On November 17, Nicki Minaj posted a photo to her Instagram of three sexualized poses of herself being portrayed as Pocahontas, modelled after her recent “Break the Internet” Paper Magazine cover. Three Pocahontas’s are shown performing lewd acts on one another in the depiction, with the original title being “Hoecahontas.”
There are families from indigenous communities, and within our own community right now that are participating in the Walking With Our Sisters Installation at the Gathering Place. The installation itself is a commemorative collection of art honouring the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women (MMIW) of Canada and the U.S. I visited the installation and I found that it was not only really beautiful and really powerful, but also spiritual as soon as I stepped foot inside. The maintenance of this spirituality is strong and fearless because the women maintaining the ceremonial nature of the space keep it this way.
I left the installation only to return to my computer to find my notifications blowing up with friends and family telling me about this picture. This disgusting and discriminating picture.
It is 2017, where the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and MMIW Campaigns are fearlessly paving the way for indigenous women to be unexploited, to be considered human and not fetishes clad in headdresses and leather loin cloths.
And almost every day, those efforts are challenged by posts like this one.
I honestly don’t care if Minaj sexually exploits herself, I really don’t. But when she sexually exploits an already fully exploited gender by their race alone, it makes me so angry that I can feel it in the pit of my stomach.
The women that came before me and the women that will come after me deserve so much better than to go on Instagram and be on the receiving end of perpetuating images like this one. They deserve to see what they can do when they unite. They deserve to become the successors of all of the women before them that wanted them to be strong and powerful, and to take their places as the back bones of families. They deserve so much, but are expected to accept so little by the impacts of imagery like this.
And that’s why I don’t even comprehend why Minaj would feel the need to post something so heinous, when she’s a woman too. All I can conclude is that she views herself as an object with her only value being found in her body, so she doesn’t care if she looks at other women that way.
Not only is that type of mentality sad, but it’s a reality check for Minaj fans too.
I’ve also been told that the indigenous women and men that commented on the photo that were trying to educate her were either deleted or blocked, because she is defiantly reading the comments and keeping the picture up. In other words, she is purposefully being ignorant to her own exploitation of indigenous women — she doesn’t care what kind of impact her post has. And to me, that is just selfishness.
Like okay Minaj, you can say “Miley, what’s good?” But when a bunch of indigenous people want to educate you and maybe shame you to hold you to a better standard, you shut them down by blocking the comments. Like I guess majority of the world doesn’t expect any better from artists like her, but again, it’s 2017.
So, this is my final thought: Minaj is just as insecure and foolish as any person can be on this planet so I can sympathize a little. But I despise her for pulling indigenous women down with her when Western society already does it — whether we ask for it or not — because her post is an intrepid step against the positive efforts being made for the benefit of indigenous women.
In memory of Motoaka.