Wednesday, September 14, 2011

CBS Affiliate Criminalizes Black Men

So the Maynard Institute has been following this story and holding Chicago's CBS 2 news station accountable. Given my recent activism about two Black men being hypercriminalized (Below) I thought that it was relevant to post a link to the Maynard Institute and the work they do around coverage of Black people by the media. This is a story about how far the news media will go to make Black men look like criminals.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

In Defense of Kevin and all those too Principled and Black to Be Anything But Outraged at The Gay Contribution to State Violence Against Black Men

A few weeks ago I was a witness to an incident that was chronicled in the Bay Citizen and categorized as a "Hate Crime." Many of you know that my first degree is in Criminal Justice and I have strong feelings against Tough on Crimes laws and Hate Crimes laws and believe that they have been targeted against Black men who are already disproportionately represented within Criminal Justice and the Prison Industrial Complex. I further had difficulty thinking of the situation as a gay bashing or hate crime because the Gay man involved in the fight initiated the physical violence and was the first to "throw blows." So I spoke up in the Bay Citizen's comments section. Weeks later Kenyon Farrow, known for his work with Queers for Economic Justice and Critical Resistance, posted an article on his blog attacking me and defending the alleged victim, Brontez Purnell, who is apparently a friend of his. Kenyon's blog post has been linked ironically enough to the blog belonging to INCITE! Women of Color United Against Violence. The hyper linked articles above provide context for my response which appears below.

Brontez as gay hero who refused to be a victim and brought the violence to them before they could bring it to him and Brontez as warrior avenger who smacked them up for his respect after they called him a faggot are images that stand in stark contrast to the depiction of him as a hate crimes victim which if you remember is the depiction that Brontez himself has put forward. The facts offered by Brontez and to the police do not include the facts that I offered; facts that Kenyon Farrow and others have used to spin Brontez as the gay hero. His story in fact left out the part about him spitting on them, left out the part about the so called assailants trying to flee Brontez's attacks for most of the encounter, left out the part about Brontez’s friend begging him to let it go leave and left out the part about the blunt metal object which Brontez wielded against them repeatedly and actually struck them with at least once. So which is it: Bad Ass Gay Hero or Victim of a Hate Crime? In order for the scenario that Kenyon Farrow has chosen to align himself with to be true Brontez has to have told a story that wasn’t true to the bay citizen which would align very closely with the story that I have told. For the scenario that Kenyon Farrow has aligned himself with to be true Brontez most certainly can’t be a “hate crimes” victim.
That being said: I didn't have a problem with the brother not walking away. I didn’t have a huge problem with his “line in the sand,” and I don’t have a problem with refusing to back down from physical violence. My problem is the classification of that evenings events as Hate Crimes and involving the police after Brontez decided to step to those brothers. It was your friend, Mr. Farrow, who decided to initiate physical violence in a "handle it in the streets" model that is popular among many Black men. The problem for me -not clearly expressed in the Bay Citizen because I know white folks and how white gay racism operates- is: How is it fair to call the police and classify yourself as a "victim of a hate crime" after you decided to use the "handle it in the streets model" and demand your respect by initiating a physical altercation? One does not become the victim of a hate crime because one lost a fight that they started regardless of how righteous the rage that drove them. Mr. Purnell started a fight wherein he had weapons and his opponents did not, and he lost. This does not make him a hate crimes victim and I think that the real tragedy here is that a Black man who is gay could use the masters tools (state sponsored violence through tough on crimes and hate crimes laws) to win an ego driven contest and he is not challenged, but defended, by a friend who has worked for Critical Resistance and Queers for Economic Justice. What’s really sad is that the analysis of so many self proclaimed “radical queers” is so utterly blind to the racial nuance presented by hate crimes laws particularly when they are invoked by Black gays against other Blacks. If Kenyon were really Brontez’s friend (and this is for all of commentators on various blogs and threads) he would ask his friend to be accountable to the political analysis about the prison industrial complex and state violence against Black men which I assume Kenyon has from his time at Critical Resistance. Further the insistence by so many that I should have involved myself in the violence is ridiculous. I went toward the words “botti boy, bumba clott,” with the intention of lending my fist to resist a gay bashing (which anyone who knows me will tell you I’ve been known to do) only to find a gay brotha was the one yelling the epitaphs and wielding a blunt object against some other brothers who were trying to get away. Had I intervened on behalf the victims, as I saw it that night, I would not have been on Brontez’s side. I knew he was gay, assumed his rage was righteous, but did not see him as a victim so I stayed out of it.

Friday, June 25, 2010

I Agree With Her,Ask Me Why. Woman Sues Church For Performing Gay Unions

I posted this video under the same heading as this video is posted here. A conversation ensued and here is an excerpt of my comments.

It’s the bottom line of the financial transaction that I agree with. Whether or not its a place to fellowship and worship it is a place in which the good sister Williams has invested considerable time and money only to have her voice muted by the pastors of the church. I am not looking at the particular issue as much as I am looking at the principle. I think she's wrong about gay marriage but I think someone who invests as much time and money as she did deserves to have her voice heard and she deserves to have the pastor consider her voice in the shaping of her/his own theological interpretations (to use Mark's language) its not just about money its also about time and effort but you can't get either of those back. You can get money back.

This is a question for me of entitlement and empowerment in the Black Church. For me it is a question of gender equality and social justice in the Black church. For the most part women and gay men form the financial and logistical back bone of Black churches but the overwhelming majority of pastors, deacons and trustees are heterosexual (at least heterosexually identified) MEN. The voices of women and gay men tend to marginalized in Black churches even though they constitute a majority of the active and contributing members.

Here is the story of a Black woman, who may have been wrong about her reasons, but who stood up for the value of her voice in the decision making process within the church. If you paid attention to the clip you hear the co-pastorial husband and wife team say that THEY (the two of them) wrote the vision statement for the church. Now I have done a number of strategic planning sessions both as a participant and as a leader of the process and I can tell you that it is absolutely inappropriate for two people to write a vision statement for any organization, religious or otherwise, without input from a diverse group of stake-holders. This is why I believe that woman was right. Not because of money, not because of her beliefs about homosexuals but because of the way that they marginalized her voice in the running of the church after what seems to me to be considerable contributions of time and effort from her.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Missionaries of Hate: Vanguard

Watching this video my reaction is in many ways conflicted and the only thing that is perfectly clear to me about my response is that I am disturbed greatly. My conflict comes from many places not the least of which is the fear that Africa's story at the mercy of white story-tellers has always been skewed by the arrogant/white supremacist western lens. My cursory glance at this series does little to discourage these feelings. Being carried through one of Uganda's market places upon the gaze of a white camera crew who at the moment that Black Ugandans speak about there spiritual and political believes decides to take us into a gathering of flies on various cuts of meat for sale reveals to me the sad truth that white people who do these kinds of "documentaries" about Africa always have as one of their key agenda items the advancement of white supremacist ideas/notions about Africa and African people.

Another source of conflict for me is that the Ugandan people who I hear speak about this horrific bill are actually responding less (as I hear it)to homosexuality and all the ick that it apparently carries for them and more to the very phenomenon that I describe above: White supremacy and imperialism. They are responding to white supremacy, imperialism and western influence in the same way that the people of one of Atlanta's poor neighborhoods (Kirkwood and East Atlanta) responded to gentrification in 1998. While the media brilliantly crafted the controversy into a Gay vs Black situation it was clearly poor Black people reacting to a threat to their way of life posed not by homosexuality but by the TAKE OVER of elitist white supremacy that Gays have been conflated with by our friends on the far right and in the conservative media.

Minister Simba declares that Homosexuality has been to Africa but Human Rights for Homosexuals have not... He goes on to talk about how the west is not going to "push it down our throat." The brilliance of the conservative propaganda machine is revealed here creating the same association with authenticity and anti-gay conservative Christianity for the Ugandans (showed in this film) that they have created for many "red blooded" Americans. So part of being a Red Blooded American and Part of Being an authentic African is the rejection of a value system take over that has also been invented by the conservative-Christian-propaganda machine.

While I am absolutely disturbed by Black people and the homophobia that we often perpetuate in our own communities I have to point out that I do not believe that African people are so committed to oppressing gay people as they are committed to an authenticity/pride that imperialism has left many grasping for desperately and that the conservative-Christian propaganda machine has successfully juxtapositioned against gayness. Homophobia in Africa and among Africans in the Diaspora is a by product of western imperialism and a critique of African homophobia in either location that fails to recognize this fact is, to me, white supremacist. Further the rejection of western values, whiteness, and elitism among the marginalized folk of the world is often articulated as a rejection of homosexuality. The sooner we recognize these truths the sooner our liberation and coalition building strategies will be crafted to respond appropriately.