* Popular recording artist
* Views America as an irredeemably racist nation
* Detests white people
* Maintains that African Americans should be awarded $100 trillion in reparations for the evils of slavery
Azealia Amanda Banks was born in Manhattan on May 31, 1991. Her father died when she was two, leaving the girl to be raised, along with her two older sisters, by a physically and verbally abusive mother in Harlem.
At a young age, Banks developed an interest in dancing, acting, and singing. She performed with the National Dance Institute in New York and trained at the renowned Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts. In 2009 she dropped out of school to pursue a career as a recording artist, signing a development deal with the London-based XL Records. Under the guidance of British producer Paul Epworth, Banks in 2014 released her highly popular debut album, Broke with Expensive Taste, which she described as containing “some real ni**a shit.”
Alleging that the music industry generally treats black recording artists badly, Banks said in December 2014: “I feel like, in this country, whenever it comes to our things, like black issues or black politics or black music or whatever, there’s always this undercurrent of kinda like a ‘Fu** you. There’s always a ‘Fu** y’all niggas. Y’all don’t really own sh**. Y’all don’t have sh**.’” Asserting, further, that “the basis of modern capitalism is slave labor” and “the selling and trading of [black] slaves,” Banks condemned the “fu**ing huge corporations that are caking off that slave money and sh** like that.” By Banks’s reckoning, the U.S. government should pay contemporary blacks $100 trillion in reparations for the evils of slavery.
In a series of Twitter posts in December 2014, Banks deprecated the modern-day descendants of the Rhode Island-based DeWolf family, prominent saleveholders of the 18th and 19th centuries: “I wonder where the descendants of the ‘DeWolf’ family are today. They should all have their houses burned and their finances seized.” Revisiting the issue of reparations, Banks added: (a) “This generation of young black kids needs to make a CONCERTED effort to seek out living descendants of major slave trading families”; and (b) “We are owed MAJOR FU**ING BUCKS kids, MAJOR BUCKS.”
In a tweet directed specifically to James DeWolf Perry—a DeWolf descendant who in 2008 had helped produce a documentary about his struggle to come to terms with his family history—Banks wrote: “What did you [sic] family do with all the money you made from slavery???? I need to know. Now.” In another post, she told Mr. DeWolf: “Someone should kick your ass, and punch you right in your stupid smiling cracker face.”
In other notable tweets, Banks said:
In a May 2015 interview with Playboy magazine, Banks was asked if she wished to leave the United States. She replied: “Yes! I hate everything about this country. Like, I hate fat white Americans. All the people who are crunched into the middle of America, the real fat and meat of America, are these racist conservative white people who live on their farms…. Because y’all motherfu**ers still owe me reparations! That’s why it’s still about race. Really, the generational effects of Jim Crow and poverty linger on. As long as I have my money, I’m getting the fu** out of here and I’m gonna leave y’all to your own devices.” Disparaging whites who might question the legitimacy of her demand for reparations, Banks said: “My little white fans will be like, ‘Why do you want reparations for work you didn’t do?’ Well, you got handed down your grandfather’s estate and and you got to keep your grandmother’s diamonds and pearls and sh**.”
By Banks’s telling, “the history textbooks in the U.S. are the worst if you’re not white,” because they credit “the white man” for such things as Christianizing Africans and teaching them how to speak English. “I could write a book about why black people shouldn’t be Christians,” says Banks. “Young black kids should have their own special curriculum that doesn’t start from the boat ride over from Africa. All you know as a black kid is we came over here on a boat, we didn’t have anything, and we still don’t have anything. But what was happening in Africa? What culture were we pulled away from? That information is vital to the survival of a young black soul.”
In March 2015, Banks took to Twitter and mocked conservatives, saying: “If you guys look closely enough you can see the future.” This tweet was accompanied by a photograph of her genitals.
On a Delta Airlines flight in September 2015, Banks was involved in an altercation where she allegedly struck and spat in the face of a fellow passenger and addressed a flight attendant as a “fu**ing faggot.” When she went to trial in March 2016 to face assault charges stemming from that incident, Banks swatted at a pair of photographers’ cameras as she left the courthouse, telling the photographers: “Suck my dick, faggots.” She also called a member of the media, a “cocksucker.”
In April 2016, Banks believed a satirical Internet article on the website Newslo implying that Republican Sarah Palin, the former governor of Alaska, had once said that “Negroes loved being slaves and they were doing just fine under our rules.” In response, the rapper posted the following comments on Twitter:
Realizing her mistake shortly afterward, Banks deleted those tweets. Then, after reporters from TheBlaze.com began tweeting about the story, the rapper told them that they too “need some black dick.” Moreover, she denied having said that Palin deserved to be sexually assaulted, explaining that she would “never wish a woman to be raped.” Finally, Banks seemed to re-affirm her initial tweets about Palin in a follow-up message to TheBlaze editor Oliver Darcy: “since she’s obsessed w/ what we black folk think and feel she should suck on a big black dick and hum on some ashy black balls”.
When Palin subsequently threatened to sue Banks, the singer posted the following on social media (emphasis hers):
“i’m 100% positive that the police killings, cultural appropriation, Trump and Palin etc. represent the contempt that whitey shares for this intangible , uncontrollable new black mind that’s been steeping for a while now. The mind born of very intelligent and real conversations/confrontations around American Racism. And the detachment of the Black mind from the mirage of a subpar existence and self-perceptions that crackers created for us long ago. They feel exposed and out of control for once. And our big black ideas and expression are threatening to further expose them, so they’ll try to trivialize and minimize our blackness by stereotyping us. Blackness is frustrating crackers nowadays because it’s threatening their sense of security and being. We longer care about what they think, so it’s hard to control us. F*ck whitey.”
In May 2016, Banks used her Instagram account to criticize singer Zayn Malik for supposedly copying her style. After Malik responded on Twitter, Banks called him a “sand ni**er.”
In December 2016, Banks posted to her Instagram account a series of videos wherein she said that she had practiced “three years worth of brujería” (the Spanish word for witchcraft). When Banks then panned her camera around the room which she had been using for animal sacrifices, hardened stains of blood could be seen on the walls while a mix of feathers and an unidentified black substance covered the floor, upon which at least two chickens lay dead.
Following a contentious exchange in January 2019 with a flight attendant on the Irish airline Aer Lingus, Banks wrote on her Instagram account:
Shortly after an August 2019 performance in Sweden, Banks commented on Instagram: “I would really love to see someone bomb the sh** out of this place Lmfao. Give y’all white asses something to fu**ing cry about. Ugly blonde pigs you swedes are.” Then, on the Scandinavian Airlines flight from Sweden back to Los Angeles, she accused the crew members of having “racially profiled and assaulted” her. The airline responded to that charge by stating that because Banks had been behaving erratically on the plane, the crew solicited help from law-enforcement personnel in Los Angeles to escort the singer off the plane upon arrival.
For additional information on Banks, click here.
Further Reading: “Azealia Banks, Taking Her Cues and Lyrics From the Street” (NY Times, 2-1-2012).