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Rihanna: Please Stop Oppressing Black Women

May 30, 2010

Dear RiRi (or whatever cute nickname your fans came up with),

I just happened to watch your newest music video…the one for Rockstar 101. I have to say, I was utterly appalled by the very first image I saw:

I’m not sure if you’re aware of this, but Black women have been likened to animals for hundreds of years.  It’s one of the ways that Blacks have been oppressed (oh yes that’s a link my friends…click if you dare).  The Black woman as animal has always had some weird place in fashion, I guess because people think it’s “edgy” when really it’s just racist.

And I don’t say things like that often, I try and give people the benefit of the doubt.  But Rihanna why did you have to go and add the chains?  Ummm…did you not pay attention in history class? Do you not know that there was a time when natives in Africa were forcibly taken from their homelands and families and shipped to other countries shackled to one another in chains?  You do realize that’s likely how your ancestors got to Barbados right? That’s just gross.  GROSS.  And to top it all off, you PUT ON BLACK MAKE-UP TO DARKEN YOUR SKIN.  What. The. Fuck.  You might think this goes well with your whole rock star vibe you’ve got going on (which isn’t doing anything to help your sales, since iTunes is practically giving your album away) but it’s not.  You’re just using the same old images of Black women that have been used to make them seem less human, and to sell piece of crap “designer” clothes, for decades.  I’m over it.

And I was going to let you get away with this little piece from the “Hard” video:

But not anymore.  I may not be a fashionista but I know when someone had the thought “let’s see if we can make something ridiculous and make other people think it’s high fashion.”  YOU’RE WEARING MICKEY MOUSE EARS in an effort to sport a couture line inspired by military uniforms.  Come on, RiRi.  Come on!

And I’m not apologizing.  This is shitty and you deserve to know it.

All the Best,


2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 21, 2011 1:28 pm

    Yeah, I have often wondered what goes through Rihanna’s head with some of the choices she has made. On the one hand, these days, she is allowed to do as she pleases (or should be), and if that means portraying herself as a wild animal, then I guess she’s entitled to do that to herself. But the mistreatment and animalization (if that’s a word!) of women of color is in the very recent past and as you said, still very present in the fashion world, so it’s hard to accept that she would *choose* to wear some of the things she has, etc. I guess that’s part of the problem – the fashion world keeps this kind of stuff alive, and probably makes people like Rihanna think that therefore it must be okay.

    • smartiepop permalink*
      January 21, 2011 2:36 pm

      Thanks for the comment! Yes I’m sure there are people around her telling her she’ll look “fierce” in this or that. No celebrity walks out the door having dressed herself all alone!!

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