Saturday, November 15, 2008
blacks hate gays
i wish they would just say it already. i was thinking about this blog as i walked to work and saw the front cover of the sf chronicle. the headline read "Prop 8 Support In S.F." the picture under the caption was of a black barbershop. it doesn't take a genius to see the linking of the passing of prop 8 to the black community. even jon stewart (not like he's some enlightened soul) exclaimed the other day on the daily show that the oppressed has become the oppressor. seriously? black people are now the oppressors of gay people? and this is funny how? i don't want to direct all my anger towards jon stewart, the daily show is one of my main sources of information after all. and besides, placing blame on black people did not begin, and will not end in the far left. i just think it's ironic that i, as a black man, am feeling betrayed by the liberal/progressive community that is feeling betrayed by the black community. it's as if there are no black allies to the struggle, let alone black people within the glbtq community! but there are a few trends that i am identifying in this struggle (with the help of sisters, brothers and everyone outside and in between our rigid gender assignments) that i think need to be addressed for us to move on:
1) assuming that black people (straight and otherwise) are allies to gay rights: to me being an ally implies a reciprocal relationship, both sides advocating for one another. i believe that in order to be an ally you need more than a compassionate heart for "the other" you need in fact to see the interconnectedness of different group's experiences. i feel somewhat unique as a "questioning" black man to have so many friends within the glbtq community. i've had multiple experiences when they have stood up for my dignity as a human being. not all black people have had this experience. for example, this summer i spent much of my time educating groups and individuals of the inherent racism of propositions like 6 and 9 which serve ultimately to expand the prison industrial complex at the expense of blacks and latinos. (i admit that assumed in a place like california prop 8 would never pass.) however, when the election came i heard little about prop 6 and 9, and much about prop 8. when prop 9 passed along with prop 8 i heard no outcry about it. i did hear an outcry about black people's support of prop 9 and the combination of these two events i believe are incredibly divisive. i believe that if black and glbtq community are really going to be allies, their needs to be work on BOTH sides in securing their human rights. i also don't want to assume that there isn't work being done on both sides, but more needs to be done to address the way the media is framing prop 8 and blaming it on black peoples.
2) assuming that black people (straight and otherwise) are NOT allies to gay rights: a steady week of blaming the black people for prop 8 is exhausting to the mind and the soul, especially for someone who considers himself an ally. if you don't already know this, the numbers show that there aren't enough black people in the state of california to have changed the fate of this proposition. but besides that, there is no such thing as a unified black vote. all black people don't vote the same way on ANYTHING, and to state otherwise is nothing but racist. i know plenty of black straight christians (including myself) who spoke and voted against prop 8. as stated before, often these are black people who have come to see the glbtq community as a part of OUR community. it is an interesting experience to have on one side the conservative media portray your people as violent and worthless and in the liberal media as bigots and traitors to civil rights. i need my allies to be speaking up for me, but i also need to be reminded that black people aren't evil since the messages all seem to be pointing that way (and we though a black president would end all that). that's why i heavily encourage watching the docmentary A Blinding Flash of the Obvious: How Cincinatti's Anti-Gay Charter Was Overturned. it's a wonderful portrayal of how we need to change the ways we have linked racism and homophobia in order to win this battle.
3) equating the "gay" identity with the black identity: i have to say as a black man this infuriates me as few things can. without question, gay marriage is a civil rights issue and the glbtq community experiences heavy discrimination. but until black people cease to experience discrimination, and until the entire glbtq community experiences the same socio-economic status as black people, and are confined to the poorest continent in the world, these equations cannot and should not be made. this is not a case of who has it worst, it is a case of highjacking an oppressed people's identity. i'm not making an analogy when i say this, but rather explaining that the only comprable emotional experience for me is when those who would deny the jewish holocaust turn around and call abortion the american holocaust. black people cannot be called the new oppressors and the silmultaneously be equated with the new most oppressed people.
i could keep writing on this topic forever, because it gets me lit. but i think it's time for the allies to speak. both the allies of those who are against prop 8 even if they may never be affected pesonally by its passing, and those who are against racism even if they aren't suffering from its affects. and then we need to start talking to each other, because until then, ain't nothing going to change. peace.