Pop singer Madonna has ignited both fury and sparked debate on social media after she posted a series of photos featuring two of her adopted African daughters standing behind a slice of watermelon.
Watermelon has been used as a racist trope in American culture dating back to the Civil War era, when slaves won their emancipation, The Atlantic noted.
“Free black people grew, ate, and sold watermelons, and in doing so made the fruit a symbol of their freedom,” according to a 2014 story in the magazine. “Southern whites, threatened by blacks’ newfound freedom, responded by making the fruit a symbol of black people’s perceived uncleanliness, laziness, childishness, and unwanted public presence.”
Fast forward to 2019 and Black Twitter has been quick to remind others of this historical origin when someone like Madonna feigns ignorance.
The pop superstar is the mother of six, daughter Lourdes from a previous relationship, son Rocco from her marriage to British film director Guy Richie and three adopted children from Africa, David and twin sisters Stella and Ester.
The twins are at the center of Madonna’s watermelon photo controversy. One Twitter user suggested she’s racially exploiting her children.
Madonna uses her black kids for performance racism, that's how she stays relevant
— Juvie's Place (@CuzDubSaidSo) July 15, 2019
Another commented about what Madonna’s real sentiment toward her twins.
Madonna hate them damn black kids of hers and nobody gonna do anything about it
— walk him like a dog (@_vivrantthang_) July 15, 2019
A third flatly questioned her intelligence.
So @Madonna really thought it was ok to take pictures of her Black kids with watermelon?
She can’t possibly be this ignorant. pic.twitter.com/z0pKNnbPk3
— IG : its.dannie (@DLuxxx) July 15, 2019
Madonna has built up her 30-year career on pushing the envelope with provocative visual statements. She recently released a new album, Madame X, so many are calling this latest stunt with her children nothing more than a tacky PR to drum up interest in her new musical endeavors and tour later this year.
But this isn’t the first time Madonna has been caught in a racial controversy, according to Complex. In 2014, she posted a photo of her son, Rocco with the hashtag “DisN***a.” But later she apologized for using the word and deleted the image.
She was also accused of being racially tone deaf while paying tribute to Aretha Franklin at the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards, where she seemingly talked more about herself than she did the legendary singer.