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“Gold-Digger” Politics: The New Racist Framing of FKA Twigs

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Image Credit: Flickr Bobo Boom

FKA Twigs is no stranger to racist trolls. Since being called a “monkey” on Twitter for choosing to date a famous white man, Twigs is accustomed to consistent disrespect and humiliation. One could argue that she’s become the “Yoko Ono” of our generation since the public spends more time engaging with her image as a destructive force that has broken up a sacred white union, rather than engaging with her actual work. This is a shame considering she’s a powerhouse in her own right and is probably one of the most creative and bold young artists in our media culture currently.

[RELATED POST: It’s 2015, and Hollywood Still Has a Diversity Problem]

Twitter has definitely been one of the main vehicles that people have been using to express racism towards FKA Twigs. Here are some examples:

While Twitter gives folks a platform to share their opinions, I’m finding an increasing number of news and celebrity entertainment articles participating in the racist spectacle under the guise of “gossip.”

More and more articles are focusing on Robert Pattinson’s dwindling financial security as well as his lack of being able to secure roles for mainstream films ever since he’s been with FKA Twigs.

The fixation with Pattinson’s financial state becomes a veiled way of pointing to the stereotype that black women are “money-hungry ho’s” who are incapable of being authentic romantic partners.

Insults about Twigs looking like a monkey have morphed into derogatory statements about Robert Pattinson’s financial status.   

Here are some recent headlines about FKA Twigs and Pattinson’s relationship:

“Robert Pattinson’s Sisters Distrust Gold Digger FKA Twigs.”

“Robert Pattinson Going Broke Because of ‘Gold Digger’ FKA Twigs.”

“Is FKA Twigs Using Broke Robert Pattinson for His Money? His Pals Say So.”

“Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson Were a Private Classy Couple: FKA Twigs is Using Rob for Career and Publicity.”

“Robert Pattinson Got His Rumored New Girlfriend Pregnant? FKA Twigs Tweets About a Baby Inside, But Wait a Minute…”

“Robert Pattinson, FKA Twigs Don’t Plan to Sign Pre-Nup Agreement.”

Tropes of jealousy, gold-digging, and pregnancy are associated with FKA Twigs and function to degrade her status as Robert’s partner.

Words like “unclassy” or “gold-digger” are packed with racialized ammo.

In the same way “monkey” conjures up an ugly history of white racism directed towards black folks, gold-digger also works to stereotype black women as money-hungry, lazy, inauthentic partners. This is especially ironic considering FKA Twigs has her own career and fame outside of Robert. This is proof that her race is the main issue.

Gossip magazines that employ “gold-digger” tropes to discuss FKA Twigs are no longer merely gossiping, they are participating in a racist spectacle that seeks to disempower black women, as well as humiliate anyone who seeks to be romantically involved with black women.

Our culture’s perverted fascination with interracial dating through headlines like the ones above contribute to the hostile climate that interracial couples endure daily. As a person who is currently married to a white man, whenever I see headlines like the ones above, I begin to wonder what folks think about me when I hold my husband’s hand. His love for me is suddenly framed as “charity work” and I’m viewed as a gold-digger seeking to run all of his charity funds dry.

This framework objectifies interracial couples and operates on the assumption that it is the public’s job to uncover or investigate why the two are really together, as though love between different bodies is an unnatural, suspicious event.

Aph Ko is a feminist, writer, vegan, and indie digital media producer. She has a B.A. in Women’s and Gender Studies, and an M.A. in Communication and Cultural/Media Studies. She is the creator of the comedy web-series “Black Feminist Blogger” which highlights the massive amount of invisible labor in blogging. She is joining the WYV team as a feminist writer and comedy vlogger centering on social justice topics. Aph loves merging social justice and entertainment in a unique, subtle way. If she were a tattoo, Aph would be a chimpanzee on an arm so that every time someone asks about the monkey on her arm, she could say “a chimp is not the same thing as a monkey.”

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