Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Don't we ever learn?

In an excellent show of guts, officials in Broward County, Fla., voted unanimously Tuesday to boot Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jim Naugle from their tourism board.

I am happy about that but I read something about an event in another state that got me sad.

In Tennessee, Congressman Steve Cohen finally met with a group of black ministers who have been after him because of his voting for the federal hate crimes bill.

The meeting got ugly and will best be remembered for the following:

"He's not black and he can't represent me, that's just the bottom line," said Rev. Robert Poindexter of Mt. Moriah Baptist Church. "I don't care how people try to dress is up, it always comes down to race and he can't know what it's like to be black."

It always saddens me as an lgbt of color when I see the gay and black community played against one another. Unfortunately since Bush's re-election, there has merged a wannabe army of black ministers who march in lockstep with the propaganda of the anti-gay industry, eager for the rewards of faith based money and notoriety that comes with their stances.

But with their stances comes ugly realities. No matter how hard they try, their prejudices are coming through. And these prejudices are embarrassing them.

Before their meeting, these black ministers were successful in putting Representative Cohen on the defensive. Now, they are on the defensive:

Comments and outbursts like that caused leaders to say the group will send Cohen a letter of apology.

"We didn't control it well, but it was never our intention to offend anybody," said Rev. Stanford L. Hunt, the group's secretary and pastor at Beulah Baptist Church. "Things definitely got out of hand."

Cohen agreed.

"I was not treated the way a congressman or an elected official or an invited guest should have been treated," Cohen said afterward. "It was supposed to be my time to come and address this issue. I never expected anything like this."

From reading the comments below the article, these ministers have done more damage to themselves. Not only were they unable to change Representative Cohen's mind, but their credibility as leaders in the black community has been questioned.

I have heard many white lgbts wonder how can heterosexual African-Americans stand for discrimination against gays when they have a history of being the victims of intolerance.

The answer is easy: because they are human and must be educated.

We would like to think that the victims of discrimination develop some sort of compassion that would enable them to not take on the role of oppressors. But such a thought is purely idealistic.

The fact of the matter is that human beings are not infalliable creatures. We are like cars; we need tune ups from time to time. Or in other words, we need consistent reminders.

We need to be reminded of what happens when a group of us are attacked and discriminated against for just being different. We need to be reminded that prejudice and hate should not be determined by actions but the reasonings behind those actions.

And we need to be reminded that in the long run, we all want the same thing: comfort, love, and the right to self-determination.

Without these reminders, we fall into chaos.