Wednesday, June 23, 2010
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.