by: Patrick Gill
Dear Tyler, the Creator,
I, among many others, raised an eyebrow at Willow Smith’s recent comments, taken from a Rap-Up Magazine interview and splashed across the internet, where she professed her love for you upon your meeting, accompanied by showing up wearing your Goblin apparel and talking about her love of your single “Yonkers.” I love that song, too, but I think I would have a different reaction to meeting you—probably a strange and almost manly hand shake with a very brusquely coughed out “Hey.”
Others have commented on this friendship, fearing the influence you might have on her. I will join them, but in a potentially different way. Here are my words of caution: even though I know you are able to make decisions and protect yourself, and that Willow Smith is adorable, this 11 year old has a force behind her that rivals the military force of most developed nations. If you upset her, or all things considered holy harm her in some way, something near to a hellscape will rise around you, bringing you to a pain unknown before. I am not afraid of what you can do to her, I am afraid of what she and those around her can do to you.
First, there is her family. Her father has punched aliens in the face on multiple occasions, and her mother was in The Matrix. The Matrix. Also, her little brother is the new Karate Kid, and for that matter, who’s to say his sensei Jackie Chan will not jump into a fight. That man has survived multiple falls from multiple stories–nothing will break him.
As for other celebrities who will step in, Nicki ” the Ninja” Minaj might have a bone to pick with you if anything bad became of dear Willow. Nicki did a verse on Willow’s last single; who’s to say they aren’t friends now? Have you forgotten that her video for “Your Love” might have given her actual sword training? Do you know what kind of weapon can be hidden in a pink Marge Simpson wig? She isn’t afraid of the entire Catholic Church and most of God-fearing America–I think she could pretty readily trounce anyone who stepped in front her.
Honestly, I don’t know if you would make it that close to Willow. Because before you reach the core of her defenses, you have to fight through fans. Particularly her massive LGBTQ following, and hon, that’s not even the whole acronym. She pretty much has a career because she appeals to dancing queens.
She is a performer who embraces and loves herself and doesn’t seem to be cutting anyone down in the process. In fact, she wants everyone to feel good. That’s something many queer people enjoy in a pop jam. The LGBTQ people come from every race, ethnicity, age, ability, geographic location. They are a massive block, and when you make enough of them angry, many will them join in solidarity. Because of this, it is my belief that they–me included–will drop like a tasteful union-made, hand-crafted from reclaimed materials, steel curtain to protect Willow Smith if anything bad were to happen to her in any way, shape or form.
Likewise, I think a whole lot of straight allied feminist and womanists would rise up with us. Do you think you can weather the perfect storm that Third Wave feminists and womanists can create? Patriarchy, a societal framework that has centuries of backing, is starting to crack because of them. What do you think can happen to one person? Keep in mind these are two communities you are already in some hot water with, Tyler. Many already find your music less than savory. Let’s not make them hate you personally.
As for Willow, she may even jump in front of all these guardians and deal with you herself. I am nearly convinced she is a space alien mixture of RuPaul, a raptor, and Raven Symone. She is that Raven. She is that fierce—not just in the drag vernacular way. She is that space-aged. She fell from the ever loving sky in her video in a firey asteroid to a street full of juking and foot working youth. I don’t think that was a concept, I think that was her origin story. You should be afraid.
Remember how hard she could whip those braids, too. Even though she is down to tight buzz right now, I am damn sure she has other methods of ass-kicking. You thought you had it handled on “Martians Vs. Goblins,” but Weezy and the Game have no fury like that of a young woman.
If this has not convinced you to run from Willow, which I honestly hope it has not, I hope you have let her in on who you might actually be. By that, I mean who I assume exists beneath a “Goblin” exterior: that you are more vulnerable than your persona; that much of your music is the darkest catharsis a young man who was moved from school to school 12 times in two cities; who had to cope with that kind of constant root shock along with all of the burning shit you think you have to stomp out when you are a teenager.
Even though you are 20 now, you live with those things, and you still have to contend with a multitude of sources defining male Blackness: who you should be, what you should be doing, how you should be talking, not talking, sitting, standing, swaggering, and what you should be aspiring to. Media sources and persons push hundreds of years of finely-tuned racism on you, attempting to dictate what every detail of your life should be presented as. I think some of what the public sees is a product of that, and you might be a good guy. I hope you are a good guy and a good friend to Ms. Smith.
I’m not saying it’s okay for you to set rape fantasies to beats, then add guttural coughs about beating up “faggots,” or that those songs should be shared with a girl as young as Smith. Nor am I trying make myself into some great White angel, cooing as he delivers an understanding assumed that you have never received before, telling you it’s okay to be friends with her. I’m not going to tell you who to be friends with—that’s no one’s right or job.
I am someone writing you an open letter, half-jokingly and half-seriously, about your friendship with Willow Smith. I was confused, more than likely by the way both of your public personas act and sound, that you two could be friends. That’s a limiting thought, but one I initially had nonetheless.
I don’t really think anything bad will come of your friendship. Honestly, I would probably like to hear you produce a few of her songs. Stylistically, it would be an interesting pairing that might guide her career into a whole new place. I hope this letter finds you well and that I didn’t assume too much or step too far.
Patrick Gill is the Co-Creator of In Our Words, as well as the Co-Founder and Host of the queer reading series All The Writers I Know. He is a poet, essayist, short story writer and occasional performer. Patrick writes the column “B*tch, I’m Miley Cyrus” for HEAVEMedia, is an alumnus of DePaul, has developed LGBTQ-centered anti-bullying curricula for CPS schools and is currently working on LGBTQ friendly children’s books. Patrick is doing so in order to be cute and endearing once again. He is a semi-professional word-hustler and a burrito hunter. His mother thinks everything he is doing is a fun thing to do.