Kat Stacks aka Andrea Herrera is a self-described victim of sex trafficking turned Hip Hop Ho tell-all. Shout out to all the lipstick feminists trying to reclaim words like ho. Indeed what I found so captivating about the Kat Stacks persona was her embodiment of many lipstick feminist ideals (stiletto feminism would be the more apt category actually). She shamelessly flaunted her M.O. of irresistible stripper and supposedly leveraged the access her sexuality afforded her by gaining fame for spilling secrets on the heavy hitters in the world of Hip Hop. However, she would argue that current sex workers have all these freedoms now compared to when she was young and coerced to working the streets, distinguishing her life story in significant ways from lipstick feminists.
In this fascinating interview with Hip Hop Radio show Hot 107.9 Atlanta (her first radio interview ever), Kat Stacks shifts the vibe of the segment away from gossip over the hip hop personalities she has been intimate with to a moment of self revelation that accomplishes much of what Take Back the Night hopes to be a forum for. In this interview the listeners discover a world of abuse that she suffered through, and the ability to have a forum for publicly vocalizing both the abuses of her past and the private details of famous hip hop personalities is described by her as ‘having a voice’. The expression ‘having a voice’ has long been evocative of empowerment and Kat Stacks makes a stark comparison between being “taught in the game to shut the fuck up and keep your fucking face down and not speak to nobody… and now that you actually have a voice and people listen to you it’s like so new to me.”
Kat Stacks is now a retired personality (indeed Kat Stacks is the name her pimp/baby daddy referred to her as). Andrea Herrera (the real women behind Kat Stacks) can currently be found in a Louisiana detention center fighting to stay in the country. She’s gone from blowing up rappers to blowing up the immigration police on twitter (suffice it to say her tweets about the rape of a transsexual individual and a Haitian hunger strike have not gone over well).
The following are a few speculations about the potential politics behind her political asylum claim. Normally, victims of sex trafficking and domestic abuse are looked upon favorably for political asylum claims. However, the bombastic out lash that the Kat Stacks personality evokes runs contrary to the narrative of a helpless victim that the political asylum industry generally looks for. Furthermore, Andrea Herrera’s retelling of her move to the US suggests that she came voluntarily because she thought she was leaving with a man who loved her (i.e. her pimp who forced her to work in dangerous situations and was gravely abusive). This conception of an amorous tryst obscures the psychological coercion at the heart of many sexual trafficking incidents. I think it also further demonstrates how the insistence on a victimization narrative to qualify for political asylum is inappropriate and discriminatory. In the tweeted words of Andrea Herrera on 7/2/12: “Just cause I didn’t kill my pimp or curl up in a ball like the rest of the girls doesn’t mean I’m not a victim.”
UPDATE – JANUARY 15, 2013
Andrea Herrera (Kat Stacks) will NOT be deported.