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."