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Black Student Accuses Gay White Men of White Privilege, Cultural Appropriation

A Daily Mississippian op-ed published recently by black, female columnist Sierra Mannie, a senior majoring in Classics and English at the University of Mississippi, has caught the eye of  many and the ire of some.

Her complaint? White gay guys. They act black, and she’s not having any of it:

“I need some of you to cut it the hell out. Maybe, for some of you, it’s a presumed similar appreciation for Beyoncé and weave that has you thinking that I’m going to be amused by you approaching me in your best “Shanequa from around the way” voice. I don’t know. What I do know is that I don’t care how well you can quote Madea, who told you that your booty was getting bigger than hers, how cute you think it is to call yourself a strong black woman, who taught you to twerk, how funny you think it is to call yourself Quita or Keisha or for which black male you’ve been bottoming — you are not a black woman, and you do not get to claim either blackness or womanhood. It is not yours. It is not for you.”

Let me explain.

Black people can’t have anything. Any of these things include, but aren’t limited to: a general sense of physical safety, comfort with law enforcement, adequate funding and appreciation for black spaces like schools and neighborhoods, appropriate venues for our voices to be heard about criticism of issues without our race going on trial because of it and solid voting rights …

And then, when you thought this pillaging couldn’t get any worse, extracurricular black activities get snatched up, too: our music, our dances, our slang, our clothing, our hairstyles — all of these things are rounded up, whitewashed and repackaged for your consumption. But here’s the shade — the non-black people who get to enjoy all of the fun things about blackness will never have to experience the ugliness of the black experience, systemic racism and the dangers of simply living while black. Though I suppose there’s some thrill in this “rolling with the homies” philosophy some adopt, white people are not racially oppressed in the United States of America.

She goes on to argue that regardless of whether a white man is gay or not, he’s still privileged. What’s more, she notes: “Claiming our identity for what’s sweet without ever having to taste its sour is not. Breathing fire behind ugly stereotypes that reduce black females to loud caricatures for you to emulate isn’t, either.”

The column has been popular on social media, so much so that Time magazine recently republished the op-ed.

But as College Media Matters points out, the column has received some negative feedback:

Along with triggering outsized social media interest, the piece spurred a range of editorial comebacks seconding or arguing with Mannie’s main points.

One letter to the editor published by the DM — submitted by a gay white male student at UM — takes issue with Mannie’s argument that the gay community’s struggles do not equate to those faced by ethnic or racial minorities.

“I was slightly taken aback by the recent article in the DM called ‘Dear White Gays,’” writes Garrison Gibbons. “At the end of the day, gay white men, though born white and a man, are not privileged. The events of Laramie and the conversations that ensued prove this. … The fact I can’t marry my boyfriend in Mississippi proves this. Though I was born into privilege as a white man, I was also born gay — thus, I have struggled. For the DM to publish an article that suggests otherwise and furthers stereotypes is not appreciated.”

Read the full column.

h/t: College Media Matters

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About the Author
Fix Editor
Jennifer Kabbany is editor-in-chief of The College Fix.