Homophobia: An accusation too frequently cast onto the black canvass.
The term’s use illustrates how the systemically empowered attain the ability to weaponize terms, festering the social and systemic wounds of oppressed people. The irony here is that the same system that breeds ignorance in the oppressed caste reserves the right to weaponize said ignorance at their discretion. Rapper DaBaby delineates this dynamic in the recent uproar his concert commentary engendered from multiple stars on social media.
The public censured DaBaby for his comments, predictably labeling him “homophobic.” What’s bothersome here is that rap culture breeds an intentional culture that appears to enable liberated speech, all the while delineating the limits language incurs when you are black.
DaBaby attained a platform with the silent promise to steer black people toward the ways of white supremacy disguised by popularized vernacular rhetoric and placed over a catchy beat. Had he cultivated a platform of intellectual curiosity that inspired black youth to do more than dance or repeat catchy phrases, he would have neither platform or popularity. Yet, the very reason for his relevance became the exact reason for his public castigation.
DaBaby did just what he was paid to do, and said what he was paid to say during and after the performance in question. What seems like a slip-up presented another way for an oppressive group to assert their pseudo authority. I mean here that anything said or done, and everything you are, can be weaponized against the black individual to posit the black collective as harboring the very hate that inundated their lives before they exited the womb.
Additionally, if a black man, who composes a national minority (but majority in prison) or remains one traffic stop away from murder, is homophobic, the crimes against him and his collective look like self-defense at best and at worst, a product of collective hate.
Thus, this public censure was not about rap, DaBaby as an artist, or homophobic speech. Instead, this public censure elucidates the ways in which language remains, to quote Audre Lorde, the “master’s tool,” or a colonial tool of oppression.
Language as a colonial tool commands that I acknowledge a peculiar truth: black people have never been able to weaponize the word “racist.” Using the term is too often a last and unused resort that socially operates as a complaint and an excuse. However, the term has attained weaponized status as an accusation against black people who articulate or actualize any proximity to non-white nationalism.
I mention this distinction to underscore the portrait of power that lies beneath the image of oppression. The ability to weaponize language indicates the systemic favor of those who maintain the right to disguise social victory with victimhood–those who veil bigotory will socially-acceptable bullying.
Furthermore, while this media fiasco may seem to have nothing to do with race, the homophobic labeling that continues to align with Africans in America highlights racist nuance. Particularly, the label becomes another way to vindicate racist ideology and racist treatment. Moreover, claims of homphobia actualizes another means to discredit black people and another way to incite collective amnesia to the sins that birthed black presence in America.