Harlem and Malcolm X’s daughter slam Nicki Minaj for online artwork that they call 'disrespectful'
Ilyasah Shabazz slammed the promotional image for the singer's new song, 'Lookin A-- N----,' and urged people to promote her father's legacy in a positive manner.
Don’t disrespect Malcolm.
That’s the message the slain civil rights leader’s daughter wants to send to pop star Nicki Minaj, whose use of Malcolm X’s likeness for her latest single prompted a backlash.
“Ms. Minaj’s artwork for her single does not depict the truth of Malcolm X’s legacy, is completely disrespectful, and in no way is endorsed by my family,” Ilyasah Shabazz told the Daily News Friday, two days after the controversy.
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Shabazz, one of six children by Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz, called on parents and educators Friday to teach their children about the country’s civil rights history.
“It is our family’s hope that the true legacy and context of Malcolm X's life continues to be shared with people from all walks of life in a positive manner that helps promote the goals and ideals for which Malcolm X so passionately advocated,” said Shabazz, author of the memoir “Growing Up X” and a motivational speaker.
The Queens-bred star apologized Thursday for posting artwork for her new single “Lookin A-- N----” that featured an iconic 1964 image of Malcolm X standing at a window holding an M1 Carbine for Ebony magazine.
She has since taken the art off social media and her site.
“That was never the official artwork nor is this an official single,” Minaj said in a statement Thursday. “I apologize to the Malcolm X estate.”
Across Harlem, meanwhile, local leaders were also angered over Minaj’s insensitive cover image.
“I’m angry because that’s not what he stood for,” said Jacob Morris, head of the Harlem Historical Society.
“For his image to be misused this way, it’s despicable,” Morris said of the picture, which shows the revered leader holding a rifle and peering through a window.
Morris described the image as one of self-defense because at the time the leader feared for his life.
But Morris said the damage has been done.
“Put up some money instead of some phony words,” said Morris, adding that Minaj should donate to a cause that the civil rights leader would have supported. “It’s disgraceful to attach the n-word to him — flat out
Harlem community organizer Iesha Sekou, who operates student workshops through Street Corner Resources out of Harlem Renaissance High School, was also appalled by the use of the image. She said some students at the school didn’t think the imagery and racial slur were offensive.
“I think it’s horrible,” she said. “Look at all of the work that Malcolm X did. For her to use his image and the language that she used, it’s major disrespect.”
Chris Moore, a historian at the Schomburg Center for Research and Black Culture in Harlem, where much of the civil rights leader’s manuscripts are housed, called Minaj “wrong-headed” for her decision to use the historic image.
“It’s more ignorant than disrespectful,” Moore said. “She should pick up a [Malcolm X] book — and her fans, too.”