Is X Factor’s Honey G racist?
X Factor contestant Honey G has been accused of cultural appropriation.
It was the first of the live shows on X Factor last week, and one stand-out performance was definitely Honey G’s rendition of “California” by Tupac, in which she incorporated some of her own lyrical verses.
However, for many people it seems her performance stood out for all the wrong reasons.
Journalist Lola Okolosie has spoken out about the finalist in an opinion piece in The Guardian. She explained in the article how Honey G “is a symbol of how race operates in the UK.”
She wrote: “Honey G’s tinfoil gold tracksuit, shades and florid hand gestures betray what the whole act is about: a caricature of blackness as stupid and illicit. If it is not how Gilford herself intended it, it’s certainly the subtext of her affectations.”
At the end of her performance, the X Factor judges appeared to be won over by the controversial rapper. Simon Cowell commented: “I don’t know what just happened. But here’s the weird thing, I loved it. I just really like you. I thought you weren’t serious when you came in but now I realise you are.”
Meanwhile, Louis Walsh remarked: “I think Tupac would be happy.”
However, Okolosie responded to the judges’ praise, saying: “The X Factor judge Louis Walsh gushed that Tupac ‘would be happy’ with Honey G’s performance. No, the son of Black Panther activists would not happy. Anyone caring to face facts would see this for what it is: modern-day blackface.”
It looks as though Okolosie does not stand alone in finding the show’s act offensive. Twitter users have also complained about the contestant undermining the black music industry:
I’m glad a journalist has finally called the Honey G act racist. I’ve been saying all along, it’s cultural appropriation of the worst kind 🙃
— Abigail (@goldentribes) October 11, 2016
@TheXFactor using Honey G is cultural appropriation.
A clear example of the problems regarding how race is portrayed via media
— Young Lion (@younglion21) October 9, 2016
Honey G is a racist disgrace #XFactor
— WannabeBoundless (@Player1ll) August 28, 2016
Mostly, Honey G is not funny. Cultural appropriation and mockery is not funny.
— Charlotte (@charlottefaulkz) October 2, 2016
Rap and hip-hop music have historically been an outlet for black people to talk about issues such as racism and poverty during the 1970’s; a time in which their voice was struggling to be heard. As the genre began to flourish commercially, it eventually changed from music with a message to music for the masses. As white people have become more dominant as both the creators and consumers of hip-hop, some people feel the original roots of this music genre have been ignored, or even parodied.
Is Honey G another one of these parodies? Perhaps the revelation that her act is potentially offensive might mean her days are numbered after all. What do you think?
X Factor continues Saturday at 8pm on ITV.