Madonna is at it again.
She recently posted photos to her Instagram story that place the image of a bitten watermelon in front of two of her adopted, black children; it looks like they're both wearing a watermelon skirt, or like a very inappropriate joke. For a woman whose four out of six children are adopted black children, her choice to take these photos is reprehensible. The visuals are, at the very least, confusing.
If you're somehow unfamiliar, Southern whites created the narrative that all black people favored watermelon, a trope that indicated their "uncleanliness, laziness, childishness, and unwanted public presence." They were "unclean" because it's messy to eat watermelon. The stereotype was a political caricature to suggest that African Americans were not fit for freedom.
The most recent Red Table Talk, hosted by Jada Pinkett Smith, posed the question "Should White People Adopt Black Kids?" Smith sat with her mother, Adrienne Banfield Morris, and Sex and The City star, Kristen Davis to discuss the matter. Davis, who is a mother to two adopted black children, thoroughly explained the adoption process and how she prioritizes learning from the black community to be a better mother to her children. Their conversation shed light on what has informed their individual biases and perspectives. The conversation was a watershed moment for Morris, who had previously been opposed to the idea due to her distrust of white people. Morris went on to explain that she wasn't aware how involved, intense, and intricate the adoption process was for potential parents like Davis.
The photos Madonna posted undo that trust. The fact that she's raising two black children while perpetuating racist stereotypes for "fun" is concerning. But this isn't the first time Madonna's struck a nerve with people.
In her recent music video "God Control," she inserted herself in a re-enactment of Orlando's Pulse nightclub shooting to oppose gun violence without recognizing how the graphic video could in fact trigger survivors of the trauma. After the release of her New York Times profile, Madonna claimed she felt "raped" by the edited interview. A few years prior, she applied the same phrasing when her album Rebel Heart was leaked. She defended her diction, asserting, "I can use that analogy, having been raped at 19."
The complex pop sensation may be a cultural feminist icon, but her recent actions prove she has a lot of work to do to become more culturally aware—for the benefit of her career and her children.