Nicki Minaj’s amazing Paper covers caused a frenzy last week. The creative “Minaj A Trois” themed visual showcased three different versions of the Young Money rapper, including one of the Nickis hinting at oral stimulation of one another.
The cover channeled the evocative energy of Kim Kardashian’s Paper cover, and got just as many people talking and making their own inspired photos. One re-adaption of the cover depicts Pocahontas in the same sexually suggestive positions — and it has people talking for a different reason.
Nicki Minaj shared the photo on her Instagram account in a photoset of her favorite art inspired by the Paper cover. Her caption read, “which one should I hang in my room?” Apparently she’s “torn” on which one to put up, between Pocahontas, and a photo of three horses. Many people on Twitter and the post’s comments section immediately replied, strongly suggesting that the Pocahontas photo was not only a bad idea to put in her house, but to even acknowledge in the first place.
The Disney-sanitized depiction of Pocahontas is used as an icon of Indigenous beauty, but that depiction does her legacy a grave disservice. The real Pocahontas story isn’t about a cross-cultural romance, but a child who was kidnapped, raped in captivity and used against her will by English colonizers as a figure of goodwill between English colonists and the indigenous people of the Americas.
She was taken from her family, stripped of her culture, taken to Jamestown colony and renamed Rebecca Rolfe, after John Rolfe, who married her primarily to learn from her tribe how to cure tobacco and build a profitable business. The story told by Disney is derived from English colonialist John Smith’s narrative, which is a skewed version of the story created years after she died of mysterious circumstances.
A more in-depth account is available in documentaries like the Pocahontas: Beyond the Myth, but suffice to say her story isn’t one to be mistold.
In a time when hundreds of women are sharing their stories of sexual abuse and young Nigerian girls are being found dead at sea, promoting the sexualization of Pocahontas is an especially tone-deaf idea. Especially for Nicki Minaj, whose own brother was just convicted of child molestation. It’s likely that Nicki Minaj, like many, isn’t aware of the full history, as Disney’s depiction reigns in popular culture, but good for the people who put the truth where she could see it.