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neo_prodigy

The Dangers Of An Educated Black Man


One thing that I've always found astonishing (as I was reminded this week) is that whenever I discuss the trauma and scars and hardships of being gay in a bigoted homophobic society, most people, more often than not, will at least acknowledge that the oppression I endure is real and will offer semblance of sympathy.

Even though for me at least, I probably face more oppression being black than I do being gay, because the latter I at least have the advantage to conceal and I can "pass for straight". However when I discuss the trauma and scars and hardships of being a black man in a racist society, those same people will move heaven and earth to goalpost shift and gaslight me into believing that racism doesn't exist, it's all in my head, I'm just looking for trouble, I have a chip on my shoulder or I simply need to get over it.

I have a couple of theories on why this occurs. Mainly because of white guilt and because the LGBT movement includes marginalized white people unlike POCs, homophobia is real as opposed to racism being some abstract theory that is debatable. 

afro_dyte, your thoughts?

Have any of my fellow queer POCs endured this?

See where all this book-learning leads?

It's probably a bit of everything you mentioned, but also, gay rights/marriage equality has been the cause de rigueur among straight white liberals lately, and there has been more media coverage regarding it. A lot of those folks also legit think that we live in a post-racial society, it seems like. Racism is less visible now, as well, in that it's become taboo for people to call other folks "racist" and everyone acknowledges that it's bad, so people are blind to it. It perpetuates the myth that we live in a truly equal society. Meanwhile, right-wing homophobia is very visible.

As a girl who likes boys and girls, I have never been subjected to verbal or physical abuse because of my passing privilege (and the fact that I'm dating a dude and have been for the past 6 years, and I also am in a very liberal area). I still get a lot of shit for being a racial minority, though :\

it's become taboo for people to call other folks "racist"

Yup. Note that it's worse to be called racist than to perpetuate racism.

gay rights/marriage equality has been the cause de rigueur among straight white liberals lately, and there has been more media coverage regarding it. A lot of those folks also legit think that we live in a post-racial society, it seems like.

I absolutely agree with this - there's this atmosphere of "well, we've fixed racism, let's fix homophobia now!" which implies that - well, it implies that racism is fixed for one. It's like: OK, Civil Right movement - done, Obama elected - done. That's all we need to do. Next.

Partly also because fighting endemic institutional racism is hard, so it's easier for white folks to ignore it. Not to mention facing up to our own internalised racism, which is even harder and scarier so let's pretend it doesn't exist and get on the defensive.


I also wonder if it's not that homophobia is closer to home for even white straight folks than racism. I mean, any one white straight man is much more likely to end up with a queer person in his family than a person of color, right? They say everyone is one unplanned pregnancy away from being pro-choice, and I like to thin that most people are one gay child away fro being pro-gay rights.

Then I remember that for many assholes, it doesn't work that way.

"I also wonder if it's not that homophobia is closer to home for even white straight folks than racism. I mean, any one white straight man is much more likely to end up with a queer person in his family than a person of color, right?"

Yeah I agree. I think it goes back to afro_dyte's point about it not being about LGBTQ rights as opposed to trying to reclaim white privilege. And I've known many who have the mindset of, you might be gay but I can ignore that but you're still white. And with POCs that's not an option.

"It's probably a bit of everything you mentioned, but also, gay rights/marriage equality has been the cause de rigueur among straight white liberals lately, and there has been more media coverage regarding it. A lot of those folks also legit think that we live in a post-racial society, it seems like"

Yes. This exactly! Thank you!!! That's what has been bugging me but I couldn't put a finger on it.

Yup, happens to me too. See, when I talk about being queer, White folks are like, "OMG, I'm so sorry." But when I talk about race, it's like this force-field around their brains preventing anything from sinking in. Then, "OMG, I'm so sorry" becomes, essentially, "Are you sure you're not just angry and paranoid?"

And I won't get into the whole woman thing, as there are some pretty fucked up dynamics about the way folks interact with Black women.

Are you sure you're not just angry and paranoid?

Hahahahaha, oh, if I had a nickel for every time someone said that to me, or a variation thereof. :|

I figured Jewish+queer+black+woman would know what I was talking about.

From my point of view as a white bisexual man, I think it has to do with educated black people being oxymoronic in too many ways to too many white people. The idea of black people succeeding in the system, and having an educated view of that same system doesn't compute. Thus the attempts to deny that oppression exists, and to marginalize it especially when given voice by educated black men as has happened for too long and as shamefully still happens today reflect this.

It's a damn shame that it's so and I can never defend or understand the mentality, and I think at the point I start to understand it is when things are already going down the wrong past. I think that the additional existence of racism in marginalized communities may reflect a delusion that marginalization in one way means that they don't marginalize others in another way, due to a misperception of just what the difference between homosexuality and race in this regard is:

Namely that as you said it's much easier for a gay man to pass as a straight man than it could ever be for a black man to get equal treatment from a white man. Too many whites, regardless of the situation, prefer their ideal of equality right up until they have to put it into practice. Then it turns out that they only favored the equality they thought should exist, not the one that would really exist.

But that's my opinion.

"Too many whites, regardless of the situation, prefer their ideal of equality right up until they have to put it into practice. Then it turns out that they only favored the equality they thought should exist, not the one that would really exist."

You just nailed it right there.

I've never heard anyone (sane) say that racism doesn't exist. Growing up I had a front-row seat for economic, geographic and subtle racism. I grew up in Palo Alto in the 70's and 80's. Back then it was considered a very liberal and "progressive" town. But the shitty thing was, smart people are often very good at hiding their racism.

On the opposite side of the freeway was East Palo Alto. It was predominately black, it was an "unincorporated" city (back then,) and it was even in a different county than Palo Alto.

When you write about race and racism I have to remember that you grew up and live in a place where racist behavior is pretty bad. (Although one could easily argue that it's bad everywhere.) I always thought Northern California was somehow "above" that, until I grew to an age where I could understand and pick up on the subtle racism and the hypocrisy that annoys me to this day.

My parents were probably the least racist people I knew growing up. They never made any kind of racist comment or "joke," and we would get extremely verbally reprimanded if we repeated the kind of crap we heard other kids say. I remember marching with the Farm Workers and standing in front of the supermarket with "Don't Buy Grapes" and "Don't Buy Wine" placards every Saturday. I also remember the night in San Jose when the AFL-CIO was ratified, and the feeling of victory. Meeting Cesar Chavez was something I'll never forget.

I don't watch live TV, (mostly DVDs.) I don't read American mass-media news or listen to NPR. So I don't hear a lot of crap that goes on in this country. But I do read a lot of news sites outside the U.S., and they paint a very different picture.

Since Obama was elected, I have heard more overt and outrageous racist comments than in my previous 43 years. I didn't like Bush II, but he and that evil bastard Cheney got off easier than our current President. The disrespect I have seen and heard towards the man, and the people who hype this ignorant racist shit could nearly drive me to violence.

But it's a reminder, and a teaching moment, for everyone - that virulent, hateful, and destructive racism has never gone away or truly lessened. It's just that during "liberal times" (the 70's) people were better at hiding their racist feelings.

We also know that we can be better than this, and we don't have to keep living in a backward White-Eurocentric world. One the books I'm reading right now is; "Lies My Teacher Told Me; Everything Your History Book Got Wrong." The book is great, but it really pisses me off at the lies and "White-View" of history I got shoved down my throat.

As a Taoist, I also know that I can do better, be better, and not let that shitty thinking creep into my head, or God forbid, my behavior. At 48 I like to think I'm a little more mature now, with a lot of hindsight, but there's always room for growth.

As an openly gay man, I've been threatened, insulted, accused of being a "child molester;" and other hateful crap. I truly cannot imagine how hurtful and destructive racism is on top of that!

Now, I'm approaching this from the experience of growing up in Canada, where the POC I had the most interaction with were Native Americans and Chinese/Vietnamese/other east Asians. That said, I think one of the problems here with the denial is similar to the problem with sexism.

People want to think that they're 'done' with these things, that society has moved beyond them. If they admit that this is not the case, then they can't say society has evolved, or gotten better, maybe? I'm honestly not sure, but this seems like it might fit for the people who are blind to racism. The problem with this, besides the fact that it's wishful thinking, is that it blocks the way for the progress towards a -truly- equal society by ignoring the fact that there are still problems that need to be worked on, that there are things to look at, that a person may need to look more closely at the thoughts and opinions inside their own head.

All someone needs to do is look at the whitewashing and caricatures in popular media to see that racism is still an issue.

As a trans man, of course I've been subject to bigotry, including sexism because of my perceived gender. I can't even imagine how much worse it would be if I were a POC as well.

I personally know a friend who is facing issues of gender identity and orientation, and whose family is more than willing to use her other family members against her as an example of how she's not right and correct like they are, not to mention ignore those parts of her that makes her who she is.

They're just so dead set in their own ways that they wouldn't see what they're doing as being sexist.

Just from my viewpoint up here in Canada looking down at the US, it often feels as though President Obama's election win was both a shattering of one of the biggest glass ceilings that black men could face, and a monumentous historical moment in US history, but also the biggest damned excuse for people to use in proving how post-racial an era the US lives in now.

After all, there's a black man in the white house, so they can't be racist.

Makes me want to ask if they voted for the man, just to see if they did.

I don't want to paint this as an American issue, as working up North has shown me that there's just as many racist pricks around who casually let fly racist terminology like it's nothing. I remember it being really bad in Fort McMurray, Northern Alberta, because the oil companies had brought in many foreign workers, and so there was a lot of bigotry aimed at the (mostly) Asian tradespeople. It was a big thing in the unions, the use of foreign workers to try and keep wages down, and it just was this big excuse for nearly every Canadian worker to let fly the bigotry.

But if you ever told them that they were being racist, they'd retort with "Well, I'm just being truthful" and "Hey, some of these guys are my friends and they sure as hell don't mind me using those words" as well as "Don't tell me what to say or not say, or I'll have you fired."

Yeah, someone once threatened to get me fired because I called him on his use of bigoted words in front of a co-worker, a Phillipino whose father faced much of the crap when he immigrated to Alberta.

Mostly what I would say has been said already HOWEVER! I agree that it is because white people see racism as "fixed." Y'all can ride in front of the bus and everything! /sarc/ I remember back in the mid-90s, a special white woman I knew said of Denver, Colorado "we have a black mayor; what more do they want?" That is now on a national level: We have a black president; what more do you want?

Whereas we know homophobia is still around. Just look at all those poor, gay white people who can't adopt their little Asian babies or get married! Plus, same sex marriage is the sexy cause right now. Once it's legal in all 50 states and/or DOMA is repealed, homophobia will be "fixed" too. Then if you talk about being marginalized as a gay man, you'll get the same response you do now when you talk about being marginalized for being black.

Yeah, my cynicism is showing, and my Snark Level is high tonight.

"Whereas we know homophobia is still around. Just look at all those poor, gay white people who can't adopt their little Asian babies or get married!"

*IS DEAD*

we know homophobia is still around. Just look at all those poor, gay white people who can't adopt their little Asian babies or get married!

As more than one person has said, it's not so much about equality as about claiming allllll the White privilege. If it was about equality, there would be a lot less racism in the way that the mainstream gay rights movement conducts itself, particularly since homophobia and transphobia hits QTPOCs first and hardest. For instance: violence towards of trans folks, homelessness among LGBTQ youth and elders, employment and housing discrimination, etc.

I wish I could find the Madam C.J. Walker quote, because it was kick ass. Paraphrasing, she was asked by a white feminist whether it was harder to be a black person or a woman in America. She gave them a beautiful verbal tongue lashing. Of course it was harder to be black.

I think of her every time someone tries to pull that post-racial crap.

People thinking racism is "fixed."

A 17-year-old kid gets shot for walking while black.

And the white murderer doesn't even get detained.

"Fixed" my ass.

But we have a black president. WHAT MOAR DO YOU PEEPUL WANT?!!!!

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