Rapper's Insulting Tweet Sparks Debate on Difference Between Race and Ethnicity

April 6th 2017

Shonitria Anthony

French Montana apparently had a case of Twitter fingers Wednesday evening when he called out a woman after she wrote a tweet questioning his relevance in the music industry.

It wasn't long after the tweet that the "Pop That" rapper felt the wrath of Twitter:

While his response to her tweet was inarguably derogatory and misogynistic, it also ignited a debate among Twitter users about whether it was racist, too. The question, in short, is this: does Montana's African-heritage make him "black enough" to invoke black racial stereotypes?

He defended his remarks by writing, "[m]y son is black," adding that he was "born in Africa."

Montana's response — that he has a black son — only proved his failure to realize that despite his nationality and ethnicity it doesn't make his statement any less discriminatory against the black community, especially black women. Montana may feel his background earned him a pass to talk about black women's features, but Twitter users weren't buying it.

Let's not forget, non-black people of color (NBPOC) can be guilty of anti-blackness or discriminatory behavior towards black people, too.

"NBPOC have a tendency to remain neutral until they’re reminded that they’re not White. As long as they’re socially accepted, they have a selective sense of urgency in aiding Black people, and darker-skinned people within their own communities affected by colorism," wrote Sean Dajour Smith for The Huffington Post. French Montana, whose legal name is Karim Kharbouch, was born in Morroco, where 99 percent of inhabitants belong to the ethnic group of Arab-Berber, and he moved to the U.S. with his family when he was 13 years old.

Montana has openly spoken about his Arabic and French background, which is not to be confused with his race, because not everyone born in or living in Africa is black or belongs to the same ethnic group.

Ethnicity is defined as "a particular ethnic quality or affiliation," according to Merriam-Webster. Whereas, nationality is "a legal relationship involving allegiance on the part of an individual and usually protection on the part of the state nationality bestowed by birth: membership in a particular nation," according to Merriam-Webster's definition. Race, on the other hand, refers to "a class or kind of people unified by shared interests, habits, or characteristics. A category of humankind that shares certain distinctive physical traits."

However, some people on Twitter stood firm with the rapper, arguing that he's said the N-word before in his music, which could be viewed as much more inflammatory term, and no one ever complained. Indeed, French Montana used Hip Hop and black culture to make catchy songs that he's profited from, but this tweet was a direct attack on a woman where he used her race as a tool to harm her.

Regardless of what he meant when he wrote the tweet or what provoked him to author it, the assumed intent was to belittle someone by using their racial attributes. So, whether Montana was deemed "black enough" to make the comments or not, he was still reinforcing hurtful stereotypes about black women and their bodies, and that's never acceptable.  

So in the words of French Montana, (or was it Childish Gambino?) "stay woke."