YouTuber and influencer Nikita Dragun sparked outrage on Monday night when she attended the MTV Video Music Awards with a black man on chains.
The 23-year-old, who has more than 2.5 million YouTube subscribers, described herself as a ‘bad bitch’ on social media and said she did it in an attempt to ‘take back the power’ men previously held.
Her unusual ‘fashion choice’ was met with criticism by many who pointed out the serious implications of having three men on leashes and more specifically putting a black man on a chain, with the YouTuber’s actions labelled as ‘racist’ and ‘disgusting’.
Sharing pictures of her red carpet appearance on her personal social media account, Nikita referenced a previous YouTube video of hers in which she hired a boyfriend for a day.
The YouTuber wrote:
‘hiring’ one boyfriend didn’t exactly work out the first time… so this time i hired 3
MTV also shared footage of her appearance, praising Nikita for her boldness and writing: ‘Things @NikitaDragun just did: THAT!’.
However, the tweet quickly prompted backlash from the channel’s millions of followers, who said they shouldn’t be giving the 23-year-old a platform.
While one person urged MTV to stop inviting social media influencers such as Nikita to high profile events, another made reference to a recently resurfaced image of Khloe Kardashian holding four black women on leashes, one of whom was Meagan Good.
Black men on chains is NEVER a good look. Khloe Kardashian x Meagan Good teas… pic.twitter.com/fsxuAP4x2V
— Suspended Icon (@TeenSuccubus) August 26, 2019
This a bad idea to publicly display no matter who is at the end of the leash…but especially when it’s a black body at the end of that leash. This will never sit right with me!
— Toussaint’s Girl (@Savannha_XVII) August 27, 2019
Lmao! The guy in the back reminds me of Petty Paige, that Demi person, and everybody black who I see on the TL acting coonish and bowing before these racist white influencers for a drop of white validation. It's infuriating, but I have to laugh (otherwise I'll curse). https://t.co/ircCZZXGB7
— Xzavier 'Dark Skin Supremacist' JJ🧜🏽♂️ (@XzavierJJ) August 27, 2019
Another person referenced the recent incident in Texas whereby two white police officers on horseback were seen leading a black man through the streets by a rope, stating such a publicity stunt was inappropriate.
Twitter user @claytoff wrote:
This isn’t appropriate considering the current news cycle about a Black man led by rope, by police, through a town and of course the long history of treating Black people like livestock. @NikitaDragun this is absolute trash.
An image of the aforementioned incident went viral earlier this month, showing 43-year-old Donald Neely walking behind the officers’ horses in handcuffs. He was forced to walk behind them for approximately eight blocks while passersby looked on.
Such an image provoked disgust and outrage worldwide, with many people repulsed by the idea that a black man could be treated in a way similar to the way slaves were treated in previous centuries.
— Tariq Nasheed 🇺🇸 (@tariqnasheed) August 6, 2019
The YouTuber’s outfit elicited similar reactions, with some questioning why slavery was being mimicked simply for fashion purposes.
Although Nikita is yet to respond to the racism claims, she has hit back at those who have accused her of reverse sexism, saying ‘men are the dominant gender with power in society’ and her outfit was a statement representing women taking that power back.
In response to claims of this reverse sexism on Twitter, Dragun stated she used ‘consenting paid male models’ to create the controversial look, and doesn’t understand the criticism she has faced.
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A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).