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YouTuber Nikita Dragun rolled up to the Video Music Awards (VMAs) on Monday night with an interesting fashion statement: three men on leashes, one of whom is Black.
Dragun, who boasts more than 2 million YouTube subscribers, shared a photo of her “fashion choice” on Instagram.
“‘Hiring’ one boyfriend didn’t exactly work out the first time… so this time i hired 3,” the non-Black YouTuber captioned the image. Dragun was making a reference to when she “hired a boyfriend for a day” for an old YouTube video of hers.
She promptly received flak from many across Instagram and Twitter–especially from the Black community, who pointed out the gravity and implications of putting a Black man on a leash.
“Black men on chains is NEVER a good look. Khloe Kardashian x Meagan Good teas,” Twitter user @TeenSuccubus wrote. The user was referring to a recently resurfaced image of Kardashian holding four Black women, one of whom was Good, on leashes for a Halloween costume.
“On top of the racism the dress is ugly and the wig is bad so there’s that,” another wrote.
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
She really didn't. Not this time— The 40 y/o Wiggalesiologist (@LuffNdStuff) August 27, 2019
This is very stupid and disgusting. What is it for?— prince. (@cuteariix) August 27, 2019
On top of the racism the dress is ugly and the wig is bad so there's that— LOVEWORLD (@orbitcells) August 26, 2019
This is so fucking gross 🤢— Savannah💫 (@FaiySavannah) August 26, 2019
Serve trauma’s— Marilene Loves Ariana☁️ (@marilen79944390) August 27, 2019
Another user brought up a recent viral incident, which took place in Galveston, Texas, where two police officers on horseback were seen leading a Black man by a rope.
“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,” Twitter user @claytoff wrote.
@MTV, 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.— Clayton P Carroll II (@claytoff) August 27, 2019
Some also pointed out that Dragun’s stunt would be completely unacceptable if the gender roles were reversed.
“Why are people supporting this, imagine the backlash if the gender roles were reversed smh,” an Instagram user commented on Dragun’s photo.
Can you imagine the reaction if a man came out with women on dog leashes?? This is just gross.— Kara C (@_kara_c_) August 27, 2019
The Daily Dot has reached out to Dragun’s public relations team.
Samira Sadeque is a New York-based journalist reporting on immigration, sexual violence, and mental health, and will sometimes write about memes and dinosaurs too. Her work also appears in Reuters, NPR, and NBC among other publications. She graduated from Columbia Journalism School, and her work has been nominated for SAJA awards. Follow: @Samideque