Thursday, April 26, 2007

This shit is pissing me off!

How is it that this stupid white man (Imus) says fucked up shit about Black women and it some how gets turned around on Black people (Hip Hop)? How is this white man's stupidity Black hip hop's fault?

Racism is a bitch!!!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Coming Out Story

Gimme five! Two times! On the black hand side. I remember shaking hands, giving dap or some love: Slap twice rapidly but don’t take the other’s hand, take his hand, thumbs back, drop your thumbs forward close you fist around the forward fingers of his closed fist so that your fist interlock, pull back slowly bringing your middle finger and thumb together snap as you come out of the embrace. I remember shaking hands, being allowed this briefest of a caress between “Brothers.”

I remember being a brother! I was, “blood,” “Folks” “dog” “youngsta” “shawty” “mah nigga.”

I remember being a nigga too. Hunted as niggas are, I remember what it was like to be endangered! Not like I’m endangered now, but I remember what it was like to be in danger and be protected from danger. Protected by black folks, because I was “youngsta” “shorty” “Brotha” they built hide-outs along the way home from school! Underground railroad conductors waiting at Upward-bound and the Boys and Girls Club to show me the way to freedom screamed “live free or die” at little black boys like me with few other options.

Racism is harsh! But the resolve of my tribesman was stronger. We built fortresses to protect our children. We fortified there walls with our prayers and with the power within our collective voices, raised in song, that we so trustingly call “God.”

I remember being a tribesman too. I remember being jealously watched over by black women who in their gaze and as payment for their protection claimed me for their daughters, granddaughters, nieces, cousins, sisters, and themselves.

I remember being a tribesman and I remember my own gaze. Careful and suspiciously I watched and scrutinized white people, sisters and brothers who married white people, Asians, police, teachers, homosexuals and anyone else who represented the system or the “others.”

I remember leaving the tribe.

Now, blank stares on the faces of women who once claimed me as their own and now hardly recognize me and certainly do not want me for themselves, their daughters, nieces, cousins or even their sisters.

Exiled by “God” and his urban pontiff to this new Diaspora, I stand cold outside of fortresses that once kept me safe with prayers and songs and the promise of “God” and love, facing racism by myself.

Having chosen freedom over death my freedom is used against me by those who so implored me to it! The codes have been changed in the night and the path to the hide-outs buried away from my sight our children protected from me by conductors who will one day tell them to live free or die.

I am no longer “brother” “shawty” “youngsta” “dawg” “folks” “blood” “people.” The fist that once served to embrace me, in likeness and familiarity, has turned against me in a new kind of less familial caress for the briefest caress between “brothers.”

I am the “other” that I used to diligently guard against with my careful and suspicious gaze. “I” now “them,” find myself ranked beneath women who marry white men, men who marry white women, police, teachers, Asians, and even white men.

I remember leaving the tribe.

Gimme five! Two times! On the black-hand side.

Rights VS Social Justice

Recently I’ve come to the conclusion that the queer left needs to reshape its conversation about marriage, the military, and job security and queer rights overall to be a more justice oriented conversation. The conversation about “rights” is easily twisted by conservatives and the extreme right into a conversation about “special rights” and special protections for queers.

I’ll use marriage as an example. Marriage discussed as a right that LGBT individuals deserve to share with their heterosexual counterparts is a week argument compared to marriage discussed in its current form as a set of policies that serves to create second class citizens by excluding them from enjoying justice, equality, and full status as citizens in society.

LGBT movement has, for the large part, modeled itself after the Black lead civil-rights movement of the 60s. This relatively successful movement which used a very similar “rights” oriented rhetoric was successful largely because it was able to partner with the media and with popular social voices to demonstrate the ways in which contemporary social policies excluded Black people from full participation in society. It was able to illustrate in graphic and explicit ways the injustice of the exclusion of Black people as well as the brutality associated with enforcing unjust policies and the impact of said policies on Black people. Police dogs, fire hoses, church bombs, school assaults, and widespread assassinations were catalyst that served to augment the arguments for “rights.”

Queer movement has tried to use a similar rhetoric but has lacked, except in a few extreme situations, the same graphic and explicit illustration of the ways that queer people have been hurt by not having certain rights. It’s been as difficult for queers to translate the rhetoric of the queer movement into a general societal moral indignation as it was easy for the leaders of the civil rights movement. This is because of the lack of the kinds of graphic examples of the anti-justice that were so common in the civil-rights error.

Incidents that have involved extreme violence have been few and far between when compared to the frequency of such incidents leading up to and during the civil-rights movement. The lack of these kinds of examples has made it easy for the conservative right and other anti-gay forces to paint the LGBT movement as a movement of privileged cry babies who, drunk with greed, are crying out for protections that “everyday” citizens do not enjoy. Because it would be ridiculous to hope for or look for these kinds of graphic examples our best hope is for the conversation about social justice for queers to become one that is much more rhetorically explicit. Crying for civil rights while most Americans view queers as a particularly privileged group does not have much of an impact on the moral tenor of the nation. This moral tenor has always been the spirit of change in America and essential for creating change in oppressive policies.

Thus organizations like HRC, NGLTF and the host of statewide LGBT PACs which are perceived by queers and heteros alike as existing for the sole purpose of mainstreaming queers particularly queers of privilege need to reconsider the tone of their rhetoric. Talking about LGBT social justice movement as a civil rights movement does not have much of an impact when the lack of civil rights for queers has not been associated in the American psyche with disenfranchisement or lack of access. A movement language that calls for, instead of rights, an elimination of policies that create injustice and exclude whole groups from participating in society as full status citizens will prove much more effective.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

TOO Much Beyonce: What black people will and will not tolerate.

Earlier today I was sitting at my desk at work checking email and came across a message to which a video was linked. The title of the email was “Too Much Beyonce: Parents am I the only one who sees this as inappropriate? I’ve seen so many videos on Youtube of sexualized school girls dancing to pop music that I was expecting to see a 12 year old grinding like a stripper to a Beyonce song. There was no 12 year old in booty shorts, in fact there were no booty shorts at all. Further there was no grinding, rump shaking, crotch grabbing or the like. How refreshing. What I read in the video comments however scared the hell out of me.

“I swear to god if i ever caught my 8 year old brother doing that shit i would kick his ass so hard...anybody that condones this foolishness is a fuckin moron and should have thier reproductive organs rip off and put in a blender”


“lol @ his to the left dance...I'd pickup one of those white chairs and knock his gay ass out”

WOW! So based on the fact that this child danced to and sang his adorable little heart out to a Beyonce song people on Youtube are now contemplating not only harming him but harming members of their own families should they ever dance to a Beyonce song while male.

The kinder of responses, while they seemed less violent, unjustifiably pathologized the child, his family, his environment and his life circumstances based on a 5 minute video clip. These responses insisted that the father is not in the home and that the child needs a male role model to teach him to act like a boy. The woman who sent me the video on the yahoogroup even suggested that there were better things that he could be doing with his time as if she has knowledge of his life and his entire life schedule and knows for a fact that all he does is dance all day and practice "Feminine" mannerisms, while other boys his age are spending there time at the much more useful and important endeavors that 5 year olds are obligated to spend their time doing. That is to say that somewhere between knapping, eating, peeing on themselves, throwing temper tantrums, and producing copious amounts of snot, they are solving complex equations, conducting life saving research, and bringing peace to the middle east and the hood. We know this because they act like boys and only acting like a boy can prepare one for these important endeavors.

After musing for a while and wondering how anyone could not see how perfectly natural it is for a small child to enjoy dancing and singing (duh!) and how oblivious said small child is to the fact that he had broken cultural mandates that would inspire such rage that people would demand that he be harmed, I thought about another video that had been circulating on Youtube. Another video on Youtube with a Black boy who is just as cute and also has a particular talent that one would not expect from someone of his age. I did a search for “Gimme My Money” and I found the video not yet flagged by Youtube users and still generating amused comments like:

“hahahahahahhaahah i watch this everyyyy day”



I’m perplexed. I’m disturbed. I’m disgusted. I’m scared for every little Black boy growing up to be a member of our maligned tribe of outsiders.

On the one hand we have a video of a young boy enjoying himself, demonstrating his prodigious talent and confidence who is obviously happy and well cared for. He appears to be safe, is clean and healthy, and has people in his life that love him enough to celebrate his talent. On the other hand we have an angry young boy, who is alone enough that he not only has to go to the store by himself but when cheated by the stores proprietor is left alone to advocate for himself. Why isn’t his mother or father at the store with him? Further his profanity and threats of violence are socially unacceptable in most communities particularly when the user is a small child and the one being addressed is an adult. But it gets worse: Not only is this little boy a neglected potty mouth who does not know a proper respect for adults but he is a racist who more than once makes bigoted and prejudicial comments about the store proprietor who is Asian.

But black folks are in an uproar about which video? In all the time that the video of the young boy cursing and threatening the Japanese woman has been circulating I have not received a single email that has addressed this video as anything but hilarious. Not one among the dozens of people who have forwarded this video to me have said that this boy needs a spanking, needs more positive role models in his life, or bemoaned his comfort with violence and profanity at such a young age. Further I haven’t been able to read such sentiment on the Youtube comments.

What I have heard is that there is something wrong with a little black boy dancing like Beyonce. I’ve heard that he needs stronger role models, needs to be severely beaten, will deserve it when his peers harass and attack him and that he needs to be removed from his parents care because of the way he dances and the music that he likes.

Why is it so much more egregious to our people for a little boy to "act like a girl" than it is for a little boy to act like a violent idiot?

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Coon Affect, Black Presidential Candidates and Barrack Obama The Best Hope For…

The Coon Affect

“If the minstrel skit had an ante-bellum setting, the coon was portrayed as a free Black; if the skit's setting postdated slavery, he was portrayed as an urban Black. He remained lazy and good-for-little, but the minstrel shows depicted him as a gaudy dressed "Dandy" who "put on airs." Unlike Mammy and Sambo, Coon did not know his place. He thought he was as smart as White people; however, his frequent malapropisms and distorted logic suggested that his attempt to compete intellectually with Whites was pathetic.”

Since antebellum the white supremist, patriarchal, dominator power structure in the United States has invested many resources into disparaging blacks that, due to attained levels of freedom beyond that of most blacks, posed some threat to the status quo. Racist iconography has been a common tool employed since antebellum by the power structure to inform public opinion about Blacks. Resulting negative public perception of Blacks has often translated to public policy. Free blacks during slavery and educated or middle class blacks after emancipation were often the targets of this strategy. In addition to employing these methods to paint middle class and educated blacks as pathetic and laughable the white supremist, patriarchal, dominator power structure has often employed these methods against Black political leaders and activists. Specifically Booker T Washington, W.E.B. Dubois, Frederick Douglas and many Blacks who advocated on behalf of Black people were often depicted in popular media as bumbling idiots who stumbled through the English language in an attempt to use “big words” that ultimately resulted in exposing their foolishness and intellectual inferiority.

Coonifying Black Presidential Candidates

Black candidates for president in the US have been a favorite target of the coonifying media and public attitudes machine. To date there have been four black candidates for president and 5 presidential campaigns for Black presidential candidates. Those candidates were Shirley Chisholm, Senator Carol Moseley Braun, Jesse Jackson, and the most recent Al Sharpton.

Chisholm and Moseley Braun who both have the distinction of being women have some things which distinguish them from Jackson and Sharpton other than their womanhood. Both had extremely successful careers as elected officials and public servants prior to their bids for president. Chisholm and Moseley-Braun both served in the Legislature of their home states before being elected to the US Congress, Chisholm to the house ( 8 terms), and Moseley Braun to the senate (1 term). Moseley Braun also had a brief career as a prosecutor before beginning her elected career and has the distinction of being the only Black woman ever elected to the US Senate. The final and probably most regrettable commonality between Chisholm and Moseley-Braun is that they were both very well qualified candidates who would probably have been taken much more seriously had they had penises and a bit less melanin and both led such dismally doomed to fail campaigns that they were not subjected to what I’ll call the coon-affect that plagued the Jackson and Sharpton campaigns.

Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are serious politicians, dedicated and seasoned activist, brilliant and articulate orators, published authors, and biblical scholars. Further they have both demonstrated such a profound commitment to fighting injustice that one is never surprised to see either of them as first on the ground when injustice occurs in America, or abroad. However, in spite of what I consider the undeniable credibility and qualifications of both men they are often positioned in conflict with credibility, as race-batting, pontificating, tongue wagging, coons. Unfortunately the realities created by the internalized racism of many blacks dictates that much of the coonifying of Sharpton and Jackson has been committed by Black comedians, publications and broadcast programs. Jokes by Blacks and Whites about their seriousness as presidential candidates that focus on their oratory cadence, their diction, and other language patterns bear a striking and disturbing resemblance to the coon iconography of America’s racialized cultural history. Ultimately Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and a long list of other brilliant and important change agents have been victims of coonifying.

Enter Barack Obama- Coon Free

When Obama first became the sweet heart of the American media and subsequently the American public I wondered why. A key note address that he delivered at the 2004 democratic primary seemed to catapult him into the hearts of the American people and a successful campaign for election that followed shortly thereafter seemed to cement him there, at least for now. Before these events very few Americans would have been able to tell you who Barack Obama is. It’s extremely curious that Obama is so popular today, being a Senator who won a seat that was so low profile that he ran uncontested until republican Alan Keyes decided to throw his hat into the rink in the final hour. What else is curious is that Obama, unlike other high profile Black politicians, has yet to be coonified. Since his successful election to the US Senate Obama has enjoyed an unusual amount of positive press. Not even his unusually dark lips have been enough to draw the coonifying eye of comedians. Even an admission of using cocaine and marijuana was not enough to draw out the conservative hounds. The only somewhat negative press that Obama has received is so ridiculous that it seems almost orchestrated to be so. Fox news commentators recently compared his name to Osama (Bin Ladin) and suggested that he was trained in a radical “Islamist” primary school.

Over the last year or so speculation has been flying about whether Obama will run for President in 2008. No other perspective 08 Presidential candidate has received the kind of attention that Obama has received other than Hillary Clinton. In fact so many in the Democratic camp are hopeful for an “Obama 4 President” campaign in 2008 that Democratic funding channels have been all but locked down and the only person other than Obama who seems to be able to raise two pennies to rub together, again, Hillary Clinton.

The attention that Obama has received has been intriguing for a number of reasons. Obama a relatively unknown State Senator who delivered the key note at the Democratic convention apparently made such an impression that he was able to win a seat in the Senate with virtually no competition, a task that is next to impossible for Blacks. What’s also striking about the Barack Obama Love affair is that he has yet to be coonified or radicalized. Commentators that have speculated on the love affair have suggested that the reason for America’s comfort with Obama is that he has a white mother and a father from Kenya and therefore is not one of the children of those enslaved by American whites. Others have suggested that the love affair can be credited to his charisma and to the advancements that Americans have made in the area of race relations since the end of state sanctioned segregation. I don’t buy it!

Manchurian Candidate

Barack Obama is the Manchurian candidate! I’m not suggesting that Obama has been implanted with a microchip that when activated will cause him to bomb Canada. What I am suggesting is that some very powerful forces have had there hand in the making of this hugely successful upstart Senator. In less than two years an unknown Junior Senator becoming America’s favorite for the presidential race is cause for inquiry. What I am suggesting is that he and Hillary have been very strategically placed in the lime light and developed as the American favorites for President in 2008 and that nobody in the Democratic camp has the skill to achieve this while conservatives remain silent as they have. I’m also suggesting that Obama, like the character in The Manchurian candidate has little to do with his own success and that strings are being pulled from the dark corner of a marionette box to ensure his run for President. To determine who is pulling the strings, one need only determine whose interest it will serve if Obama does decide to run.
I believe that someone in the Republican party is pulling strings with the media to set both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton up to receive the Democratic nomination for president. This is why Obama’s public image has not been marred by coonification and why his most staunch competition for the Democratic nomination is a woman. While this may seem like a stretch there are some realities that inform my position.

1) Based on history we know that it is very difficult for a Black man to win the nomination for the presidency from either of the two major political parties in the US. In fact to date most nominees have been white, male, and protestant. Deviation from this formula is usually a sure fire way to lock a candidate out. Candidates who are protestant and white but not male; male and protestant but not white; white and male but not protestant are all pretty unlikely to be President in this country. God help those that neither white nor male. In spite of this formula the two individuals who are most likely to win the Democratic primary are a white woman and a black man, both are protestant.
2) America is pissed of with the Republican party and the neo-conservative (neocon) movement of George Bush is all but dead. There is virtually no way that a Republican will succeed George W. Bush as President of These Here United States. Unless…
3) Of the republican candidates that have formally filed with the FEC all are white, male and protestant.

Final Analysis

What we know for sure, if Hillary wins or if Barack wins, the Democratic nominee for President will be a non-white-male-protestant running against a white, male, protestant candidate. While white Americans are very unlikely to elect a white woman who runs against a white, male, protestant, they are much less likely to elect a Black man who runs against a white male protestant. The lack of coonification that has made Obama’s candidacy unique among Black male candidates for the post of US president is precisely because Barack Obama is the best hope for a Republican president in 2008.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

What's Your New Year's Resolution?

What will 2007 bring? MLK weekend is coming up and once again thousands of Black gay men will honor Martin Luther King's Dream when they converge on the city of Atlanta bringing with them millions of dollars in disposable incomes ear marked for Lenox Mall, Bull Dogs, and Christian Brothers. Delta Airlines, Hertz Rent-A-Car, the Hiltons and dozens of restaurants, bars and clubs are licking there chomps at the prospect of record breaking sales margins at the expense of Black queers.

While club owner get, and remain rich, from our labors, another “For Us by Us” AIDS service organization, like Renaissance III, will likely close its doors or lay off staff for lack of funding. While we, Black Gay Men, demonstrate our ability to piss out thousands of dollars into the sewer systems of Atlanta, Miami, Los Angeles, New York, DC and other party centers all over the country the Sexual Minority Alliance of Alameda County remains committed to serving Black Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender young people even in the face of tough financial times and staff and programmatic cut backs. While ZAMI and The House of Manolo Blahnik struggle to raise the money to give away thousands of dollars worth of scholarships to young Black Queers, Black gay men will buy plain tickets, hotel rooms, party passes, drugs and alcohol worth many dozens times the amount that it cost for these organizations to send Young Black queers to school.

While we dance, sweating our liquid investment away into the thousands of dollars worth of designer digs bought special for MLK, Fourth of July, MemorialDay etc., the Black Justice Coalition, The Black AIDS Institute, People of Color in Crisis, Us Helping Us, People Into Living and the New York State Black Gay Network will all look for money from the FORD Foundation, the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, State and Local governments and community foundations and other non-black funding sources so that they can keep their doors open and continue doing the work that they do on our behalf.

What is your New Year's resolution?

Will it be once again the weight loss plan that includes costly health club memberships or workout equipment that begin gathering dust on the 14th day of the year? Or will you help to make sure that young Black LGBT kids in Oakland have a place to go to get away from the violence and harassment that their schools, homes and neighborhoods often reserve for them? Is your commitment for 2007 to find a man, to which end you will spend thousands on a new wardrobe that shows off your figure? Or will you make a commitment to ensure that organizations driving our issues forward into policy and legislation have the dollars that they need to effectively lobby on our behalf? Will you resolve to finally take that trip that you’ve been promising yourself? Or will you take responsibility for the thousands of Black Gay men receiving HIV care services from Black AIDS Service Organizations.

Another year means another opportunity. We have the opportunity to make 2007 a legendary year, a revolutionary year, a year of liberation. Make your New Year's resolution to ensure that non-profit organizations working on our behalf and on behalf of our children don’t have to look outside of our communities for the dollars they need to continue to exist.