Thursday, November 13, 2008
Wake Up, White GLBT Community
Sometimes I feel like Laurence Fishburne's character Dap in Spike's movie School Daze when it comes to talking to some white GLBT peeps about racism, white privilege, how it impacts the community as a whole and the stubborn refusal to forcefully address it.
Well, to borrow a line from Malcolm X, the chickens have come home to roost thanks to the passage of Proposition 8 in Cali and a similar Florida anti marriage equality amendment.
The point is that your African-American GLBT allies and progressive African-Americans are beyond sick and tired of being castigated for the Prop 8 loss. If you want to vent on somebody, take it to the people who actually sponsored it, the Mormon Church, the Traditional Values Coalition, conservative Black preachers, the Catholic Church and all the peeps who share your ethnic heritage who signed the petitions and voted for the amendment in the first place.
Hell, African-Americans make up only 6% of the population in California. There were far more peeps that shared your ethnic heritage across the state that helped it to pass besides focusing broad brush racist vitriol on the clusters of Black folks in nine California counties. It was the failure to engage communities of color until late in the game that led to this devastating loss.
We also see this crap for what it is, a right-wing attempt to not only sow seeds of division within the African-American community, but also split it from the GLBT civil rights coalition.
The point is that the No on 8 forces didn't do a good job in reaching out to the African-American community. The Yes peeps were placing ads on African-American radio stations, other AA oriented media and deploying homobigot preachers to speak for them at predominately African-American community events.
Magic Johnson stated on the Larry King Show that he was a No on 8 supporter. There are several African-American Hollywood stars, California African-American politicians and native Californian icons such as Tyra Banks who are GLBT community supporters. Where were the ads in the AA community trumpeting that or featuring them?
Where were the ads featuring GLBT friendly African-American ministers such as San Francisco's Bishop Yvette Flunder? Did you even have any ads similar to the devastating No on 8 ad featuring Mormon missionaries barging into a white lesbian couple's home, snatching their wedding rings off their fingers and tearing their marriage license in half that targeted the Black and other communities of color as well?
While this ad and the clones of the Mac PC ads were brilliant, what was needed were ads specifically targeted to the African-American community.
But some of you stooped to the oldest trick in the book to explain the loss, blame Black people and hate on Jasmyne Cannick for keepin' it real about why the No on 8 campaign failed to garner support in Cali's African-American community.
How very Republican of you.
Now that the Prop 8 loss has gotten your attention, once again the African-American GLBT community will point out yet again that we are not only part of the overall GLBT community, we are part of the 13% of the population that claims our African heritage.
It should be crystal clear by now that you cannot win elections without engaging either the GLBT or non GLBT African-American community and asking for our support.
Yes, we African-American GLBT peeps and bloggers are painfully aware of the homohaters that share our ethnic heritage. We never denied that nor are we defending them as some of you have insultingly charged. We have pointed out ad nauseum for years the danger of letting the perception that 'this is a white gay movement' take root or the Black fundamentalist 'they're hijacking the 60's Civil Rights Movement' spin go unchallenged. The 'whitewashing' of gay history has denied us concrete examples of African-American gay peeps we can point to besides Bayard Rustin who have made major contributions to building not only the 60's Civil Rights movement, but the GLBT movement as well.
The failure of some white gay peeps to engage in issues of importance to African-Americans combined with the failure to forcefully denounce racism within your own ranks, loudly call for 'incremental progress' on transgender people's rights as you take a hypocritical 'damn the torpedoes' approach to marriage equality has led to a unflattering perception that the only peeps you care about are yourselves.
You are also not doing yourself any favors by attacking President-elect Obama when he has yet to even be given a chance to prove what type of president he'll be on GLBT issues.
Just so you don't think that this constructive criticism is a one way street, I've called out my own peeps just as forcefully about their homophobia for years along with other Black GLBT bloggers. But that's an in house conversation we're gonna have to have just like the internal ones y'all have that we ain't privy to.
But one thing that needs to happen post haste is that African-American GLBT people must become equal partners and have major leadership roles in this movement, not just when y'all want some melanin in the photo ops to show how inclusive you are.
Time to check the alarm clock and wake up. If you don't, you'll see more GLBT rights disappear into oblivion because of flawed political strategy.