I originally published this on Isom Kuade Journal.
I read an interesting blog post entitled “Ashamed to be a Black Man” about the violence that black men perpetrate against black homosexuals. Several interesting points were made and I agree with the author, D. Kevin McNeir, about the difficulties of being proud to be part of a race of people who would commit such atrocities, especially against their own. But this post brought up several questions as well that I’d like to discuss.
First, the violence and homophobia are very tragic, but we have so much anger residing deep within our collective conscience, most of it stemming from the inequality and injustice that has befallen our people since our ancestors were taken from their homeland. We are so angry, but so afraid to direct that energy where it needs to be – we fear the white man as has been instilled in us since the days of slavery, so we attack our own people. We attack people we perceive as weaker, rather than all of us strengthening each other to rise up above our situations.
McNeir asked, “Why haven’t our black leaders spoken up? Why is the black church silent? Why do we continue to look the other way, thereby condoning these homophobic acts of violence?”
Black leaders these days hardly exist. Even civil rights leaders have become practically irrelevant these days when more often than not, they are simply issuing statements about some misdirected anger we should have towards irrelevant mainstream-media-chosen injustices (like Sterling and Bieber) rather than real issues. Those “leaders” who do speak up (specifically the newer generation) tend to seek profit and fame from incidents of injustice, rather than bring light to real travesties such as the ones in Detroit.
The black church has always been a tool of continued oppression and control. The religion that was forced upon our ancestors continues to keep us believing that the white man is god and therefore his teachings are what we base our lives upon. And while many of us falsely believe that if we change the skin tone of Jesus in paintings and on jewelry, somehow we have reclaimed the religion for ourselves when it is still based on what was whipped, raped and brainwashed into our culture. If the man in the pulpit tells us that homosexuality is a sin, regardless of what it might say in the bible or what we might feel in our hearts (or the actions of said preacher), then we will respond accordingly. So, of course, the black church will remain silent on the issue of black people being beaten or killed for their sexuality as it is against the will of “the master”.
And that leads in to why we condone these homophobic acts. Fear. We fear the repercussions from our own people and from white people if we speak against this violence. We fear that people will suddenly question our heterosexuality if we defend the rights and life of others who are victimized. We fear being victims of the same brutality and we try to justify our inaction by saying that those people “brought it on themselves” by “flaunting” their sexuality. Yet, we fail to realize that by allowing this to progress, anyone can then justify the same actions against the rest of us. We still frequently have incidents of blatant racism against us for just being black, and while we expect others to rally to our defense against injustice, we refuse to defend our brothers and sisters in need because of whom they love and desire.
Perhaps the biggest reason for why there is silence on this subject is the idea that if we ignore the problem long enough, it will eventually go away. Somehow, magically, the beatings will end, the hate will disappear, and all will be right with the world. We hope that someone else will solve our problems, instead of being leaders and taking action against these problems. Honestly, though, how well has depending on other people for answers helped us in the past 500 years? So many of us are still living in poverty, uneducated and incarcerated and still waiting for the white man’s god to bring us out of these miserable situations.
This hate and violence is just evidence of how weak we really are as people, when we define our strength through the victimization of others.