A few weeks ago I stumbled into a debate on Facebook. It began with someone asking the following question:
Is there really a national coming out day????
To which I responded that there was and I provided the date that it’s recognized. Now this would have been the end of that. Until someone left the following comment:
A national coming out day? Come on now.
Amazing! Who is going to teach our black/latino sons to be men if there is all this nonsense going on?
Normally, I wouldn’t engage these sorts of comments but I was very interested in hearing this person explain his position which was this:
It appears our society has made something of a major shift from the civil rights movement and the push for equal rights for women to…well, anything goes. Now I personally have no problem with anyone loving who o…r what they are going to love. It truly makes me not one bit of difference. However, when certain entities, groups, institutions, and organizations make attempts to force down the proverbial throats of America this so-called alternative life style philosophy and feed it to our school aged children in the classroom I have a dangerously depraved problem with that. For real! Enough said. Holla!
Really???? I. Went. IN!
There are so many things wrong with this argument that it would take me too long to dismantle it. However, this mentality illustrates two major issues within the Black community which is what I’m going to write about instead.
My community, the Black community, perpetuates a culture of shame. We institutionalize it, promote it, even embrace it. We create shame over religion, gender, color (specifically shade), education (or lack thereof), class, and sexuality. And that’s just the generic list. I could add a whole lot more. This oppression keeps our community from having open and honest dialogs about the issues that negatively impact us. It also keeps us from collectively coming together to find solutions to these issues. Our culture of shame often leads us to create and/or support agendas that go against our best interests. It is for this reason that we are not very progressive. We still defer to the Civil Rights Movement–a movement almost fifty years old. There has not been anything comparable since and we are plagued with many of the same issues we faced back then. What does that say about our progress?
Secondly, my community tends to act as though our struggle, our agenda is the most relevant. This mentality is illustrated by the following response to one of my comments during my Facebook debate:
Why do folks continue to insist upon equating the struggle of the gay community with the civil rights movement. Hell to the mofo no! Stop that! You know better than that. Come on now.
Sadly, this attitude is not an anomaly. I’ve had members of my community tell me that the oppression that Asians, Jews, or Latinos have experienced in America is not the same as what Blacks have experienced. My co-worker coined this the Struggle Olympics. “My struggle is worse than yours”. We are actually using our struggle as a form of competition. Many Blacks will openly dismiss the movements of other groups as inferior or will act as though civil rights are exclusive to us. I find this elitist and oppressive. I have no idea how a group that was–and is still–discriminated against could be so willing to enact the same policy towards others. What I’ve come to realize is that those who can draw differences between the oppression of minorities in this country are not fully educated about the history of those groups. Blacks weren’t the only ones to experience lynchings, slavery, or to be terrorized. Discrimination is discrimination. A hate crime is a hate crime. There is no form of either that is worse than another simply because of the group that it targets. Plus, we are so caught up in the Struggle Olympics that we often forget that we have members of our community that are also part of other communities. The majority of Blacks flocked to vote in favor of Proposition 8, without considering how it would affect our LGBT brothers and sisters. There are a large amount of Blacks who support anti-illegal immigration policy, such as SB 1070, forgetting that such laws also affect those from countries such as Haiti, Jamaica, Africa, and yes Latin America. There are many Blacks originating from Latin American countries.
My community needs to stop promoting shame and marginalizing the civil rights of other groups. It’s not “our struggle” vs. “their struggle”. Separating ourselves does not help our agenda. It murders it.