Big Boi's Tweet Perpetuates A Terrible Stereotype

May 31st 2016

Tricia Tongco

You might remember Big Boi, one half of the hip hop duo Outkast, from the song "Ms. Jackson."

Well, 16 years later, his drama with mamas is still going strong. Earlier this week, Big Boi posted the following cringe-worthy meme on Twitter:

Some responded by pointing out the rapper's hypocrisy:

While the tweet’s message did resonate with some people, the most liked and retweeted replies were those that countered Big Boi’s statement about black mothers today:

However, women shouldn't need to adhere to the strict binary of being either college graduates or twerking hoes.

Being a sexual person (expressed through twerking or any other way between consenting adults) isn’t mutually exclusive to being a good parent. The following exchange in the tweet’s thread about Maya Angelou exemplifies this:

In addition to its sexist elements of slut-shaming and inhibiting women's sexuality, Big Boi’s tweet also reeks of a racist trope embedded in the American psyche.

From former GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson targeting young, unwed mothers to Ronald Reagan vilifying “the welfare queen,” black single mothers have been the scapegoats for the state of Black America for decades.

Those who perpetuate this stereotype point the following statistics: According to federal data, 73 percent of African-American births in 2010 were out of wedlock. Census Bureau data also estimates that 67 percent of African-American children grow up in single-parent households, reports Politifact.

However, the birth rate for unmarried black women has been declining for almost 40 years. Ta-nehisi Coates uses this statistic to criticize the argument that unwed black women are to blame for moral decline in the black community:

As you can see the drop in the birthrate for unmarried black women is mirrored by an even steeper drop among married black women. Indeed, whereas at one point married black women were having more kids than married white women, they are now having less.

I point this out to show that the idea that, somehow, the black community has fallen into a morass of cultural pathology is convenient nostalgia. There is nothing "immoral" or "pathological" about deciding not to marry.

Plus, choosing to place blame on single, black mothers doesn’t recognize systematic racism and oppression. The argument that Big Boi makes doesn't seem to take the following into account: The criminal justice system in America is racially skewed, and studies have found that African-Americans are disproportionately affected to a significant extent.

Additionally, the U.S. is failing mothers by not providing paid family leave, affordable child care, and a higher minimum wage.

In response to the rise of unmarried moms in the U.S., The Washington Post argues that we need to give women more reasons — like educational and career opportunity — to postpone motherhood, and we need to improve the economic prospects of those suitable partners they're searching for. Both of these are incredibly complicated tasks, as the Washington Post points out.

However, the conversation around contemporary black lives is a complicated one and shouldn’t be reduced to a meme that places unworthy blame on black mothers, especially considering the racism and sexism that black women face.

[h/t The Root]