Azealia Banks Was Right about Kendrick Lamar

Let me be clear: I am not a fan of Azealia Banks whatsoever. As talented as she is, I feel that she does involve herself in too many beefs and Twitter wars. For me, she can be somewhat overbearing with her opinions. As much, they are her opinions and feelings to have. Thus, while I don’t like her actions all the time, who am I to tell her to shut up?

I mean, I COULD tell her to shut up. But, she would be able to tell me the same thing. So, it is what it is.

What did catch my eye is her disdain for the Kendrick Lamar commentary recently given. Lamar noted something that could easily be applauded or irritating (depending on who you are) during an interview with Billboard:

What happened to [Michael Brown] should’ve never happened. Never,” Lamar told Billboard. “But when we don’t have respect for ourselves, how do we expect them to respect us? It starts from within. Don’t start with just a rally, don’t start from looting — it starts from within. [1]

Azealia Banks, in reply to this statement, went to Twitter (her favorite forum of choice) to voice her disdain:

“When we don’t respect ourselves how can we expect them to respect us” dumbest shit I’ve ever heard a black man say.


Lol do you know about the generational effects of poverty, racism and discrimination?


There are things in society that benefit a select few of us. fine…. But don’t put down the rest by saying they don’t respect themselves


And the last tweet that capitulates what she really is upset about:

HOW DARE YOU open ur face to a white publication and tell them that we don’t respect ourselves…. Speak for your fucking self.


Me being the person that I am, I posted the article that referenced these tweets on my Facebook page. I was met with a nice mixture of opinions. There were those that readily agreed with what she said. There were those that felt she was either a “Twitter troll”, “racist”, or “not demonstrating the right amount of love in her words”. To note all of this, everyone had a probably point. On some level, everyone was making sense.

And then there is the side that I took all along: Azealia Banks was 100% correct. Let me break down why I feel this way.

Azealia Banks Is Quite Accurate Pt. 1

What Kendrick Lamar was playing is a simple game called “Respectability Politics”. The basis of respectability politics is this: Black people need to start making ourselves more “acceptable” to the modern dominant culture so we won’t face any avoidable hardships. You have heard the term before because I have used it quite often. Plenty of your politicians and a lot of famous Black people use it all the time. Hell, a lot of regular Black people also play these political games of respectability.


From a historical perspective, respectability politics have been a staple of the Black community for hundreds of years. Maurice Dolberry noted the inclusion of respectability politics within the fabric of Black America started during the end of the 19th century:

Unfortunately, in practice it involved a lot of patronizing behaviors towards “lower-class” Black people.  For instance, one of their major campaigns was to go into impoverished Black communities and hand out pamphlets that “taught” these po’ folks how to “behave” in public places, the value of chastity, and even how to properly bathe themselves. [2]

The range of behaviors has enough stretch to cover the spectrum of “being respectable”. They enclosed everything from “not wearing dirty clothes in public” all the way to “not using vile language in public places”. For some time now, Blacks have been playing the politics game to gain respectability from the “rest of society”.

The day of the Geechie is gone, boy!!!

azealia-banks-featWe have to understand why respectability politics have been played for so long. The reasoning is this: Black culture has been the epitome of everything “wrong”, “barbaric”, and “feral” for eons. You saw it in the Blackface imitations and Stepin Fetchit comedies. You saw it in the self-hating rhetoric used by Sgt. Waters in A Soldier Story. And you see it nowadays as soon as Don Lemon opens his mouth to say something about Black people. Respectability politics exists because our culture is seen as the Black Kool-Aid stain on the White button down shirt of American society.

Azealia Banks is Accurate Pt. 2

Yet, respectability politics has gotten Black people nowhere. Did it ever stop the lynching and killing of our kind by the KKK, police, and the like? Did it stop the destruction of Black Wall Street in Tulsa, Oklahoma? Did it stop the beatings and killings of Blacks (and even whites that supported us) during the Civil Rights movement (see Selma for further understanding)?

None of these things happened because we chose to “respect ourselves before others did”. A lot of the things that happens to us happen DESPITE the fact that we may/may not respect ourselves. And why is there always an inclusion of “we” as if everyone does something? This is the problem right off the bat: Black people are still being seen as the monolithic, low class race that is still good for nothing while spear chucking chicken bones and spitting watermelon seeds as Gucci Mane burrs and Young Thug makes weird noises. Every Black person is not the same; so every Black person cannot subscribe to the same issues and find them to be relevant to their lives.


So, let’s face it: Kendrick Lamar didn’t know what the fuck he was talking about.

Azealia Banks Epilogue

Let me be clear again: this is not an Azealia Banks fan site nor is this a Kendrick Lamar smear campaign. What this can be called is “the truth”. Azealia Banks had every right to say what she said because she was right. We can agree, disagree, and not care. However, history would side with Azealia on this one. In the end, Kendrick Lamar just may need to speak for himself about things or check his Black history facts.