounds. Rather, in order for one person to be accepted, such as someone like Iggy, I think that it is important that there is an acknowledgment of any past struggles or issues that would be relevant to the position that said person is in. My biggest issue with the Iggy situation is that she chooses to ignore how hip hop came about and yet believes that she 100% deserves all of the money that she is making as a hip hop star.

        It’s always important to acknowledge where you’re coming from and where you’re going. I think the same goes for black people that are in typically white occupations, such as the situation you mention with Scandal. [Disclaimer: I don’t watch the show.] I think it is highly likely that if a person similar to Olivia used her status to redistribute resources, she would be accepted once again by the black community. For instance, say she makes a lot of money as a lawyer. She then uses that money to contribute to the education of poorer black children or donates her time to helping less fortunate families who need legal representation. It’s about balance.

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    2. J’ai fait faire de l&Ãq©uo;ostrsopathie crâniènne pour mes deux enfants après leur naissance et le résultat a été quasi immédiat sur leurs nuits, digestion….

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