Do you remember how shocked white people acted a couple of years ago when a video surfaced of a group of Sigma Alpha Epsilon members at the University of Oklahoma chanting about how they’d never let a “nigger” into their fraternity?
Can you recollect how Caucasians publicly caught the vapors when they heard the audio of Donald Sterling telling his girlfriend he didn’t want her hanging around black men?
Does anyone remember how the whole of unmelanated America stopped frying chicken and eating butter when they learned that Paula Deen said she wanted sharply dressed niggers tap-dancing at her brother’s wedding?
Do you recall how ludicrous their pretend outrage looked? Did you see how ridiculously transparent their “Well, I never heard such things” charade seemed? How silly they appeared, acting flabbergasted whenever a white person slipped up and let a little bit of racism slip out? Do you remember? I’m sure you do.
Well, that’s how black people look when we act like we’re surprised to hear homophobic statements.
A couple of days ago in a Rolling Stone article, the hip-hop group Migos (in case you’re wondering, yes, I did cringe a little bit when I typed the words “hip-hop” next to the creators of the hit “Bad and Boujee”) let a little of their homophobia slip out when the writer asked them about fellow Atlanta rapper iLoveMakonnen’s (no, that is not a genre of Japanese porn) decision to come out of the closet. The interviewer writes:
I’m surprised by Migos’ reaction when I mention iLoveMakonnen, the local MC who just came out as gay on Twitter. “Damn, Makonnen!” Quavo bellows after an awkward interlude. I mention support I saw online for Makonnen’s decision. “They supported him?” Quavo asks, raising an eyebrow. “That’s because the world is fucked up,” says Offset. “This world is not right,” Takeoff says. “We ain’t saying it’s nothing wrong with the gays,” says Quavo. But he suggests that Makonnen’s sexuality undermines his credibility, given the fact that “he first came out talking about trapping and selling Molly, doing all that.”
He frowns. “That’s wack, bro.”
By the time they realized their faux pas, it was too late. They quickly issued a publicist-written, Donald Sterling/Paula Deen-like statement, asserting that they “have no problem with anyone’s sexual preference. We love all people, gay or straight and we apologize if we offended anyone.”
To be fair, I don’t have any confirmation that a publicist wrote the statement, other than the lack of grammatical mistakes from a group who can’t even spell “bougie” correctly. (No! I reject your spelling, Migos! I guess I’m bougie about how I spell “bougie.”) Plus, the biggest indication that their mea culpa was crafted by public relations personnel was the telltale ending of “we apologize if we offended anyone ... ”
But before they could issue the apology, people had already thrown their arms up in exasperation at Migos’ homophobic remarks. I’m not just talking about the white progressive allies who peer down their noses at everything, or the social justice warriors who scour the internet looking for a microscopic molehill outrage to make into a mountain. I’m talking about black people.
Cut it out.
Although hip-hop—and black culture in general—have made strides in the acceptance and understanding of sexuality and gender norms, both still have a long way to go, and we all know it. For the purposes of public perception, we will embrace inclusiveness and shun homophobia, but behind closed doors, we are cool with the Deens and the Sterlings.
We will issue love offerings and ignore pariahs like Kim Burrell and Eddie Long who have ranted about the “perversions” of same-sex love. We give up passes to the vampirish, snake oil salesmen like Umar “Let Me Fleece My People Out of Hundreds of Thousands to Build a Hogwarts for Black Boys” Johnson who suck money and the lifeblood out of communities while blaming the ills of blackness on homosexuality. We excuse the Hoteps, the backward thinkers, the preachers, the narrow-minded, the low IQs—and especially the hypermasculinity of hip-hop.
Migos live in Atlanta, for chrissake. Hailing from the ATL and being homophobic is like living with a million white people but hating mayonnaise. If they can get away with saying something like that in the black gay mecca, then it is apparent that we are willing to turn a blind eye to it anywhere.
Every black person reading this has a family member or someone they love who lives outside our traditional ideas of gender norms. Every one of us has someone we would start whooping ass to defend if we heard anyone threatening to hurt them. But we’re cool with staying silent in the cocoon of blackness when we hear someone say something in the pulpit, on the street corner or in a rap song.
We are quick to call out the wypipo who voted for Donald Trump and didn’t call him out on his racism. In our heads, if you are willing to support a racist or even sit quietly and not say anything, then you must be a racist, too. Silence toward racism is racism.
So what does that make those of us who stay silent and pretend to be shocked at homophobia?
It makes us look like the phonies professing to be shocked to learn that a 70-year-old white woman from Georgia is a little racist. We appear as dumb as the fakes who acted astonished that an 80-year-old white man didn’t want his young girlfriend hanging around the chiseled bodies of elite, black, millionaire athletes. We look as stupid as the people who pretended to be appalled that a busload of white frat boys from Oklahoma used the n-word (although I must admit I was astounded that they clapped on the beat).
Black America turns its head away from homophobia every day, and in doing so, we tacitly allow it to fester. When it explodes into subliminal hate like Migos’ remarks, we can be disheartened, dismayed and even upset about it, but:
Stop acting like you’re shocked.