I try not to pick on Taylor Swift much, mostly because enough people do that and I don’t find her to be as bothersome as many seem to. However, in an interview with BBC Radio 1, Swift spoke of her interaction with The Weeknd – better yet his hair – in way that was somewhat surprising. And no, not in the way faux way as notoriously exhibited by Swift at award shows.
Describing the way she interacted with The Weeknd at a Grammy party, Swift, along with her friend and fellow artist, Ed Sheeran, had this exchange:
Taylor: “I woke up to an email from The Weeknd, and he was like, ‘You told me how beautiful I was for 15 minutes straight and started to pet my hair.’”
Ed: “His hair is very pattable.”
Taylor: “It looked really cool that night and I apparently went on and on about it.”
Nick: “This sounds like quite the evening. You petted The Weeknd. Like an animal.”
Taylor: “I was like, ‘You’re so magnificent.’”
Nick: “Is that the weirdest email you’ve ever woken up to, Taylor, or has there been other ones than The Weeknd saying, ‘Hey, last night you petted me like an animal.’”
Taylor: “There’s been weirder ones than that.”
If I was privy to Taylor Swift’s e-mail address, I’d send her a message with the following subject: “Let me show you where you went wrong here.”
One assumes Swift was somewhat inebriated during the exchange in question, which is presumably why she doesn’t remember much of what happened. I’ve been there, girl. I don’t remember nearly busting my ass trying to smack it, smack it in the air on the ground last Friday. Moreover, I imagine she meant no harm. After all, she was telling The Weeknd how “beautiful” he was to her.
Still, the optics of this exchange are not favorable. Some white girl, probably drunk off rich people’s champagne, decides to throw her hands all up and down someone’s hair. Sure, The Weeknd’s hair is unique in its presentation, but home training dictates you don’t freely run your hands in it.
Then, when revisiting the event in question, the person is likened to an animal. If I’m telling a story and someone says in response, “You petted someone like an animal,” I’d be probably at least try to clean it up a bit. If nothing else, Swift is good for feigning shock and embarrassment. What a missed opportunity to share such talents for a deserving moment.
I won’t say this makes her necessarily racist, but I do think it is another example of white people not knowing when to keep their hands to themselves when it comes to Black people’s hair. Likewise, how certain phrasing and categorizations of Black people are never, ever okay.
I don’t know what Black people exist in Swift’s life. She just had dinner with Kanye West, so I don’t expect him to do much in the way of educating her. You know, given he’s suddenly post-racism and all about fighting some weird battle against classism that involves getting people to buy his homeless chic inspired clothes with a too high price point and all. But, the next time she’s hanging out with Beyoncé and eating vegan cupcakes, I hope she’s told that none of what she told BBC 1 Radio was okay.
Keep your hands to yourself, Lady of Off Beat Dancing To Rap Music, and do not talk about people of color like they’re domesticated animals.
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