Marsai Martin is exactly the presenter award show producers look for. At Sunday’s BET Awards she took whatever script was given to her and made it her own, mixing comedy with an important call to action, demanding #JusticeForBreonnaTaylor. She even threw in a few steps from the TikTok “Savage” dance before presenting the award for Best Female Hip-Hop Artist to the “Savage” herself, Megan Thee Stallion.
But shortly after her appearance, internet trolls came to steal her joy — criticizing her appearance, and specifically focusing on the 15-year-old’s hair and teeth. Never one to let anybody dim her light, Marsai delivered the perfect clapback as quickly as the conversation started. In a sarcastic video posted to Instagram, she addresses those who said her hair “looks like a grandma’s wig.” If you haven’t already, you should see this.
The video could have ended there but in true Marsai fashion, nothing is surface level and that’s why this clapback is the perfect balance of petty and power. She snaps out of the tongue-in-cheek fake tears, for a deadpan stare into camera, pausing, before leaning in for a closer look….as she reaches off camera to retrieve a $100 bill, which she proceeds to use as tissue to blow her nose. BOOM. Bye haters! We’re unbothered on this side.
So much is said without uttering a word. It’s the look of disproval you get from your mother as a child, before she leans in closer because she really can’t believe the stupidity of your actions.
“Ya’ll, we are in quarantine and we got more important things to focus on than just my hair… Justice for Breonna Taylor.”
Why are we focused on Marsai’s hair? People love to critique the physical appearance of women on TV, and Black women receive a special category of hate. Many people are aware of Gabrielle Union’s complaints of a toxic work environment at America’s Got Talent. One of the many things she called out was how she repeatedly received feedback that her hairstyles were “too Black.”
You wear a natural hair style like Gabrielle Union and people have something to say. You wear a style that aligns closer to western beauty standards and people have something to say. So while this specific clapback from Marsai is aimed at the people currently talking sh-t, I think it’s really about society’s continued discrimination towards Black hair and the internalized attitude within the Black community after all those years of discrimination: the idea of “good hair.”
Monday, she posted once again on Instagram, thanking BET for her win and once again putting the haters to shame.
“Being in the public eye, allows people to feel entitled to talk about you like you are a THING instead of a PERSON. I’d like to remind folks that when we ask for the police to treat us with respect and to respect our humanity, it has to start with US first. At least until I’m grown and cuss y’all weirdos out properly 🤣🤣🤣Jk jk (kinda).”
She’s not joking, and I can’t wait.