In this May 11, 2015 file photo, Azealia Banks performs in concert at Irving Plaza in New York. Banks, like Donald Trump, is outspoken and often criticized for her opinions. That makes the rapper the perfect person to perform at a Trump concert. (Photo by Robert Altman/Invision/AP)
On May 10, Azealia Banks launched a racist, anti-Muslim rant against ex-One Direction member Zayn Malik that resulted in her Twitter account being suspended.
The Harlem rapper’s rant began on Periscope a few hours before she took to Twitter, criticizing the singer for supposedly emulating some of her videos. In her tweets, she questions his authenticity, writing, “Do you understand that you are a sand nigger who emulates White boys’ renditions of Black male hood?”
When the English-born Malik, whose father is of Pakistani descent, offered a dismissive response, Banks appeared to ramp up her attack; referring to Malik as a “curry scented bitch” in one tweet and also saying, “ima start calling you punjab you dirty bitch.”
Banks then transferred her vitriol to Disney star Skai Jackson after the 14-year-old offered a mild criticism of the rapper’s statements about Malik.
“Azealia Banks needs to simmer down a little,” Jackson tweeted.
The post resulted in a full-fledged Twitter war in which Jackson unexpectedly got the better of Banks.
After her Twitter deactivation, Banks continued to harass Jackson on Instagram for a brief time.
The fallout over Banks’ rant extended beyond Twitter. Banks was also dropped as a headliner of a London music festival. She eventually took to Instagram to apologize for her words, writing on May 14: “Employing racial/sexual slurs/stereotypes in attempts to make fun of or degrade another person or group is absolutely unacceptable and is not fair or fun for anyone.”
Banks was not without defenders, however. Entertainment legend Bette Midler, who is noted for her quick wit and candor on Twitter, questioned why the rapper was removed while the accounts of other equally-offensive individuals were still active.
She tweeted, “Twitter deactivated Azealia Banks’ account for homophobia & racism? So why is Donald Trump still here?”
Although Banks’ tweets were harmful, Midler’s question offers a good point: Why is the voice of a Black woman being silenced when a more powerful voice is allowed to remain on the social media site?