Monday, June 30, 2008

'Angry' Black Transwoman?

One of the things I constantly tell my African-American biosisters is that your transsisters have far more in common with you than the minor differences that separate us.

Some of the things that we have in common with you in addition to our shared cultural heritage is facing a heightened awareness that we are now targets for sexaul assault and murder, job discrimination, sexual harassment, and denigration of our beauty,

Another is being slapped with the 'angry' label when we are honestly saying what we think in mixed company.

I can't tell you how many times in GLBT Internet discussion groups, GLBT spaces, or in answers to comments I've posted to threads in discussion groups or blogs how someone will whip out the 'angry' tag when I'm expressing my opinion on various subjects that doesn't dovetail with theirs.

News flash to those people: If I'm pissed off, you and the whole world will know it.

But like all intelligent, thinking Black women, I'm a little sick of being told by people that don't share our ethnic heritage or conservaidiots such as Cal Thomas and Pat Buchanan that we're 'angry' when we candidly express what's on our minds.

Michelle Obama has been not only slimed with racist comments, she's been whacked with the 'angry' tag already and we aren't even at the party conventions yet.

Interesting is the deafening silence coming from the white feminist ranks now that Michelle's the one being attacked with racist and sexist remarks. During the Democratic primary you couldn't pry 'angry white women' away from a camera when Hillary was being slammed with them by conservapundits.

As Sojourner Truth said over a century ago, Ain't I a woman, too?

Yeah, but Ms. Obama is the wrong color one to warrant a massive public PR defense from the white-dominated feminist ranks.

But back to the GLBT ranks. I've often said that the GLBT community is a microcosm of society at large. Whatever ills and isms are part of the parent society manifest themselves in our little subset of it.

And two of those 'isms' happen to be racism and sexism.

Like my biosisters I find that sometimes when I try to express my viewpoints in meetings I get stepped over by male voices in the room and have to fight to have my viewpoint heard.

That's before we even get to the race based part.

If I express a viewpoint counter to GLBT groupthink or I point out something blatantly obvious such as last week's melanin free hearing for example, I'm called 'angry', 'miltant', 'obsessed about race', 'competing in the Oppression Olympics', challenged to come up with verifiable proof of what I'm commenting on or whatever suppression language du jour they use in mixed GLBT spaces.

I'm just supposed to be the 'happy darkie' or noncontroversial Negro just pleased that Massa is letting me sit at the Big House GLBT Civil Rights table and smile for the cameras when they wanna show the world how 'diverse' they are. I'm supposed to keep it quiet that the GLBT community can be just as bigoted, racist and sexist as the fundamentalists who are oppressing them and don't want to be reminded of that.

As Maya Wilkes, my fave character from the dearly departed show Girlfriends says, 'Oh, Hell No!'

Let's keep it real for a moment. If some peeps and organizations in the GLBT community didn't constantly repeat the negative behaviors, I wouldn't have to constantly remind you of how much work you have to do to eradicate them.

As I warned y'all in my first TransGriot post, there will be times when I piss you off. While I strive when I write post commentary to do it in a thoughful, rational, reasoned and balanced manner, it would be disengenuos to not point out that as a person of African descent I look at issues through that prism. My thoughts, writngs, musings and opinions don't always neatly line up with the prevailing wisdom in the overall GLBT community.

In addition, I'm blunt at times and call it as I see it. In the spirit of one of my sheroes, the late Rep. Barbara Jordan, I believe in morally ethical leadership and work diligently to apply those principles in my own life and leadership style. Staying true to those principles sometimes puts me in the awkward position of having to call out people and organizations I consider friends as well.

But my goal has always been to make you think and expose you to some of the drama that African-American transpeeps and transpeople in general deal with. I want to remind my African-American brothers and sisters (and the GLBT community) that just because I transitioned doesn't mean I gave up my Black Like Me card. I'm proud of my heritage, proud of my history, still share the desire to do my part to uplift the race and be considered a valued member of our African-American family.

And if that in your eyes makes me 'angry', you need to wake up and check the alarm clock.


Unknown said...

I personally appreciated your view; I saw the panel, and I knew there was something off, and your posts gave voice to much of what I knew.

But I think it's bullshit and hypocrisy for people to ignore you or denigrate you when they call you out for saying that white trans people can't speak for black trans people, all while trying to argue that non-trans people can't speak for trans people (which is one of the biggest problems we face, that other people are doing the talking for us and trying to call all trans people crazy, impatient, angry and stubborn).

I *WANT* to hear what you have to say, because you do speak a valuable point of view. People who hate hearing that it's not all sunny under the rainbow flag aren't allies; they're refusing to fix the problem of oppression by diagnosing where it is in the world (and in themselves), so they're just enabling it.

My mother always taught me to take criticism, because one thing worse than screwing up is screwing up a second time when you could've learnt better.

Monica Roberts said...

I'm not saying that a white transperson couldn't go into a CBC office, or that I can't go into a CHC office, or a Latina transperson can't go into a white or Asian office, or be effective speakers for this community.

But what I am saying is that we need to deal with the reality of race-based politics and make sure whatever panels we put together reflect that reality.

If we claim to be a diverse community, it neede to be reflected in that panel, especially in light of the fact it was for the first congressional hearing ever on a transgender issue

Cutting 13% of the community out wasn't smart, especially in light of the fact the GLBT community has a major PR problem in the AA comunity.


Hey there Monica! {waves}

Good post!

Thanks so much for this wonderful discourse!

Peace, blessings and DUNAMIS!
Minister L. Vazquez

Unknown said...

Well, I certainly think that I can help, but I don't think I can be as effective as you are at finding these things on my own. I mean, I notice stuff, but I do recognize I've got the privilege to not notice other things..

So, I do feel bad that they cut out POC from the hearing, because it's POC that get hurt disproportionally, as can be seen on the Remembering Our Dead website.

I really do wish there was more awareness of race-based politics in the GLBT community, but I had a talk last week with a friend who I thought was a GLB ally, and found that he bought the Solmonese-Frank line of "waiting your turn", that we have to wait for the straight-passing white males first, and on and on.. He didn't say it that way, but I can read between the lines.

And I'm sorry if I sometimes come off like I'm disagreeing with you, Monica. :P I've never read a thing you've written that didn't accurately reflect reality. I'm just not a great writer by the time I get home to read the blogs.

Monica Roberts said...

If I wanted only people that agreed with me o read and comment on this blog, I'd be George W Bush or a Talabaptist ;)

If there's someting in a post you disagree with, don't be shy to express it. I'll still love and respect you in the morning ;)

Renee said...

This is my first visit here. I always appreciate a sister that can tell her truth. Whether or not they call us angry ball busters or not they need to be made to hear what we have to say. Nothing will change if we sit silently and accept our own maringalization.

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