Saturday, June 02, 2007

June 2007 TransGriot Column

Chuck Knipp + SQL + Minstrel Show = Racism
Copyright 2007, THE LETTER

Just in time for pride I’m calling out all you GLBT racism enablers.

Racism enabler? Moi? Yes, you!

You peeps who silently sit through racist rants that would make the local KKK Grand Wizard proud. It also includes you peeps who paid good American money to see and support a racist minstrel show like some of y’all did on May 5 during Derby.

A minstrel show mind you that perpetuates stereotypes dating back to the 1830’s and has as much humor in it as Don Imus’ April 4 ‘nappy headed garden tool’ comments that got him canned from his multimillion dollar radio gig.

Stop rolling your eyes and muttering under your breath ‘there she goes again.’ I’m just as sick and tired of ‘splaining to y’all why Chuck’s minstrel show is offensive to the African-American SGL community. For the record, it’s disrespectful on multiple levels to single mothers, economically disadvantaged peeps, women and African-Americans.

Spare me your latest ‘It’s free speech’ SQL defense line. With free speech comes responsibility and consequences as well. Free speech cuts both ways. Just as Chuck has the right to say things and insult my people in his ‘act’ I have a reciprocal right to protest and call him out for performing a 'show’ with stereotypes rooted in slavery.

And no, Chuck doesn’t get a ‘dodge criticism’ free pass because he’s gay. Isaiah Washington and Tim Hardaway didn’t (and still don’t) get them from the gay community for their one-time comments, so a serial offender like Chuck doesn’t get one either.

Let me also put an end to Chuck’s disingenuously fallacious statement that by performing SQL he’s fostering a discussion on race relations by getting us to laugh at them.

Bull feces.

Chuck is exacerbating racial tensions, not healing them. Using a blackface image with 400 years of negativity associated with it doesn’t exactly lend itself in African-American eyes as a starting point for a civil discourse on race relations. In 2002 we African-Americans had a major problem with those blackface images in Spike Lee’s ‘Bamboozled’ movie. You know we’re gonna be highly perturbed with someone standing on stage in blackface who is not only gay and should know better, but comes from the same ethnic group and gender that enslaved our great-great grandparents.

That little ‘12 Days of Kwanzaa’ ditty Chuck composed that’s posted on every white supremacist website on the Net also puts an abrupt end to that ‘I’m a racial healer' fallacy as well.

Finally, let’s get one thing straight (pardon the pun). The white community gay or straight doesn’t get to determine what we African-Americans should or shouldn't be offended by. The African-American community collectively does and it’s the height of arrogance for you to think that you do. Trotting out RuPaul, the mysterious African-American ‘friend’ who’s allegedly an SQL fan (yeah, right) or anyone else for Chuck to hide behind ain’t gonna work either. RuPaul has less credibility in the African-American SGL community nowadays than Condoleezza Rice.

It should be obvious after 5 years of protests, show cancellations, denunciations from African-American activists, African-American GLBT columnists and bloggers, GLBT organizations, our gay and straight allies and other concerned citizens of various ethnic backgrounds where we stand on the SQL issue. The more intransigent you get about SQL, the more you risk losing the African-American GLBT community as an ally
in the GLBT rights struggle.

Yes peeps, it’s that serious.

This was always more than just us complaining about a lousy minstrel show. This is being viewed by some in the African-American GLBT community as a litmus test to see just how serious the white GLBT community is about dealing with issues that we deem important.

And right now you’re in danger of failing that test.


Cuckoo Armadillo said...

You are 100% right! I am white and whenever one of my white acquaintances starts talking about how SQL isn't offensive (I say acquaintances because nobody I call my friend is that fucking dumb!), they get a damn earful from me. SQL is a waste of so-called "comedy" and a total waste of GLBT audience time.

Linda said...

Great post Monica, and I totally agree. I'm white as well, and can't believe certain forms of entertainment won't die and go away forever. There are all kinds of other forms that don't put people down.

But on a more trivial note, hope you don't mind that I am tagging you. It's sort of like getting a chain letter, only slightly less annoying. Hopefully you will have some fun with it.
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Unknown said...

I just discovered your site Monica, and I gotta say its great, very uplifting stuff with no punches pulled, and for a white t-girl like myself, I've learned alot more about trans life in the black community.

This SQL stuff though bugs me. Is she racially offensive?, sure I can agree with that and I dont agree with what she may say in her comedy bits. But I really can't take all the attacks on her seriously when we have black stars which have pretty much based their success on racist (vs whites) comedy, such as Chris Rock and Martin Lawrence. Racism against whites is not only accepted, but encouraged in most media, especially black media, yet if a white person says a single thing out of context, they are labelled as racists wether or not they actually are.

Once the black community attacks their own racist members, only attacking the white idiots speaks of hypocrisy and double standards. Its really no wonder to me that SQL gets away with what she does, at least she doesn't have Rock's bank account.

Monica Roberts said...

Chris Rock and Martin Lawrence base their success on racism towards whites?

Excuse me?

Last time I checked Chirs rock had done SNL, several movies, has a sucessful TV show airing right now. Martin has done movies, comedy clubs and had a successful TV show as well.

Give me an example of Chris Rock's
and Martin Lawrence's alleged racism toward whites.

If you're talking about the routine that was broadcast on HBO in which Chris stated that only the white male is allowed toprofit on someone else's pain, we'll, you've got two major examples of it in the slave trade and the Holocaust.

You SQL defenders will say ANYTHING to defend him, no matter how illogical it sounds.

And Dawn, it does cut both ways. Eddie Murphy was vilified by the gay community for his routine during his 1983 Raw tour that satirized gays.

Carlos Mencia and George Lopez can poke fun at Latinos on certain issues, but I can't tell those same jokes.

Don Rickles as a Jewish man can tell Jewish jokes, but someone who is non-Jewsih telling those jokes is anti-Semitic.

The point is that there's certain inhouse things among ethnic groups that they can poke fun at, but others aren't allowed to.

Chuck Knipp is NOT African-American. Spike Lee couldn't get away with using blackface images, so is it arrogance or stupidity that depite an entire community telling himn that this is offensive, he still goes there.

And you think that we're supposed to let that insult to our community slide?

We've been attcked by racists for 400 years, we're experts at detecting it and ferreting it out.

If SQL is soooo funny and not racist, then why compose 'The Twelve Days of Kwanzaa'?

It is not only disrespectful to the people who celebrate the holiday, but is inaccurate because Kwanzaa lasts seven days, and Chuck's little ditty is posted on many white supremacist websites.

Melissa said...

Monica, I just read your column in The Letter and found your blog address there.

I'm one of those that saw SQL on May 5th in Louisville. I had heard that SQL was controversial but that "it was art" and not racism. So like running to a burning building, I wanted to see for myself and develop my own opinion.

Well, it wasn't funny. The comments weren't funny. It quickly became very uncomfortable in the crowd. The majority of the predominantly white crowd walked out on Chuck after awhile of him talking about having 19 children by different daddy's. It was stereotypical garbage. Not funny at all. It was not art, it was not artistic, only shameful comments wrapped in the guise of being "art."

I agree, only those who are of a race, gender or culture are allowed to poke fun at their own. I now discourage others from seeing or supporting SQL.

Do you know the history of how SQL came to be? Or what lead Chuck to think that developing such a stage character would be OK?

Monica Roberts said...

Thanks for reading the TransGriot column and being moved enough to write me. I deeply appreciate getting feedback from my readers.

There's a Rolling Stone magazine interview that I read two weeks ago about Chuck and how he created the character. I had less respect for him after reading it.

He repeatedly claims he's honoring Black women, but I'm an expert in terms of being around Black women all my life. Trust me, we don't feel honored by his schticKKK.

The sad part is that he is totally clueless about the negative images he's putting out there by doing SQL and really thinks he's honoring Black women by doing so.

That kind of 'ignance' is more dangerous than what he claims to be fighting.

Denieal said...

Hey Monica,

This is my first time reading your blog. Like you I was deeply saddened by the popularity of SQL. I think sometimes because I live in the Bay Area I idealize how progressive I assume my friends and communities are. Lately the SQL issue has divided some of my friends and it's mind blowing that I find myself in the position to have to explain to folks why this person is offensive. I hate that comedians like Chris Rock and Martin Lawrence keep being brought up. Responding to and calling out the ways that racism is perpetuated is not the same thing as reinforcing negative stereotypes of another culture. In terms of the 'reverse racism' argument that I often hear when these discussions come up, there is no such thing. People of color can be prejudiced, or bigoted, but not racist. This is not an excuse of all the ways that people of color can be hateful or bigoted it is really to point out the power construct of the US. Racism is all about power and as long as the majority of the wealth and power is controlled by one race, than only one race is truly capable of perpetuating racism. I also don't agree that all that people say about their own culture is completely acceptable. I don't agree with Black folks who use the N word and I think a lot of Carlos Mencia's comedy steps back his people hundreds of years. I would love for people to realize that people can make comedy that celebrates their cultures, or talks about them in ways that aren't so demeaning, and still be funny. Anyway thank you for your eloquent well thought out post.



Zoe Brain said...

denieal, I have to disagree
Racism is all about power and as long as the majority of the wealth and power is controlled by one race, than only one race is truly capable of perpetuating racism

My take is that racism is racism, regardless of chromosomes, or Gross Domestic Product, or Average Income.

I'm Australian, and therefore have no vote, no citizenship rights at all from a US viewpoint, yet what the US Government does is arguably more influential on my life than what my own does. You personally have power over me in a way that I don't have over you. The USA is vastly more powerful and influential than my own country.

Yet if a rich white Australian says "Bloody Yank" to a poor Black American, that's racist in my view . In fact, if a poor black Australian says the same thing about a rich white American, that's still racism IMHO.

Please don't be so ... Racist.. (by your own definition, not mine) in insisting that only your US-centred coca-colonisation of the language is valid. The unconscious arrogance is appalling, and worse because you don't even realise that you are in a position of privilege.

I will not pause to consider history, relative economic worth on a group basis, relative economic worth on an individual basis, colour of eyes, straightness of hair, or anything else about the utterer when examining whether a remark is racist or not. For one thing, it's too difficult.

p.s. Did I mention that you're not a racist? Good. Thought I'd better emphasise that, because by your own definition, you can't help being. And that, I think we can both agree, would be a terrible injustice to you.

Monica Roberts said...

And Zie, I have to disagree with you.

Everyone can be prejudiced. But if my prejudices are combined with economic, political and police military power or a combination of one or more of the above deployed in such a way to retard the progress of a group or member of a minority group, then it becomes racism.

As an example of what I'm talking about, if I were racist and said all day long 'I hate whitey' and my actions reflected it, as an African-American, I don't have the combination of power to walk into Australia and project those PREJUCICES onto you in such a way that it negatively affects your employment.

However, if you were exhibiting those same prejudiced tendencies, and bounced into the States for a visit, ran across me and didn't like me, you have the power to affect my life.

You could simple call my supervisor up at work, make up some bogus complaint about my work performance, and if the management were looking to get rid of me I would find myself out of a job.

At that point your behavior wou;d be racist because you coupled your prejudice with your perceived economic power as a white person, and it resulted in my termination of employment.

Now the Japanese when they were busy buikding their 'Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere were definitely exhibiting racist behavior during their WW2 occupation of much of the Asia and Pacific rim.

But for the greater part of world history since power, economic wealth and military force has been in the hands of whites, they have the ability to turn their prejudices into racist behavior and have done so.

When your fellow Aussies were forcibly trying to wipe out Aboriginal culture, was that simply prejudice at work?

The Transatlantic slave trade?

Was Europeans taking up the 'White Man's Burden' to colonize Asia, Africa, and the Americas simply prejudice at work?