Aaminah Shakur
2 min readOct 21, 2016


Still from Janet Jackson’s “Nasty” video from 1986

Trigger/Content Warning for discussions of sexual violence, racism, misogynoir, transmisogyny, murder, general white liberal feminist nonsense


Like y’all wasn’t just deploying that

to talk about Nicki Minaj’s ass

or Kim K’s tits (she’s not actually white, you know)

Now it’s cool to be nasty

if you’re white, not too poor,

and especially if you’re cute, right?

Not like when you called me nasty

for acknowledging I have an STI

or when you called my friends nasty

because they had to correct your -isms

Nasty is what you call those

“fresh” and “too grown”

little Black and Brown girls

your man has been eyeing

Nasty is why Indigenous women are raped

at three times the rate of white women

But you’re gonna reclaim the word

for your empowerment

as if your power was ever really in question

Like when you reclaimed “slut”

on the backs of migrant teen girls trying

to cross the border and deemed unrapeable

because it was just payment for their travel

and those babies could have been anyone’s

Or like how both these words are used as an excuse

to murder trans women because men

are embarrassed they found them attractive

before they realized

they’re just nasty sluts

How are you gonna lay claim to a term

when your kink has always been called cute

but Vanity was shamed for wearing lingerie

and Janet had to lay claim to a right

to sexual agency on her own damn terms

and shamed for a white man pulling down her top

While the First Lady’s body is critiqued

and she’s asked to answer for Beyoncé’s dance moves

You literally erase Black women

to replace them with a white image

while ignoring the raped and disappeared

First Nations women just around the way

But let us tell you we traded something

for some food, we had a few too many partners

for your taste, we made a success of our plans

got too uppity for your comfort

and you’ll be real quick to remind us

we are the nasty ones

But I hear some y’all made enough money today

to pay three or four months of my rent

and it’s a learning curve for you to understand

why commodifying our words is not ok

and did you even donate to my GoFundMe

like, ever?

Cuz I know too many queer people of color

going hungry right now

that have been called nasty more times than you

You can’t reclaim words that never hurt you

and you can’t hurl words at us

that you call your own when it suits you