T&T-born American rapper Nicki Minaj’s controversial statements about the Covid-19 vaccine and swollen testicles engaged the attention of the White House.
According to reports, White House officials have contacted the rapper, offering a call with a doctor to have a conversation about her vaccine hesitancy.
This follows the furore that developed after Minaj tweeted that a man in Trinidad, a friend of her cousin, became impotent and developed swollen testicles after receiving the vaccine.
Health officials the world over, including American infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci, British Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty and T&T’s own Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh, have disputed the claims, saying swollen testicles are not a side effect of the vaccine.
Minaj tweeted on Wednesday she had been invited to the White House and that she had accepted the invitation.
“The White House has invited me & I think it’s a step in the right direction. Yes, I’m going. I’ll be dressed in all pink like Legally Blonde so they know I mean business. I’ll ask questions on behalf of the ppl who have been made fun of for simply being human,” she wrote.
But, this, too, has become a source of controversy, as a White House official said yesterday Minaj was not invited to the White House but, rather, “offered a call”.
“We offered a call with Nicki Minaj and one of our doctors to answer her questions she had about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine... it was simply an offer to have a conversation,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki.
Minaj, however, responded to the White House statement in a profanity-laced Instagram live where she maintained that she was invited to the White House.
She also hit back at people who she said were using the issue to attack her personally.
“It’s disgusting that a person can’t speak about just questions or thoughts they’re having about something they’re going to have to put in their body, that this attack is this hateful and purposeful... If I want to ask questions about the vaccine, what’s wrong?” she questioned.
“Disgusting that a person can’t speak about questions or thoughts about something they have to put in their body. You see they have to get people who can just get on there and make women of colour look (expletive) dumb, they can’t deal with smart women, whenever a smart woman challenges anything they get called a b***h or crazy, pick one or pick both.”
Rooting for the underdog
Minaj’s 14-minute live also raised some eyebrows in Trinidad and Tobago, as she suggested there was limited access to social media in T&T.
She said she was bothered when her relatives in T&T contacted her and said they could not work without being vaccinated and that she had to be their voice.
“Could you imagine being in a country where it is not that easy to get on Instagram? My family members in Trinidad don’t even have Instagram so if I have to be their voice, I will! I was born in Trinidad, I am a self-made woman so at the heart of who I am, I will always root for the (expletive) underdog,” she said.
“I might have seen my family struggle and I will ensure my son doesn’t have to live that life, but how can you forget it, how can you negate how these people feel? They are being told if they don’t have the vaccine they can’t work, so if I want to ask questions about the vaccine, what’s wrong?”
Several companies in T&T have stated that their employees must be vaccinated to return to work, while unvaccinated staff must provide a negative PCR test every two weeks. Government has, however, said the vaccination process remains voluntary and the Government will not move to make it mandatory unless T&T’s Covid-19 situation worsens significantly.