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200,000 Google Questions About Nicki Minaj's Race, Ethnicity, Nationality & Parents Robert & Carol

GOOGLER'S ASK, WHAT race is Nicki Minaj? Her image is a clash of indentities that fans scramble to the Internet in search of the truth about her ethnicity, nationality and parents. By Ben Arogundade. [Mar.13.2016]

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THE NEW YORK TIMES called her “the Cindy Sherman of rap”, referencing her myriad of alter egos and their outlandishly colourful array of costumes, hairstyles, weaves, wigs and brash, candy-coloured make-up. In reality her origins are much simpler: we know her as Nicki Minaj, but she was born Onika Tanya Maraj on December 8, 1982 in Saint James, Port Of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. Of her family, both parents, Robert and Carol Maraj, are Trinidadians of African heritage, although her father — a financial executive and part-time gospel singer — is also of South Asian (Indian) ancestry.

NICKI MINAJ'S FAMILY BACKGROUND
Minaj — whose single Super Bass has clocked 571 million YouTube views — endured an unsettled early life and childhood. Initially she didn't live with her parents, and was placed with her grandmother in Saint James instead. Then at the age of five her mother collected her and they moved to Queens, New York. Minaj's memories of her father during this period were of a man who drank heavily, took drugs and was violent toward her mother. At one point she claims that he burned down their house, and that her mother only narrowly escaped.

AN INDIAN ANCESTRY
Nicki's family surname, “Maraj” is a Hindu term thought to be derived from the word “Maharaj”, which means “great king”. Historically, her ancestry dates back to the Indians who first arrived in Trinidad as contracted labourers in 1845. By 1917, 130,000 of them, mainly Hindu's, had settled there, with many of them forming relationships with the local Trinidadians. Nicki Minaj's ethnic ancestry is but one of thousands of stories which trace their roots back to this era of Indian immigration.

NICKI MINAJ'S ETHNICITY & NATIONALITY? ASK GOOGLE
As her success has grown, Nicki Minaj's nationality and ethnic ancestry has increasingly become the subject of debate and fascination amongst her fans, many of whom find it difficult to pinpoint her exact racial heritage and genealogy beneath the dense artifice of multi-coloured weaves and elaborate day-glo make-up. Questions about the music diva's ancestry, her mother and father, and their family background are played out online, where a total of approximately 200,000 people per year type their queries into the browsers of their computers and smartphones. According to statistics supplied by Google, approximately 1,000 global Internet-users per month ask the question, “What race is Nicki Minaj?”, while a further 600 users ask,“Is Nicki Minaj Indian?”, each month. Her image, difficult to pin down, swerves and shape-shifts dramatically from black to white, from blonde to brunette, from curly to straight, and from dirty to dangerous, always staying one step ahead of her fans expectations.

Ben Arogundade's book, 'Black Beauty', is out now.

THE ETHNIC ENIGMA: Is she black, Indian or Other? Many of music diva and former American Idol judge Nicki Minaj's global fanbase are curious about her ethnicity, nationality and family. 200,000 fans a year Google various questions about her racial ancestry and parents background.

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Beauty History & Culture by Ben Arogundade, Author of 'Black Beauty'.

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*NICKI MINAJ'S ETHNICITY — THE STATS

800

The number of people worldwide who Google the question, “Is Nicki Minaj black?” each month.

1,000

The number of people worldwide who Google the question, “What race is Nicki Minaj?” each month.

2,000

The number of people worldwide who Google the phrase, “Nicki Minaj ethnicity” each month.

4,400

The number of people worldwide who Google the phrase, “Nicki Minaj parents” each month.

*All figures for “Nicki Minaj's Ethnicity - The Stats”, supplied by Google. Figures include global totals for laptop and desktop computers and mobile devices.

MOTHER, FATHER, DAUGHTER: Nicki Minaj as a baby, together with her parents Robert and Carol Maraj. Minaj's parents pictured years later. They are from the island of Trinidad & Tobago, in the West Indes. Both are of African heritage, although Robert also possesses South Asian ancestry.

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