When Your (Brown) Body is a (White) Wonderland

It’s important for people, specifically white people, to read this brilliantly written piece on Miley Cyrus, the VMAs, and the appropriation of black women’s bodies.


This may meander.

Miley Cyrus made news this week with a carnival-like stage performance at the MTV Video Music Awards that included life-size teddy bears, flesh-colored underwear, and plenty of quivering brown buttocks. Almost immediately after the performance many black women challenged Cyrus’ appropriation of black dance (“twerking”). Many white feminists defended Cyrus’ right to be a sexual woman without being slut-shamed. Yet many others wondered why Cyrus’ sad attempt at twerking was news when the U.S. is planning military action in Syria.

I immediately thought of a summer I spent at UNC Chapel Hill. My partner at the time fancied himself a revolutionary born too late for all the good protests. At a Franklin Street pub one night we were the only black couple at a happy hour. It is one of those college places where concoctions of the bar’s finest bottom shelf liquor is served in huge fishbowls…

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1 thought on “When Your (Brown) Body is a (White) Wonderland

  1. This is a powerful and insightful critique. I feel smarter just by reading it. The only thing i migh add is that because of the hegemony of the white male target audience the targeting is likely latent and implicit with Cyrus and her handlers assuming (rightly in part) that this ‘edgy’ performance would also appeal to the very and varird groups it exploits.

    Nicely done..

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