Somewhere between Hypocrisy and Privilege Shirley Manson decides to pop her head up out of the corner of international obscurity, and draft an “open” letter with a closed mind.
A letter that justifies the very actions it seeks to condemn.
This is an attempt at publicity not unlike Sinead O Connor’s attempt to (s)mother Miley Cyrus in the later part of 2013. If it were not so, why not send this “message” covertly, because this is not a private “message”, this is a public attack. A very public ad hominem attack to be precise.
From what I have seen, Kanye West used his platform to attack a system that religiously rewards the dominant culture while constantly undermining the efforts of minority artists. You may not agree with his method. You may think it disrespectful. But his argument is sound, and he did not stoop to throwing around labels like “twat” – as Shirley Manson did – to make his point.
It must be very disconcerting for the dominant culture to constantly watch this black male (in)subordinate attempting to dismantle the Master’s House from within. So disconcerting in fact that every time he gives an opinion, he is accused of ranting, and pathologized, to reproduce and reinforce the metanarrative that ties black masculinity to hegemonic violence, anti-intellectualism, and mental illness.
Aside from this, while Beyoncé may not need Kanye to fight on her account, I am certain Beck does not need Shirley Manson to fight on his account either.
So why do it?
Where does the real suspicion lie?
When these artists only defend one another because of their shared whiteness, and completely ignore the sea of injustices many “black” artists are systematically submerged in, and have been submerged in ever since music became one of the many pillars of popular culture.
Where was Shirley’s “open letter” when Macklemore won several Grammy’s in the face of Kendrick Lamar’s resounding superiority in 2014, and where was Shirley’s “open letter” for the obliteration of India.Arie’s efforts in 2002!
And that is where Shirley faltered, by reducing a structural issue to an individual one, by attacking Kanye West, instead of attacking a system that upholds the heteronormative ideal of whiteness; that rewards whites who misappropriate black culture, and condemns that culture in blacks; that punishes “black” artists because they are not “white” enough to sell records, and that assaults Kanye’s conduct instead of addressing his case.
This is not about Kanye, it just so happens he is the only one brave enough or stupid enough to speak out on behalf of “the race” in the impulsive, and unrehearsed way that he does. Everyone else is probably afraid of being pathologized, called mad, and kicked out of the Master’s House, and placed back on the proverbial plantation where the spectre of poverty lingers like a brutal reminder of the oppression they thought they had escaped when the door was opened to let them in that house in the first instance.
So why attack Kanye West? Because when you are standing in the white light of your own privilege, it is very easy to pick out the “black” spot, and do everything in your “power” to erase it, and keep the Master’s House pure, clean, untroubled … and pearly white.
Attack everything or say nothing.