Albino musicians aren’t a novelty act!
Following Miley’s Cyrus’s disastrous performance at the VMAs, several articles have criticized her use of black woman as props. She is not the first artist to “accessorize” with members of a certain group. In 2005, Margaret Cho labeled Gwen Stefani’s use of Harajuku Girls in her videos and performances as a minstrel show. Apparently neither Cyrus nor Stefani saw a problem with objectifying these women and putting their bodies on display for public consumption, or with the way their acts set up an uneven power dynamic between the more privileged person in the spotlight and the often marginalized group in the background.
There is another artist perpetuating this disturbing trend. No, it’s not another blonde, pop princess—it’s Sly Stone. For the millennials who don’t know about his band, Sly and the Family Stone pioneered funk music in the late 1960s and 1970s. They were hugely successful with a soul, funk, pop, and psychedelia-infused sound that captivated black and white audiences alike. By the mid-1970s, drugs and infighting led to the demise of the band.