Sunday, November 09, 2008

Not letting it go

I was teaching a class this week in front of some blue collar workers. They were joking around after Obama had won the presidency and started talking about how the White house needs to change its name to the black house, ha ha ha, and that chicken and watermelon would be the new cafeteria staples. I sputtered and choked a bit (I couldn't believe what they were actually saying) before I hollered at them to stop. The n word was being used and though in French it is not quite as unacceptable as in English (not my opinion) I couldn't tolerate it one bit. I actually had to chastise them and tell them that they wouldn't be cracking fag jokes in the room and that they should just assume I'm black because I would have none of that in my classroom. I fight against any prejudice and racism wherever I see it. (I've also had to call students out on other unacceptable comments about Jews and Muslims.) So to see Jasmyne Cannick's op ed piece in the LA Times really pissed me off. I'm being told that I'm privileged, I can't understand their fight, and I shouldn't expect them to be on my side. Their concerns are far more serious (wage equality, incarceration rates, "driving while black") than our concerns about some silly little thing like "marriage". She blames my kind for wrongly assuming black support. The point that she misses is that all discrimination and prejudice is wrong. It all comes from a false feeling of superiority over others, triggered by fear. And the bottom line is that if you think your struggle is more valiant, more worthy, then you claim superiority. Fine. But now I think you're a jerk. How dare you. Since we're comparing Jasmyne, I'll wager more of us have been physically assaulted (in this decade) for being gay than have blacks for being black. Remember Lawrence King? Yeah, we understand violence against us. If for nothing else we should have solidarity based on the violence committed against both blacks and gays. In fact I think we should all come clean on the various wrongs we have suffered and remained silent about. (More on that later.) Like the best protester's sign said yesterday in Huntington Beach, "No More Mr Nice Gay."

I'll still battle for your place in society Jasmyne, but I'll stop counting on your support since you've demonstrated once again that being gay really is like having "The Ultimate Cooties."

24 comments:

"Just David!" said...

Wow, that artilcle really is an eye opener!

"Does someone who is homeless or suffering from HIV but has no healthcare, or newly out of prison and unemployed, really benefit from the right to marry someone of the same sex?"

She poses that question and the answer is yes, I certainly would benefit from that. I may need to go to LA and explain that in person, after all my other things are over with! She's too wrapped up in the black struggle to see anything else right now. One day, she'll be in the same boat I was, being told you have no rights and then the lightbulb will come on for her! One hopes anyway!

"Just David!" said...

check out her myspace page!

tornwordo said...

Interesting that this comes up on that page too:

Ads by Google

Yes on 8

Vote YES to protect marriage The fight is not over!

Rick said...

Cannick's article brings to light how selfish people really are when it comes to their own agendas.

Of course she's going to support Obama and spend all her energy pushing him rather than adding in gay marriage to boot. That being said, and to her point, I guess we are equally as selfish and need to do a better job at getting others "on board" with our agenda.

I don't know if I agree with gays being assaulted more than blacks in this past decade. There's far too much violence against blacks that goes unreported.

Regardless it's not a matter of whose case is worse than the others it's a matter of joining forces. We're both to blame.

tornwordo said...

There's far too much violence against blacks that goes unreported.

Same goes for gays. The high school kid that gets beat up for being a "faggot" tells no one.

It's just insulting to me that I really am fighting for them whenever I can to be told our cause is "lesser than".

Roxrocks said...

That woman is irritating. The article was irritating, her blog is irritating. She is a triple threat though, gay, black and a woman. Wow. She's so fucking oppressed how does she get up in the morning? Oh yeah, it must be her anger.

Sheesh.

It's why I get up too.

Equality in civil rights is a humanities issue, not a color/sexuality/gender issue. Give PEOPLE the rights that PEOPLE should have. Until people stop being divisive and only caring about THEIR cause, no one will win.

CoffeeDog said...

See, the thing is, it's a simple push of a button, to vote against Prop 8. Why is it so hard to push a button for someone other than yourself? There we're plenty of people behind the civil rights movement who *weren't directly affected*

GayProf said...

We should be concerned by the notion that there are a limited number of "rights" to be handed out. If one groups gets their rights, this doesn't mean that another will be deprived.

I would also suggest, as usual, that the black struggle is the gay struggle as there are numerous African-Americans gays in the nation. If the author in questions wishes to support her community, then she must support all of it.

Anonymous said...

A young man here in Indiana was beaten to death by a bunch of thugs. They finally ended up shooting his bloodied and bruised body after throwing him in a ditch. They said he asked one of them if they wanted a blow job. His parents said that was a lie he wasn't gay. So, it went down as a homicide but not a hate crime. He was 24 years old. When I was 24 had I been killed my parents would have denied I was gay too. my point, (and I do have one) is that many deaths are not listed as crimes against Gay people. I agree many Gay bashings go unreported. ed

Laverne said...

I like what Gayprof said, there's quite a worry when we start thinking there's only so many rights to be allowed.

And there are lots and lots of people (myself included) who aren't directly affected who do support equal rights for everyone.

It's going to take time, but I have to believe we will change this country.

A Lewis said...

It gets awfully scary when any group, any person, decides that their rights are more important than "the other guys." Even in a one-on-one relationship, that is nervewracking ground to try and stand upon. There just is simply no limit to the amount of human rights that need to be afforded to every single person on this globe.

Birdie said...

So, some are more equal than others. Sounds familiar. There is great hubris in the philosophy that my rights trump your rights. Any discrimination of any kind is unacceptable.

Good for you, Torn, for calling your students to task. We must risk some discomfort for the sake of others.

kevin said...

Although I am not black, I feel as though I completely understand their struggle. We are taught about it in school, we see it on tv, hear about it in the news. I am educated to what they have been through and what they are fighting for. I want it for them as well and am willing to help them in their battle.

They (and just so I don't get accused of generalizing, NOT ALL BUT I would surmise, the majority) do NOT understand our issue at all. Being gay is still continuously demonized in the black religious culture. We are not as clearly visible out there in the real world or the fake one (tv, movies) and when we are shown there, it's usually not an accurate portrayal (oddly enough, just like black people back in the early days of film).

The struggles are different, but the end result we desire is the same...EQUALITY.

Lemuel said...

Well stated! It exposes the truth that as long as any one of us experiences discrimination none of us are free of it.

em said...

FWIW, I think one of the big problems is that way too many people think that homosexuality is a choice*. It's like gay people spring fully formed the second that we touch a same sex person and before that we are straight just like all the "normal people". Well, any gay person knows that is shit. We grow up not fitting in, getting picked on by the larger group, and getting no support because we are kids and we don't know what the hell is going on. But later we do, right? We can see that people in the family were sometimes trying to toughen us up to discipline teh gay out of us, or to force us into dresses and manners classes. To socialize us, to teach us how to act to fit in. And a lot of parents will later say, oh, I knew you were gay when you were 5... but very few kids get any support at all. And as a society we have don't talk about this. And that gives cover to the idea that being gay is a choice, an action that we take.

I think that needs to be talked about and I also think strategically it will be met with much resistance because many straight people think that being gay is all about sex and if you talk about gay kids then you must be talking about kids and sex... poof, suddenly we are discussion pedophilia in their minds. But it's not just the sex, right?

*thanks to the "lifestyle" framing by Christianists in the 80's... those bastards.

em said...

Maybe if mothers of gay and lesbian people wrote "I knew my child was gay when..." stories and we publicized them it would be a way of breaking through the wrong headed idea that people aren't born gay.

Birdie said...

Em, my brother said he knew he was "different" when he was six. What six-year-old makes that choice? None. It was years later when he knew what that difference was. I have yet to meet the gay man or woman who was happy to make that realization.

Frank B said...

"Homophobia is like racism and anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry in that it seeks to dehumanize a large group of people, to deny their humanity, their dignity and personhood. This sets the stage for further repression and violence that spread all too easily to victimize the next minority group." ---Corretta Scott King, April 1998, Chicago

travelling, but not in love said...

My brother has spent the last week forwarding crappy obama jokes to me. They're all pretty much awful, bad taste and racist.

Suffice to say, it was the cause of a big old-fashioned fallout. We'll get over it, but respect has been lost....

Patrick said...

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

This sentiment is one I regularly need to return to, so I remember that all hate and bigotry damages me. Racism, sexism, homophobia, they all demean me, even if homophobia is the only one I have ever personally been hit with. (Does getting repeatedly searched and interviewed every time I flew into or out of England in the 80s, probably because of the Irish name and look, count? No, I didn't think so.) King's statement is also something I come back to any time I feel tempted to play the "I'm more oppressed than you" game. It all demeans all of us. It all needs to be ended. I'll fight for CAnnick's civil rights, because that's the right thing to do. She can make peace with her own conscience as she sees fit.

I doubt we'll ever do lunch, she and I.

Butch said...

No one has the right to think their struggle is more worthy than ours. No one gets a free pass being a bigot. She is as bigoted as the "white-crackers" who kept her people down during Jim Crow and slavery.

I'm with Melissa Ettherage exclaiming she will not pay her state taxes if she is considered a second-class citizen without marriage rights.

This all boils down to using religion to continue an agenda of bigotry and hate. I want to see some tax-exempt status churches losing that gift from the government. You mess in politics and you get taxed like everyone else.

Word Verification: "ging yrou"
( a new cuss phrase? or one of those knifes that cut through pop cans )close but no cigar . ..

johnny368 said...

find it very unsettleing...

:(

Enemy of the Republic said...

It's getting worse. Good for you, Torn. Oh, I'm following you now--this way I can keep up with you!

afod said...

Well said, Torn! Now if we could only get this post as an Op Ed in the LA Times as a rebuttle! And thank you for turning your words into action inside the classroom. Interesting that the "word verification" for me was "denied."