Wednesday, September 02, 2009

From 'outside agitators' to 'wealthy gay activists' - Some of us black folks haven't learned a thing

Editor's note - I changed the title of this piece to further convey the depressive funk I've been under since the situation I am talking about in this post caught my attention. I know I am wandering into dangerous territory with the headline and the subject in general. I would sincerely hope those responding here and other places that this post may appear not take the easy road to offer polarized opinions. I hope I haven't.

I went to bed depressed Tuesday night and when I rose from my troubled sleep to post on my blog, my depression hadn't abated.

It got to the point where I was considering not posting anymore. I'm still halfway considering that option.

My mental malaise started when I was looking at anti-gay Stand for Marriage site emanating from Washington, D.C.

African-American pastor Harry Jackson and a coalition of other black pastors are trying to put to put marriage equality on the ballot in DC:

Jackson sent out a statement Monday stating that he and other opponents of same-sex marriage would file an initiative request with the elections board Tuesday.

If approved by the board, the initiative would give District residents an opportunity to vote sometime next year on whether to legalize same-sex marriage in the District. Jackson, who says he believes that most city voters oppose same-sex marriage, is hoping his proposal will slow efforts by the D.C. Council to legalize those marriages

. . . In May, Jackson filed a request with the elections board to hold a referendum to block the council bill allowing same-sex marriages performed in others states to be legally recognized.

The elections board, in a strongly worded ruling, blocked Jackson's referendum request. The two-member board cited D.C. elections law, which prohibits a vote on a matter covered by the Human Rights Act. The 1977 act outlaws discrimination against gays and lesbians and other minority groups.

Jackson has affiliated himself with the group Stand For Marriage, which seems to have the tendrils of the National Organization for Marriage all over it.

What has gotten me depressed to almost the point of exhaustion is the language used on the Stand For Marriage webpage:

Marriage Matters! With wealthy gay activists mobilizing all across the country to legalize homosexual marriage, there's never been a more important time to preserve and protect marriage in the District of Columbia once and for all.

I highlighted that phrase "wealthy gay activists" for a reason. It's a code word to the African-American community for "rich gay white men."

Black people have had to deal with negative code words throughout our entire history. From "outside agitators" to "welfare queens" to "reverse discrimination," code words were a way for enterprising exploiters to appeal to the lower instincts of people without being overtly racist.

Or in this case, homophobic.

In the same skillful manner white racists used code words to tell people that integration and giving the African-American community the right to vote would lead to destruction of so-called pure communities and the wholesale raping of white women by "big black bucks," Jackson and his group are implying that "rich gay white men" are trying to ruin marriage and, via osmosis, destroy the black community.

To make matters worse, one of the members of Jackson's group, Rev. Walter Fauntroy, was director of the Washington Bureau of Dr. King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Fauntroy also served as D.C. Coordinator of the Historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963 and coordinator of the Selma to Montgomery Voting Rights March in 1965 as well as the Meredith Mississippi Freedom March in 1966.

Fauntroy has no doubt had to deal with the ugly power of "code words" in the past. Not only that, but working so closely to King means Fauntroy had to work with Bayard Rustin, an adviser to King, the main coordinator of the 1963 March on Washington, and an openly gay African-American.

Harry Jackson is an opportunist whose desire is for fame and notoriety. Fauntroy should know better.

Whether Fauntroy is aware of what's happening with the language of the site is not know. But what is apparent is that some African-Americans are attacking the lgbt community via the same tactics that were used to deny them their rights not so long ago.

And if this isn't bad enough, ultimately these African-Americans will be hurting their own people, i.e. lgbts of color.

There is a saying that goes "those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it."

Jackson and his group, and especially Fauntroy, proves that there are some who intentionally put themselves in this situation.

It will be my blog's three year anniversary this Sunday and this situation with Jackson's group makes me realize that sometimes no matter how hard you try to do the right thing, nothing changes.

No matter how many times you try to right the wrongs in the best way you know how, some wrongs are never righted and on top of that, new wrongs are committed.

Pretty soon, you feel like a dog chasing its tail.

And no one should have to feel like a dog.

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Mykelb said...

I can't understand how a group of people who were subjected to slavery and anti-miscegenation law based on the Bible would have the nerve to use that same book to deny civil rights to other people. What a bunch of hypocrites.

BlackTsunami said...

It's not all African-Americans who are anti-gay but the ones who are anti-gay are certainly loud.

Anonymous said...

Let all remember the that we all are equal and the same.

That is why these bigots with black skin can behave like bigots with white skin.

We talk about equality and how people are the same no matter what their skin color.

This is just another example of that.

Sick people everywhere fight for power and status by demeaning others.

The recent flap over the Embassy Guards partying naked and hazing each other --- the Christianist go nuts over that .... but legally creating a sub-sect in the constituion for fellow citizens ... they are AOK with that.

Dont give up .... just realize that all black people are not good and all gay people are not good.

The reason is they are people - and all people are not good

Secret - MOST people around the globe are not good - contrary to the myth. The minority is still a good size and there is some good in many to exploit for progress.

One last thing - all the black people who were kept as slaves in America are long long dead. As are the whites who kept them.

When you have Martin Luther King Jr's DAUGHTER fighting for the Straight Supremacy Movement --- you realize madness and the need to feel superior can pop up anywhere.

Ken said...

What amazes me is how selfish so many in society have become and also how quickly the "have-nots" become entrenched "haves". So many black leaders have been quoted basically saying that they fought long and hard for what the equality they have and we gays have not fought long enough or hard enough to have earned equality. When did equality become something ANYONE had to earn? When did equality cease to be a basic human right for ALL?

My husband and I are in the process of adopting, and one of the long conversations we've had is about how so many children today have come to expect things instead of earning things. They expect to be given their first car, they expect lavish birthday parties every year, and how parents continue to up the ante. The kids who "have" all this so quickly look down on the ones who don't. Just like these childre, so many of these "leaders" like Harry Jackson have something their ancestors did not (equality) and they so quickly look down on those of us who don't have equality. They forget how few generations have passed since others like them did not "have"...and they become entrenched as one of the many "haves".

It is all disgusting, but I hold to the hope that folks like you, who continue to point out how obvious the biases are, really do make a difference. And that the ever-increasing visibility is always a plus. The recent stumbles by NOM reinforce my hope that our side's attempts at full and honest disclosure WILL trump their side's attempts at lies, half-truths, and secrets.

Two Auntees said...

I am very sorry you are feeling depressed by all this. It is frustrating to see people who should know better be prejudiced against the lgbt community.

I have been delighted to find your blog and hope you keep writing. There is change and it will continue. There are 5 states now that allow same sex marriage. The number will continue to grow. Sometimes it is only in retrospect that you can see change and see what part you played in it. You are raising awareness through your blog. I encourage you to continue. You'll never know who's mind you may change.

dlcaster said...

Alvin, come out of your funk, do another pass over this article, and submit it to all DC and surrounding area newspapers for OpEd consideration.

Broadsnark said...

If it is any consolation to you, we here in DC have a gay rights movement that keeps getting stronger, and many of the leaders in our community are black.

Jefferson1925 said...

Well at least we now know what the KKK look like out from under those hoods and sheets. The Republican party!

Clarissa H. said...

This all is quite depressing. I am studying LGBT Studies in my second year in college and I am fascinated with the fine line tightrope that many African American homosexuals have to walk in order to find acceptance both in the gay world and in the black world.
I have always found it funny how African Americans, despite all we have been through can manage to be so closed minded. It is almost like Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man, we search for validation from dominant society and when they give us an identity we eat it up. We don't think about the fact that the identity we are taking up is one that is dictated by out antagonists. I feel like African Americans backing and recanting lines of heteronormativity from the bible is equivalent to how we also echoed lines of our own inferiority so many years ago. We accept what is acceptable by standards of society from society itself, nothing about our culture is truly organic. We are not so much afraid of the “white male homosexuality taking over our culture” as we are of dominant white culture placing anymore labels upon our culture that maybe connected with negative.
Thus I feel homophobia in African American society is a learned behavior that has been misconstrued to a point of ridiculousness. (Much like our theories of punishing our children with severe beatings, not “spankings”, beatings, continuing to jump the broom at weddings, and claiming soulfood as our cultural diet). We do it because deep down we too still yearn for acceptance. We want to reject all the parts of our culture that may make us any less beautiful. But as Langston Hughes said once in “Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain”, “We younger Negro artists now intend to express our individual dark-skinned selves without fear or shame. If white people are pleased we are glad. If they aren't, it doesn't matter. We know we are beautiful. And ugly, too ...If colored people are pleased we are glad. If they are not, their displeasure doesn't matter either.” The only way to counteract the ugly behavior that we are seeing in the African American culture towards homosexuality is for those of us who are not jaded rise up and say we are not going to express ourselves with fear or shame. We will validate all parts of ourselves. Acceptance of even the things we do not understand and are weary of is the only way we will be able to accept ourselves as a whole.
So don’t be depressed by one of your brother’s ignorance. It is all just Uncle Tom syndrome deep down. Acknowledge and then educate.