Alex Blaze

"I'm not racist, but you're black! Black, black, BLACK!"

Filed By Alex Blaze | October 16, 2009 2:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Media
Tags: black, Jewish, la, lesbian, LGBT, Morocco, National Equality March, queer, Rakefet Abergel, Washington, Washington D.C., white

I just found this complicated story about racism, homophobia, and (as I read it) sexism at the National Equality March. Rakefet Abergel, a white lesbian from LA who went to DC for the NEM, says she saw a group of black teens throw a jug of urine at some marchers as they were going home.

As we approached the statue they were skating around we saw a huge milk jug filled with what looked like urine being chucked into a group of protesters walking home from the march. We were in shock! Immediately we asked who threw the jug and one girl, about 13 or 14 years old came forward and said "You got a problem?" and I said, "Yes, I do! Why would you do that??" She yelled in my face with venomous hate and indifference, "Because you're a faggot and a bitch!" When she said faggot I literally stepped back with the force of the word. I wanted to say, "It's DYKE honey. Get it right." But what I said was, "What?!?" "You're BLACK."

So let's pause here. According to her side of the story (since Abergel says later on that the teen was yelling "You're a fucking liar" when the police showed up, we can assume that she has her own side of the story), the teen called her a "faggot" and a "bitch," and, while Abergel wanted to respond with something witty, instead the first thing she said was "What? You're BLACK."

You called me a faggot? I'll call you black. There, we're even.

The story continues:

As she stepped closer she started to raise her skateboard as if to hit me. I said, "You're great-great-grandparents were probably slaves! How could you show such ignorance and disrespect to someone who is different then you?! Do you think they'd be proud of you?" Of course, at the mention of the word slave she came forward and started getting physical with us.

When she's telling the teen that she's black (as if she didn't know), it sounds a lot less like she's making an argument about transcending artificial barriers to bring forth a new coalitional politic and a lot more like she's saying, "Don't you know your place?" The slavery comment, which is an assumption about the teen's background, sounds less like "Let's look at your history and see where it looks like my history" and more like "Get back in your place."

There are black homophobes. That's not news. The fact that she stresses over and over again that the teen is black seems to be saying more "How dare you talk to me this way. You're black!" than it is actual incredulity that a black person could be homophobic.

My wife stepped in between me and her to try to shield me from the possible blows. She was getting in my face and then her friends jumped in too and they started to surround us, skateboards raised. The words faggot and racist and go to hell were being shouted at us from numerous directions. She said, "Did you just call me a slave? Did you just call me a nigger?" I was appalled. "What? Hell no! Why would I do that? I have NOH8 tattooed on my face! I just came from an EQUALITY march where I marched with all different kinds of people, all different colors, from all walks of life!" They continued to taunt me with the N word and started calling me a racist.

The teen hasn't gotten violent up to this point, but Abergel is saying that the teen's body language is threatening violence. Just sayin', I wasn't there, but imagining that a Black person is going to be violent is the number one most common racist stereotype there is.

Another red flag for me is her insistence that she's not racist. She may have written "NOH8" across her face, she may have been marching for "EQUALITY," but that doesn't mean that she can't be racist. If anything, it seems more like she's unwilling to confront some of her scarier feelings on the subject of race.

This is liberal exceptionalism, plain and simple. American exceptionalism argues that, because the US is the country chosen by God to lead the world, every one of our actions is good. It doesn't matter what we do, like invade Iraq or sabre-rattle with Iran or fund a military coup in Nicaragua, every one of America's actions promotes peace and security.

Liberal exceptionalism is the idea that, because someone has sufficiently demonstrated their liberalism, they can't possibly be racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, classist, etc. In the gay world, it's when folks say that they have gay friends, they're totally liberal and even visited a gay bar, so that means that when they say they don't want their kids to have a gay teacher it's alright (true story). It pops up all the time when it comes to race; plenty of liberals think that because they voted for Obama or watch Oprah or went to a soul food restaurant that they can't possibly hold racist thoughts. Whatever luminous personal history a person has doesn't suddenly make future actions alright. Life's more complicated than that.

At this point, a few marchers who had been walking by and were the targets of the jug flying at them, jumped in and tried to separate us. I was crying hysterically and still trying to "reason" with them. The more we retreated, the closer and more angry the mob of kids got.

So now the group of black teens is a mob that can't be reasoned with. Gotcha.

I got hit in the shoulder with the girl's skateboard. My wife was trying to guard me from the crowd. A group of other skateboarders just sat there and watched and laughed. I screamed, "I'M NOT A RACIST! My parents marched with Martin Luther King for god's sakes! My grandparents are from AFRICA!" Calling me a racist upset me more than her calling me a faggot. I'm so far from racist that it's ridiculous. I screamed, "Martin Luther King is probably rolling over in his grave right now!" My stomach hurt. I couldn't stop crying. How could this little girl, who's BLACK, be saying such ugly and hurtful things!? How could someone who doesn't even KNOW me think she does? Why would she try to turn it around on herself when she was the one who threw things at people and called me names?

How can someone who's black (excuse me, "BLACK") say such ugly things? Because anyone can say ugly things. And because there are black homophobes. Again, not news.

But instead of thinking about the obvious racial issues going on here (even after the fact, since she wrote the blog post several days later with plenty of time to digest what happened), she sees the teen calling her "racist" as name-calling. Being called racist is nothing more than a personal insult, one that's worse that homophobia (or racism, but that's a given). And everything she seems to be thinking at this point is race-related, either "I'm not racist" or "How dare a black person treat me this way."

Just saying, red flags abound.

The story continues, and you can read the rest on Rakefet Abergel's website. They end up getting the police over there and find someone who was taking video of the confrontation. Apparently the video didn't capture the violence, just the yelling. The police took statements and arrested the black teen, who shouted "You're a fucking liar!" as she was dragged off to jail. Then a black woman appeared and absolved Abergel of her guilt.

I'm not saying that what the teen did was right, not by any means. I want to hear the other side of the story, though, since the teen seems to think that Abergel's account isn't accurate, and, considering how racist some cops can be, I wouldn't be surprised if the police took the position they did because of the skin colors of the people involved. But if she did hit Abergel with her skateboard or was throwing urine on the marchers, then what she did was wrong and that needs to be addressed. I disagree with Abergel that the teen is beyond reason or hope, but she definitely has some homophobia she needs to work on.

The irony, though, is that while Abergel says that someone can't be homophobic because they're black, she seems to forget that gay people can definitely be racist. That a gay person paints "NOH8" on their face or marches with people of all colors or has parents who marched with MLK or great-grandparents from Morocco or voted for Barack Obama or watches Oprah or has black friends or loves rap music or once hailed a taxi for a black person who couldn't get one or gave a black girl a scholarship to summer camp or taught anti-racism courses to police officers or, or, or... doesn't mean that that person is off the hook when it comes to racism, nor does it mean that they should get a big pat on the back from every other minority they encounter.

And, while I'm still pissing everyone off, I'll just say here that I take a "C'est pas grave" approach to most discriminatory attitudes. One of the best things racists in the US did to shield themselves from criticism was to make racism the absolute worst personal failing ever. It shuts down conversations. It takes criticism of words and actions that are wrong and turns them into personal insults. Instead of "Well, gee, I do have to work on that" or "I really shouldn't have said that," the response to being told what one did is racist is now "How dare you! I'm not racist! That's an insult that's worse than racism!"

The Religious Right know how effective turning the word "racist" into a personal insult has been that they're already trying to do it with the word "homophobe," saying that anyone who tries to "debate" LGBT issues gets "shouted down as a homophobe."

Anyway, when people talk about racism in the LGBT community, this is what they're referring to. It's not that being LGBT necessarily makes someone racist, but that we all come from a racial and ethnic background that that comes with baggage. The altercation Abergel describes can only be partly described as "straight vs. gay"; "black vs. white" is another important component (as well as the fact that they were both women, and the conflict was started when one woman called the other a "bitch").

And, to reiterate, just as Abergel's actions don't mean that she can't be racist, her words also don't justify what the teen allegedly did to her. Violence is never an appropriate reaction to words.


Recent Entries Filed under Media:

Leave a comment

We want to know your opinion on this issue! While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising. Repeated violations of the policy will result in revocation of your user account. Please keep in mind that this is our online home; ill-mannered house guests will be shown the door.


I think you're wrong. I think what she was saying was "you're a member of a minority that's been so perscuted, how can you do it to others?" I routinely wonder that and ask it when I encounter minority homophobes, which unfortunately is often. You need to stop calling everyone who points out the hypocrisy of black homophoobia racist. That girl attacked them, she deserves to be arrested, period. Or is racist to arrest her for a violent crime?

Arrested, yes. And then what? Because it sounds like the blogger wants her to suffer eternally and is willing to spend her "last penny" to testify against her. Which is fine, and yes, hate is hate. But at what point do we acknowledge that we are dealing with a juvenile who ought not to be written off for life?

Alex, I think this is a really keen analysis of what you call "liberal exceptionalism," which is a term I'll use from now on. I am astounded by how often I see liberal people simultaneously displaying racism and denying their capacity to be racist. And LGBT circles are far from immune to this tendency. And to those who ask "what is wrong with you?" let me say that I for one really enjoy your columns.

I don't know. There were some serious stereotypes brought into play here. Yes, I see the "you're a minority, too" thing, but that's a stereotype in and of itself, in a way. If you're a minority, you must be sympathetic to everyone's plight, and a peace-seeker, and wise beyond your years, et cetera. Kind of like a "noble savage" stereotype for the modern age.

He is wrong M and that is because Alex is too busy protecting through codependent behavior and his preference to be politically correct to that of gay people who defend themselves against stupidity dressed up as untouchable armor. It is just a glass uniform. Give me the face of that homophobe and and i will spit in it black or white. It is a confused docile act of nonsense Alex is pushing as a solution.

EXACTLY.

ALEX: When you judge another you do not define them, you define yourself.

While I KNOW that I don't believe the things you think I believe and I KNOW that i'm not a racist person and never have been, never will, I ALSO know that for you to read the things you say like:

"When she's telling the teen that she's black (as if she didn't know), it sounds a lot less like she's making an argument about transcending artificial barriers to bring forth a new coalitional politic and a lot more like she's saying, "Don't you know your place?" The slavery comment, which is an assumption about the teen's background, sounds less like "Let's look at your history and see where it looks like my history" and more like "Get back in your place.""

THAT YOU REALLY FEEL THIS WAY YOURSELF and that's the only reason that's what you saw. I have no doubt that the teenage girl could not even disagree with you on this subject because she has no knowledge about her own history. If you said "go to the back of the bus" she would not know what you mean. And not because she's black ( because I'm sure you're bound to put some ignorant comment here) because she TOLD me she didn't care about her history and she TOLD me she didn't care if she was black or not. And by the way, if someone is holding a skateboard up to your head- they look like they are threatening violence. No matter what color they are.

"I'm not saying that what the teen did was right, not by any means. I want to hear the other side of the story, though, since the teen seems to think that Abergel's account isn't accurate, and, considering how racist some cops can be, I wouldn't be surprised if the police took the position they did because of the skin colors of the people involved."

Right, because cops are so gay friendly! They never lie about what gay people do! Seriously, what is wrong with you?

You are such a twink Alex. Stop trying so hard. I highly doubt those around your holiday table are all that diverse.

I am so tired of you making excuses for people who are anti-gay. If I have to read one more story on this website about how we need to understand why people hate us and discriminate against us I am going to lose it. Why do you keep expecting gay people to "understand" why people don't like us. You always have some excuse like the gentrification of neighborhoods by gay males pusing racial minorities out or the history of racism perpetuated by white males in this country. I don't think you would dare write an article explaining to blacks, hispanics, asians, etc. why people have negative ideas about them and discriminate against them. I don't think you would make them responsible for convincing others that they are not all the same and deserve to be treated with respect. Would you give them a "how-to" guide to help bigots not view them negatively? Put the responsibility where it belongs, on the individuals who hate others and discriminate. Stop making excuses for them. Also, I do think it's appropriate to call somebody out who is part of a minority group that has been historically discriminated against when they are perpetuating the same hate that they have suffered under. If someone said to me that I should understand what it is like to be part of a minority group and not have the same rights, and that I should have empathy for others in the same position I would agree completely.

Being African-American is not the same thing as being gay. That's not to prioritise one history of oppression over another, but it's to point out that we can't keep pretending that all oppressions are somehow exactly the same and require only a simple "on" button for us to understand why that they're all exactly the same.

Assuming such equivalences is what allows some gays to walk around with signs that say "black is the new gay."

Anyway, Alex, in case I haven't been clear - great job unpacking this post.

Ah, my little slip, hah - I meant, holding signs that say, "Gay is the new Black."

Editors' Note: This comment has been deleted for Terms of Service violation.

While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising. Repeated violations of the policy will result in revocation of your user account. Please keep in mind that this is our online home; ill-mannered house guests will be shown the door.

Editors' Note: This comment has been deleted for Terms of Service violation.

While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising. Repeated violations of the policy will result in revocation of your user account. Please keep in mind that this is our online home; ill-mannered house guests will be shown the door.

Asking someone to be accountable to be for the entire history of their "people" - a history that was audaciously presumed by a white person who could only see the history of slavery embodied in the black teenager - is in fact outright racist

That's a load of bs. You're basically saying the teenager should get away with whatever b/c she's black and the lesbian doesn't count. Nice. But what do you expect-I've heard that this is how you argue-completely without logic. Let's see how well you'd react in such a situation. Probably much worse. Then again, you're no stranger to hypocrisy.

If someone said to me that I should understand what it is like to be part of a minority group and not have the same rights, and that I should have empathy for others in the same position I would agree completely.

Except when said minority group includes you, right?

M,

Asking Alex, "What is wrong with you?" instead of actually engaging with a rather nuanced post that's trying to unpack the ways that racism and homophobia can get tangled up is just another way to shut down the conversation that we need to be having. Interesting that you only focus on the black teen's response, but have nothing to say about what Alex wrote about Abergel's response.

I think that Abergel should have thought this through and could have written a more nuanced post, exploring her clearly conflicted emotions. Instead, she chose to write this, a simplistic acccusation of a hate crime that seeks to absolve her of any racism while pretending that the ONLY problem here is black homophobia.


Asking someone to be accountable to be for the entire history of their "people" - a history that was audaciously presumed by a white person who could only see the history of slavery embodied in the black teenager - is in fact outright racist.

Abergel had no problem presuming that the teen was a product of slavery and that she should have been aware of Abergel's parents having marched with MLK (or, once informed of said history, perhaps dropped to her knees in gratitude). But she ignored one salient act about her presumably white grandparents being from Africa - that it might say a lot about her family's embededness in the racism that has devastated that continent.

Abergel will, no doubt, continue to respond that her grandparents marched against apartheid and repeat the fact that her parents marched with MLK. To which we might respond: And why is your personal history so important but not that of the young woman? To her, the black teenager has no history, no personal life - she is simply an embodiment of slavery. As if saying "your great-grandparents were probably slaves" implies no racism, no idea that all blacks who cross your path are exactly the same; and as if holding someone to their presumed status as the descendant of slaves is not yet another way of telling them that, yes, they are slaves. In Abergel's mind, the black teen is duty-bound to recognise the great munificence of Abergel's entire history.

I can see why the incident itself - having things thrown and being called some incredibly ugly names - was truly unnerving. But Abergel and others like her need to acknowledge the force of her own liberal racism. And stop acting like she, as a white person who marches with people of "all different colours" is somehow owed a debt of gratitude or acknowledgment by every black person who interacts with her.

Over and over, she raises her personal history, as if that matters more than that of the black teen. She's willing to use a sliver of what she presumes to be the teen's history - that of slavery - which may well be a part of her history. But having Abergel, as a white person, come charging at her to use that history to determine how she should treat the white woman in front of her only shows that Abergel is willing to use history selectively. Can you blame the black teen for her anger? And, as Alex astutely points out, we have some hints that the story is one-sided.

This is obviously a complicated issue, but perhaps not a complicated situation. The least we can do is to be willing to acknowledge that racism does not simply come from pillow-and-sheet-clad members of the KKK. It's the everyday racism of white liberals like Abergel, the sort of racism that emerges with barely a scratch on the surface, that's more telling and revealing. And, frankly, a lot more difficult to dismantle because it hides so well behind the mask of righteous self-indignation and stock phrases like, "My parents marched with MLK/I voted for Obama/ My relatives are African-American" or whatever other justification comes to the mind of white liberal racists.

It's not racist to call someone out on their hate. Stop making excuses for homophobia

Martin Luther King's famous quote about "the majority of white Americans are unconscious racists" is all that is needed to explain this incident. Abergel plugged into some vestigial unconscious racism, even though she didn't necessarily want to or mean to.

What MLK did not include in his quote, however, is that black people, too, can have unconscious attitudes about race that can be true or false, functional or dysfunctional.

I will be "racist" enough myself to state that it is extremely difficult for anyone, white or black, to totally suppress racist thinking when the threat of immediate and serious violence is at hand. As the recent encounter in Cambridge involving Henry Louis Gates amply demonstrated, there is also a blurry line between "thinking about race" and "racist thinking" --- indeed, much of the media discussion of that confrontation revolved around the question, Was the white Cambridge policeman being racist against Gates, or was Gates being racist towards the white policeman? It is amazing how many white right-wingers saw it as the latter. (I personally hold that both men could have handled the situation better.)

I also ponder about the line of thinking that goes "You're a member of a group that has been discriminated against, why would you be unthinking enough to pass on the discrimination to me." This too might be a form of racism, or maybe it is just an unwarranted assumption --- but in any event, you are dictating the attitude you think that person ought to adopt based on the race of that person. You are negating the fact that the other person has a brain of their own and can choose the attitude that makes the most sense to them, even if it doesn't make sense to you. As you point out, Alex, if this line of thinking held true, then there would be no racist LGBT people, either.

Excellent article, Alex. Abergel's response to this teenager does sound an awful lot like "get to the back of the bus and be happy with the fact that we white people deigned to free your kind from slavery!" Not to say that the girl who allegedly attacked her was blame-free, but whatever she may have done to Abergel doesn't excuse the incredibly racist way Abergel responded to her.

So, let me understand. No need for empathy. No need for awareness of history, personal or otherwise. Just make sure if you are attacked that you respond well to the attacker. Gay oppression is apparently not in the same category as racial, religious, and other forms of oppression. Am I understanding the lesson correctly here? Last time I checked when Rosa Parks was made to sit in the back of the bus she wasn't throwing urine on the passengers and calling them a bunch of crackers. They discriminated against her and others simply because of the color of their skin not because they did harm to anyone verbally or physically. I can't really agree with these comparisons. Sorry.

When I first read the article, I really thought it was very naive of her to respond the way she did. She certainly didn't choose the approach that was going to set her off on the right foot. She just dug her hole deeper going on about her grandparents and MLK. Nonetheless, I don't think that makes her racist, subtly or overtly, and despite any pressure on her to conform to 'liberal' norms. I think it was simply naive of her to assume her arguments would persuade the young woman or would make the young lady receptive to her.

I recently got put on the defensive by a Trans person during a conversation because she perceived I was talking down the community. I explained that I was an ally of the community with many personal friends, including some mutual friends, and suddenly her attitude changed when she realized I was actually an ally. It wasn't what I was saying, but how she perceived my intentions. Once she realized my credentials and my intentions, her perception of what I was saying changed.

What we need in this country are honest conversations. I think it is perfectly appropriate to discuss what racism is and its many manifestations, but we should generally refrain from labeling people or their actions as directly being racist, as this doesn't contribute to a civil conversation. This woman was trying to share her story, and here on this well respected website she's being accused of being a racist by people who don't know her and weren't there. Seems like an awfully harsh, unproductive, unnecessary and equally naive reaction.

I think she's perfectly fine to be proud of her family history. It took courageous people like her family to walk arm-in-arm for civil rights in this country with oppressed classes. We need people like that today to aid us in our struggle. I think it's better that she's proud of that than that she doesn't care at all, or even worse, disagrees.

George,

No one at the incident was having a conversation, and that's what our discussion is getting at. And if Rafeket puts her story up on a public website, in this day and age, she is asking for analysis; that's the nature of the internet. She's not "sharing her story," she's actually trying make a case and garner support, and that includes financial support, on the web. She can't just sit back and expect everyone to only write in with support. Critique is inevitable.

As for, "but we should generally refrain from labeling people or their actions as directly being racist, as this doesn't contribute to a civil conversation" - even when they actually are, you know, racist? It's okay for the gay community and its pundits like Dan Savage to openly call blacks homophobic but we can't call out gays on their racism? Where's the conversation, again?

for the last time- I AM NOT RACIST. None of you know me and none of you were there. Maybe "ALEX BLAZE" since that's not really his name, went to the Glenn Beck school of reporting because he has no basis in reality nor factual knowledge of the situation and neither do you, Yasmin.

While I tend to try to avoid labeling the person as racist I have no problem identifying an action, behavior or statement as racist.
If we are to have discourse on this issue we certainly must identify the behaviors and thinking of racism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and maybe even queerphobia (I'm seeing a lot of phobia aimed at people on the more extreme edges of the community who are vocally antiassimilationist).
We are going to have to name these things to discuss them.

"Once she realized my credentials..."

This is exactly the problem. Your "credentials" don't define your behavior, your behavior does. It's very possible you were being transphobic. The point is that you can say or do something transphobic without being some "terrible, horrible oppressor". And the same goes for racism.

People make mistakes, say the wrong things, and have biases they don't even realize until they're brought up. But trying to explain away the situation by listing your "credentials" is just avoiding any chance for growth.

Being a target of harassment because you are gay is WRONG. It is just as bad as being harassed because you are a woman, black, asian, muslim, etc. It really is that simple. Intellectualize all you want and make excuses for perpetrators of hate and violence but I am not going to join you. As a gay person I deserve the same respect as anyone else and I am quite frankly tired of the verbal insults and threats of physical violence I encounter so frequently. I want to walk down a street and be left alone. Is that so much to ask? Our oppression is real and I am tired of being a non-person in the eyes of my government and so many in our society. How can we fight our oppression if so many within the community continue to make excuses for those who oppress us?

Alex
How dare you call me a racist and put this crap on your site. I plan on calling my attorneys to combat this libel and defamation. You were NOT there and you did NOT see what happened. I have witnesses. And I have truth on my side. And by the way my grandparents are NOT white, they are BLACK. And by the way, as a JEW, I am no stranger to slavery in my historical past. And by your logic of calling me a racist I can call you an ANTI SEMITE. I am the furthest thing from a racist and that little girl was waiting for a fight. She threw urine at the marchers and when I confronted her she started the whole thing. So say what you want but you are a self hating person who should not be spreading lies about people you don't know. And it wasn't the teen who called me a liar it was a friend of hers and she said i started it which I didn't and I have witnesses to attest to that. Get your facts straight. That's what makes blogging different then news, at least they fact check. Get a life and back off and you WILL be hearing from my lawyer.

and by the way, the officers were all BLACK. Yes African American. So don't make an ass out of yourself with lies and defamation.

Thank you for your comments Rakefet. It's nice to hear from another member of the LBGTQ community who actually believes that we have the right to be treated with respect like everyone else. I think some of the bloggers on this site need a fact checker and a spine for that matter. It is very sad when the victim has to be further victimized by members of our community. It's shocking to see someone write that the girl who atacked you has "some" culpability. I also think it's sad that we don't think someone knowing the history of civil rights in this country and elsewhere is acceptable. I don't think the future is very bright for any of us if we don't expect people to know about our past.

Thank you Matthew.. ( THE NICE ONE)

I was beginning to think I was the lone sane person left in a universe gone mad.

I would hope that your lawyer is well-versed enough in the law to recognize that you don't have a case.

How DARE someone critique a blog that you have publicly posted!!!

actually she does. it's called libel. look it up

Yeah, good thing CRITICAL ANALYSIS isn't libel.

Cuz, wow, that level of defensive rage certainly paints you as level headed and in the right about this situation. You know, in a "pretty much the total opposite" sort of way at least.
By the way?:
"when I confronted her she started the whole thing."
Notice a certain contradiction here?

Anyway, back to what I was gonna say,

Can I be the guy to chime in and say homophobia and racism are both null in this situation? Both parties failed left and right. Blanket assumptions about how a person can and should act based on their race? Bad move. Harping on about that again and again? Only making it worse. Bringing up slavery? Turn around and walk away, you just put the last nail in the coffin and lost what little chance for respect you probably had. Especially when dealing with a TEENAGER. Not exactly the most enlightened group on the planet regardless of minority status.
Was the young girl in the right on any level? Not a chance. At least not from the story we have but neither is the protester.

In the protester's defense though, I take serious issue with this paragraph:
"When she's telling the teen that she's black (as if she didn't know), it sounds a lot less like she's making an argument about transcending artificial barriers to bring forth a new coalitional politic and a lot more like she's saying, "Don't you know your place?" The slavery comment, which is an assumption about the teen's background, sounds less like "Let's look at your history and see where it looks like my history" and more like "Get back in your place.""
It sounds NOTHING like that. It sounds, and reads, as simple shock at minority on minority hatred. Alex, you point out (repeatedly) that such hate isn't new. That doesn't make it less shocking or confusing. I DO believe that's where Abergel's coming from on that point. Whether or not it's all downhill from there or not is up for debate though. Quite frankly the "My ancestors" "My parents" I...." etc lines sound just a hair too much like "Well I can't be racist cuz I've got black friends" for me to give them any real worth.

Just to mention, since I noticed this; Not the same Matthew as the green post above.
Not that I disagree with their general idea (well, when removed from the context of this thread where it doesn't really fit at least), just making the distinction.
And now I'm shutting up.

Read the whole thing. AFTER SHE THREW URINE AT THE MARCHERS...was the first thing that happened. God you people are dumb.

Oh, so we're certain it's urine now? Are you certain she was the one to throw it? Did the cops find this bottle?
See, there are a LOT of questions to be asked here and, sorry, your side alone isn't enough.
We're dumb because we call you out on an error? Not so much love. How bout rather than flaming the hell out of Alex, as fun as that might be (;P), you counter what the post says? Show something other than blind rage here cuz, honestly, it isn't exactly detracting from Alex's analysis.

Yes. We are certain it was urine. And Yes the bottle was found. And yes the people it was thrown at saw the whole thing and can testify to that. And as far as my "blind rage"- you try to be calm and rational when someone is lying about you and vilifying you in a public forum about something they know nothing about. Especially towards someone who was a victim of a crime they could also be victims of at any point in time. Alex's "analysis" is pure lies and theoretical bullshit. And anyone that reads my blog and sees what he sees is an incredibly stupid person. And by stupid and I mean DUMB.

Don't even bother with them Rakefet. You have absolutely no obligation to explain yourself. These idiots are so poisoned with saying the right thing that they no longer think or say the right thing.

Well now we're getting somewhere at least.
To keep this in an actual discussion though I wanna point something out:
"a public forum about something they know nothing about."
This.
Think about how angry it has you to have someone make claims about you when they don't know you, don't know your life, and don't know the situation.
You can see why the girl would've been triggered by that, right?
And to make it clear, I don't think anyone here is even remotely excusing the girl in question. Doesn't mean we can't understand what set her off or point out that she wasn't the only one in any level of error.
And dear gods trying to word that in such a way that it's clearly not intended as a personal strike isn't simple x.x

Editors' Note: This comment has been deleted for Terms of Service violation.

While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising. Repeated violations of the policy will result in revocation of your user account. Please keep in mind that this is our online home; ill-mannered house guests will be shown the door.

Proudly!!! Silence = DEATH.

Rafeket,

The new and non-green Matthew (I think he's mauve-ish, at least in this light) has put it all quite well in his response to you. But may I add, yeesh, seriously, *this* is the level of discourse you engage? The fact that you actually write something like "And anyone that reads my blog and sees what he sees is an incredibly stupid person. And by stupid and I mean DUMB" doesn't make what *initially* may have happened to you any less painful, but really, nice job exposing your level of immaturity.


ALEX: When you judge another you do not define them, you define yourself.

While I KNOW that I don't believe the things you think I believe and I KNOW that i'm not a racist person and never have been, never will, I ALSO know that for you to read the things you say like:

"When she's telling the teen that she's black (as if she didn't know), it sounds a lot less like she's making an argument about transcending artificial barriers to bring forth a new coalitional politic and a lot more like she's saying, "Don't you know your place?" The slavery comment, which is an assumption about the teen's background, sounds less like "Let's look at your history and see where it looks like my history" and more like "Get back in your place.""

THAT YOU REALLY FEEL THIS WAY YOURSELF and that's the only reason that's what you saw. I have no doubt that the teenage girl could not even disagree with you on this subject because she has no knowledge about her own history. If you said "go to the back of the bus" she would not know what you mean. And not because she's black ( because I'm sure you're bound to put some ignorant comment here) because she TOLD me she didn't care about her history and she TOLD me she didn't care if she was black or not.

Not caring, and not knowing, are not one and the same.
As for the rest, I really don't have the energy required to delve into it so I'll leave it for someone more willing and capable. I'll simply point out that yelling at Alex for passing judgment on you for x, y, and z reason...and then turning around to do the exact same thing to him is more than a little hypocritical and problematic.
Would it perhaps be beneficial, rather than getting mad, to take a step back, read the post objectively and think about it? Honestly, I don't care how open minded, liberal, or whatever else you are; EVERYONE holds racist, sexist, phobic, classist, etc thoughts/concepts to some degree or other. And I do mean everyone. It can't hurt to look at this analysis and take it in. Just because a comment isn't intentionally, or even knowledgeably racist doesn't mean it isn't. It also doesn't mean that it IS of course, just so we're clear.
I'll be the first to admit that, yea, there's a racist vibe in my mind. I don't like it, it makes me feel like a prick, but I know it's there. Hell, part of me thinks that going off to college has strengthened it rather than the reverse (though admittedly the women's studies courses have made me far more aware of it x.x )Pretending it's not doesn't make it go away, and what's worse is that it doesn't help me to nullify it. Yay learning experiences.
(Ok, so much for me keeping my mouth shut)


@Yasmin: Thank you. I'm gonna take it as a small badge of honor to get a sort of compliment from you given how we...let's just say butted heads before. So yay ^.^
Also, mauve's a purplish greyish color, yea? If so then that sounds right haha

Unfortunately, your confession of your own racism is exactly my point. If the reader holds racist thoughts, that's what they will see. I can sleep at night because I know that I am not one who has those thoughts. Especially not- considering my own black ancestors and my own historical slavery and the fact that I am a JEWISH, LESBIAN, 1/8 BLACK, WOMAN who has to fight for my rights every which way I turn. Which is all I was trying to convey to her. Which was- in the only comment that made any sense to me at all- naive.

Hardly. Ever hear the phrase "She doth protest to much"? Cuz, ya know...just sayin.
And yes, let's play the minority game. Because minorities never hate on other minorities. And people in group X never hate on group X. So you, being X, Y, and Z, must be free from prejudice....except it doesn't work that way.
Whether you like it or not, we live in a culture where it is so pervasive that yes, it is in there somewhere. And frankly, I think your belief is the reverse of fact. Having racist thoughts, as someone who wishes to not have them, will make you fully BLIND to them as a coping mechanism. You will, intentionally or not, ignore what you see so that you can continue on peacefully.
Hell, even if your belief is true, it doesn't help you here. By your claim, being personally racist means I can see those thoughts elsewhere. Well, yea, because I know what I'm seeing. I know the subtleties, the covers, the "oh, I don't mean it like that"s.
Frankly, neither works for you and the latter's just annoying to the ear. We like to repress that which makes us uncomfortable. We want to pretend it doesn't exist, so we ignore it as much as we can.
Is there a reason you flat out refuse to take the step back that I suggested? You're pulling out, consistently, proxy versions of the "I'm not a racist cuz I've got black friends" card. I'll be blunt; that's a tell if there ever was one. The moment someone says that line or something similar, the hair on the back of my neck goes up cuz it's bullshit.

So I'll cut back: You don't have those thoughts?
Then why, in your blog, did you admit that you could have used 'nigger'? (Sorry folks, 'the N word' always just makes it sound worse to me) If you don't have those thoughts at all, then why would that even cross your mind as a point? Why even bring it up?
You don't have those thoughts? Then why did you make numerous assumptions about this girl you'd never met, based solely on her flesh?
Shall I continue, or have I made my point?

I didn't bring up the N word- SHE DID. That's why it's in the blog and that's why I thought that later. I don't have to defend myself to you or anyone else. And as far as people who actually KNOW me are concerned, they don't think so either. So I will continue along with my truth and you can continue to accuse me of things. And I guess we'll all see in the end where we all end up. End of conversation. Good night and go back to your little judgemental lives. I hope that when you get accosted on the street by a homophobe- cuz face it it's bound to happen sooner or later- you say exactly the right things and do it all like a pro. I hope you don't end up crying and hurt and scared and confused as to how such a beautiful day could have suddenly gotten so ugly. And i hope you don't get hurt. Because then how could you fight back at all the people who tell you it's your fault? If she had been a man who raped me, also black, would that be my fault too? Because as he was trying to rape me i yelled at him, "you're black!?" Sounds like it. Get a clue.

Back the bloody heck up here: Nobody is saying the events were your fault. Not. A. Damn. One. Of. Us. EVER said you caused all this to happen, or you were the sole one at fault.
Where you got that idea, despite multiple reassurances otherwise is beyond me.
The girl was at fault. Fully. That's a bloody given here.
That doesn't make you a saint though. That doesn't nullify problematic actions on your part. I'm sorry you feel attacked. That's not how this should be handled. If we (those commenting on the same side of this as myself) had perhaps a bit more tact and skill (heh) this hopefully would sound more as an advising board rather than an accusation. This is meant to address a problem in the larger realm using a specific incident as the catalyst. Take it for what it is; commentary. I can't speak for the rest, but I mean for my comments to be questioning, to force you to question your actions and see their implications. It isn't meant to say "You're a filthy fucking racist, go burn" in even a small way.
It IS meant to say you're human. You, like all of us, are flawed in some way or other and you, like all of us, aren't perfect when it comes to race relations. It happens. The part where you put yourself into the good, mature light though is where you accept that maybe it's possible you were in the wrong (not a direct admittance, just the admittance to the possibility) and taking the available advice into consideration.
Is that really such a terrible thing?


As for your last couple sentences:
Sounds like it? In what world are a thrown bottle, and rape even remotely similar events?
In what world would saying "You're black?!" fit into context with rape?
Look, I know you're upset by this but that's about as ridiculous of a comparison as there could have been and you know it

You know what I meant. And there is absolutely fault being thrown on me here. I was attacked. I was the victim. End of story. I did nothing wrong. Being hit with a skateboard and fearing for my life is no small thing. I hope you get to experience something like it someday.

Matthew: the asshole one:
now I know you just can't read!!! My name is not spelled rafeket like the lovely Yasmin spelled it. Check my username. This explains it all!

Read my reply to my own comment love. Beat ya too it already AND apologized. Funny huh?
I'll avoid the thinly veiled insult and merely comment that it's nice to see you're back to the downward spiral into uber-immaturity

Hah. That's funny Yasmin. You scream about level of maturity. I say you have lack of objectivity. I will give it to you though Yasmin. I have often walked down the streets and thought i might bump into you dressed in a "black" cap and gown carrying a microphone and a scroll. Then i will have to protect you! Hah. Listen honey, we all got too many problems to be fighting with each other. Come on DOWN!!!!!!!!!!!!

I sincerely hope that none of you are ever attacked for being who you are. If it does ever happen though I want you to remember how cool and collected you were during and after the incident. The victim should be enraged. Stop putting salt in the wound.

mrs.abergel | October 16, 2009 8:22 PM

alex you are so wrong. and it is complicated for you to understand because you were not there ! everything after the word complicated is bs. how dare you attack someone who is the victim and still dealing with the shock and aftermath of such an experience and behave exactly the way the young girl did .. with hate .. let me ask you something alex -have you ever been attacked for being gay ?... have you ever been screamed at the you are a faggot ?... as a bystander which is all we were , when you see something being hurled through the air at a group of ppl you say something ?... a wrong action is a wrong action ... i don't care who you are you cant just throw things at ppl because you don't like them... we didn't even see who threw what or what it was ... we continued walking forward toward the group of sk8ers and we both said hey hey who threw that ?... and one person said something -which ended up being the attacker she said : you gotta problem ?" where we said "yes" you don't throw things at ppl , and we asked why? why would you do that ?... and she came at us and said because you're a faggot and a bitch " and then it all escalated into complete madness .... from then on all i remember is trying get them back , i kept saying in my head this is not happening they will not "beat" us , and then they raised their sk8 boards-and i was just trying to block them and keep them back ... other marchers that actually dodged what was thrown at them that had come up to see who was throwing things ?... and saw the altercation and helped pull us out of all the kids with the raised sk8 boards at one point i was screaming we need a cop ! we need a cop ! because at this point we were not in the clear ,these kids weren't giving up ... once the cops were mentioned and started showing up is when they took off and fled the scene... and if you don't say anything what does that say about who you are ?

Yes, blind rage aided by all caps shouting really does strengthen your case. You're sinking deeper into a quagmire here.

By the way, Rafeket, since we have you here: I popped over to your site and noticed that someone asked you why you don't have any comment that's critical of what you wrote and your response is that everyone has only been supportive.

Actually, no. I posted a version of my first comment on your site quite a few hours ago, sometime this morning, and signed my full name to it. It has yet to appear. So... either, there's a glitch in your comment intake or...

Perhaps my critical comment will mysteriously manifest itself on your blog, now that I've pointed this out. Should it have disappeared, see above for my response.

As you can see I am new to blogging. I get emails with comments and I haven't deleted one of them. Every single comment I've gotten has been posted.

I have no idea what you are talking about. I did not receive one with your name signed to it.

As for the all caps- seriously? If you're still reading into that you really need more to do with your time.

And just to be clear, that last comment was directed at Rafeket, not at Mauve Matthew, whose comment must have crossed with mine.

Hey, Matthew, and, oh, yes, no worries, I remember you (although I wasn't sure if it was you or the green one, good to know, good to know :-))and you're still right, and I also agree with your most recent response to Rafeket. Rafeket, take a page from Mauve Matthew. Please.

I am now aglow and beige-ish with the milk of human kindness.

I see that Rafeket has now taken to cutting and pasting in her comments repeatedly. Buckle your seats.

Yasmin
at least while you're being a bitch spell my name right. Or is it too ethnic for you? Do you hate all Jews or just Ones with israeli names. Ya I can play the race card too. Stupid right?

Well, considering that I've yet to see Yasmin misspell your name a single time on here (username that is), yea, I'd say attacking her for misspelling it is pretty darn stupid, yes.

As for the caps thing: Caps in type imply either a stressed or yelled point. Internet etiquette and all that.
Also, to be the meme poster: Caps lock; Internet cruise control for cool! (had to)

@Yasmin: Mauve-Matthew eh? I've had worse nicknames in the past :p

Scratch that first paragraph. Finally saw the letter inversion. My apologies.

Dear Rakefet,

I hate having my name misspelled but even I do that sometimes in bad evening light (I've gone by Yasim on occasion). So, I apologise for misspelling your name, my bad.

Calling me a bitch is not going to help your case, and neither are these odd comments. And just so you know, showing up and responding with increasing vitriol to *every* single comment made here is not going to help your case either. You say you're new to this blogging thing, so I'll let you in on a little secret: People are watching. Lots and lots of people. Not all of them actually respond, but they're sentient beings who have minds and opinions of their own and by this point, dear Rakefet, you've given them a lot to work with.

You've clearly decided that you will handle comments like someone wielding a fly swatter, determined to smack down everyone who writes here. Responding in this fashion to every one who dares question you is not going to either silence people, on or offline, or help you score any tactical wins.

And that's the last bit of free advice I'll hand out this evening. You, no doubt, will be up for a while.

Y-
Seems to me that you're always one post behind every one of mine- so here comes that great quote again- making sense for all those "silent" blog watchers to read:

"When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself."

Seems to me there is a lot of projecting going on here. And when your name is slung through the mud, misspelled or otherwise, I hope you can keep your civil internet etiquette in tact. Who knows what my next blog might be about? Seems like I have plenty here to work with too. No one likes their name being thrown around with lies. Do you think you'd like it?

You're big on this whole "Don't judge me" thing while simultaneously judging those you're yelling at, huh? It's kind of, massively, hypocritical isn't it?


@Yasmin, and really everyone: Go back and read the fly-swatter line in Yasmin's post and picture it. Seriously, if there was ever a mood-lightening mental image, that was it.

"And when your name is slung through the mud, misspelled or otherwise, I hope you can keep your civil internet etiquette in tact."

Oh, Rakefet, poor new to the world of gay blogging Rakefet, you really haven't been around Bilerico or the gay blogosphere much, have you? That sound you hear is the laughter of a lot of people, including me. The regulars know of what I speak. But to get back to the regular broadcast: Ivan below is dead-on right. And so is Mauve Matthew above.

And when I said that Mauve Matthew was right, I meant he was right in his critiques of the rape analogy; I wasn't egotistically pointing to his reference to my fly-swatter comment (our comments crossed at that point). Although I will take a quick bow for that.

Okay, just wanted to say that when the cross-commenting died down for a bit. I think Alex has brought about an interesting discussion so far, even if not everyone seemed as engaged with the larger points.

*tiptoes off, trying not to trip on her black robe*

OMG! I think I LOVE Rakefet. I've never met anyone so enlightened before.
She's part BLACK y'all!! That way there is no way she could ever harbor racist thoughts against BLACK people!!
I bet you she even voted for Obama!!!!

And oh! Her truth! How dare you disparage her truth!!! Her hurt!!!! You Alex, are a meanie!!!

I would respond lengthily and carefully to this thread, but I think her inanity has shown a complete inability to engage in adult discourse.

So, I chose to just buy into it and respond how she is hoping other people will join her "cause."

Sadly, I think her vitriolic attitude is symptomatic of the ways in which many gays and lesbians attacked people of color post the prop-8 win.

I love how comments are getting deleted for allegedly "attacking someone". In that case, this whole BLOG should be deleted because I have never felt more attacked or disgusted in my life.

Feeling attacked, and being attacked aren't one and the same I hate to say. I know that doesn't help, and I know that'll probably be more angering than helpful but that's what it is. It's one thing to say "You're a miserable SOB" and quite another to say "What you said was pretty messed up and racist, lady"

And with that, you can all go to hell. I'll wave down.

Keep it respectful people, I'm on duty tonight and I've already had to TOS a few comments that were nothing but insults and slurs.

I'm really, really disappointed that discussing an incident such as this would cause the discourse of this thread to deteriorate to this level. I am sure that Alex, in posting this story, only meant to generate some enlightening discussion about racial issues --- and probably, specifically, a compare/contrast between racism and homophobia, as well as the question, "What exactly constitutes racism?" Unfortunately, this time the hope for meaningful, intelligent discussion failed rather seriously. What I see in this comment thread is a form of race riot in itself. At least it isn't IRL.

What I note is that the most egregious offenders are the ones that seem to have "taken things personally". It should be possible for us to discuss such matters without anyone taking personal offense. This requires a certain attitude of detachment --- if you decide the person you are talking with is an asshole, you make private mental note of it, but you do not engender openness in the other person when you insist on informing them of your conclusion in so many blunt words.

If you can't adopt this "certain attitude of detachment" and you can't refrain from openly insulting your fellow commenters and you can't take that chip off your shoulder --- then maybe you aren't ready to discuss a sensitive issue like race in public.

I am not suggesting censorship, but I am suggesting self-censorship. Much of the ugliness that has appeared here should have been self-censored.

I expect many of you feel like you don't need a lecture from me. But apparently a few of you do, and now you got it.

Bigoted assholes are bigoted assholes. And no group, Left, Right, White, Black, Christian, Atheist, Jewish, Muslim is free of them. Not in the USA, not in Australia.

I'm of Dual UK/Australian nationality. So while I have my share of inherited guilt for what has been done by my ancestors, I bear none for slavery in the US, any more than any Black American does for what Berber pirates did in slaving raids on the English south coast in 1550.

Here's a little thought experiment: some teenage thugs wearing "White Pride" and "Gay Pride" T-shirts intermingled throw urine at a Black Pride march. And when someone comes up and says "How can you do that to an oppressed people, you're Gay!" then they get threatened with violence, and asked "DID YOU CALL ME A FAGGOT, NIGGER?" The Mob soon all "knows" that the word "Faggot" was used by the protestor, facts mean nothing to such assholes.

Same story, I just switched the semantic tokens around.

I'm fed up of such people. I'm doubly fed up when they're on "my side". I *do* *not* *care* what colour they may be, or what ancestry, or what religion. They are bigots. They are assholes. And they'll play the "victim card" for all its worth, be they the poor downtrodden Christians oppressed by the Evil Jews, or the poor minority South African Boers being oppressed by the Kaffirs, or even cards which bear some resemblance to reality. It doesn't matter to them whether their oppression is real or not. What matters is that it's a weapon they can use against "the other" that they hate to make themselves feel good.

And it's BS.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
And that means calling an asshole an asshole. Be they American or Australian. Be they Intersexed or not.

Thanks for a thoughtful and thought-provoking post.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | October 16, 2009 11:14 PM

"Judged by...the content of their character."

Characters are the one thing of which we are not in short supply. And at the risk of Alex calling me "wacky" again.

I think that it is amazing that an adult would assume that a 13 year old has any sense of history, let alone their own ethnic history. I would be surprised if they could quote or fully comprehend a statement made by MLK, Jesse Jackson or Andrew Young. They use epithets because they are ignorant and/or lazy.

I believe that acting immaturely toward the immature acts of others is always wrong. A 13 year old does not think as an adult. The more attention given to them the more they will push the envelope and this is what appears to have happened in this unfortunate case.

Much too much has been made of it.

Thirteen year olds can also be exceptionally obnoxious while on the path to becoming an adult. We should never drop to their level in discourse. When I would collar 13 year olds running drugs in my Chicago neighborhood I would leave them with Jesse Jackson's admonishment:

"You may live in the ghetto, but the ghetto does not have to live in you."

In Chicago, those words still have resounding meaning. We were once the most racially segregated city in America.

Hi folks,

Interesting to find this blog post. I was the guy who jumped in an separated the two women. I can't know what anyone was thinking, but I'll share with you what I saw.

I was walking down the street with a few friends after leaving the march. There was a bunch of fellow marches walking down the sidewalk with rainbow flags and signs. Two bottles were thrown from about 30 feet away. One was a 1/2 gallon milk jug and the other was a 20 ounce soda bottle. Both bottles hit the sidewalk where we were walking and the liquid burst out. Both bottles had a yellow liquid that appeared to me to be urine. Both bottles were left there on the ground where they fell and pointed out to the police once they arrived.

After the bottles were thrown my friends and I stopped to see who was attacking us. We saw the group of teenagers with skateboards up on steps near a statue. That is when Rakefet and her wife left the sidewalk and walked to where the teenagers were standing.

I wasn't sure anything was going to happen, but I stood on the sidewalk and watched. I could not hear this part, but it appeared as though Rakefet and her wife were asking the teens why they through the bottles, or telling them that it was not cool, or something of the sort. I was glad because I thought it was right for someone to confront them for throwing what we believed to be urine at us.

It got ugly really quickly. The two women started yelling back and forth. The teenager had her skateboard up. Her body language and yelling made it clear that she wanted to physically fight with Rakefet. This is when I got involved.

I ran up to the group and put myself in between Rakefet and the teenager. The two women did not want to separate. The teenager wanted to fight and Rakefet wanted to yell in her face. I was able to separate the women by physically moving Rakefet away from the other girl. The teenager kept coming back up to Rakefet, who was very upset, crying and yelling. At one point I had to make physical contact with the teenager to keep her away from Rakefet. I was very aware of this because now it meant I was physically touching her, not just blocking her with my body. That is not the position I wanted to be in, legally.

I kept yelling, "enough, enough" as the women were screaming back and forth. After a few minutes we, Rakefet's wife and I, were able to separate the women. We moved Rakefet back close to the sidewalk. Two security guards came up, followed by the police a few minutes later.

I don't know what anyone was thinking during the encounter. I know that two bottles were thrown at us and that the girl called Rakefet a faggot. The girl kept calling Rakefet racist and Rakefet kept screaming that she wasn't racist. It seemed odd to me that the whole "discussion" (ie. yelling match) was about race and not about sexuality, since it started with the teenagers throwing the bottles at us, presumably, because we are gay.

In my opinion, the girl and the others in the group should be punished for throwing bottles of liquid at people because they are gay. That is a hate-crime. I don't care if the teens are black or white, you can't throw things at people because of who they are and get away with it. At the same time, I hope Rakefet gets her temper under control because it does not help our cause to be yelling and screaming. I understand that it was a very emotional event. It sucked. But a rational approach would have been better for us all. Confronting the teenagers was one thing. I can understand that. But after they call you a faggot and step up to fight you, it is time to walk away and call the police.

You can't automatically assume 1) that somebody is white just because they look it (shouldn't queer people understand the concept of 'passing'?) or 2) that somebody is racist just because they utter a word about race. With a name like Rakefet Abergel, this girl is not white - she is Jewish. I completely get where she was coming from, and I guarantee you she wasn't thinking, "Know your place, black girl" - because she probably grew up with the same understanding that I did, which is that hating others for their race is just as wrong as others hating me for mine. Being on the receiving end of anti-Semitism doesn't teach us what it is to be black in America, but it does teach us what it means to be something other than white - what it means to be something OTHER, period. Maybe you don't understand that concept when you live in diverse places like LA or San Francisco, but in more homogenous places, you can be damned sure that a Jew living among white people knows he isn't one of them, and more importantly, *so do they*. It's an odd position to be in, when people of color see us as white, and white people see us as Jew. The fact that some of us can 'pass' in some situations doesn't negate our identity.

That said, many of us do pass, particularly in large, diverse cities. If Rakefet is guilty of anything, it's ignorance for not realizing that she would be *perceived* as a white person trying to claim white privilege in this conflict. That doesn't make her racist - it makes her naive.

That said, I think that it would be helpful to establish a working definition of the words "racism" and "racist." We can't have an honest dialogue about race, racism, and complicity as long as some people still hear "racist" and picture hoods and white robes.

Who threw urine at who, here?

As far as I'm concerned, once you throw a bottle of urine at someone, they get a free pass to call you whatever names they want.

No one who throws urine a people ever gets to take the high moral ground afterwards.

Shira,

I see your point about being an other in a homogenous city. But keep in mind that this blog came out of Indiana - a lot of us here are aware of what it means to not pass in such spaces.

I don't know if you're a friend of Rafeket's (I'd be surprised, since you actually make some rational points, but if you are you'd be doing her a favour for getting her some real help on this whole flaming anger thing) but two points:

a) Alex's post gets at some larger issues about the LGBT community and race, and that's always up for discussion. Always.

b)"Being on the receiving end of anti-Semitism" doesn't automatically mean that you can't be racist. For that matter, let me assure you, being treated in a racist fashion for being oh, perceived as Arab or Indian or Mexican doesn't mean that you, from that point on, will never harbour racist feelings about anyone or that you might automatically forget the cultural conditioning you went through about OTHER others as somehow inferior to you. I think Ivan and Mauve Matthew above have taken on that point with more complexity, so I invite you to read their comments, if you haven't already.

As for whether or not Rafeket's comments are problematically racist or not, well, I think the vitriol she kept hurling and her references to the black teen as "little girl" and her constant emphasis on "black, BLACK, BLACK" say a lot about her attitudes towards race. We could go on about that, but I think there's ample evidence her that her views are problematic, to say the least.

Alex's post is still relevant, and the fact that Rafeket is Jewish or part black doesn't change the analysis. On that note, I don't think anyone here is charging that the racism we see here is the same as that of KKK, but we are pointing to the kind of liberal racism which comes flashing to the surface at the least provocation. And which, I think, is a lot more difficult to engage and dismantle. So, yes, we do need to articulate the differences and there is in fact a more nuanced approach here. At least until Rafeket showed up and started trying to swat us all down.

And let's not pretend that all oppressions have the same history or that they operate on the same vectors or that someone exhorting a black teen to remember that she is the descendant of slaves is not about pinning the teen to her history as a slave and effectively attempting to put her in her place. There's obviously a complicated discussion to be had about how we ought to treat the history of slavery, but I'm speaking about the issue from a quotidian point of view. You don't go about making those comments without implicitly or, actually, explicitly meaning to remind them of their place at the dinner table.

And I see that Rafeket has taken down her blog, at least for now. Well, so much for wanting a public discussion about the issue.

I'm now actually even more worried about the young black woman who's been publicly accused of a "hate crime." As Teddy pointed out above, it seems that Rafeket is more concerned about endless vengeance than any form of justice. The crime, as far as we can tell, is that some young teens threw bottles and may, operative word may, have been in a fight of sorts. If that's the case, slapping on the added crime of a "hate crime" is probably only going to enhance her penalty and probably ensure that the this young woman doesn't get out of jail for a long time, if the case proceeds the way Rafeket wants it to.

Where is the justice in that? Do we really think that the teen is going to come away more impressed with the gay and lesbian community? I've written against hate crimes legislation in the past, and groups like Audre Lorde Project have released critical statements - I hope this case makes it evident why HCL is so deeply problematic and does nothing to alleviate the problems we've raised in this thread.

got it. so someone questions a black person, it's racist. someone is violent towards a lesbian, let it go. nice to know you support the community, miss "lesbian who sleeps with men"

Yasmin,
Not to nit-pick, but if the story is accurate, it wasn't just teens tossing bottles - it was girls throwing bottles of urine. I'd argue that makes a big difference, both morally and legally, because circumstantially it would tend to imply that this was a planned and premeditated homophobic assault, as opposed to a spontaneous error in judgment. While it doesn't make Rakefet's response any more intelligent, it certainly doesn't help the teenagers' case.

Yasmin,

First, no, I'm not a friend of Rakefet's - don't know her at all. So I can't say what her actual viewpoint is; I can only put myself in her shoes and imagine what she must have been thinking. As I was saying to some of my friends earlier, Rakefet's response was something along the lines of things I said to various relatives when I was very young, about how it was stupid for them to be saying bad things about black people just because they were black, when there were so many people who hated us just because we were Jewish. Shouldn't we know better? But that's a six year old's perspective - I understand now that it goes a lot deeper than that.

This is why I think it's imperative that we create and advocate for a working definition of racism that doesn't assume that racism constitutes an automatic dichotomy of oppressive white people openly and blatantly claiming superiority over "inferior" people of color. It goes deeper than that. You are right that anybody can be racist, even somebody who has been on the receiving end of racism. You could take white people out of the equation entirely and you'd still have plenty of racism to keep you busy. I think every racial/ethnic minority has its own set of racial complexities, conflicts and prejudices, regardless of how they got to this country - whether they were brought by force, fled to escape oppression, or came to seek new opportunities.

But back to your point - like many liberals who claim that they are not racist and therefore harbor no racist thoughts, I grew up understanding in theory that racism was bad, but also grew up not actually knowing any black people (or white people, for that matter, at least until I got to elementary school).

So I think the sort of "liberal racism" you talk about comes from the racial segregation that continues to exist despite "desegregation," particularly in those big urban centers that account for much of this nation's population, and particularly when those divides fall largely along socio-economic lines. You can strum the guitar and sing anti-racism campfire songs all you want, but until our *classrooms* (not just schools) are desegregated, until communities are no longer divided by how much money we have, until everybody actually has equal access to the same institutions, and until liberals with privilege are willing to define their racial philosophy in terms of equality and equity instead of charity and pity for the underprivileged, that liberal racism is going to continue to thrive. But nobody is ever going to cop to having racist thoughts - and therefore work them out, fix them, change them - until we can reframe racism as something deeper than "Either you are completely color-blind or you are a Klan member."

Regardless of your race or ethnicity, if you don't interact a lot with people who are ethnically or racially (or sexually) different from you, you're going to make generalizations about them based on popular stereotypes. They say that the number one factor in improving people's perceptions of queer people is for people to actually KNOW us. I'd say the same is true of any group, wouldn't you?

So I guess it's not so much that I disagree with everything the OP said; I mostly just take issue with the assumption that 1) Jewish = white and therefore this is about the white oppressor trying to put a black person in her place by reminding her where she comes from. I understand that this is what it looks like from the outside, but you have to understand that as Jews we learn from infancy that we were slaves in Egypt - it's something that is in our collective memory. The religion commands that we keep it that way, not as something that happened to other people a long time ago, but something that happened to us as a people. We don't say "our ancestors were slaves in Egypt." We say "we were slaves in Egypt." (To be honest, I think that's always been a point of conflict between the black and Jewish communities, at least on some level, if only because Jews have the luxury of keeping the collective memory of our enslavement alive by our own observance of the commandments - Holocaust notwithstanding - as opposed to living in the same country that enslaved us, and seeing it used as a tool of continuing oppression.) So when you tell me that a Jew said to a black person, "But you're the descendant of slaves, how can you hate other people," what I hear is not so much, "Know your place, you have no right to hate," as "But you were oppressed; how can you turn around and be an oppressor?" And that's naive, and simple-minded, and presumptuous - and racist in the sense that it presumes this girl's history based on her skin color - but I don't think it's coming from the same place, and with the same intentions, as it would if it was coming from a person who hadn't been raised to see *herself* as the descendant of slaves. That said... this history may be something we have in common, but it is a severely flawed analogy, and I get that even if Rakefet doesn't.

Shira,

Yes, I see your point about whether there were bottles thrown randomly or half-gallon jugs filled with urine, and you're right to point out the difference, but I don't know that the law, when it favours hate crimes legislation being brought into the picture, would eventually see one as more pre-meditated than the other. Part of what I'm trying to get at is that HCL, when applied, has the *appearance* of such fine-tuning but is in fact quite arbitrary especially when one side is more socially and economically vulnerable than the other.

I don't condone anything that the teen may have said or done, and I'm also aware of how much worse this could have been (I certainly don't think her actions were harmless) but given what I know about how the legal system works, I'm painfully aware that the law tends to come down heavily in favour of the community that is perceived as more powerful and somehow less capable of "hate."

While this may seem highly unlikely to a signficant section of the LGBT community, it's the gays and lesbians who are likely to be treated more favourably in these situations. And that coming down heavily has severe long-term consequences in terms of what it can do to a young teen incarcerated for a "hate crime." My point may have been occluded by the fact that I'm also picking up a thread of a conversation I've been having here and elsewhere for a while now as I try to explicate my concerns with HCL. That still leaves the question of what we do about the original act which may have been predetermined as an act of physical hostility and violence and which may well have been directed towards gays and lesbians in particular, but where do we go from there given the inequality of the system? Why do we focus on punishing the intent of the crime and not simply the crime itself? Why do we believe that focusing on the intent will actually lessen the conscious harm done to specific communities when we, to date, have no evidence of that ever happening?

And do we respond with the same concerns if the alleged perpetrator is a white teen? Those are all relevant questions, but they're not questions that are enabled by the structure of HCL.

You raise some pertinent points about Jewish upbringing and a specific tradition and mode of remembering history (and that's putting it more baldly and blandly than I'd like), but I don't know that your nuanced approach and understanding is in any way comparable to Rafeket's (and that is entirely her loss). I think your points add to this conversation and I'm very glad to have it with *you* but, alas, those are not the points we see evident in anything that she has said or done. Evidence of that lies in the sad and vicious responses she's provided in this comment thread alone. That doesn't mean that your responses may not be unconsciously echoed by Rafeket, who seems incapable of nuance, but it's to emphasise that we really haven't seen much evidence on her part that she was coming from a more complicated position.

I don't want to paint Rafeket's words as problematic simply because she's not capable of explaining herself in more complicated terms, because that would be completely unfair to, well, pretty much anyone who's ever been acccused of anything. But I'm also concerned with the inherent institutional unfairness of the system that's been put into place here, and I also want to point out that Rafeket's words and charges don't function in the abstract - she put that blog out there with very concrete intentions and with a very definite idea of how the situation should appear. We can't forget that Rafeket posted the blog precisely in order to argue her case *as* a hate crime and in order to position the crime as one between a black teen and a lesbian, and that her lesbianism was, in the complicated ways shown by Alex, coded as white. That's just the reality of the original post.

And that also brings up the related issue - that we don't give credence to a more complicated analysis that might be forthcoming from the black teen - that, again, doesn't condone her actions but to ask why we seek complication from one and not the other (and I mean "we" in the broadest sense here, not you specifically). And that, in a world where gay is supposed to be the new black, the history of young blacks in relation to the prison industrial complex is constantly being erased.

I want to be fair and say that part of Rafeket's issue seems to be her extreme hot-headedness, also affirmed by the even-handed commentary of the witness who showed up here, but, honestly, at every point, when she could backed away and moved towards a saner position, she kept bringing up the sheer BLACKNESS of the teen (coupled with phrases like "little girl") - which makes it impossible for me to imagine that hers is more than that of a standard knee-jerk liberal racist response.

I think we're on the same page about liberal racism. As I pointed out above,
"On that note, I don't think anyone here is charging that the racism we see here is the same as that of KKK, but we are pointing to the kind of liberal racism which comes flashing to the surface at the least provocation. And which, I think, is a lot more difficult to engage and dismantle."

As for your words, "You can strum the guitar and sing anti-racism campfire songs all you want, but until our *classrooms* (not just schools) are desegregated, until communities are no longer divided by how much money we have..." You won't have much argument from me on that one.

As to whether or not knowing the other lessens the ways in which we think about our others, yes, absolutely, that's critical. The problem in the U.S - and I think you're fully cognizant of this - is that that kind of knowing degenerates into the wishy-washy discourse of "diversity" (which comes with the mandate that there always be a set of shared "values") and tolerance and rarely goes in the direction of actually challenging people's preconceived notions. That's mostly because we begin with the flawed assumption that we're all really "good" and kind and noble to start with - instead of acknowledging that we bring a lot of nasty, ugly baggage based on presumptions of racial and sexual and economic superiority. And because we also assume that simply being part of any minority somehow absolves us of any responsibility to think about our quotidian forms of discrimination.

I didn't 100% agree with everything in this post - for example, I didn't feel the need to question whether there really was a threat of violence - but overall I thought this post was thoughtful and well worth reading.

It also put me in mind of Jay Smooth on how to tell people they sound racist: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b0Ti-gkJiXc

What she said wasn't a terribly intelligent way to react, but it wasn't racist. Alex Blaze is really straining things to interpret it that way.

First of all, so much jargon, beginning with "unpacked." Who says "unpacked?" Plain English works better. Arcane terminology merely obscures.

Second, I'm mindful here of the famous quote regarding Hillel, asked to explain the Torah by standing on one foot. "Love thy neighbor as thyself. Everything else is commentary." Well, what about here. The girl threw a jug of urine on a group of people who had done nothing to her, and then threatened to crack someone's head open with a skateboard. Everything else is commentary. And yet we have endless navel-gazing prose parsing out every syllable spoken during the confrontation. Oy!

Unpack? That's a complicated word? I defy you to reread your above post and tell me that it's jargon-free.

But also, no, the rest is not just commentary. The way that we react to things matters, and being a victim of violence does not make the surrounding details just go away. The blogger made a decision to respond to the situation in a certain way, in her language, and in her PUBLIC blog entry. And the words she used raise a lot of questions, and have been interpreted as problematic by many people. Are we to just ignore them because she is a victim (and, yes, we all really do acknowledge that she is a victim)? Homophobia doesn't just exist in a world of its own, and this very clear instance of homophobia has unleashed a lot of other discussions about race, class, history, etc. Should we really just overlook them? Because that's exactly what you're doing by deeming them "navel-gazing prose parsing out every syllable spoken during the confrontation." And it strikes me as very short-sighted.

There are some important issues here that should be discussed. Unfortunately the discussion which could have been, has been derailed.
I really am interested in the interplay here in racism, homophobia and even sexism. It is too bad that the conversation got caught up in this fury.
I don't know that we can attribute the statement to the young lady about her being black to racism because I do not know Rakefet and I was not present. But I can understand how it could be seen in that way when looked at through some filters and interpreted as such. I can see how the young lady would interpret it in that way. I can see how Alex would be intrigued buy the event and the possible interpretations.
The throwing anything, but especially urine at a person is horrible and in this case I can definitely see it as homophobic. But that is perhaps my filter. I have a history of dealing with gaybashers in the most aggressively physical way myself and that will tend to color my reaction to them.
I can also see where the possible presence of sexism is there in the calling of someone "bitch" and if not internalized sexism at least the interpretation is possible.
Rakefet I would like to ask a question of you but I don't want you to feel attacked so I'm going to wait and not post some of my own observations. But I would like to point out to everyone that Rakefet admits that what she wanted to say and should have said came out as something else. She wanted at least in hindsight to tell the girl that it was "dyke" but she didn't she said something else and that it was clearly taken in a way that she did not intend. I don't see her going in claim to have been happy with the way she handled this point of the situation.
If I have misspelled a name I am sorry but many of these names are not in my spellchecker and my dyslexia is immense.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | October 17, 2009 11:50 PM

And Heaven prevent you transposing an "s" and a "z" Rob. :) As I alluded to above in my one and only comment on this a 13 year old is hardly a fully formed person and is incapable of rational judgments. They need structure and most inner city parents are too preoccupied with the necessity of putting food and shelter together. These kids often have nothing constructive to do with their lives, no role models and plenty of bad examples.

Who knows what this kid has seen at home or in her personal life that could have spurred this action?

Who knows what last minute "dare," from someone she was trying to impress, she was following?

I agree completely with a dispassionate discussion of the ideas and topics this raises, but without the personalization of the issue around who is the greater victim.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | October 18, 2009 9:22 AM

I would add that I do not "do" victim and sadly this was a posting where I could only read about half of the comments before being disgusted. Disgusted by all the obvious delight in hurting someone else and further delight when you get them to buckle. That is pretty...not.

So shall we find a way to talk about this meeting point of phobias and ..isms?
I am very interested in these things topically and would love a chance to have some discourse about them.

OneShySistah | October 18, 2009 4:47 PM

While I appreciate that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, what is the point of critizing the victim here, Alex? If anything, discovering that marginalized people don't understand each other's struggles is just a hard lesson we must all learn. In addition to describing the horrible homophobic assault she faced, Rafeket seemed to be processing that lesson through her blog, too. That being said, having read Rafeket's responses to some of the previous commenters have forced me to break out my bingo card. Still, how effective do you think racial sensitivity dialog will be when she has just been the victim of a hate crime? You're playing the oppression olympics, Alex. This post reads as very insensitive on your part and just not a good look.

@OSS: I checked out your Bingo Card. Some of it was amusing, some squares were uncomfortable to read because I feared I might fit into that square, and a few made we wonder if white people can ever get anything right in the eyes of Blacks.

You know, of course, that a white person could put together a Bingo Card for black people's attitudes about race, too. But I would not waste my time because I don't think the outcome would be constructive.

And that leads to my final question: What is the overall point of the Bingo Card? Do you know any white people who manage to stay out of the squares in your Bingo Card? Or is the notion of "what it means to be Black in America" so thoroughly enigmatic that the brains of white people are metaphysically incapable of ever "getting it"?

OneShySistah | October 19, 2009 11:33 AM

Also, A.J., there are bingo cards for things other than racism, including an anti-gay card, which is full of things I'm sure we've ALL heard before.

OneShySistah. You hit it right on the head. Alex does come off as being insensitive in blaming the victim of a hate crime. I feel no remorse for what Rakefet did. I would have said the same thing if not worst. Let's face it. We're all prejudiced in some way and most people get that mixed up with racism. Rakefet, I'm sorry for your pain. You're not in the wrong. Race doesn't trump sexuality and anyone excusing it as such is racist themselves. Like Nasim Yain. She was intentional in transposing your name. She has a habit of doing that as a way to dig into people. What Nasim Yain failed to realize is that she's being hypocritical in calling people out on their behavior for being a racist while she engages in a racist behavior by committing a slight against someone's Ethnic culture by making fun of their names. It's an American thing that I don't understand.

So, here's my bit of advice. Don't take any of this personal. I know it's painful but Alex is only using you and your incident and what you said as an example to talk about a bigger issue of racism within the LGBT community. It's like this. You're asking the perpetrator how she could be bashing gay people is akin to us POC asking white LGBT people how they can discriminate against us POC LGBT. After all that, don't they understand oppression and persecution as a minority themselves? You see, I understand how you react the way you did and it is painful to feel like we're attacking you personally and some people, I'll say it, even venture to blame you for the attack. That's cruel and heartless.

Know, that the way you've been reacting on this post doesn't help your case so I would advise taking a step back, it seems like you have, and not respond right away. I took several days in order for me to come back to this post to comment because I didn't want to say anything I would regret. With that said, your comment of "You're black," and "your great-grand parents were probably slaves," were prejudice. You have to admit and own it. It doesn't mean that you are a racist but you had some impure thoughts about race. First, you were projecting your own unrealistic expectation onto the teenage girl about being up on her history and you sentiment that she should know better as a black person. Second, your "you're black and slave" comment implies that you believe she is not your equal. Like you're saying you come from slaves and you're nothing more than slaves. Frankly, you're telling her that she's less than human by reminding her of her ancestral past. Make sense?

Now about Hate Crimes. I'm glad the police are charging the girl with hate crimes and it doesn't matter one bit to me what the color of her skin is. If she committed a crime, allegedly, in this case it looks like she did, then she should be punished to the fullest extent of the law with the added penalty under the Hate Crimes Act. We should use this as an example and use the girl as a messenger that our community will not tolerate hate crimes and that they can't do commit crimes on us because of their religious bigotry, which I can guarantee is the source of this girl's hate. This obviously is premeditated and she probably learned her hate from the Black church, which are notorious for being anti-gay and probably from her parents. If we're going to use Rakefet as an opportunity to talk about racism within the community, then it would only be fair to talk about deeply rooted homophobia in the African-American community and the lack of willingness of that community to deal with its sins. Let's talk about why black LGBTs have not stepped up to the plate to combat their community of origins homophobia?

Lastly, I think it's revealing and plainly sad that Nasim Yair thinks it excusable for the black girl to act that way because she's black and her origin and the oppression of her race somehow gives her the moral highground and authority to throw urine at other people and she shouldn't have to suffer the added consequence of being prosecuted under the Hate Crimes Act. Rakefet, I stand behind you 100% and hope that you will prosecute the perpetrator under the Hate Crimes Act and don't let up. Ignore all the criticism because it's noize. In the end, you'll be saving other LGBTs from having to suffer at the hands of our killers, maimers because of their hate.

I have to say that I do agree with some of what you are saying here.
But I am going to have to take exception to the way in which you treat Yasmin and speak of her. I fond it doubtful that Yasmin would intentionally scramble letters on a name. I myself had trouble with the name and had to correct my own spelling of it as I am sure people would have similar trouble were I using words from my ethnic language which is notoriously difficult for deoraigh (non-Gaels) to read.
I also did not read Yasmin as trying to excuse the girl for her actions. As you said with the choice of this case by Alex I believe that Yasmin is using this to outline her general problems with HCL.
I hope for some reasonable discourse and your post was a step in this direction but if we can refrain from personal attacks we may yet get some discussion going.

Rob - I'm not attacking Yasmin. I was trying to prove a point by pointing out my observation. I've had several run ins with her and she did the same thing with my name and I was pointing out the discrepancy of her criticism of other people and her own actions. Anyway, that's a distraction. To be frank, I agree with Yasmin and find her to be very reasonable, well educated and articulate. Thank you for pointing out my blind-spot about what Yasmin is doing with using this incident to talk about Hate Crimes Legislation. I do agree with her that the prison industrial complex and the court system is not fair to minorities that are at a disadvantage socially and economically.

However, I take exception with this comment from Yasmin "I'm now actually even more worried about the young black woman who's been publicly accused of a "hate crime." As Teddy pointed out above, it seems that Rafeket is more concerned about endless vengeance than any form of justice. The crime, as far as we can tell, is that some young teens threw bottles and may, operative word may, have been in a fight of sorts. If that's the case, slapping on the added crime of a "hate crime" is probably only going to enhance her penalty and probably ensure that the this young woman doesn't get out of jail for a long time, if the case proceeds the way Rafeket wants it to."

We can all see from the very beginning that she is more concerned of this teenage girl then she is with Rakeft who has, allegedly or not, just been a victim of a hate crime. It was as much of a shock to my system as it must have been for Rakefet to feel like she was attack and blamed for this crime. That's cruel. I get it. We're trying to wake Rakefet up to some of her unconscious prejudiced thoughts. That's a given. But, some on this comment thread, Robert G., even goes as far as to declare I don't do victim at all or something to that effect. Um, news flash, she was a victim. She's dealing with it the best way she can possibly at this moment. People are so quick to jump into criticizing her for acting juvenile, which she was and has been on this post, but have we pause for second to observe that, yes, it is true that Rakefet's comment about the girl being black and the slave comment may have triggered some anger in the girl but the mere fact that the girl is victimizing Rakefet by calling her a bitch and a faggot may have triggered a childhood wound in Rakefet and she was responding from that place of hurt. I think we can all agree, at least I can identify with it, that when we're being victimized as being gay it takes us back to when we're young and for me it makes me feel like I'm stuck as that kid. Yes, Rakefet needs to grow up and the girl needs to get over her homophobia and she needs to be held accountable for her actions, in this case it was a violent hate crimes and it should be punished as such. No excuses!

And I quite agree that what the girl and her compatriots did was a serious crime and should be punished.
I was speaking directly to what I believe to be the points being made by Yasmin which were being missed and the perception of her misspelling things with intent to insult. I believe her points were of value which you have yourself acknowledged and I just can't see intent in her spelling snafu.
As for the aggression that I have seen in the exchanges in the discussion of this topic I have been appalled as it would seem you have been also.

Nakhone,

I'm only responding to you because you're really just misrepresenting me here. When I wrote "I'm now even more concerned...", the emphasis was on the "now and the "more" - which is to say, I am now even more concerned about the young black woman than I was when this discussion began. See the difference?

As for your assertion that I somehow tailed you in the past, I'm really growing weary of this canard. People should go to the post where Nakhone first showed up to hurl the ugliest insults at me (misspelling my name all the while, since we're all so determined to make that the crime above all else) and judge for themselves:

http://www.bilerico.com/2009/01/nation-wide_campaign_campaign_to_create.php

I should warn readers that the very first comment from Nakhone might be alone to put you off. And, hopefully, people will see why I leave him alone for the most part. For the record, Nakhone - like the other members of the let's-follow-Yasmin-around posse - is a regular fixture in these parts.

My thanks to Alex and Rob for their sanity. We don't all have to agree with each other in order to be civil.

Now, let's return to the original broadcast.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | October 22, 2009 10:27 AM

Nakhone,

I meant this in a sense you did not read. I do not believe in being a victim or creating a victim. I also stated my similar disgust at the manner of discourse used by our friend Yasmin.

Peace my friend,

It's kind of hard to take your accusation of racism to Yasmin seriously when a) she didn't misspell the name on purpose and b) you call Yasmin "Nasim Yain" and "Nasim Yair." Seriously, if misspelling someone's name is racist, then....

Alex. Touchez. I hope that's how you spell it. You know what I'm trying to say. Yes, I am a racist to a certain extent. That was a painful experience for me when y'all yanked (collective yall from Bilerico and my Facebook friends) my cover and I was going through similar feelings and was acting just as angry, irrational and juvenile as Rakefet is doing right now. We're pulling the blinds on her and the light is shining through window is blinding her right now. We need to give her time to adjust to it before she can see in the light. I digress. I like to think that I am fucked up racially and I blame it on all the crap that was heaved upon me growing up in America and experiencing all sorts of racial discrimination while trying to assimilate into the American culture. Do I understand where it comes from? 1. No, but I have a pretty idea that it's mother culture spinning her web and the media has a lot to do with it. 2. Propaganda. We all know what the Nazis can do with propaganda. 3. Anybody who's saying they're racist to a certain extent is lying.

Anyway, how did this become about me? It's about Rakefet. I think we need to give the poor woman a break. She doesn't deserve all this harsh criticism and blaming coming from our community. It's one thing to yank the covers but another to blame her for the attack. That's unacceptable.

OneShySistah | October 20, 2009 11:40 PM

Let's talk about why black LGBTs have not stepped up to the plate to combat their community of origins homophobia?

Whoa, Nakhone. Let's not get into making sweeping accusations about queer POC and our communities in what's supposed to be a dialog about racism, okay?

And for the record, it's comments like yours that make me feel like I must choose between my black and queer identities because clearly, being black casts you as a homophobe (especially in the aftermath of prop 8). Let me state it simply: stick to what you know and stop making assumptions about other people and their cultures. It's about respect, and we shouldn't have to ask for it. Did you know that for some black people, the problem isn't homophobia but seeing their history and struggles devalued and appropriated?

"Gay is the new black!"...

Singing "We Shall Overcome"...

images of segregated water fountains manipulated as gay and straight...

using Loving v. Virginia as a back drop for gay marriage...

That's a lot of taking from a culture that's homophobic, don't you think? Like I said, respect goes a long way, both for the straight and queer black communities.

"And for the record, it's comments like yours that make me feel like I must choose between my black and queer identities because clearly, being black casts you as a homophobe (especially in the aftermath of prop 8)."

Why do you have to choose. I do get where you're coming from. There have been times that I want to choose my community of origin and say, "Screw the LGBT community," and then I'm reminded by my straight friends that I shouldn't have to choose. Really? Like any of us can really choose to disown our gayness? Come on!

"Let me state it simply: stick to what you know and stop making assumptions about other people and their cultures. It's about respect, and we shouldn't have to ask for it."

I disagree wholeheartedly here. If we're to stick to what we know and not try to understand, conversate or educate each other then why are we using Rakefet's incident as an opportunity to talk about racism. I know you came out in support of her. Know, that I am now trying to use this incident and the conversations that ensued as an opportunity to have a conversation with, confront and hopefully learn from the black LGBT community, if you'll engage.

"Did you know that for some black people, the problem isn't homophobia but seeing their history and struggles devalued and appropriated?"

I beg to differ there, and you maybe right on some counts but not on all counts. It's a matter of perspective. The African-American civil rights movement modeled after, took inspiration from other struggles, e.g., India's struggle to free itself from Britain's grip, and that's not devaluing or appropriating their struggle. The fact that for some black people to think that is negative thinking, which is an ego-feeding proposition. Again, it's about how you choose to look at a thing and that thing changes. For example, and I understand the differences between the black civil rights movement and the current gay civil rights movement, but I still don't hold that by our aspiring to be like, using Loving v. Virginia, singing "We Shall Overcome," or borrowing any images or caricature from the civil rights movement is somehow belittling that movement. If anything it should be a compliment that the black community's struggle was successful and we're now modeling our movement after that. It would be worth remembering that saying about "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." So, in that light, I don't know how some blacks could move in the other direction and see this flattery as an insult.

Also, how do you explain SOME, not all, but some black women giving me dirty looks on the bus, train or on the streets, you know that kind that tells you they're disgusted with you and they hold that look of contempt in their faces. What is that but blatant homophobia. I've actually had one black lady on the bus move away from me when I sneezed and even after telling her I have allergies and it's not a cold she proceeded to walk back to where I was at, look down at me with contempt and tell me to go get tested. I was dumb founded for a minute about why she was telling me to go get tested but then it occurred to me she was saying I have aids.

Back to using gains that the black community has made as an argument to provide historical context is concerned, I don't see that as being problematic. Again, it's not like the black community won your civil rights on your own. You had to have help and you borrowed from other people's cultures and movement so it's time to do somebody else some favors. Respect is earned I think. Hating on the LGBT community is less than respectful. For the record, I never said anything about being black casting you as a homophobe. It just so happens that statistically, at least in California, 67% of blacks think that being gay is a choice and that it is directly linked to their religious convictions. What's that but homophobia. Why aren't you confronting your communities of origin about that and why are you defending them? Please explain to me so I can understand.

OneShySistah | October 21, 2009 12:56 PM

Re: your disagreeing that you shouldn't "stick to what you know". Trying to understand does not include making blanket generalizations about people, Nakhone. You insist that you know a lot about the black experience in America:

"...they can't do commit crimes on us because of their religious bigotry, which I can guarantee is the source of this girl's hate."

"This obviously is premeditated and she probably learned her hate from the Black church, which are notorious for being anti-gay and probably from her parents."

"...deeply rooted homophobia in the African-American community and the lack of willingness of that community to deal with its sins. "

"Let's talk about why black LGBTs have not stepped up to the plate to combat their community of origins homophobia?"

So based on your comments, every black person is taught by the black church to be homophobic, and all black LGBT people should be held accountable for allowing that homophobia to persist. Seriously, Nakhone? Seriously? Like I said, respect. You cannot expect to have a conversation about race when you already devalue the group of people who fall under that umbrella. You need to check your sense of entitlement.

Re: your opinion that the many black people in my life who are turned off to the gay community because of the historical appropriation is “an ego-feeding proposition” and that you “don't see [the historical appropriation] as being problematic” – fine. That’s YOUR perspective. Again, I would ask that you check your sense of entitlement, though. Just because you disagree that taking from the civil rights movement is a non-issue doesn’t mean that it’s any less of a valid concern for anyone else, particularly for the people who are being taken from. That’s dismissal and hypocrisy. For me, it’s not necessarily the taking that’s the problem. It’s the taking without understanding the people or culture this movement affected. To remove the civil rights movement from the people and the context, to use it in a movement where queer black voices still go unheard, where there is still so much blanket animosity towards the black community, is to devalue it. It’s like sending a message that says, “Black community, we despise you, but we’re going to use you to get our rights.” That’s not flattery, Nakhone. That’s a slap in the face. And if you insist that the civil rights movement is modeled after other struggles, than why not take from those other struggles? (And why take at all, anyway? There are PLENTY of examples of queer folks being treated as second class citizens without manipulating images of segregated water fountains, for example.)

Also, how do you explain SOME, not all, but some black women giving me dirty looks on the bus, train or on the streets, you know that kind that tells you they're disgusted with you and they hold that look of contempt in their faces. What is that but blatant homophobia. I've actually had one black lady on the bus move away from me when I sneezed and even after telling her I have allergies and it's not a cold she proceeded to walk back to where I was at, look down at me with contempt and tell me to go get tested. I was dumb founded for a minute about why she was telling me to go get tested but then it occurred to me she was saying I have aids.

Are you really asking me to explain the actions of people I don’t know because we share the same skin color, Nakhone? Seriously?!? And as these things happen, are you taking the time to engage and try to strike a dialog? You criticize queer black people for not taking action (which is a boatload of fail on your part), but what do you do to buck the trend? (And for the record, I don’t think anyone should be forced into becoming a teacher if they don’t want to, but since you insist that black queer people should be, I’m asking it of you, too.)

Again, it's not like the black community won your civil rights on your own. You had to have help

Absolutely and I’m definitely not claiming that, which is why I don’t just assume blanket racism in cultures that are not my own. That’s a lesson you need to learn to apply, too.

For the record, I never said anything about being black casting you as a homophobe.

Actually, that’s what you’ve insisted about black people in general throughout most of your posts.

It just so happens that statistically, at least in California, 67% of blacks think that being gay is a choice and that it is directly linked to their religious convictions.

Where are the numbers for other demographics? All of this new push against black people comes from prop 8, which is frankly an argument that I am tired of having. Let’s consider the numbers. Black people make up, what, 10% of the population in CA? So it’s solely that 67% of 10% (which equals 6.7% of the total population of CA) that ensured the passage of prop 8? Come on. Don’t just accept the popular opinions without doing some critical thinking or research. Consider this. And this. And this, for example.

If 67% think that being gay is a choice, which is backed up by their religious beliefs, that also means that 33% are supportive. If we reach out instead of simply frowning upon them like the majority, then perhaps they will help change some minds so that we have a better chance of getting future anti-queer legislation defeated.

What it is about is homophobia. Why aren't you confronting your communities of origin about that and why are you defending them?

I’m not defending them so much as I’m trying to argue against your blanket assumption of homophobia.

Don’t get it twisted. My mother and her entire side of the family are products of the black church, and a few BUT NOT ALL of them treat me like crap based on their religious beliefs. I’m not denying that homophobia exists, but I do understand why some people, including queer blackfolks, can’t just walk away from the black church like they can walk away from other religious institutions. And NO, I’m NOT saying that excuses them from believing homophobic teachings, nor am I saying that I believe the black church is the sole source of their homophobia. By the way, I think I should note that neither my father, his family, nor I were raised in the black church, but the messages we got from the Catholic church were just as homophobic. Does that mean that I believe all religions are homophobic? NO!!!

Let me tell you something. I am a black graduate student in TX, where someone used a noose to threaten the life of one of my classmates on campus. The school dismissed our concerns as irrelevant and didn’t care a bit about how unprotected we feel everyday. Based on that incident, did I assume that all white people are racist? NOOOOOOO! You can damn well do the same. Black people do not equal one monolithic entity, just like white people do not, just like queer people do not, just like Indian people do not, and so on. Calling individuals out on BS is not the same as making generalizations about a people.

Also, thank you for assuming that I’m just sitting on my behind doing nothing to address homophobia within my family and the broader community. Thanks for assuming that about other queer black people, too. Again, check your entitlement.

Sigh. How can we even attempt to have a productive discussion about race if we can't even get past the ground floor of having to debunk stereotypes and assumptions?

But that is what we have to do is work th ground floor and debunk these assumptions.

Chitown Kev | January 7, 2010 10:24 PM

Ah, this little story took place when I was in Maine. I have a few comments here

1) If anything, Rakefet's skin privilege probably protected her from actual violence. Obviously, her race and her sexuality are at issue here.

2) Privilege tends to be used as a pushback against privilege. In this case, I would have had no problem calling the perpatrator here a "black bitch." Indeed, I've done it in anger before.

And she and her posse would be far more likely to attack me.

And yes, there is a tone here by both Alex and Yasmin that it was OK for the girl to do these things but it is not OK for Rakefet to say or do anything to defend herself. I am the profile of someone (gay, male, black) who is likely to be the target of an anti-gay hate crime in the black community but, yeah, sometimes it does seem as if some people are more concerned with keeping black homophobic thugs that might attack and kill me (as they have done on several occasions) out of extended stays in prison.

I would have attacked the nearest person throwing urine at the marchers and held them down until police showed up to arrest him/her. I would have used whatever force I believed necessary to defend myself from anyone who tried to stop me from holding her until the police came. I don't care what color the person was, or what she said, or what I said to her after she attacked human beings with the toxic fluid which could have been anything, including acid.

Everything else discussed here is crap. It was an incident of anti-gay violence. The attacked people's words mean nothing. The attackers' words mean everything and would have elevated their attack to an anti-gay bias crime if they could be proven.

Don't take it or excuse it, before or after, for any reason. Anti-gay attacks because the person is or is presumed to be gay or GLIBT will eventually be illegal nationwide, and there is a simple answer until then: Bash Back!

Kick the anti-gay bashers' asses immediately, with everything you have within your reach, at least double what they came at you with, because the evidence is in and you are a walking target for death at any time from an anti-gay murderer and your life in this country is in danger 24/7/365 just because you are gay.