Opinion: An Open Letter to Miley Cyrus

Dear Miley,

Last night I watched your MTV documentary, Miley Cyrus: The Movement. I realize that you were trying to give your loyal fans a backstage look at the events leading up to your infamous VMA performance, but I think all you ended up doing is making yourself look like a diva.

One scene I’m thinking about in particular is when your big VMA entrance was foiled and you let whatever poor soul was on the other end of your telephone freak out have it. Honestly, I don’t particularly care when people drop f-bombs (I may be slightly guilty of a few here and there, as well) but when your television audience consists of a lot of impressionable kids, I feel like you should’ve toned it down a bit. Just a thought. It’s your life, though, so who am I to judge. Do you.

While I don’t particularly care for your music, I know you won't stop and that’s pretty okay with me. Once again, at the end of the day it’s your music, your career, and none of the haters (including myself) can stop you from doing what you want artistically. So once more: do you. However, the one thing I truly and utterly object to is your ignorance.

Regarding the production of your new album, you have been quoted saying, “I just want something that just feels black.” Honestly, I can’t see how anyone with knowledge of that quote can brush it off without feeling the uncomfortable, off-putting and, dare I say it?—racist nature of it.

It’s almost comical to see you “twerking” on stage with big-booty black women and thugged-out black men in the background—almost. However, I just can’t seem to get past the implications of your words and actions. While a lot of people will simply agree with my stance that you’re an artist so you can do whatever you want and that’s that, I think it would do some folks well to look beyond the entertainment value of your music (which is definitely present, no denying that) at the message you are sending to the masses.

“I want to be black. Black people act ratchet. Therefore, if I want to be black, I must act as such.” Seriously, whether they know it or not, this is what you are telling people. You are essentially saying that in order to act “black” you need to be overly promiscuous in your music videos and performances and surround yourself with modern day idols of blackness, such as that African American woman with the huge butt and custom grills.

Before I go on, I want to make clear that I most definitely do not think you are racist. A racist person doesn’t attempt to join the ranks of another race or embrace what they think is the culture of another race. I actually happen to think that you, like so many in this country, are the victim of a vicious cycle of ignorance that goes largely unnoticed. It’s hard to recognize when an entire race of people is so subconsciously subjugated by something as widespread as the music industry, but here we are. You are by no means the first artist (black or white or brown or purple or green) to perpetuate racial stereotypes without realizing what you’re doing. Watch any 2 Chainz or Tyga music video and you’ll see the same thing. However, the problem here lies in the fact that you are pretty clearly linking the whole “freak-stripper” thing to black women in a harmful way that is so massively accessible it’s almost frightening. In a way, I guess, you’re both a perpetrator and a victim of ignorance.

I get “We Can’t Stop” stuck in my head as much as the next guy (that’s three times a week, to be precise). I watched your performance at the VMAs and looked on in awe, definitely some horror, but mostly in awe. Like many other pop stars before you, you’ve captivated the nation with your absurd, over the top performances. Truthfully, I commend the work ethic you displayed in your movie, rehearsing while sick for two back-to-back shows, not to mention the fact that directly after your monster VMA performance you were in the studio with Kanye working on the "Black Skinhead" remix. You are obviously doing pop stardom right, combining catchy tunes and shock value to make boatloads of money, so kudos.

You just need to realize that your antics are not something that everyone is going to take so lightly, as they can most definitely be viewed as part of a larger process of subliminal racial stereotyping that goes so widely unchecked in this country today.

And if you could cut down on twerking at Juicy J shows that would be dope.

 

Sincerely,

I Won’t Stop Either

Been known to eat a rice cake or two. Music is my religion. I'm the fella over there with the hella good hair.

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