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Time has just published a very interesting opinion piece by a young black woman who is a senior at the University of Mississippi. She is criticizing what she considers to be the appropriation by white gay men of black female culture. It is a well written and thoughtful piece.

Dear White Gays: Stop Stealing Black Female Culture

You are not a black woman, and you do not get to claim either blackness or womanhood. There is a clear line between appreciation and appropriation

I need some of you to cut it the hell out. Maybe, for some of you, it’s a presumed mutual appreciation for Beyoncé and weaves 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.

She sets the general context of racism and privilege and then addresses it application to the relationship of black culture to mainstream pop culture.
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.
I am trying to stay within the limits of fair use in selecting quotes from the article. However, I don't think that they entirely do it justice. It is not long and I would encourage people to read it all before forming conclusions about it. What ever else you might think of her, she writes with style and punch.

This really touches on a lot of thorny issues. We have seen more than a few political conflicts between the black and gay communities. That has receded considerably into the background as President Obama has become more of an active supporter of LGBT rights. Within the feminist movement there have been splits between white middle class women and women of color.

I think that the things that Ms. Mannie says about the appropriation of black culture in general have considerable validity. However, I'm not really sure why such appropriation by gay men stands out so specifically from a long historical background. I am not very tuned into pop culture, so there may be a particular element of an effort to be outrageous in it that she is reacting to.

I am a white gay man who grew up in the deep south during the last days of Jim Crow. Whatever flack I got for being a kid who didn't conform to the norms of masculinity was more than offset by the privilege of being white and middle class in that very rigid society. I have seen abundant examples of nasty racism on the part of white gay men toward black gay men. Being a victim of discrimination doesn't give anybody a license to pass it one to other people.  

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Comment Preferences

  •  shirley Q liquor? (10+ / 0-)

    she's reacting to Perez Hilton talking about the "sassy strong black woman that lives inside him."

    There are a number of crude jokes I can and have made about that statement, but this isn't the place.

    On a broader scale she's talking about "cultural appropration" which is being called out all over the place in pop culture criticism. Some of it is quite good, and a lot of it is eye-rollingly dumb.

    This one isn't.

    Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility. uid 52583 lol

    by terrypinder on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 08:15:47 AM PDT

  •  Maybe I'm being tone-deaf, but she's sounding (11+ / 0-)

    a bit protectionist, although her general points on cultural appropriation can be considered for many situations - not just this one.

    That is, did she react similarly when white kids started to become popular rappers and many appropriated elements of hip hop culture, I wonder?

    "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

    by wader on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 08:26:18 AM PDT

    •  Given that she's a college senior (11+ / 0-)

      she can't remember a time when Eminem wasn't a legitimate rap star.

      I'm living in America, and in America you're on your own. America's not a country. It's just a business.

      by CFAmick on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 08:28:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  My question still applies, (8+ / 0-)

        just a slightly different context: would she react similarly, if she could take a step back and see how white kids appropriated hip hop cultural elements?

        Like the first poster, I'm wondering if some of this is antigay bias, but also the protectionism angle I mentioned above.

        Her post is good for getting discussion going, at least.

        "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

        by wader on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 08:35:38 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I was raising that question in the diary. (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          wader, slksfca, commonmass, Wee Mama, Penny GC

          Cultural appropriation is by no means limited to white gays. However, there may be some different elements in it. White rappers have generally have generally been attempting to demonstrate proficiency in using that style rather than doing a parody of it. The same could be said of an earlier generation of white jazz musicians.

          Drag queen acts are pretty much by definition burlesque and parody. The 50s generation of drag queens doing white female entertainment celebrities have disappeared. White gender roles have become too blurred to make it work. Before that all came to pass there was some vocal criticism from white feminists about it. This is not something entirely new.    

          •  No, it's not new (7+ / 0-)

            Is she mostly rehashing reactions we've seen previously?  How much should we care?  I'm not a black female, so I can't feel enabled to even offer a guess to that question, but at the same time, I still sense some protectionism going on.  That, plus she seems to be offering that gay drag queens are somehow more accepted within mainstream society than black women, which I find a bit odd: both are marginalized demographics, to varying extents.

            "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

            by wader on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 08:57:33 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I'm not sure she's saying that drag queens (6+ / 0-)

              have achieved respectability. She is clearly saying that white gay men partake of the privilege of being both white and male. I strongly agree with that observation.

              •  She often notes that it's white people (7+ / 0-)

                "playing" with her implicit cultural position, mentioning that white people get to take all the positives of appropriating black women and none of the downsides.  To me, she implicitly elevates gay drag queens beyond her position due solely to their lack of actual colour, as I didn't see a recognition of their other characteristics which can leave them farther down the totem pole of mainstream cultural acceptance.

                "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

                by wader on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 09:07:25 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  Speaking just as a white woman, I freely confess (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Richard Lyon, susans, wader

              that drag baffles me. I don't understand the impulse to do it, and I don't understand why folks want to watch it. It always reminds me of the commercially imposed "femininity" that we are supposed to live up (down to?), wasting inordinate amounts of money and time to do it, and ending up less able to defend ourselves (ever tried to run in heels? tried not to run nylon stockings? I call heels the enlightened form of foot binding, because they only occasionally result in permanent deformation.

              Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

              by Wee Mama on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 09:17:39 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  That was a fairly general reaction (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                wader, Wee Mama, Penny GC

                in the 70s and 80s as feminist influence began to make a general impact. The genre seemed to pretty much have gone out of fashion for a time. It appears to have made a comeback. When it comes to just about any form of pop culture, I am seriously out of it. So, I'm not well prepared to speculate on what it might be about this time around.

              •  I think you've nailed the point of drag (5+ / 0-)

                Whether its drag queens or kings, one of the points of drag is that you can appropriate the cultural cues and outward decoration of a gender, thereby both playing with those cues and demonstrating that they don't actually define the gender. It also allows gay men and lesbians who may naturally have a personality that tilts more to the opposite gender to embrace and enjoy those aspects of their personalities.

                However, having read the piece I have no idea where the idea that this article was about drag came from. I didn't get the impression at all that the original writer was complaining about drag artists. More importantly, how many drag artists are there at Ole Miss?

                "There is no crack in our pies." - Michelle Obama 6/30/2014

                by CPT Doom on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 09:55:56 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  I have birth defects in my feet and have had (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Wee Mama

                to wear athletic shoes all my life because of the super thick orthotics I have to wear - they won't fit into anything else and I have to wear them all the time.

                I purchased a pair of antique Chinese shoes for tiny bound feet some time ago because I want to do an art project with them making exactly that point but it hasn't come together in my mind yet.  Modern heels are the same thing and only slightly enlightened!  

          •  Been to New Orleans lately? (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            blueoasis, wader, koNko

            gender fluidity rules!

            You can have freedom or ignorance. Never both. - me

            by nolagrl on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 09:55:53 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Justin Bieber is totally unconvincing (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Richard Lyon, Victor Ward, Penny GC

            As a badass dude and black rapper.

            Sorry, Bro, you look too "Gay", but I mean "Gay" not "Gay"

            Oh crap. Total fail.

            Never mind. Forget I said that.

            But while we are on the subject of unconvincing white rappers and Justin Bieber, do kossacks realize Justin is totally a Lesbian Icon, something I learned from my wife's Lesbian cousin and favorite Auntie of my daughter? And who was sporting a Justin haircut for a couple of years. Amazing how cute Chinese lesbians with blonde Justin Bieber haircuts can be, we all thought she looked cool! Now her hair is blue.

            "Baby, baby, baby, oh ....."

            No one is coming to save us, the future is in our hands.

            by koNko on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 10:50:54 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  That sounds like cultural hash. n/t (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              koNko, Penny GC
              •  It is. And that's great if U ask me. (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Penny GC, Victor Ward

                Justin's fanbase:

                (a) pubescent hetero girls, with unfortunate parents (because of the endless repetition of "Baby, Baby, Baby")

                (b) post-pubescent lesbians that admire his style and fans, with fortunate parents (because they are out of the house)

                Generally, blond male teenybopper idols are hugely popular in Asia.  

                Leonardo DiCaprio circa "Titanic" was literally mobbed by hysterical Asian fan girls/boys wherever he went, it was like Elvis or The Beatles. He still is!

                Mrs. koNko still gets weak in the knees for "Leo". He just gets more handsome with age in her estimation. I'm sure lots of guys agree, he is, "objectively" (LOL) handsome.

                No one is coming to save us, the future is in our hands.

                by koNko on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 11:30:59 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I have long been aware of the connection (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  koNko, leftykook, Penny GC

                  of closeted gay boy bands for young teen girls who are likely to find something more macho a bit much for their emerging sensibilities. However, the lesbian connection takes me a bit by surprise.

                  Some of the boy bands are cute. I have never seen anything redeeming about Justin by the widest possible stretch of the imagination. Did you catch that pic of him being carried along the Great Wall by two strapping black body guards? My idea for a caption for it is:

                  No matter how bad you think your job is, it could be worse.

    •  She was likely still in diapers at the time. n/t (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wader, slksfca, commonmass, koNko
    •  she just might have (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Richard Lyon, wader, koNko

      we didn't get listened to back then...

      Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility. uid 52583 lol

      by terrypinder on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 09:57:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  It took (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wader, blueoasis, Wee Mama, Penny GC, jessical

    a neo-Nazi serial bomber in London to bring Black British of West Indian origin, Bangladeshi Muslims and the gay community together in reacting against a common enemy in 1999

    Over three successive weekends between 17 and 30 April, Copeland placed homemade nail bombs, each containing up to 1,500 four-inch nails, in holdalls that he left in public spaces around London. The first bomb was placed outside the Iceland supermarket in Electric Avenue, Brixton, an area of south London with a large black population. The second was in Brick Lane in the East End of London, which has a large Bangladeshi community. The third was inside the Admiral Duncan pub in Soho's Old Compton Street, the heart of London's gay community. The bombs killed three people, including a pregnant woman, and injured 139, four of whom lost limbs.
    Especially in the Brixton community the older population has a high proportion of evangelical church goers and there is a higher than usual incidence of homophobia. Much the same for the devout Muslims in Whitechapel.

    Things have to an extent reverted - an Algerian Muslim friend was tackled a couple of years ago outside the Brick Lane mosque by a "post-gay" group similar to the Christian groups indulging in the same recruiting. The approach along the same lines that "homosexuality is forbidden in your religion and you must change to avoid damnation". For somebody who is gay and very observant, it caused him quite a degree of depression and worry.

    I hope the point it take though - minority groups of all types share a common aspect. They are all seen by members of xenophobic groups as "others". (There is even still some antagonism between the West Indians living in Brixton and those in Notting Hill because of the emnity between the two different islands they originally came from).

    By the way, I rarely see a drag show but homages to Diana Ross, Shirley Bassey and even the Weather Girls ("It's Raining Men") are a mainstay of many.

    "Come to Sochi, visit the gay clubs and play with the bears" - NOT a Russian advertising slogan.

    by Lib Dem FoP on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 08:37:22 AM PDT

  •  In some ways, (6+ / 0-)

    she seems to be going to great lengths not to say, "Don't be racist," even though that strikes me as possibly the message. She's maybe trying to be kinder than that. But focusing on tension between black women and gay white men strikes me as catnip for straight white men of a certain orientation--though that doesn't undermine her point. It just makes me nervous.

    In terms of the larger point of 'appropriation'--as opposed to racism--I'm not sure what I think. Isn't that what cultures do? Is she 'appropriating' gay culture when she talks about 'bottoming'? Is her point that it's a positive that gay men can  stay closeted to avoid discrimination a good one? And she takes as read the fact that 'all of this is exponentially worse for black women' than black men, which strikes me as maybe not so clear cut.

    On the other hand, I'm trying to think of a subject on which I have less knowledge than this, and coming up short.

    "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

    by GussieFN on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 08:38:25 AM PDT

  •  Here is an excellent response to the piece. (9+ / 0-)
    Mannie writes about white males appreciation of Beyoncé (because only black women can like her), or a use of a certain vernacular that apparently belongs exclusively to black women (what about black gay men, can they use it?). She writes that black people don’t have access to everything white people do, and she’s right. That they often must worry about their physical safety, and she’s right. That there aren’t enough venues for black voices to be heard, she’s still right.

    I mean, gay white men are everywhere, and everyone loves them. They’ve never, ever been murdered for being gay, or denied housing, or medical care. They’ve never been arrested for being gay, or have had to have the Supreme Court rule that their sex was finally legal, definitely not in 2003. Nope, none of these things are true for gay white men, because they do rule the world (oops, did I just go all Beyoncé on her, my bad, I’ll stick with Madonna, or will I piss off Italians?! FUCK!).

    If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.

    by HairyTrueMan on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 08:47:43 AM PDT

  •  She makes some good points. (5+ / 0-)

    However, I find her tone a tad supercilious dismissive. I wonder whether she couldn't have stated her case more artfully. But she's still very young.

    There are, in every age, new errors to be rectified, and new prejudices to be opposed. ~Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

    by slksfca on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 08:53:57 AM PDT

  •  Oppression Olympics (8+ / 0-)

    a common past time in academic settings but when it breaches into the real world it just makes everybody look dumb.

    Look, I tried to be reasonable...

    by campionrules on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 08:55:52 AM PDT

  •  I have very mixed feelings about this article. (9+ / 0-)

    I feel, as a gay man, I'm being "read" as the drag performers say. While I am a member of a persecuted (and at least in my own state a protected one) minority, of course as a white man, like Richard said, I can never understand what it's like to be black because I'm not.

    That being said, the rich variety which is African American culture in this country has deeply influenced people of all races all over the globe. It's mainstream, it can be edgy, and aspects of it have been appropriated in all sorts of ways. That seems to me to be a good thing.

    Gay and drag slang, too, has changed. I'm middle aged. If I'm camping it up, I might call another gay man "Mary". The kids don't do that today. Young queens are far more informed by black culture than by, say, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane and the screen divas of the 30's and 40's.

    I'm wondering if the young lady's anger isn't a bit misplaced. Nonetheless, she certainly expresses her opinion even if it sounds ever so slightly homophobic in places.


    by commonmass on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 08:57:31 AM PDT

  •  Another thought-provoking diary. Thanks, Richard. (7+ / 0-)

    "It ain't so much the things we don't know that get us in trouble. It's the things we know that ain't so." (Artemus Ward)

    by Silencio on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 08:57:41 AM PDT

  •  Oh, I dunno. (8+ / 0-)

    I read "the whole thing" at Time and I see some pretty hefty 'ism' there that doesn't jive with the purported message. For instance, there's not a word about the appropriation of black-ness inherent in adoption of hip-hop culture (including dress, took us forever to convince our grandson that showing your underwear and having to hold his pants up when walking wasn't exactly haute couture). Ditto the talk, the walk, the preference in music and movies and such, by white kids.

    Though imitation can be considered the sincerest form of flattery. And white/hispanic 'borrowings' of black youth culture does blur some once hard lines in the sand, does tend to lead to a more colorful mix of friends in any given grouping, and could well be an important step in the eventual elimination of serious institutional racism even in die-hard places like Mississippi.

    So why focus on drag queens? Who are, let's face it, not the most white privileged of white folks. Let's face it - we all love Lady Chablis, is it a big wonder that s/he has many imitators? Still, Mannie didn't say a word about drag queens in black face, so I am presuming the adoption of mannerisms and attitude are at least as 'harmless' as teenaged white boys adopting the music, slang, mannerisms, attitude and dress of the black hip-hop culture. And white girls doing the same with black culture heroines they tend to emulate.

    Guess I just don't see the complaint as particularly valid if the same complaints aren't lodged against all other forms of white people emulating and/or adopting typically black music, slang, mannerisms, attitude and dress. In fact, it seems pretty darned weird to me that Mannie's complaints are so totally aimed at white drag queens. Almost as if she attended a drag show one night and was singled out for some of the Lady Chablis-type in-your-face audience banter and got her nose all bent out of shape by it. Which I don't find all that impressive as an indictment of "white privilege," drag queens in general, or anything else but this particular person's lack of good humor.

    Your mileage may vary, of course.

    There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves. - Will Rogers

    by Joieau on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 09:11:12 AM PDT

  •  The woman has a strange viewpoint. As to (11+ / 0-)

    appropriation of culture: That's a feature not a bug in a multicultural society. Look at all the white people of European heritage who celebrate Cinco d Mayo. Or the "appropriation" of R&B by white performers like Elvis Presley, the Blues Project, Eric Clapton, the Beatles, etc.
       How about the "appropriation" of the whole genre of jazz music?
       Now, is Beyonce really black culture? She seems to be an entertainer who happens to be African American who has mastered the art of appealing to a world audience, much as, eg, Madonna did. Is she maybe appropriating Madonna's white culture?
       How about Paul Simon's fling with South African music. Did he rip them off, or did he open the world up to groups like Ladysmith Black M'basa?
       In general the mixing of various cultures has made culture life in the US richer and better.
      Attacking drag performers is particularly xenophobic. Come on, it's entertainment!
      The woman's essential problem is that, unless you live in complete isolation from the world, your culture will influence other cultures and other cultures will influence yours.

  •  While Miss Thing is at it (13+ / 0-)

    she really needs to NOT be appropriating black gay male terminology like "shade"

    and she really needs to stop with the assumptions that the the black male in a black/white M2M relationship is always "the top"

    I am so upset about this article...and she's majoring in classics and English (which was my major).

  •  I get her point, but... (6+ / 0-)

    ...pop culture has always been and will always be shared, borrowed, and maybe outright plagiarized.  It's "pop" because it's popular and, to some extent, no one owns it or we all own it.

    That said, I think it gets uncomfortably close to blackface when a white person puts on a stereotypical black female persona for entertainment and profit.

    If atheism is a religion, then "off" is a TV channel.

    by DaveinBremerton on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 09:19:34 AM PDT

  •  Umm (11+ / 0-)
    you do not get to claim ... womanhood. It is not yours. It is not for you.
    There are an awful lot of transpeople out there who would disagree. There's an awful lot of civil rights law that agrees with them.

    Seriously, when I see something this bigoted, I lose all respect for the speaker. She wants to decide how other people live, and she's using blackness and femaleness as a lever.

    •  That stuck with me as well. (5+ / 0-)

      Why does she get a pass from almost everyone here for saying  something so completely bigoted?

      The rest of her article was compelling and though-provoking, but that bigoted statement stained the whole thing.

    •  ... except (4+ / 0-)

      she's not talking to trans women?  She's talking to gay men.  Big difference there.

      Mind you, I would agree with you if she were talking to trans women, but the impression I get is that she's addressing men who are appropriating femininity while still identifying as male.

      •  There is a complex dialog (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Penny GC, jessical, koNko

        between transgender women and male transvestites. It is complicated and everybody is to varying degrees held captive by the narrow categories that society has tried to impose on us.

        •  Yes and no (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Richard Lyon, koNko

          I mean, yes to your comment. But I think BtT's point stands.  If you perform gender as performance, and go home to a cisgendered reality...then I think how you do that is fairly judged as art.  An element of blackface in your art seems fair game as bad taste and bad politics.  If you're trans all the time trans -- whether genderqueer or a classic medical transition critter like myself -- then -- while your life may or may not be art -- it is mostly about  hanging on by available fingernails, and you're probably not pushing the boundaries of camp so much as trying to figure out how to manage and function in society.  There are exceptions, but not many I think.

          The ways different varieties of trans* do awful stuff to each other is a constant sorrow.  But -- from my side of the fence -- I do make a distinction here.  My body, my life and my reality are those of a trans woman, not a gay man.  Gay men have both challenges and opportunities that I do not.   But the gay male world -- trans* or not -- does not get to claim my experience as "it's complicated".  Especially so when so very, very many gay men have attempted to tell me I am just like them, but merely unable to accept myself or keep it to drag like normal folks.  There are cases where the fuzzy you invoke seems appropriate -- but this does not (to me) seem like one of them.

          ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

          by jessical on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 06:16:04 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  But she decides who's a woman, not the person in (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        koNko, Penny GC, bookcrazzzy


        Anytime that anybody decides that they are the final arbiter of anyone else's gender expression, they're a bigot.

        It really is that simple.

      •  No. (3+ / 0-)

        Unless you believe there are hard bright lines between the two.

        But then, where the fuck does a hetero female get off lecturing to gays and/or trans people if we are going to be so narrow and "ownership" of culture is so cut and dried.

        Refer to my comments elsewhere; I want to know if she is offended by hetero black woman with Chinese tattoos, which is fairly common cultural appropriation and in 99 out of 100 cases, done by people who are illiterate in the language.

        Will that be the subject of her next rant on cultural purity?

        No one is coming to save us, the future is in our hands.

        by koNko on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 10:17:02 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Well (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      This trans woman generally agreed with her, albeit some of the comments from black gay men, above in the thread, gave me pause.

      Drag queens get to go home at night and be boys.  I happily include 'em in the transgender umbrella, but they are not and do not wish to be seen as women, generally.  

      If she'd whacked trans women I would have been first to the barricades.  But I don't think she did.

      ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

      by jessical on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 03:27:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Question ... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        My thought on art is consistent with the adage "Untalented artists copy, talented artists steal" if you know what I mean.

        Accepting that premise, if we are going to have art, and particularly performance art, then we are going to condone appropriation of reality in the service of art (1), and from there, we will only judge talent.

        So, question: What is wrong with any performer playing any role?

        For example, Ben Kingsley, who did not have to live the life of a downtrodden Indian victim of British colonialism, playing Gandhi?

        (1) And considering how much life imitates art, and how artificial so much of modern life is, WTF, Ms. Mannie?  And about that name Sierra, was that appropriated from Spanish culture or something? Talk to your parents about that!

        I'm getting really pissed at Britney for appropriating my math

        No one is coming to save us, the future is in our hands.

        by koNko on Sat Jul 12, 2014 at 10:49:59 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  heh (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I wondered something along the same lines after my comment, like...well...taste is overrated and probably local in important ways.  And there are real and historical reasons to view transgender performance as an ecstatic state -- a mode which doesn't quite fall under the same standards of taste (if we allow any such as universals).  What would be shallow and thoughtless in a play means something different in a mode meant to channel both other and self in the moment.

          But art, as life, always seems to me to have an inescapable moral component.  It's not that drag appropriation of black women's culture is intrinsically oppressive -- it's not like your average performer has a day job on wall street, or that poor queer white men have any actual evil mojo to lend.  At least, I don't think so.  But -- being one who will argue for some kinds of universals -- I think we are also accountable for the words and actions of our shadow selves, in whatever mode, even though those actions and words are informed by an entirely different state of awareness and logic.  But then, I don't get out to play much and I have way too may DK comments and my view of play and varying modes of consciousness may be somewhat blinkered.

          ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

          by jessical on Sat Jul 12, 2014 at 03:12:49 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Miss Thing needs to get a grip on herself (10+ / 0-)
    But while you’re gasping at the heat and the steam of the strong truth tea I just spilled...
    that phrase "spilling tea" is from black gay male culture and nowhere else (I used to ask my gay friends about "the tea" back in the 80's).

    She really does NOT want MY inner Shaniqua to come out.

  •  I enjoy playing jazz and ragtime. Oh, I'm white? (7+ / 0-)

    The horrors!

    She can get over it.  American Culture (if not an oxymoron) is a melting pot.  I can have sushi for lunch, burritos for dinner, and watch the Tour de France with my American Indian wife this evening.


    Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
    I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
    —Spike Milligan

    by polecat on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 09:43:20 AM PDT

  •  Are we more alike than we are different? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    koNko, Penny GC

    This is a question that drives me. I am always looking for points of commonality and the through-line that connects those points. I somehow feel that is the way to arrive at the beginning (always a good place to start). Those connections are where the value is realized. So my question is, "Is there a commonality of experience in the lives of African American women and white gay men that produces an affinity for a like style or means of expression for both?" When I was young, I loved Eric Burdon. And Nina Simone. Because the song "Please Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" spoke to me... in both voices.

    “The aim of mankind should be to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.”--Edith Hamilton (1867-1963)

    by cinepost on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 09:55:36 AM PDT

  •  As a gay white man, all I can say is WTF? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    koNko, Penny GC

    I have no idea what the Ms. Mannie is talking about, but perhaps I don't have the same kind of friends and I would suggest that she find a better class of f*g with which to hag, as it were. As for Beyonce, it seems to me that she and her husband are the ones packaging up at least their version of black culture to sell to the white kids, and they're doing a bang-up job at it, if their bank accounts are any indication.

    I think this young lady is describing/reacting to a very specific problem among her peers, and likely used overly broad generalizations, which I don't doubt has earned her backlash far beyond what she expected (apparently she will be on CNN today to discuss this). Quite frankly, I have no idea why Time would pick this up as meaningful enough to publish nationwide.

    "There is no crack in our pies." - Michelle Obama 6/30/2014

    by CPT Doom on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 10:01:43 AM PDT

    •  Fag hag is repulsive (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Penny GC

      The first time someone called me that, I wanted to hit him. Can you explain your reason for using hag as a word to describe women who are friends with gay men?

      •  Wasn't trying to offend (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        susans, blueoasis, Penny GC

        The term is often used as one of endearment among the people I know, but it's likely a generational thing. Perhaps I should have simply quoted Julia Louis-Dreyfus when asked what advice she would give Elaine, her character on Seinfeld. She replied "find new friends!"

        "There is no crack in our pies." - Michelle Obama 6/30/2014

        by CPT Doom on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 10:56:48 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I always hate... (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Chitown Kev, koNko, blueoasis, Penny GC, susans

        ...when someone refers to me as a fag hag.  I am not a hag.  I am not a "fruit fly" either.

        I am a queen bee.  And that's what all my gay male friends call me.

        •  Or 'Fish' Can NOT stand that! As a straight white (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          susans, OrganicChemist

          female I find it very insulting to call me a smell which I personally do no have. Or Fag Hag for that matter.
          I cannot follow the logic. Same with the new cool use of the n-word.
          I get trying to take something from a painful past and 'owning it' but I hate when someone stamps a label on me.
          If I call me fag hag of fish, then I am OK with that, but until I use the slur to 'own it' better to not piss off the Whoa-Man.
          And i do hate the fighting back and forth from the minority classes at each other. Can't we all just get along. America is a melting pot and we are all closer to mutt than pure-bred, let's all just try and get over ourselves just a bit and realize that we can all be many things all at the same time and I don't have to put you down to feel better about myself.
          Richard Lyon, thanks again for a thought provoking and lively discussion. Food for thought and all.
          Peace and Blessings!

          “When you victim-blame, be aware that in all likelihood, at least one woman you know and love silently decides she cannot trust you.” ` Steph Guthrie

          by Penny GC on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 02:40:54 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  "I have no idea why Time would pick this up as (0+ / 0-)

      meaningful enough to publish nationwide."

      One word - traffic.

  •  For some reason, this reminded me of this (7+ / 0-)
    This isn’t the first time I’ve delved head first into confronting Native appropriation and why it’s wrong. I don’t know how I can explain it in any simpler terms. Natives are not costumes one can take on and off. When people dress up in stereotypical ‘Indian’ garb, they’re not only denying the existence of 566 distinct Tribal Nations, they’re mocking an entire group of human beings based solely on their race and heritage.
    Heidi Klum's Redface Photo Shoot

    The Lone Ranger - Johnny Depp, Tonto and the rebirth of redface

    Isn't this what she's trying to say?
    Being a black woman is not a costume.

    I proudly vote for Democrats - It's the Supreme Court, Stupid!

    by arizonablue on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 10:02:11 AM PDT

  •  Some day in the future (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Penny GC

    through intermarriage, further acceptance, further cultural assimilation and gender-bending to where anything is relatively normal, we will all at least superficially look and act, more or less, not significantly different from one another - exceptions noted.

    My point is that one day much of these types of issues will disappear. So that's hopeful.  Just a long painful transition period first.

    Best Scientist Ever Predicts Bacon Will Be Element 119 On The Periodic Table

    by dov12348 on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 10:50:07 AM PDT

  •  appropriation (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoasis, Penny GC

    If it wasn't for black culture we'd hardly have culture at all. The blues came with the slaves from Africa. Clapton and other Brits took it from American blues. Now this Tuareg former goat herder is sounding a lot like Clapton to me. He owns it now. We are all richer.

    •  It is my (questionable) opinion.. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Penny GC

      ...that Black folks are pretty much in charge of "Cool" in our society, which leads to the Youth constantly re-inventing what they wear and what music they listen to, which then gets co-opted, (endlessly repeating sequence...)

      Consider "Hot Jazz" as in King Oliver or Pops Armstrong, that stuff was pretty much the province of Black people for a long time, it was racy music played in whorehouses and illegal booze halls then whites started listening to it more and more, and now, the music has been almost taken over by white people, the few African-Americans who play it seem to be confined to New Orleans, meanwhile, they have "Dixieland Jazz Festivals" where elderly white people wearing Boater hats and little vests with patches and buttons from previous years' festivals listen to hot new bands from Portland or the Czech Republic....

      I predict that in fifty years there will be weird-ass elderly white people going to "Gangsta Rap" festivals and dropping their mikes, and they'll be the only people listening to that kind of music!

      "Ronald Reagan is DEAD! His policies live on but we're doing something about THAT!"

      by leftykook on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 02:19:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  my 2 cents. (0+ / 0-)

    I think some white gay men admire black women because they are seen as strong in the face of a society that hates them..but black people do not like the notion that gay people have struggles that compare to their own, so they take it as an offense.

    •  I'm black and gay (0+ / 0-)

      and in this comment you do as good of a job in erasing my struggles as the writer of this article does.

      My 2 cents.

      •  well im sorry (0+ / 0-)

        i dont think i could erase anyones struggles with a comment on dkos but I do apologize for my devastating failure.

      •  I am sincerely asking you to explain your (0+ / 0-)

        post.  Why did you see zed's post as "erasing your struggles"?  Again, I am sincerely asking.  I want to understand your point of view.  Please.  

        •  watch this (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Richard Lyon
          black people do not like the notion that gay people have struggles that compare to their own
          I'm black and gay and the struggles are the same to me.

          You assume that "black people" and "gay people" are mutually exclusive groups.

          •  The author of the article that this diary was (0+ / 0-)

            referencing essentially said, in part, that a gay man can hide his gayness and escape the discrimination of our society plus his whiteness made his gayness no where near as bad as being black.  I think that statement is what the poster was referring to and didn't phrase it very well.   He was basically responding to a straight black female.  

            I don't think it is right to take group-level discrimination and apply it to individuals in the "I've got it worse than you because I'm in this group" thing as the writer of the original article tried to do.  Everyone has their own unique circumstances and no one can truly know what another lives with or judge their pain.  

            And no one can erase your struggles unless you allow them to do so.  I hope your life gets easier.  

  •  There isn't one redeemable sentence (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Victor Ward

    in Ms. Mannie's screed.  It's unadulterated hate of the Player Hater's variety, and spewed over the triviality at that.

  •  I Have to Admit (6+ / 0-)

    Reading all the dismissive, angry comments in response to the underlying piece that led to this diary--with NO serious consideration other than by the diarist of the possibility that this Black woman's perspective may have some merit, is really really depressing.

    It really is.

    At this point, I just want America to admit that it still doesn't want its Black citizens to live in any state other than terror, subservience and inferiority, under pain of death. I can handle American racism, but I can't handle American denial.

    by shanikka on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 11:39:09 AM PDT

  •  Just Looking for Role Models (4+ / 0-)

    I've been to many drag shows in my day, and have long felt uncomfortable with some of the more garish "homages" to women of all stripes that occasionally do cross over into blatant sexism and racism.  So I respect this young author's perspective and am glad she is speaking out about her feelings of cultural disrespect.  

    I don't think she fully understands LGBTQ culture, however, and the role drag has historically played in our cultural expression.  Gay men performing in drag are exploring personal identities and commenting on the role of gender in society, and our personal and group experiences crossing gender boundaries.  The expression can vary from lightly comical to bitingly cynical and self-abasing.  In all cases, the performances are more a comment about ourselves than the people we dress up like.  Lacking sufficient role models among openly LGBTQ popular performers, we appropriate what is available to us in the form of people not like us in our artistic explorations of gender, sexuality, and control.  We dress up and sing the songs of Black women because so many of the great female artists of this day who artistically express the strength and resiliency gay men aspire to achieve are Black women.  Most drag performances are in LGBTQ spaces, and I would say are not intended for scrutiny by a general public that does not appreciate our history and experience, and may misread mockery into something less onerous.

    Having said all this, I agree that gay men not on stage who talk and affect stereotypical mannerisms and speech patterns of Black women need to stop doing that, because it is culturally disrespectful.  This young author is not the first Black women I've heard say this, and it bears repeating as often as necessary.  

    God gives every bird its food, but He does not throw it into its nest. - JG Holland

    by Liberal for Life on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 01:15:16 PM PDT

  •  taking a photograph and stealing the soul.... (0+ / 0-)

    for there to be appropriation assumptions are made about ownership of cultural and individual expression (languages) without sufficient argument and much narrow stereotyping of drag, black women and gay men.  Rant as rhetoric.  

    Do I need to add an emotional signifier here to establish the validity of my oppression while negating yours?  Suffering is a universal condition.

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