Azealia Banks has come out to defend her decision to bleach her skin ― and she says it doesn’t change anything she has said in the past about being black in America.
Banks admitted to bleaching her skin in June, after fans commented on her significantly lighter skin tone in an Instagram picture (since deleted). Subsequent Instagram posts revealed that the “212” rapper has been using the controversial product Whitenicious to alter her deep brown skin.
On July 1, Banks recorded a Facebook Live video, below, where she talked about why she bleaches her skin. "I don't really think it's important to discuss the cultural significance of skin bleaching anymore," Banks said.
"Just as black people in this world, you assimilate, and there are things you accept, not just out of necessity but things become norm because they just happen all the time."
The rapper went on to explain that she sees and accepts skin bleaching as a form of "assimilation," a "continuation of the falsification of self with being a black person in America." She then compared skin-bleaching to wearing weaves or getting cosmetic surgery.
"Nobody was upset when I was wearing 30-inch weaves and tearing out my edges and doing all that type of s**t like that. You guys loved it, but what is the difference?"
She added: "To say [skin-bleaching] negates anything I've said about the current situation of blackness in America is ignorant and stupid. What do body modifications have to do with somebody's level of intellect?"
Banks has always been vocal about race and racism in America, speaking out against everything from police brutality to the cultural appropriation of hip-hop within the music industry. But she’s also spouted homophobic language, and gone on a racist and Islamaphobic tirade against Muslim singer Zayn.
Her stance on skin bleaching seems like just another addition to a long list of things that have made it impossible for her former fans to continue to support her. Her Islamaphobic comments alone, which got her banned from Twitter, crossed the ultimate line.
In a series of tweets from February 2015 (from her now suspended account), Banks wrote:
The treatment I get for being a dark skinned woman just makes me want to lay down and die sometimes. They hate us, they treat us like dogs, then turn around and ask why we’re mad. I don’t care what anyone says: men in general despise dark skinned women.
Banks is a dark skinned black woman in the hip-hop world, a world that sometimes privileges light skinned and “exotic” looking black women often times above all others. It’s unfortunate that Banks has chosen to bleach her skin, but it isn’t wholly surprising.