Monthly Archives: January 2012
Everything I learn I share, because otherwise what is the point? No one benefits from hoarded knowledge.
Playboy: One of the most controversial issues of the past year, apart from civil rights, was the question of school prayer, which has been ruled unlawful by the Supreme Court. Governor Wallace, among others, has denounced the decision. How do you feel about it?
King: I endorse it. I think it was correct. Contrary to what many have said, it sought to outlaw neither prayer nor belief in God. In a pluralistic society such as ours, who is to determine what prayer shall be spoken, and by whom? Legally, constitutionally or otherwise, the state certainly has no such right. I am strongly opposed to the efforts that have been made to nullify the decision. They have been motivated, I think, by little more than the wish to embarrass the Supreme Court. When I saw Brother Wallace going up to Washington to testify against the decision at the Congressional hearings, it only strengthened my conviction that the decision was right.
“Since the murder of Martin Luther King, new commandments had been sworn, laws introduced bust most of it was decorative: statues, street names, speeches. It was as though something valuable had been pawned and the claim ticket lost… Question was, who pawned it in the first place and why.” – Toni Morrison
Dear Syd the Kyd,
Let me begin by commending on you for speaking openly and honestly about your experiences as a Black gay woman. I would also like to commend you for pursuing a path that has been difficult for gender non-conforming women like yourself. Unfortunately, there aren’t many prominent Black gay women who are singing and DJ’n, so that deserves credit unto itself. I truly welcome your entrance into the mainstream, but I do have some reservations.
Earlier this week, I came across an interview you did with the LA Weekly Blog, and I have to admit that I was disappointed by many of your views. I am not one to deny one of their opinions, as everyone has the right to one, but I was disappointed with the reasoning in which you constructed those opinions. As a Black gay man, I share your frustration with the lack of role models Black gay youth are afforded, but I think that is a separate issue from what you conveyed in your interview.
I understand that there are certain stereotypes that we use to determine someone’s sexual orientation, and usually masculinity in a woman is one of those things, but I think we do ourselves, as Black gays, a disservice when we try to force others out of the closet, or suggest that someone is a certain sexual orientation based solely on their gender expression. Yes, it is highly possible that Alicia Keys, Missy Elliott, and Queen Latifah are gay women, but they could also be bisexual women. You fail to challenge the heterosexist thinking that sexuality is either straight or gay. Sexuality is more than the dichotomy that such thinking relies upon.
In a society that promotes heterosexuality at every turn, being comfortable with a sexual orientation that goes against that will be a work in progress. Would I love for all gay, bisexual, and pansexual people who are in the closet, to come out and live their lives openly, honestly, and free from shame? Yes, but that is easier said than done when people are being shamed and attacked for being who they are. As a Black gay, I would expect you to be sensitive to this fact.
During the interview, you stated, “Do I look straight to you?” in response to a question on your sexual orientation. While I understand what you are trying to convey in your response, I think it is dangerous to suggest that sexual orientation has “a look.” Stereotypical thinking suggests that there are certain behaviors or looks that reveal a person’s sexual orientation, but this is simply not true, and if it is it certainly isn’t true for all cases. There are “masculine” women who are heterosexual, bisexual and homosexual; just as there are “feminine” women who are heterosexual, bisexual, and homosexual. There is more to sexual orientation than how we look and act.
I will continue to watch your career, and I wish you the best in your efforts. This letter, if it finds you, isn’t about attacking you, but rather understanding where you are coming from, and hopefully helping you navigate the often difficult road of being a Black gay person in the mainstream media. Your experiences are valuable, and I would never try to deny you of them, but I would like to challenge you to be mindful of the language that you use, and the ramifications of that language. As a Black gay who is gaining in prominence, you have a responsibility to challenge conventional thinking, but also be mindful of the ways that your words can support it. I wish you the best in your personal and professional pursuits.
It would be easy to jump on the bandwagon, but I know better. The fact that a video supposedly “critiquing” religion has over 2 million Youtube views is all the proof I need to know that this video, its creator, and it’s many fans, are in fact primarily people who love religion. Had the video been a true critique of supernatural beliefs, of religious privilege, and the iconography associated with both, this video would likely only have 2,000 views.
This video is purports itself to be in the business of critiquing religion, but how can that be so? How can you truly hate a religion when you hold on to the primary relic of a religion? It baffles the mind. Perhaps the young man in the video came to Jesus without ever reading a bible, or going to church, or being apart of a family that is religious. Maybe that is the case, and I am coming down too hard on someone who is playing moderate in a world populated by religious fundamentalist and an ever increasing number of vocal atheists. But, if he did come to know of Jesus through the bible, the way that most people who believe in Jesus do, and if he continues to cite scriptures form the bible, it’s clear to me that this man, and the many supporters that he has, are actually quite in love with religion.
The bible, that oft tampered with book, has been in the service of religion for hundreds of years, and anyone claiming to love Jesus and hate religion based on passages from it, aren’t being forthcoming about the degree to which Jesus is a religious product. I commend this young man for critiquing religion, but I find the video to be disingenuous in it’s claim of hating religion. No one who loves Jesus, truly hates religion. They may find religion annoying, perhaps irritating in it’s hierarchy of believers, but they do not hate religion.
With that being said, I want to offer a few other examples of people claiming to hate something even as they remain wedded to central aspects of that which they claim to hate:
“Why I hate White Supremacy, but think that lighter skin is prettier than dark skin.”
“Why I hate Patriarchy, but think that women are the weaker sex.”
Why I hate homophobia, but think that homosexuality is a sin.”
See how that can be problematic?
In the imagination of those who consider abortion to be murder, every woman that miscarriages is guilty until proven innocent. No pregnant person is safe. This is yet another reason why I am pro-choice, and a tireless fighter for reproductive freedom.
“Me and Mr. Wrong get along so good, even though he breaks my heart so bad.” – Mary J
Is Mary J’s “Mr. Wrong” a metaphor for Black people’s relationship to Christianity? Loving what is wrong for them?
It could be assumed that all maleness fares the same under Black Patriarchy, but, in my experience there is a pyramid of maleness as it pertains to Black Patriarchy. This graphic is not intended to be authoritative, but rather the way I experienced life as a Black male living under Black Patriarchy.
Based on anecdotal evidence, I would suggest that heterosexual Black men are at the top of the Black patriarchal order, followed by heterosexual non-Black men. I have witnessed many occasions where a non-Black man is afforded inclusion before a Black man, if that non-Black man is also heterosexual. Under the heterosexual non-Black man would be the “masculine” Black non-Heterosexual male. The fact that his masculinity reflects or gestures towards heterosexuality grants him favor within the heterosexual Black males. At the very bottom would be the “feminine” Black non-heterosexual male.; these are the Black men who are positioned at the bottom of the Black Patriarchy ladder. Again, this is all based on anecdotal evidence, but in my life experiences I have witnessed Black manhood play out that way under Black Patriarchy.
One of my sixth grade students brought this commercial to my attention during the Media Studies class that I teach. The commercial, titled “Like Father, Like Son,” shows a little boy playing with various toys. The commercial shows the little boy playing with different toys, but makes no effort to comment on them being “boy toys” or “girl toys.” They are simply portrayed as toys, and ones that the little boy in the commercial is interested in playing with. I’m not sure if this is a first for Chevy, or car commercial in general, but it is refreshing to see a child playing with various types of toys, and not just the toys we think they should be playing with based on their gender. It’s refreshing to see a car company as prominent as Chevy challenge gender stereotypes.
Watch the commercial below!