In light of the recent news regarding Maya Jama’s tweets about “dark-skinned bitches,” a conversation on the culture of “cancelling” problematic celebrities has arisen.
The debate is centred around the biases of the Black community. When reacting to the exposure of a celebrity having a bigoted opinion or upholding an ignorant view, the Black Twitter community responds with varying degrees of hesitation. Holding the celebrity accountable seems to depend on the topic, who they are and whether or not they give an apology–even if it’s a lukewarm apology.
Maya Jama is a British television and radio presenter, who previously worked as a broadcast journalist for various networks.
When her tweets resurfaced, many came to her defence and argued how her tweets shouldn’t be taken too seriously. This was striking, especially when compared to other public figures who have been caught out in similar situations being “cancelled”.
This is for two reasons. First, we as a community like her, and two, the tweet was about dark-skinned black women. The lack of outrage at the misogynoir isn’t particularly surprising given the normalization of slander towards dark skinned women. Although tweets like this are problematic, what is even more dangerous is the collective dismissal of them. Why? Because it highlights the fact that we see antiblackness, homophobia, misogyny and general bigotry as phases and rights of passage that everyone went through on the journey to becoming socially aware.
This isn’t about hypersensitivity, it’s about recognizing how these types of tweets can and will offend some people. It doesn’t matter how long ago they were posted, we as a community must stop making exceptions. All controversial instances like Maya Jama’s tweets must be treated with the same energy as Stefflon Don’s 2013 tweets were. The popular British female rapper’s problematic tweets were received with criticism, given that the community doesn’t treasure her as much as Jama.
The whole concept of searching for problematic tweets by a Black celebrity is sometimes done with malice, and not with the intention of holding the person accountable.Especially when the tweets are unveiled once the public figure gains levels of success. It then immediately limits the Black community’s appreciation for that individual.
However, if we are really about Black empowerment, then no Black person sitting at an intersection, whether it be gender, sexuality etc., should be left behind. It is important to recognize the “well, I’m not offended” routine as old, boring and tired. People have a right to be upset when something offends them. They should be able to move past the offensive comment or moment, or genuinely want to hold the celebrity accountable.
It should not be about deciding who is and isn’t “cancelled.”