How Nicki Minaj & Barbara Smith Have Got Much More in Common Than You Thought

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How Nicki Minaj & Barbara Smith Have Got Much More in Common Than You Thought

Back in 2009 (when I was on an Althusser kick), I wrote a post about how Wale and Joe Budden were jealous of Nicki Minaj because of the imminent and crazy success she was about to experience.  If I knew then what we all know now, I promise I would have started calling myself a profit. prophet.

Let’s back track a bit.

What I said was …

But honestly … what I’m more interested in is this little exchange between Nicki, Joe Budden, and Wale.The only reason I’m even giving any of this any thought is because it seems … as i have these many many meetings with my orals committee … that my interests indeed span the breath of African American literature from 1750 forward … but my concerns within this literature are the ways in which ppl are hailed to a particular cause or movement through immediate media sources (see Althusser).So yes … I am fascinated with Twitter and facebook and every other social networking site … for reasons other than Amber rose tweeting pics of herself and Nicki’s random “Barbie” love messages … but for the ways in which what we think of as media has changed. Or haven’t.



I can’t help but see this and think about black liberation movements and First and Second Wave Feminism … (follow me … i know Nicki’s problematic).But really? Let this woman do her thing …Wale, must you attack her because Joe Budden called you out?So what if we like her cuz of her body … we listen to the songs because of her flow … I don’t have no Wale CD in my car … I got TWO Nicki mixtapes.And now her followers are psychos? But yours are what? … cuz they listen and defend the shit you say all day long.Joe? You can’t make your net work? Like, you can’t get your own followers? Why would you even need 15 yr old girls following you? Where’s your PR person? Send me your press kit.there are more thoughts … but really … what I do like is that Nicki at least recognizes her power within the situation … she totally calls Joe on his power attempts .. and then makes him one of “her” crew … her bitch (cuz who gives a flip about Ken?) … and he likes it.

Don’t give me crap … yes, I said it.

And today, I received confirmation in my morning musings moment.

Barbara Smith, in her 1977 article, “Towards a Black Feminist Criticism,” discusses an interview with Ishmael Reed:

In a recent interview the notoriously misogynist writer Ishmael Reed comments in this way upon the low sales of his newest novel:

“But the book only sold 8,000 copies.  I don’t mind giving out the figure: 8,000. Maybe if I was one of those young female Afro-American writers that are so hot right now,

I’d sell more.  You know, fill my books with ghetto women who can do no wrong …. But come on, I think I could have sold 8,000 copies by myself.”

The politics of the situation of Black women are glaringly illuminated by this statement.  Neither Reed nor his white male interviewer has the slightest compunction about attacking Black women in print.  They need not fear widespread public denunciation since Reed’s statement is in perfect agreement with the values of a society that hates Black people, women, and Black women.  Finally the two of them feel free to base their actions on the premise that Black women are powerless to alter either their political or their cultural oppression.


See what I mean?  Now, I’m not saying that Nicki or the women writers that Barbara speaks of are in the same situation.  It is clear that Nicki Minaj intends to use both her body and sexuality as an integral part of her identity and persona … and it is this persona that does, indeed, help boost her presence and record sales.  What is also clear is that, unwilling (in front of the camera at least) to face their own shame, insecurities, and professional shortcomings, Joes Budden and Wale, most overtly, use the same sort of covert tactics that Reed intended when using the above language in his interview.

Where does this leave us this morning?  I’m not so sure … I’m not in the place to argue how far away we are from an imagined movement with imagined time constraints.  I simply needed a little pat on the back.  As we all do sometimes.

Good job, me.  Good job to you, too.

You stay cool.  I’ll stay kholi. <3

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This post was originally published at Kholi's website -- check out more of her musings at

Comments [3]

Grace Moon's picture

can someone explain the

can someone explain the Nicki  Remmy Ma box eating situation?

Was she really butch or not... I'm very confused by the history of Minaj

tweet tweet @gracemoon

bLaKtivist's picture

LMAO @Ken Budden

She clowned him and he didnt even know it. HA! Classic.

Way to give'em pop-culture meets Dr. Kholi -- TEACH!

k. freeman (@bLaKtivist)
wRiting | viraL media |

Marcie Bianco's picture

I can't get enough of Barbara

I can't get enough of Barbara Smith --- LOVE YOU KHOLI for writing about her!