While departing a flight on Monday night, Azealia Banks wound up in an altercation during which she called a flight attendant by a homophobic slur. And, not surprisingly, the entire debacle was caught on camera.
In video footage obtained by TMZ, a visibly irritated Banks can be seen engaging in a sort of tug-of-war with a male flight attendant over her bag, at one point yelling, “S**! Give me my f***ing bag!
When the copilot comes out to diffuse the situation, Banks — still clearly agitated — explains to him that she is tired, she is ready to go home and another passenger allegedly blocked her from leaving when the plane landed.
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So what really happened? According to a passenger sitting next to Banks, according to TMZ, Banks made a beeline for the exit when the Delta flight touched down around 1:00 a.m. Tuesday. As the rapper, who had been sitting in the sixth row, made her way to the front of the plane, she encountered a French couple who’d been sitting in the third row. The French man was standing the middle of the lane, attempting to pull their luggage from the overhead bin.
When Azealia tried to duck around the French man, he put his hand out. It was at that point, the source told TMZ, that Banks lost it. “The eyewitness says she spit in the man’s face, punched him in the face and clawed at his shirt.”
It was at that moment the flight attendant stepped in and the video footage began.
When the flight attendant grabbed Banks’ bag and asked her to calm down, the entertainer lost her balance and fell over. Then the tug-of-war commenced. After heatedly relaying her side of the story to the copilot, Banks can be seen pushing past him, yelling back at the flight attendant, “F***ing f*****!” on her way out.
In a tweet which has since been deleted, Banks claimed the French man hit her in the face, adding, “I don’t tolerate bitchassness and I don’t tolerate men putting their hands on me.” By Banks’ account, she was physically and verbally harassed by a group of men until her breaking point. At first, she seemed to brush the situation off in indignation.
She then tweeted a series of thoughts insinuating the bigger issue here was one of race.
In a series of video clips, she explains, “Black women in America are starting to love themselves so f***ing loudly, and people cannot f***ing take it.”
She urges black women in America not to hold their tongues out of fear of being perceived as angry, but rather to “love yourself and love yourself as loudly as f***ing possible.” Still, nowhere on Banks’ stream-of-consciousness style Twitter feed will you find an apology for the derogatory words she used to quote/unquote defend herself. Rather, she shrugs it off under the premise that she herself is bisexual and has gay and lesbian friends and employees.
So, here’s what I have to say to Miss Banks: I am not sitting here at my desk in “fake outrage.” I am sitting here in genuine disappointment.
I don’t always agree with what Banks says, but I respect her. She is a strong, outspoken woman. She is a strong, outspoken, smart woman. And, yes, she is a strong, outspoken, smart black woman. If you follow her Twitter feed for any period of time, you’ll see that Banks strives to further important conversations about race relations, politics, cultural appropriation, feminism and even religion.
She isn’t afraid to speak her mind, and I applaud that. Her fans applaud that. I think she has a real opportunity to use the platform her fame has afforded her to impact and inform a lot of people. For some fans, in fact, she is the only part of these conversations they will ever hear. She is pulling them into a dialogue they may otherwise never be engaged in. As the mother of a young girl, I always appreciate it when an entertainer uses their status to empower women.
My disappointment, then, stems from the fact that Banks is diminishing her own message by not owning up to her own decisions and mistakes. How easy would it have been, in the midst of her Twitter deluge, to have simply said, “I misspoke.”
Banks has said before she doesn’t feel the need to explain herself to people (although her recent string of tweets suggests otherwise), and that’s OK. You do you, Miss Banks. But understand that other people have a right to be outraged and speak out when they perceive unjust behavior, too.
As Banks well knows, the LGBTQ community is largely marginalized by society. In excusing her own behavior in using terms hurtful and derogatory this community, she is perpetuating that marginalization.
TMZ included a clip from a radio segment in which Banks defends a previous point in time she was catching flak for using the term f*****. In the clip, she says she learned the term from her mother and that the term to them means a man who hates women.
However, in an interview with Playboy in March, Banks refers to the term as part of a culturally pathologized — and derogatory — generalization. “We have all these stereotypes in society,” she said. “The gay man is a f***** and he’s over-the-top, or you’re an untrustworthy cracker or you’re a loud black bitch.”
And so in deflecting the wrong thing she said, Banks is diluting all the right ones. Yes! Black women should speak up. Yes! Black women should feel strong and empowered. But lifting yourself up should never entail tearing someone else down. I truly believe Miss Banks is better than that.
Oh how I wish Banks would have used this as another teachable moment, instead of a chance to hawk album sales.