By Daniel Johnson
Honestly, there would be no Miley Cyrus, Iggy Azalea, Katy Perry, Yes Julz or any other white woman culturally appropriating Blackness without the continued support and validation of Black men. Black men are culpable accomplices when insincere and advantage-seeking white women steal and devalue both Black women and Black culture.
White women know exactly what they are doing when they “dabble” in hip hop. They know the hip hop audience is global, and the quickest way to gain popularity is to adopt a hip-hop influenced posture that they’ll shed when it’s no longer beneficial for their brands and careers.
These women are not acting alone; they rely on Black men to further their culturally appropriative agenda.White entertainers leverage their audiences and music industry connections as a means to get Black producers and rappers to feature and co-sign them, and give them hip hop’s sound and swag. For business reasons, Black men readily go along with these devious white women without thinking about what it looks like to buck dance for them while Black women are left guarding the culture.
White women view this transaction as a cultural exchange that allows them to penetrate, with impunity, elements of Black culture that ultimately Black women champion but are harassed for.
White women continuously use Black women’s bodies as caricatures without Black men criticizing them for it, all while Black men position ourselves as the culture’s gatekeepers. If the culture doesn’t automatically include Black women and their bodies, then we’re saying that white women matter more to us than Black women ever have and that the violent way white women discard Black women is a worthy trade off for a whiter audience.
The laundry list of white women who use Black men for profit and social capital is extensive. Iggy Azalea’s emergence was the result of T.I.’s business savvy and I suspect a cadre of Black ghostwriters who wrote every word on her debut album. As a result, she deftly “Black throated” her way to a rather prominent (though thankfully short-lived) position in hip hop.
Katy Perry’s recent cringe-inducing performance with Migos — who have a history of queer-antagonism — is another example of how white women use Black men for social gain. Lambasted widely, Perry recently appeared in an interview with Deray McKesson, another Black man with sizable influence, as a means of damage control.
Black men must stop rescuing white women in ways we would never even think of rescuing Black women. Doing so serves white supremacy. When these white women come to us and ask us to bastardize our craft, we must stop selfishly and blindly co-signing them.
Instead of ignoring their concerns, Black man-identifying artists and producers need to listen to Black women and close the door in the faces of every white women who’re trying to get in. These white women do not care about our Black art or us. To them, you are merely a business transaction and you are too blind to see it. They are using you to push down Black women and their justified criticisms.
Black men who will defend culture vultures over Black women who say that their defense is a problem, are Black men who are invested in protecting white supremacy over Blackness. Black men who naively insist that hip hop is for everyone or that Black women who have problems with white women are fools. The very white women they’re excusing remain silent when police execute yet another Black person. The white women we’re defending fetishize, chase, and use Black dick but cannot be bothered to actually care about our humanity.
There will be others unless the Black men who are so invested in protecting whiteness and white women start becoming more invested in protecting Blackness and Black women from these vultures.
Daniel Johnson studies English and creative writing at Sam Houston State University. In his spare time, he likes to visit museums and listen to trap music. He has also written for The Root, Those People, Abernathy Magazine and RacebaitR.