Popular Zimbabwean musician, Wallace Chirumiko, also known as, Winky D, has irked a few prominent people with his ‘obsession for white girls’ in his music videos.
The heat was turned on the hit maker after his latest release (Happy Again). After the highly anticipated song hit the airwaves. It did not take long for some prominent Zimbabweans to blow back and criticise- ‘The Gafa’ – Winky D, as he is affectionately known to his fans.
Prominent author Tsitsi Dangarembga did not mince her words she tweeted
“Just had a look at Wink D’s “Happy Again”. While I love Winky D’s music and his charisma, in my opinion, the white girl fixation is becoming problematic.
“He just doesn’t fancy black girls,” read a comment from an irate commenter.
“That’s just his preference.” Another commenter clapped back the blow back.
It’s 2021, and indeed, the issues to do with race and how people perceive what matters and matters not with regards race and reverse racism is still as topical today, if not more than it ever was. Particularly, in this era characterised by the Black Lives Matter movements. I had this conversation, with one of my subeditors only hours after the release of Winky D’s song (Happy Again) it is the video I must say which has sparked this blowback.
The conversation took me back to an adolescence peppered with similar microaggressions. And it reared its head again on when Winky D’s music video aired on social media platforms.
Zimbabweans who had anticipated the much-publicised song release unpacked racial stereotypes in the video, featuring yet another white girl. Triggering a frustrating argument about whether having white girls on his music videos is Winky D’s preference or is it just racist?
Desirability isn’t the be all and end all our social and political struggles – and our conversations shouldn’t become completely absorbed by an obsessive focus on whom a music artist wants to get on his music videos and whom he doesn’t. But it’s still a part of our lives like any other, and one that can impact on our sense of self-worth.
Maybe, Winky D is attracted to white girls and prefers white over black in his videos
And to me, it’s obvious – sexual attraction doesn’t exist in a vacuum – it’s not some innate whim of biology that you have no control over. The medium of music, and the endemic racism that threads through parts of the industry is a very complicated conversation. Nonetheless, it does a good job of pointing out the fact that images of who is desirable, and how and when they’re seen as desirable, are political and orchestrated.
Maybe the struggle over this stems from the issue of individualising racism – the classic sticking point that brings us back again and again to the defence of I’m not racist. After all, it’s difficult to look in the mirror and consider the fact that something that seems so “natural” and instinctual, and is often framed as apolitical, could actually be oppressive and harmful.
Those who argue that Winky D’s use of white girls in his videos, is in a way harmful to the way black girls perceive beauty and how black boys interpret beauty, may have a point.
Many elements of our romantic and sexual choices are influenced by society. A study by the University of St Andrews found that exposure to online media pushes our attraction closer to stereotypes of masculine and feminine extremes. Another study of perceptions of beauty by Dove found women “in the public domain” are cited by the general public as influencing who they think is beautiful, which can clearly be linked to race and the prominence of Eurocentric beauty standards in the media.
It’s commonly argued that these preferences are just like having a preference for hair colour or eye colour. But that doesn’t quite hold up, because race is, well, something different. Whilst we could definitely spend some time unpacking the social and cultural connotations attached to those physical attributes, their histories are so distinct to the history of race, it feels undignified to waste word count even explaining it.
But I will point out that the way race is conceptualised has long been hierarchical, and sexual and romantic segregation has been historically enforced as a tool of maintaining that hierarchy.
Could Winky D be trying to demonstrate that he has transcended his race? Many a successful black man some argue always end up with a white girl to show that they have transcended. Is this just a fetish that ‘the Gafa’ has? Or maybe, just maybe, we are reading too much into this?
This same issue of hierarchy serves to demonstrate why a musician of colour choosing to feature only white girls in his music videos, is such a controversial issue entirely. It’s not “reverse racism” because it doesn’t fit established patterns of racism and power dynamics. One can argue, that perhaps for Winky D choosing to feature white girls in his music videos is a result of experiences of racism and fetishisation.
I would argue that some people move in and out of these spaces, with the knowledge that they have some degree of autonomy over whether they care if white girls are used in Winky D’s music videos as opposed to black girls. Personally, I don’t engage with it all the time. But in the times that I do, you bet I’m going to call it like I see it: a “preference” for whiteness isn’t just a preference – it’s racist.