Monica Roberts

What The Frack Is A 'Black Issue'?

Filed By Monica Roberts | April 07, 2008 7:50 PM | comments

Filed in: Media, Site News
Tags: GLBT community, Monica Roberts, race relations

I read Bil's commentary about a former Projector who unsubscribed from the e-mail feeds because of their perception that The Project was focused too much on 'Black Issues'

Excuse me? What the frack do they mean "Black issues'? That's about as disrespectful as injecting the term 'race card' in a discussion.

This is a kissin' cousin to the oft spoken term in the GLBT community 'this isn't a GLBT issue'. That term gets invoked anytime someone wants to avoid talking about various sensitive mainstream world subjects that impact our little subset of it. Race is one of those volatile subjects that some peeps are squeamish about or in severe denial over.

But let's get back to this 'black issues' comment. I guess by their definition 'beating the black issue to death' means when we discuss for five seconds anything that reminds you that some of my ancestors didn't come through Ellis Island, but shackled in chains packed in the cargo holds of ships to New Orleans, Charleston, Savannah or some other US port involved in the trilateral trade of human beings.

I guess when I or others mention the fact that African-Americans played or continue to play major roles in shaping GLBT history, that's beating the Black issue to death'.

I guess when we post news on the Project of an African-American GLBT person breaking new historical ground that's beating the Black issue to death'

I guess when I or others express pride in our heritage or try to kick knowledge to Projectors about some of the issues we GLBT people of color face, that's 'beating the Black issue to death'

I guess when I honor one of my heroes on the 40th anniversary of his assassination by expressing my personal feelings in a blog post about him, that's 'beating the Black issue to death'.

News flash for you. Because we are as Condoleezza Rice put it, a founding population of the United States of America, 'Black issues' as you so derisively put it are AMERICAN issues.

America gained ownership of those 'Black issues' when your ancestors transported my ancestors here from Africa in chains, purchased them at those slave auctions, worked them on plantations without compensation for centuries, subjected them to inhumane conditions, fought a civil war over the slavery issue, spent another 100 years after emancipation denying them equal opportunity to participate in American society, passed laws, rioted and executed terrorist attacks against them to ensure they stayed 'in their place'.

This country has no problem conditionally accepting us and ignoring those "Black issues' when there's a war to be fought, but when that war is over America goes right back to the centuries old habit of dissing and ignoring us.

Same dynamic in the GLBT community. Some peeps have no problem occasionally parading us in front of the cameras to show how diverse this community is, but when it comes to being involved in the every day decision making apparatus of the GLBT power structure in various organizations,we're nowhere to be found.

If we GLBT peeps of color start expressing viewpoints that run counter to the tranquilized worldview that some peeps have in this community, then we get either the charge of 'racist' hurled at us or 'you're hung up on Black issues' contemptuosly spat at us.

It's past time for an honest, no holds barred civil discussion on race and race relations in this country. It should probably take a form similar to the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings that were held after Nelson Mandela was elected president.

But until we sit down and honestly discuss it, we can't find solutions to the probems that continually crop up. The mistrust and residual anger on both sides will not dissipate by doing nothing about the issue. The Civil Rights Movement of the 60's and the 40 years since did not magically erase a problem it took two hundred plus years to create.

We'll need national unity from ALL Americans to tackle and solve the major problems we'll have to deal with in the next and future decades.

We GLBT peeps should be leading the way and serving as role models for our parent society in how to conduct that discussion. We are infected by the same illnesses as the parent society and we need to begin working on eradicating them in our own community as expeditiously as possible.

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Well written some are going be uncomfortable with this but then so be it.Me yep im southern yes once upon a time we had slaves yes thats a part of my shared history with the larger Black Community.I also think thats one of the reasons im more open minded than many folks.So keep on speaking out thats how we educate folks by speaking out on what we have a passion for.

Carry on

Allow me to give you a full-throttle "Hell yeah!" Monica. :) I'm glad you're addressing the e-mail too; I think it'll be interesting to get a little deeper into the subject than my flippant "fuck you" reply. I wonder if this counts as "Black As Appropriate."

For what it's worth, I got this e-mail this morning from the same person:


You're either in cognitive denial or are really poor
in math in saying you only had 15% Black content. The
attached file has the Black content on the left and
the non-Black on the right from the Bilerico post that
motivated me to unsubscribe. Is there a chance you
feel guilt for having mis-treated Blacks in your past?
I grew up in a non-bigoted environment and have always
had Black friends. Not feeling such guilt I don't feel
the need to endlessly regurgitate Black history.

She literally went through the e-mail digest newsletter and split the MLK Day issue into "Black" and "Not Black." And then she made a graphic out of it.

The digest shows what's before the jump for each post - except for the middle column content. Storm's post isn't just a comic strip, there's usually text too. Since he's a middle section post, all of his text and everything goes "before the jump" if it were a normal post. Since all of it shows up in the digest, apparently it counts more.

The "Black" side did outweigh the "Not Black" side - in sheer text length. Damn shame it didn't prove anything. After all, most of the rest of the posts were a paragraph or two small ones. Storm alone was about 5 screens. *grins*

But you know, I doubt she put that much thought into it. It's so much easier to try and get attention this way. It's rather sad actually.

Then again, is it okay to just dismiss it as sad? As Monica mentions, perhaps we need to sit down and discuss this further than just a dismissal.

U wanted to address it last night, but gave it 24 hours before I commented on it.

Okay, Black issues acording to Diddly:

Now I look absolutely to die for in black! To see me in black is to want me. And when I accessorize, watch out world, here I come.

Oh, not Those black issues, oh right, racial issues. Lets see, my father was a racist, my mother, not sure. She never really commented much on it, though I think she seemed kind of disgusted with some of the things my father would say. If anything, my mother was racist against asians, Japanese to be precise. Her brother was a marine on Guadalcanal, during the really sticky part in late 42 and early 43. His company was cutoff and isolated for a time, and he had some pretty bad stories about it. It changed him, and my mother took his experiences and the general propaganda to heart.

When I was growing up, Austin was pretty segregated, the blacks lived mostly on the east side. Growing up the only other color I ever really saw was brown. There were hispanics in my classes all through grade school and junior high. The only black people I ever saw regularly were the shoeshine men whenever we visited my father at the building where he worked. With the exception of Jamie, whose family moved into our neighborhood in about 1967 or so, I grew up in a pretty white enviroment.

We moved out of Austin just when segregation started at Crockett High, the only thing I remember about that period was fear. We had riots and fights going on all the time during that period. The rednecks really didn't like the kids that were being bussed in, and being rednecks, well they didn't stand there and debate the merits of bussing and forced integration if you know what I mean. Being small, four eyed, and skinny, it was a scary time for me. Kids were getting knifed in the hallways, jumped for no reason (at least it seemd that way to me), and threatened.

Stupid and scary.

At least down in New Braunfels there was not much in the way of racial strife. Of course there was not much in the way of a black community either. What New Braunfels had was rednecks, lots and lots of rednecks.

There were a few 'heads too, and the main faultline there was between the 4Her's and the 'heads. Then there was me, the little four eyed queer.

I really didn't have too much time to worry about racial issues, I was too busy trying to keep out of the way of the rednecks. I had some aquaintances in both camps, the 'heads and the rednecks, and the 'heads at least left me alone for the most part.

I came out of school with the attitude kind of like the Type O Negative song, I hated everyone.

I still hadn't had much interaction with black people, but I figured they were probably just as vicious and venal as everyone else, so I hated them as well. Since I hated everyone else in the world, why should I discriminate?

Yeah, I came out of high school really fucked up in the head.

It wasn't until I went to college a few years later that I really had any interaction with black people. I worked as a tool and die maker in a plastic factory, so it wasn't as if I had much interaction with the public.

I didn't quite hate people as much as I used to at the time. Getting involved in ritual and ceremonial magic, as well as church, helped me settle some of my animosity. Meditation was a lifeline for my soul, and running through the purification rituals that I had learned gave me a sense of balance and peace. I might have been a christian, but I was a christian on my terms. It was only later that I discovered how destructive the concept of sin, and the inner shame that came from it, could be. The downside of the magic though, was that it helped me perfect the walls that I hid my true self within.

Sorry I tend to ramble, this is about race right?
Well, besides college, I really did not have much of a chance to interact with blacks. I treated all people the same, with thinly veiled contempt for the most part, unless they were part of my small circle of friends. I did not get out and socialise with people I didn't know. I wasn't very good at it, probably because of that contempt thing. Intellectually, I did not consider myself a racist, besides aggie jokes, any kind of 'hate based' joke would set me off. I thought everyone should just be judged by the content of their character and not by the color of their skin. I was not at all for affirmative action, two wrongs did not make a right in my mind, and though my father was a racist, he nor anyone in my family had ever owned slaves or been responsible for lynchings or Jim Crow or any of those things. I did not feel it right to suffer a "punishment" for somone elses bad conduct. I had had more than enough suffering from others bad conduct in high school.

I did operate by stereotypes, but they were not color based, with the exception of rednecks. Even though I would call myself a redneck hippie freak, rednecks earned a special place in my temple of contempt. Everyone else was just below them with the exception of stupid people, who were just above everyone else, but below rednecks. Willfully stupid people were almost as bad as rednecks in my book. It is one thing to be born ignorant, quite another to keep yourself purposefully so. We are all born ignorant and stupid, it is what we do afterwards that counts.

So, coming finally to the end of this story, for me, I have not really had much in the way of race relations, and I think I am not atypical of many white people. Intellectually, we do not see ourselves as racist, at least I don't see myself that way. But then I have never really had to put that belief into much practice.

Hell, I am even starting to get over my contempt for everyone else*, that is real progress for me.

*(Except rednecks and stupid people, they know who they are ;).)

Hi Diddlygrl
We have similar experiences living in GA I got to see school intergration first hand and all that went with it.We however had way more black kids that you did.Yes we had a few flar ups one over how to pick the homecoming queen of all things the other over what even I wasn't sure but involed our idiot High School Principal. He didn't last the week after it. I drifted in to paganism in the 70s when I was in Tech School.Or more exact when Thor poped me on the head and told me to pay attention!

Carry on yours in the Gods

diddlygrl | April 8, 2008 2:25 AM

Hi Cathy,

The Goddess used less violent, but equally effective means to steer me away from the spiritually harmful tenents of christianity that I was suffering under.

It is interesting that She came to me pretty much when I needed her the most, as at the time I was in need of spiritual comfort that I could not find in the christian faith. It helped me a lot in the final years of transition.

When I say poping me on the head it was more like a light showing me the way and now Freya has made me one of her own as well she is the one who truely showed me my soul and what I realy was.Then again the gods of Asgard are not for every one To be able to stare down old one eyed Odin and tell him a bigger tale over a horn of meade takes great skill.For the pagans in the group I have made the journey across the veil and back again many times.

The lenghts that people will go to to 'prove' their specious comments.

Like the authors of 'The Bell Curve' or Pat Buchanan

She gave you charts and graphs, Bil? I LOVE IT!

Monica, awesome post.

Black hairstyles. Now THAT'S a "black issue" to me, since it's not my hair and I don't care about the details of making it do whatever (I am white). It only becomes my issue if some white corporate jackass is carrying on about how dreds or braids are unprofessional.

Melanie Davis | April 12, 2008 8:17 PM

I just want to tell you that I, too, am appalled at your flagrant flaunting of your blackness. I mean, just look at your photo, you just put it right out there for everyone to see without any apparent shame at waving your black flag in all of our faces.

As a white person, I have never waved my whiteness in anyone's face, it just isn't our way. Sure, I am proud of my heritage, and your people should be, too. But have a bit of class and keep it to yourselves just as we do. You'll never see a "White History Month," or a "Prominent White Person's Day," or a militant "White Power" group. Oh, wait, there are those, but that's just the exception to prove the rule. Heck, you never will hear anyone accusing us of beating our "White Issues" into the ground; we just keep those to ourselves and get by as best we can.

I must tell you that I am thoroughly fed up with all of the black and brown and yellow and red people flaunting their race all around me, and I just cannot take it anymore! I am actually typing with one hand because I am gouging my eyes out with the other so that I don't have to be subjected to seeing all of you. I hope you're satisfied.


Right on! If only you had some clue as to how pervasive that crap is even, and perhaps especially, in the "North" as in Chicago, your head may pop. I want to blame it on a carryover generational thing and say that the younger are more enlightened somehow, but I can not. What I do see is a greater amount of interracial marriage and children, and perhaps that is a bright spot in the future. One day, there may be no great divisions of race, just varied cultures and shades of brown mingling forever on one small planet. That, or we all die in some crazy nuclear inferno.