In one fell swoop, Nicki Minaj articulated a legitimate paranoia held by many blacks: the idea that the powers that be will always try to trivialize, nitpick or sabotage the efforts of black people who are trying to amass real wealth.
I'm not talking about getting rich; I'm talking wealth with a capital 'W.' Bill Gates wealth. Steve Jobs wealth. Black people who are trying to create the next Facebook, Apple or Twitter—or launch a music-streaming service like Spotify.
Yep, the Queens, N.Y., rapper went there on Tuesday, asking her Twitter followers why Tidal—a music-streaming service launched by Jay-Z and other predominantly black "artist-owners" like Rihanna, Beyoncé, Alicia Keys, J. Cole, Usher and Kanye West—was picked apart for being redundant and expensive. Jay-Z has said how he was sick and tired of getting paid pennies by online music-distribution services (like YouTube, iTunes, etc.) and therefore decided to launch his own distribution engine that gave him and other artists more control over their product.
Tidal was dragged through these online streets. Critics said that he and Tidal's other artist-owners were whiny rich kids who were being stingy for even suggesting that music buyers shell out a bit more money to buy music at a black-owned distribution engine.
Meanwhile, when Taylor Swift pulled her music from Spotify last year and then got at Apple this year, for many of the same reasons, think pieces lauded the move and praised her for taking on the Goliaths in the music industry.
So Minaj—being an artist-owner at Tidal herself—called out the hypocrisy. But we would be remiss if we didn't tell you what prompted Minaj's outburst. She and Swift exchanged a few saucy tweets Tuesday after the MTV Video Music Award nominations were announced.
Minaj feels that she wasn't nominated for Video of the Year because her video “Anaconda” featured curvier black women, and only women with "very slim bodies" are considered for a “Moonman.”
Well, since Swift was the only woman with a slim frame nominated in that category, she took that as a personal slight and responded to Minaj, saying that she was disappointed by the subtle blow.
Minaj responded, explaining that she wasn't talking specifically about Swift but about the general idea that certain kinds of art—art that features black bodies—isn't appreciated.
Minaj also got upset about the way some media outlets covered her exchange with Taylor.
Other artists agreed, and tweeted their support for Minaj's argument.
This ordeal shows that most of the time, racial discrimination will not come in the form of someone shooting an unarmed black person dead in the street. Rather, it will be subtle, unconscious behavior that rewards white people for their endeavors and downplays the efforts of black people who are trying to change the game in a major way. It's the kind of subtle discrimination that will always see African Americans as the aggressors or as businesspeople who don't quite think things through, and white people as innovators.
Kudos to Minaj for kicking up dust about the issue. That's why she's our #WCW.
Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele is a staff writer at The Root and the founder and executive producer ofLectures to Beats, a Web series that features expert advice with scarily insightful people. FollowLectures to Beats on Facebook and Twitter.