Nicki Minaj’s Anti-Vax Tweets Have Deadly Effects

Minaj is a good person doing a bad thing

Nicki Minaj has a big heart and even bigger talent. But she also has a big responsibility to not put her fans in physical danger. With over 156 million followers on Instagram, what she says has repercussions in people’s lives and potential reverberations in the country’s economy. Which is why celebrities may have the freedom to say whatever pops into their minds, but we need to hold them accountable when they offer harmful opinions without factual basis. Worse, when there was public backlash to her unsubstantiated claims, Minaj threatened reporters and teamed up with one of African-Americans’ biggest enemies, a Fox pundit and admitted liar, to help support her. This is harmful to America, sure, but it’s especially harmful to Black people.

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It started when Minaj chose not to attend the Met Gala. In one tweet she said: “They want you to get vaccinated for the Met. [I]f I get vaccinated it won't (be) for the Met. It'll be once I feel I've done enough research.” However, she also sent a tweet that suggested she got COVID and that was why she wasn’t going.

What people rightfully jumped on was the phrase “once I feel I’ve done enough research.” The research is already out there and it doesn’t require more than a couple hours at most, which should have been done many months ago. There is no new information that’s going to come out to tip the scales. Almost all immunology experts have declared that the vaccine is our best hope to stop COVID-19, protect our children, and to get the economy healthy so people will have jobs.

Minaj supported her vaccine hesitancy by citing this spurious claim: “My cousin in Trinidad won’t get the vaccine cuz his friend got it & became impotent. His testicles became swollen. His friend was weeks away from getting married, now the girl called off the wedding. So just pray on it & make sure you’re comfortable with ur decision, not bullied.”

Naturally, this prompted everyone from journalists to the Haitian government to look into this story—and none found the smoking testicles. In addition, doctors have stated that they know of no cases where swollen testicles are a side effect. Even President Biden and Dr. Fauci have offered to facilitate a phone conversation talk to give her the “research” she requires.

The attitude that she doesn’t care what experts say is nice for the rebel image, but in reality, my guess is that when she was pregnant and gave birth, she listened to her doctors’ advice. And if her child ever needs medical attention in the future, she’ll probably do what they say.

Minaj has become the topic of many satiric barbs from talk show hosts and comedians, which has the effect of trivializing the seriousness of the harm she’s doing. In reaction to journalists trying to find the missing cousin’s friend, Minaj has threatened them and posted their personal information on her social media platforms. I spent several decades as the object of some vicious press, so I sympathize with her outrage. However, physical threats to a free press undermines democracy.

The most heinous part of all this is that Black people have been suffering far more than whites from the pandemic. They have higher rates of getting sick, being hospitalized, and dying. They also have a high rate of vaccine hesitancy due to a history of being lied to and mistreated by the health care industry. One survey found the highest rate of vaccine hesitancy among Blacks to be in the 18-29 range, the age of many of Minaj’s fans. Right now, we’re trying to save Black lives, not further damage African American communities. She should be out there encouraging people to be vaccinated, not simply so she can go on tour and so they can come to her concerts, but because it will save their lives, their families, their jobs, their economy.

I believe that’s what she wants, too, but that this whole thing spiraled out of control and she became defensive. From everything I’ve heard about her, Minaj is a smart, empathetic woman who wants to do good. Now is a good time to step back, reassess, and do the right thing.