This past Thursday I had the privilege of attending a talk led by Nicole R. Fleetwood, an Associate Professor in American Studies and Director of the Institute for Research on Women at Rutgers University, at my beloved Cornell. She discussed the “serving face” phenomenon started by the diva herself, Diana Ross. However, that’s not what this post is about. I’m writing about yet another small comment that sparked some in-depth thought in my noggin. Still feel free to look up some of Professor Fleetwood’s articles because she’s lit (as you young people like to say).
In response to a question asked by one of the students, she credited Rihanna with being partially responsible for important discussions around sex. She then went further to say that celebrities are responsible for fostering intimate dialogue around such controversial issues. Then I thought about it and in my head I’m like you know what? She might be onto something there.
If you pay attention to social media, even in the slightest bit, you’ve probably seen/read about Kim Kardashian, Kanye West, Kylie Jenner etc. and all of their recent shenanigans. We can even take it a few months back to the controversy between Azealia Banks and Igga Azalea. Regardless, these conversations often don’t exist without discussing broader themes like race, sex and gender. We link Beyonce to feminism, Chris Brown and Rihanna to sexual violence, Frank Ocean to sexuality and the list goes on and on. Who are the real teachers here, our Ph.D. holding professors or these individuals we’re so fixated on called celebrities? Honestly, my answer is both (bet you thought I was going to pick one or the other :P), but I do think that people don’t give celebs enough credit.
You don’t need academic credentials to educate someone. Granted these celebs are flawed, but name an individual who isn’t. They’re humans just like you and I. At the same token, they have this incredible presence in our worlds and ability to influence the way we think and what we think about. Some reading this may be thinking “But crazy stuff happens in the news that spark real discussion too.” And you’re absolutely right. I’m by no means discrediting the every day occurrences. My point is, nobody really thinks of celebrities as real life teachers that have something to contribute to society beyond their artistry and fashionable gear (We loveee that artistry doe). Think about it, Kim Kardashian drops a nude photo and suddenly you’re going back and forth with a complete stranger on twitter about motherhood, sexuality and the female body. No shade, but Kim isn’t exactly the brightest in the bunch and she’s essentially facilitating conversations around the globe regarding these permeating issues. Like what.. Kim K.. a teacher?
The next time you talk about Nicki Minaj just call her Professor Minaj, as she’s probably schooling you on the perception of gender roles in our generation via “Yo nigga call me big momma, let him eat the pussy then I dip on him”.
This post was guest written by Jakira Shaw.