As a child, I anticipated watching the Video Music Awards every year. As an adult, I anticipate that this award show will reflect the climate of America, and therefore be inevitably racist.
Yet, many insist on drinking the koolaid of popular culture and live vicariously through the inauthenticity that is Hollywood. Despite lacking sincerity, Hollywood provokes real interest–rendering many senselessly invested in the awful beauty of western media. A prime example of this senseless inventestment occurred this Sunday evening when Twitter went insane following a descendant of late white supremacist Robert Lee’s appearance on MTVs most anticipated award show–the VMAs. Robert Lee IV appeared to speak out against racism, offering the following words to an eager crowd:
“We can find inspiration in the Black Lives Matter movement, the women who marched in the Women’s March in January, and especially Heather Heyer, who died fighting for her beliefs in Charlottesville,”
The tweets in response to Lee’s speech, referenced both his presence and speech as “powerful” and the younger generation as “woke.” Many even deemed the catalysts for contemporary problems the older generations rather than a product of collaborative evils and ignorance. It was in reading these comments that it became quite obvious that MTV succeeded in their attempt to bamboozle their audience into thinking they were a part of change and not a facet of white supremacy.
In analyzing MTV’s approach let us examine the following points:
- MTV was integrated by Michael Jackson, which means that prior to Michael Jackson ‘s Billie Jean the “music” on what used to me Music Television, was predominately white. This means that the racism MTV supposedly spoke out against today, is the same platform that launched this network.
- This image of “change” is racist and reactionary at best given that MTV’s gesture only occurred after the death of a white woman. I do not remember Trayvon’s family being featured after his untimely murder in 2012. I also don’t remember hearing Tamir Rice, Mike Brown, Freddy Graye, John Crawford III, Sandra Bland, or any other black victims of white supremacy mentioned on the network let alone the VMAs. Furthermore, it took the same fate that seized the lives of countless blacks to befall a white woman, before black lives truly mattered to MTV.
- Robert Lee’s descendant was also very strategic to mention black lives matter amongst other issues, because to mention black conflict alone is seemingly too contentious or too deserving for a demographic incessantly disrespected with base treatment.
- It is also understatedly insulting for someone who has benefited from the mistreatment of blacks to say one thing and support meaningless gestures of removing a statue, thinking that somehow this act removes years of cyclical disenfranchisement. Its far easier to remove a stature that it is to remove yourself from the line of privilege and wealth that enables your lifestyle and very existence by way of black oppression.
- It is also very hard, if not impossible to take MTV’s anti-racist gestures seriously, given that the network awarded DJ Khalid an award for “best new artist.” Khalid’s artistry remains under investigation, as the only “art” in which Khalid demonstrates mastery is appropriating the talent of blacks. To recognize Khalid is to deify cultural appropriation, a racist act-by a racist network whose antiracist attempt is a poorly veiled act of chicanery.
So while it is tempting to fall into the allure of change presented at this year’s VMAs, it is imperative that the black gaze remembers that the VMAs exist to entertain not ennoble the black collective. Namely, this evening viewers watched MTV attempt to distance itself from Commander and Chief Donald Trump through a failed attempt of liberalism, while performing in his very image of white supremacy.
Black Power ❤