Why It's Racist to Call Lorde's 'Royals' Racist

Why It's Racist to Call Lorde's 'Royals' Racist
Jena Ardell

We think that it is ironic (and wrong) that a blogger on a

feminist website

is pulling the 'racist' card on Lorde's ubiquitous single, 'Royals.'

Time.com's headline, "'Royals' Singer Lorde Caught in Racism Row" is hardly factual. Lorde isn't caught in a racism scandal; a lone blogger voiced an opinion and, for whatever reason, everyone is making a big deal over it.

See also: Stuff Lorde Says, in Illustrated Form

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Here's the statement by blogger Veronica Bayetti Flores that's been making a splash on notable news sites, including cnn.com:

"While I love a good critique of wealth accumulation and inequity, this song is not one; in fact, it is deeply racist. Because we all know who she's thinking when we're talking gold teeth, Cristal and Maybachs. So why shit on black folks? Why shit on rappers?"

The fastest way to attract people to a feminist blog seems to be to call out a popular female artist and accuse her of bigotry, which doesn't seem very feminist. It's absurd (and can even be viewed as racist) to assume only African Americans can obtain gold teeth, Cristal and Maybachs, and that all rappers are African American.

As someone posting on a feminist blog, shouldn't Ms. Flores be defending a young girl's message to defy economic and social inequities? Flores has since explained her rationale in a subsequent post, in which she stated, "white supremacy is a global phenomenon, and anti-black racism is worldwide. Taking stabs at hip-hop that ignore context is dangerous and ignorant at best."

Are we to believe that a white girl from New Zealand can't sing about excessive lifestyles or criticize wealth distribution without including the mention of African American oppression in the U.S. because, according to Flores' generalizations, white people are rich and black people are poor?

'Royals' does not dehumanize people of color, Flores' logic is dehumanizing people of color, since she seems to only attribute 'black cultural traditions' to wealth inequality and hip-hop. Flores belittles Lorde saying, "I don't expect a teen from New Zealand to have an understanding of U.S. race history and relations." Equivocally, we could ignorantly say we don't expect a feminist Latina to know the difference between rap and hip-hop. See how wrong that is?

 

What Flores fails to realize is that Lorde is singing about a disconnect she feels between the references in rap music and her own reality, not with the rappers or African Americans themselves. Unless the government shutdown has also closed the Bill of Rights, we're pretty sure Lorde's lyrics (and Lorde's explanation of the lyrics in an interview Flores quoted) are still protected by the First Amendment.

"Sure, she includes ball gowns and some other more neutral artifacts," Flores stated, "but the lyrics read pretty clearly like a rap video."

Clearly, Flores is just cherry-picking which parts of the song she wants to find offensive, since Lorde isn't only choosing artifacts attributed to a certain race or genre of music. If Flores chose to focus on the references of ball gowns, royalty and tigers on a gold leash, perhaps she would be applauding Lorde for drawing attention to the oppression of Disney princesses.

While it's important to recognize groups who have been historically oppressed, mankind needs to move forward and become more socially evolved. We need to stop ignorantly attributing certain characteristics, lifestyles and musical genres with particular races, genders and sexualities.

Social advocates like Ms. Flores are helpful in society, but they can also unintentionally harm their cause. While it's admirable to stand up against inequity, advocates should find a just case in lieu of constantly acting on the defense, searching for words to twist. As for Lorde, this exposure is only helping her career.

Lorde: 1 Flores: 0

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