Check Your Privilege

Sierra Mannie, a senior at the University of Mississippi, penned an op/ed for her school newspaper called “Dear White Gays: Stop Stealing Black Female Culture.” It was just re-run on TIME Magazine’s website. I’m not sure if it’s in the print version or not. Mannie is described as a “rising senior majoring in Classics and English” at UM.

The article is absolute crap.

First she goes on a rant about how evil and privileged white culture is in the US, then she bemoans how black culture is usurped by said privileged whites. She gripes about how black people don’t feel safe around law enforcement, can’t have their own schools, and can’t voice their opinions without their “race going on trial”. That alone makes her opinion null and void; first, I have plenty of black friends who feel perfectly safe around law enforcement, particularly those who ARE law enforcement. The reason so many don’t feel safe is because black-on-black crime is so rampant. Second, who says you can’t have your own schools? You have BET. I haven’t met many black people who really care about their own schools. And, really? Voicing your opinion without your race going on trial? The only reason your race goes on trial is because YOU keep bringing it up. I really don’t care what color your skin is. What matters to me is that you keep calling me a privileged racist just because I’m white.

Then she starts in on white gay men. Oh, you have no idea just how horrible it is to this woman that black female culture is being “pillaged” by white gay men. She writes, “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.”

This woman has absolutely no clue about what it’s like to be gay, even now. She obviously doesn’t give a damn.

Let me ask you, Ms. Mannie…how many times did your parents ask you, “have you ever tried NOT being black?” Did they ever tell you that they would never accept your partner? Did they ever tell you that, because you’re black, you’re living in sin and going to hell? Did your church ever kick you out because you’re black? Have you ever been shamed to be black?

Let’s take it a step further. Have you ever been spit on? Threatened? Called racial slurs? I daresay you probably haven’t. My family had a hard time accepting the fact that I’m gay when I came out ten years ago. My church? I don’t dare show my face there. A guy who used to be my friend once threatened to kill me because he thought I was staring at his girlfriend (for the record, she wasn’t attractive, and I don’t stare). I’ve had protesters spit on me as I passed by despite not being a counter-protester. I’ve had other gay people tell me to kill myself, start fights with me, and threaten me very publicly because I’m politically conservative. How often have YOU ever had to deal with genuine hate? How often have you felt relief upon finding refuge with the very few people in society who are like you? When I was a kid, you didn’t dare come out of the closet. There was no such thing as a “gay-straight alliance” club at school. I would have been severely beaten if I’d acknowledged that I liked girls. When have you ever experienced that level of hatred?

I’m not like lipstick lesbians. It’s very obvious that I’m gay. You say I can hide it – no, I can’t. I am who I am. I couldn’t hide it even if I wanted to. I know a lot of gay men who can’t hide it. I’ve watched some of them take a lot of harassment for being openly gay. There is no more debate in general society about whether black people are just as human as white people. Is there still racism? Of course. People aren’t perfect. Today, however, racism is no longer socially acceptable. In fact, if you voice racist opinions against minorities in this country, you’re publicly shamed. Three police officers and one fire chief have all been either fired or shamed into resignation after discovery of membership in the KKK in the past month or two. Where is your acknowledgement of that?

Gay culture is usurped all the time. Will & Grace, The Fosters, Chicago Fire, Glee, The Real World, and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy have all exploited the gay culture (IMO, it started with The Real World). Next up we have GBF, or “Gay Best Friend”, coming out. Katy Perry launched herself into the spotlight with “I Kissed A Girl”. Hollywood and LA is forever trying to do little things in film, TV, and music to say, “look! We’re supportive! Don’t you love us?” Really? You think black female culture is the only culture that’s being repackaged and whitewashed for consumption in the general population? Please. Cry me a damned river.

You come off as angry, bitter, and racist yourself. I can buy a hack college paper printing this drivel, but TIME? For shame. You don’t have the faintest clue what it’s like to be gay. Get over yourself.