By Pahull Bains
Date October 10, 2018
Couldn’t catch the live show but need to brush up on all the things people are talking about this AM? Here’s a quick recap of the highlights, best moments and talking points from last night’s awards.
All of host Tracee Ellis Ross’ looks were made by black designers
Perhaps taking a cue from Issa Rae, who wore only black designers for her gig hosting the CFDA Awards in June, actress Tracee Ellis Ross supported the black men and women of the fashion industry by donning their designs for her big night hosting the AMAs. “I’ve featured black designers in all of my @AMAs press looks, and will do the same for all my show looks tonight! Stay tuned for look-by-look details! #AMAs,” she
Her opening look—a boxy pink pantsuit—was designed by New York-based label Pyer Moss, founded by Kerby Jean-Raymond. She followed that up with a slew of showstopping looks, including a Gucci monogram cape by Harlem fashion legend Dapper Dan; a body-skimming gold dress by eveningwear designer CD Greene; a tulle dress by Virgil Abloh’s label Off-White, one of the buzziest fashion brands around; a sequinned tuxedo dress by Balmain, led by Olivier Rousteing; and a hot pink jumpsuit by Cushnie et Ochs.
Taylor Swift continued her political streak
Yesterday, the 28-year-old became the most-awarded female artist in AMA history, and she used her acceptance speech for the Artist of the Year award to do something she’s never done in a speech before: urge her fans to vote. Following her much-discussed Instagram post from just a few days ago, in which she endorsed two Democratic candidates in the upcoming midterms, Swift brought the conversation back to the importance of voting, saying, “This award and every single award given out tonight were voted on by the people, and you know what else is voted on by the people?” Swift asked the audience. “It is the midterm elections on November 6. Get out and vote. I love you guys.”
Aretha Franklin finally got a real tribute
After the disastrous “tribute” by Madonna at the Video Music Awards earlier this year, the Queen of Soul finally got a tribute she deserves. Gladys Knight kicked it off with a rendition of “Amazing Grace,” and was then joined on stage by Ledisi, CeCe Winans, Erica Atkins Campbell, Tina Atkins Campbell and others, who performed a string of gospel hymns and songs including “How I Got Over” and “Old Landmark” in tribute to the late Franklin’s gospel roots.
Jennifer Lopez gave a shoutout to Insta-poet Jasmin Kaur during her performance
Opening Jennifer Lopez’s performance of “Limitless” from her upcoming film Second Act was a screen emblazoned with a short poem by Sikh artist/poet Jasmin Kaur. For the past week or so, this poem has been doing the rounds on social media, shared both by regular users and celebrities/activists like Tessa Thompson. In response to an edited version of her poem, which replaced the word ‘scream’ with the word ‘vote’ and began to circulate online extensively in the aftermath of the Kavanaugh hearings, Kaur
, “To edit my ideas without permission for your own interests is peak white entitlement. It says that my voice doesn’t matter unless it suits your specific needs.” Kudos to Lopez for sharing Kaur’s work in its powerful, unedited glory. Photography via John Salangsang/BFA/REX/ShutterstockView this post on Instagram
The irony of this shitty poem edit is so blatant that I need to unpack it. Recently, a terribly edited version of one of my poems started making its rounds in white feminist spaces (swipe). The word scream was replaced with vote. I figured that people would clearly be able to see how this isn't cool, but I guess I was wrong. Let's break this down. As a kaur - a Sikh woman - I write to disrupt my erasure from the world. From media, from feminist discourse, from social justice spaces, from everywhere. This poem, specifically, was inspired by my reflection on the way that kaur voices have been erased from history in many ways and the pain I have felt as a direct result of that. I didn't expect women of other communities to engage with this piece the way they did, but it was surprising and cool. I recognize that there is so much overlap in the experiences of marginalized women across the world. The issue is that overlap in experience ≠ the same experience. When the word scream was changed to vote, someone made several shitty assumptions: 1. That my words were directed specifically at their neo-liberal political experiences of Amerikkka 2. That I made a mistake in explaining how to confront injustice and erasure 3. That my voice doesn't actually matter in a poem about my voice. Point 3 is the most important here, I think. The imagery of a Sikh woman's voice being erased from yet another space that she tries to exist within is too much. To edit my ideas without permission for your own interests is peak white entitlement. It says that my voice doesn't matter unless it suits your specific needs. It says that you don't know anything about me + that you don't need to. I write to exist. To be seen. To hold a mirror up to myself + women who look like me. In a world that very selfishly consumes the work of women of colour and marginalized folks. If you share my poetry (or your version of my poetry) without actually understanding who I am and why I am, you're engaging in my work passively. If you, as a white person, feel that I matter so little within the context of what I create that you can remove me from the work all together, you're colonizing my poetry.
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