My Brother’s Keeper: Is Nicki Minaj Wrong for Standing by Her Sibling?

supporting siblings

A front row seat at Paris Fashion Week, a Wendy Williams Show appearance, and even a subpar follow up diss days later, and folks still can’t stop talking about the beef between rappers Remy Ma and Nicki Minaj ignited by “ShEther”, the verbal annihilation most fans would say placed the crown back on Remy’s head as Queen of Hip Hop. Bar by bar Remy takes shots at everything from Nicki’s post-op practices after surgically enhancing her behind to even breaking down her paystubs.

But the lowest blow might be Remy’s attack on the relationship between Minaj and her brother, Jelani:

Guess who supports a child molester? Nicki Minaj

You paid for your brother’s wedding? That’s hella foul

How you spendin’ money to support a pedophile?

He a walkin’ dead man, sendin’ threats to him

I guess that’s why they call you Barbie, you was next to Ken

Talkin’ about your money long and your foreign sick

Why you ain’t help your bro hide his c*m from forensics?

 In 2015, Minaj’s brother, Jelani Maraj, was charged with first-degree rape and first-degree course of sexual conduct with a child. Maraj will stand trial for the charges and faces life in prison after rejecting a deal from prosecutors in which they offered a minimum of 15 years in prison for a guilty plea. Predictably, since Maraj was initially charged, court documents have emerged and news outlets made details of the case public including alleged DNA evidence in the form of semen found on the victim’s pants that is reported to match that of Maraj and Maraj’s own defense that the girl who was 12-years-old at the time was sleeping with an older man and a 17-year-old, but not him. As with many sexual assault cases, with every detail of the case going public, more and more Maraj became guilty until proven innocent in the eyes of the public and with Nicki Minaj’s fame being at an all-time high, fans began to look at the case and Nicki Minaj’s relationship with her brother under a microscope.

It didn’t help that months before the charges were placed, Minaj treated her brother and his bride-to-be at the time to $30,000 August wedding. Details of the charges later revealed that the victim accused Maraj of assaulting her on several accounts, one occurring shortly before Maraj was married and even months after the wedding. Rumors stated that at the time Nicki Minaj posted bail for her brother, although reports later revealed that Minaj’s mother, Carol, was the person who in fact put up the money using property that was in Minaj’s name. Nicki Minaj has never spoken specifically about the situation, but made it clear through Instagram posts featuring pictures of her and Jelani that she would support him regardless of what might happen.

My question is: Since when did supporting your sibling become a bad thing? Remy Ma may have just been using the low-blow lyric for shock value, but truth be told the love for a family member or a friend just doesn’t turn off the moment they are charged with a heinous crime and further more even if they are found guilty. Remy Ma of all people should know this after serving several years in prison after being convicted for shooting a woman in the abdomen. In an interview with The Fader, the “All the Way Up” rapper even comments on the strength of her own support system who visited her almost every day in prison and witnessing the lack of support many incarcerated women experience:

“The backbones of these families are women because a lot of the men are either gone or in prison for that matter, so seeing these women thrown away like trash just bothered me.”

Having an older sister myself I can attest to the fact that you may not always support the decisions your sibling may make, but that doesn’t mean you won’t continue to love and support them. Nicki Minaj paying for a wedding or expressing unconditional love for her brother doesn’t mean she excuses his behavior or actions (which may I remind you in the sexual assault case are still “alleged”) and I don’t think her support should be misconstrued as support for pedophilia or rape culture.

In the article, “Would You Bail A Family Member Out of Jail For A Heinous Crime” author Veronica Wells breaks down where Nicki Minaj may be coming from and the conflicting position she is currently placed in:

“Even if it my family member was guilty, I would like to think I still wouldn’t turn my back on him or her. I would most certainly let them sit in jail and face the punishment for their crime. No bond for you. I would still be there to support them emotionally and, more importantly, be sure that they received the help they desperately need, either in prison or outside of it. Even if the child he or she brutalized was my own, I might not be able to ever be in your presence again, but I had Nicki Minaj’s money, I’d still pay for treatment in hope that my sibling would never inflict this type of pain onto another family.”

I hope I never have to see a similar situation, but I know when it comes to my sister if I had Nicki-Minaj type of money, I’d be posting bond first and asking questions later. When it comes to the woman who once took butt whoopings for me, made sure I didn’t go to school looking crazy when mom couldn’t do our hair and let me use her car for work while she took the bus because my engine was seizing, I’m going to have to see some beyond a shadow of a doubt type evidence before I go withdrawing my love and support.

Until some hard evidence is revealed or that verdict comes down, I can’t say I fault Nicki for riding out for her brother. It’s like I always say: Murderers have mothers too. Regardless of how this ends, I’m sure the Maraj family will never be the same. Until then I think it may be a bit premature to be throwing any shade Nicki’s way for fulfilling her duties as a little sister. We don’t get to choose our family members and the decision to cut off some of those ties is a personal decision that’s different for everyone.

Toya Sharee is a community health educator and parenting education coordinator who has a  passion for helping  young women build their self-esteem and make well-informed choices about their sexual health.  She also advocates for women’s reproductive rights and blogs about  everything from beauty to love and relationships. Follow her on Twitter @TheTrueTSharee or visit her blog, Bullets and Blessings.