When is it appropriation and when is it identity?

Another resolution from the NUS Women Conference:

Motion 512: Dear White Gay Men: Stop Appropriating Black Women

Conference Believes:

1. The appropriation of Black women by white gay men is prevalent within the LGBT scene and community.
2. This may be manifested in the emulation of the mannerisms, language (particularly AAVE- African American Vernacular English) and phrases that can be attributed to Black women. White gay men may often assert that they are “strong black women” or have an “inner black woman”.
3. White gay men are the dominant demographic within the LGBT community, and they benefit from both white privilege and male privilege.
4. The appropriation of Black women by white gay men has been written about extensively. This quote is taken from Sierra Mannie’s TIME piece entitled: “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.”

I’m sure you see the problem before I point it out. Isn’t that…trans-exclusionary? To tell men they’re not women, and that they don’t get to claim womanhood? Isn’t it trans-exclusionary to tell anyone that, because if people identify as women then they are women? Isn’t Sierra Mannie doing a very wrong thing by saying that? Aren’t women absolutely forbidden to say that anyone is not a woman? That’s certainly the impression I’ve been getting.

Conference Further Believes:

1. This type of appropriation is unacceptable and must be addressed.
2. Low numbers of Black LGBT women delegates attend NUS LGBT conference. This can be attributed to many factors, one of which may be the prevalent appropriation by white gay men, which may mean that delegates do not feel comfortable or safe attending conference.

But there again – isn’t it trans-exclusionary to call it “appropriation” when men pretend to be identify as women?

Conference Resolves:

1. To work to eradicate the appropriation of black women by white gay men.
2. To work in conjunction with NUS LGBT campaign to raise awareness of the issue, to call it out as unacceptable behaviour and, where appropriate, to educate those who perpetuate this behaviour.

How do they know the white gay men aren’t women? How do they know?

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