Azealia Banks
Azealia Banks performs at Coachella, 2015Getty Images

Shade is a hell of a drug. Once you take it you just can't get enough.

The line between hilarity and pain is so fine it's barely visible, but it's there. That line got crossed once again yesterday when Azealia "the walking definition of the phrase 'your faves are problematic'" Banks launched a vitriolic racist and homophobic attack on former One-Direction star Zayn Malik.

The Twitter rant was prompted by Azealia's belief that Zayn copied her music video. When Zayn seemed to respond to her on Twitter stating, "I see you reaching but I don't care" and "My @'s too good for you", instead of Azealia replying with a quick, catty comeback, all hell broke loose.

Azealia has continued with her rant and expanded it out to 14-year-old Disney star Skai Jackson, who came back at Azealia with some immensely witty put downs, and the entire UK rap scene, a strange target we know. This whole episode has backfired on Azealia, who has been roundly admonished for her actions on Twitter and has been removed from the London-based Rinse | Born and Bred Festival.

Twitter rants and sassy teenagers aside, when we step back from this seemingly trivial rant, what we have laid out in front of us is a black woman using racial and homophobic epithets towards a British Asian singer, and making remarks to a teenage African-American actress.

Prejudice between different ethnic minority communities has been a long standing issue across the world for some time. The caste systems that still exist in many countries, and even last year's news story about the black woman on a London bus who verbally abused two Muslim woman, show that this is a problem that runs deep.

We hit out, dismiss and bring down each other all in that long game that dates back to having to prove you were a better colonial servant.

Whether you were brought up in the Caribbean, the UK, India or the Middle East, people of colour have all been socially affected by the hierarchies of colonialism. The lighter you are, the closer you are to whiteness and therefore power. We hit out, dismiss and bring each other down all in that long game that dates back to having to prove you were a better colonial servant.

To this day, we are still socialised to compete and to never question our language, or who the real enemy is. Azealia is hurting, that much we know. It is the only real explanation for both the random nature of her attacks and the sheer volume of them. In the last six months alone she has fallen out with Rhianna, called Beyonce's visual album Lemonade the "antithesis of what feminism is" and is currently reportedly facing legal action from Sarah Palin for suggesting the politician should be "gang banged".

At this point most people in the entertainment industry know Azealia and what she is capable of. She's a highly talented artist who continually pushes the boundaries of hip-hop, house and dance and has previously made numerous breathtakingly on-point statements about racism in America. Some of her rants are amusing; I can't say I didn't laugh myself into a state of tears when she called Iggy Azelea out for cultural appropriation and referred to her as "Igloo Australia".

She's a highly talented artist who has previously made numerous breathtakingly on-point statements about racism in America.

The darker side of Azealia shows a black woman that can throw racist epithets as well as any white racist. She has reportedly previously called another dark skinned woman a "tar baby" and has even endorsed Donald Trump to be president. Now though she has taken that shade to a new level, sucked in all the insults that were probably hurled at her throughout her entire life and then thrown back out at the world.

It can't be stated enough how difficult existing in the world as a dark-skinned woman can be. At the bottom of every rung and stepped on at any given opportunity; I can understand her wanting to lash out to something or someone. Azealia reminds me of every black woman that has reached the end of her tether. She's done with being called ugly for the millionth time, she's tired of people dismissing her and she's had enough of being called crazy when she was just emotional.

She wants to exist in a state of rage, which is fine, but using white supremacist rhetoric and aiming that rage at people who haven't really done you wrong is not fine. Both her pain, and the pain she is causing with her outbursts, can only be tackled at the root. The pain needs attention, nourishment and understanding. So I'm here waiting with a cup of tea and a ready ear to listen. Azealia, sister, what's going on?


Stephanie Phillips is a journalist and blogger who runs her own blog about women in music called Don't Dance Her Down Boys. You can follow her on Twitter @stephanopolus and find more of her writing here.