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On today’s Ellen, Ellen DeGeneres presented a “very exclusive sneak peek” of the upcoming ABC Family sitcom about Nicki Minaj’s early life. What ran was a satirical sketch that amounted to a little over of a minute of modern minstrelsy in which members of a black family bumbled around their house impeded by their giant asses. They knocked stuff over with their big butts, and found it challenging to sit on a couch together. The little girl character was made to bend over as she was introduced.
It was a joke, see, except...what exactly was the joke? That Nicki Minaj has a big butt? (OK, fine, but that’s just the truth, not really...a joke?) That black people have big butts? That black dogs have big butts? That black women’s bodies are absurd?
It’s a joke, except it reduces Nicki Minaj to just an ass. She’s served us lots of ass, but so much more than that, too. She’s given us plenty of quirks, plenty of attitude, plenty of facial ticks, plenty of wigs. This skit is at least lazy, at least casually racist. How did this make it on the air?
“I have one more thing that I think will boost your mood,” is how DeGeneres set the clip up. Think again, Ellen. Think again and again and again. Now think harder.