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Rap Diva Nicki Minaj Subject of HIV Twitter Hoax

August 21, 2013

Nicki Minaj

After false reports surfaced that Nicki Minaj was diagnosed with HIV, Twitter was flooded with posts using the hashtag "#pray4nicki" with fans asking for well-wishes for the hip-hop diva. The story of the hoax was first reported by the Epoch Times.

Of course, this is not the first time that "Nicki Minaj" and "HIV" have been used in the same sentence. Minaj was named spokesperson for MAC Cosmetic's Viva Glam campaign, which donates sales profits from its products toward HIV/AIDS relief efforts abroad. Nicki Minaj's MAC lipstick shade is the best-selling shade in the Viva Glam lipstick line's history. In appearances for the lipstick line, Minaj has spoken about the death of her uncle in Trinidad from HIV/AIDS, and reminded those listening that HIV/AIDS is not a "gay disease ... or an 'in the 80s' disease."

Hoaxes and the Internet are not strange bedfellows -- they practically go hand in hand. Plenty of celebrities, including young, white, male Justin Bieber, have been the targets of death hoaxes. But the fact that Nicki Minaj, a black woman, is the subject of a hoax pertaining to her HIV status smacks of casual racism. Could it be so easy to believe a rumor that she's HIV positive because she actively discusses her sex life -- a sex life that, as a black woman, is subject to stigma -- and because black women shoulder a disproportionate burden in this epidemic?

What do you think? Is the hoax harmless? Would a celebrity's race and gender have an effect on whether you'd believe a report about their HIV status? Could Nicki use this hoax as an opportunity to talk to her fans about safer sex, and the importance of knowing their HIV status?

Mathew Rodriguez is the editorial project manager for TheBody.com and TheBodyPRO.com.

Follow Mathew on Twitter: @mathewrodriguez.


Copyright © 2013 Remedy Health Media, LLC. All rights reserved.


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Reader Comments:

Comment by: bin alleiy (Tanzania) Wed., Dec. 11, 2013 at 1:42 pm EST
swagger rapper nick minaj said to have hiv aids my self i dont believe this cos she always is a big artist co many challenges can face her but worry not all fans of nick minaj
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Comment by: Jeannie Wraight (Bronx, NY) Tue., Aug. 27, 2013 at 2:16 pm EDT
She experienced this twitter hoax because she is a celebrity. Bringing race into it is really reaching and quiet honestly, doing so reeks of racism in itself.
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Replies to this comment:
Comment by: Mathew Rodriguez (New York, NY ) Wed., Aug. 28, 2013 at 3:11 pm EDT
Jeannie,

Thanks so much for your comment! I always write with an eye toward engaging opinions and fostering a discussion, and I always await comments on my article with baited breath. So, thank you for commenting.

You are indeed right, this twitter hoax was caused because she is a celebrity. Nobody twitter hoaxes about me having HIV, because I'm a nobody! I think my piece was less asking why she was subject of a twitter hoax at all, and more exploring why she was subject to an HIV twitter hoax, as a woman of color.

As a person of color, I know the way people of color's sexuality is spoken about in the mainstream media, and this article posed a question (to which you responded, rightly) regarding black women's sexuality and the way we speak about it.

Too many times as a person of color, I have had people shut me down when I speak about race. Many people of color speak, write and create due to an ache -- a need -- to express ourselves and disrupt a mainstream narrative that "race does not matter." The only way to combat racism is to call something for what it is -- to name it, de-center it, and take away its power. This piece was written in that vein.

Remember, race is not a dish at a potluck -- it is not something I "bring." It is the floor, the table, the house, the home. It is part of all our lives, even when we do not name it. I didn't just see this hoax about Nicki and think "How can I talk about race?" Rather, I saw a sister in my community being gossiped about again, which is an all-too-common occurrence in my community, celebrity or not.


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