sometimes the universe makes you do things that you really don’t want to do. writing this essay is for sure one of them. i’m usually really good with sticking to my guns, but the universe keeps bugging me about it and my friends promised to buy me another cat if i write this, so here i am. i’m still trying to decide if i want to do a spin-off of this essay, but if it goes down, you guys will obviously be in the loop.
here it goes.
this week, an essay titled, “dear white gays, stop stealing black female culture” was lifted from a college paper and landed on time.com. this essay is just another one of the now uber popular “being black is so hard and stressful and i’m mad about it” essays flooding the internet over the last two years. it started on down + out black women’s interest blogs and now bleeding into mainstream media. i was raised in my black nationalist home that being a black person of my generation is a privilege, but i’m learning that tons of people my age don’t feel the same and honestly, thats okay. we all have different experiences with this whole being black thing, so it’s silly to silence anyone because their life isn’t like yours. my issue is that in people’s hurt/anger, rationality and clear thought seem to be taking a backseat. this makes it hard for outsiders like myself to understand and open their minds/hearts to the points being made. “dear white gays, stop stealing black female culture” is a perfect example.
to be clear, this was not the first time that black women have spoken out about white gay men and their relation to our culture. a few months ago, blogger perez hilton said “inside every gay man is a sassy black woman”. i 100000000% agree because i have gay friends of all races and they remind me of my mother. before perez even said it, i made this declaration, so honestly, i should be suing him for copywrite infringement. anywho, naturalhairsheabutterfeminist twitter went berserk! the comments all mirrored sierra mannie’s sentiments in her essay, especially this whole “you can’t talk like us because you aren’t oppressed” thing.
besides being petty, the sentiment is faulty. when i was shipped off to an hbcu, i thought that everyone would be the same because we were all black. reality slapped me in the face and well yeah, henry louis gates was so right when he said that if there are 40 million black folk, then there are 40 million ways to be black. so when these women are equating “shanequa from around the way” with blackness, it’s easy to dismiss their critique of white gay men. when white people reduce us to ’round the way girls, it’s a problem, buuuuut when lashing out on white people we accuse of appropriating our culture, this is the archetype that we align ourselves with en masse? huh? #howsway? if the argument was framed as “white gay guys, you’re kinda blowing me acting like hood black girls”, i wouldn’t share the feeling (because being banjee is a joy all should experience), but i’d totes understand. however, accusing them of claiming blackness and womanhood (her exact words) and saying they can’t swing an imaginary weave at a bar in chelsea because their grandpappy didn’t march with martin is just…much.
what. is up. with. the. oppression olympics?!
why are black people of our generation in this fight to be more oppressed than anyone else? besides being kinda weird, it’s scary. mannie made the point to say three times in her essay back to back that white people in this country are not oppressed. is being oppressed cool and i didn’t get the memo at the last black people’s meeting? i’ve never felt oppressed before, so maybe this informs my sentiments, but i don’t see the benefit in having “oppressed negro” tattooed on your forehead. is there a prize for being most oppressed or something? look, i get that white men may have a leg up on the rest of us and all, but trust, white gay men ain’t sitting on the couch with their straight comrades. the struggles between black women and white gay men are different, but they are struggles alllll the same. if we were to sit down and call out each other’s privilege, we’d be here all day and i’ve got a happy hour i’d rather be at, ya’know?
i’m from the inner city (waddup philly), so i’m essentially a quita as referenced in mannie’s essay. all throughout college and here in nyc, i see black women appropriating inner city culture all of the time. i remember being at a party fully of buppies and seeing black people in business attire from the ‘burbs throwing their hands to the sky and raising their voices to the heavens to dj khaled’s “i’m so hood”. eh-vuh-ree-bah-dee-wants-to-be-ghetto. white gays. black suits. asian teens at coachella (long story). everyone. the “cool” that black people are heralded for creating, that all of us chase was birthed from the hood. everything. music, style, language. all of it. so to single out white gay men as the sole appropriators is unfair.
furthermore, black women are in first place when it comes to appropriating black gay culture. we saw just a few days ago when bevy smith tweeted that gay men should stop “queening out” when they see her as if every word out of her mouth on “fashion queens” isn’t “gag!”, “slay!”, and “shade!”. i walk by black women on the street and they’re all yelling (improperly) “girrrl, get your life!” mannie herself, used “shade” and “spilling tea” in her essay. granted black gay male culture is based off of black inner city women, but they have created a culture all their own that black women cannot lay claim to. the balls, the lingo, etc does not belong to us. so if white men can’t pull our moves, we can’t pull a gay black man’s either.
in all criticism, we must be sure that while we’re pointing one finger at someone that three aren’t aiming back at us. it’s tough, but it is the only way to get our points across in a way that triggers change.
alright, i did it. i wrote the essay universe. are you happy now?? i heard you telling me to post the “carefree black girl” movement essay i wrote a while back since it happens to be sierra mannie’s name on twitter. it may not come next week, but it’s coming. get off my back about it, ok?
*editor’s note: “get your life!” is not a way to fuss someone out. it is
used to co-sign someone enjoying their life.
ex: friend 1: i’m going to unlimited shrimp at red lobster with bae
friend 2: ayyye! you betta get your life!
orrrrrr it can be used in the first person.
ex: i’m gonna to jampardy on monday and get my life!