Luther here– this piece, along with a follow-up to come in a couple of hours, is a guest post by a former student who emailed me and asked if she could get a spot on the site. The answer was yes, obviously, but life intervened and I had to delay putting it up a bit, and, well, if you’ve been following the Jussie Smollett story at all you know that it’s been … we’ll say fast-evolving and leave it at that. So she sent me a second post, after the first one. I’m running both today; this one will live on its own for a few hours and the second will run tonight. There will no doubt be more to come, as recent news indicates that just because Smollett doesn’t seem to have been perfectly honest doesn’t mean that the Chicago cops weren’t lying too.
Regardless, I encourage you to donate to the fundraiser.
Just recently my organization, the Purdue Queer Students of Color (QSOC) decided to do a fundraiser for the Trevor Project to raise money for the homeless LGBTQ+ youth in America. There were a few tragic events that happened around the same time: the attack in Chicago on actor and activist Jussie Smollett, the discovery of dead Timothy Dean in Democratic donor Ed Buck’s home. He’s the second of two gay black men found in Buck’s home, next to Gemmel Moore. There was also news of the death of Dana Martin – a black trans woman – who was found shot to death in a roadside ditch. When the executive board of QSOC heard of Jussie Smollett’s attack, we came to the conclusion that it was a good time to raise awareness for dangers that every LGBTQ+ person of color fears on a daily basis. Those who are homeless are especially in danger of this sort of violence, so we’re doing the fundraiser for them specifically.
When I posted the link to the Trevor Project on Twitter, an accusation against me claiming that I was gold digging was quick to the draw. Tariq Nasheed tried to impeach my character, making the assertion that I was trying to profit off of the news regarding Jussie, which did indeed cause a large uproar on social medias. His followers swarmed me with challenges: you’re just capitalizing on something bad that happened; you don’t really care about anyone but yourself; what about other LGBTQ+ people of color that have suffered violence; black people are the only people of color, really; this was more racism than anything else, you know that right, etc.
All of these were “concerns” by people who couldn’t care less about queer people of color. None of these people care about trans women of color who have died due to hate crimes. None of these people truly care about Jussie, either. There is only one marginalized identity that matters to them: blackness.
The Tariq Nasheed is a champion of the ever-harmful “black first” mentality. Why is it harmful? I’ll illustrate.
As a black, genderqueer, bisexual person, the only identity that matters to them is the first. The fact that I could face discrimination based on my gender identity and/or sexual orientation goes completely over their heads. Or, if not totally oblivious, they just don’t care about anything else. They’re cutting my multi-faceted person-hood down to a singular attribute. In a way, they’re doing to me what the white hegemonic societal and governmental systems are doing to all people of color. I’m being looked at as a black person/nigger first. While one is hyper-focusing on liberating on only one of my identities, the other is placing me under the heel of their boot.
I get it, black people are subject to hatred by a power that we’re trying to deconstruct and destroy. However, in the heavy fog of single race liberation their eyes are too clouded to see other forms of oppression faced by people of different racial backgrounds.
“You keep saying people of color. Just say black, we’re the only real people of color.” A young lady tweeted this to me on the very same evening that I posted the fundraiser link. I may get some blow back from this statement, but fuck it.
Black people can be racist.
Before you get a social wedgie, let me explain.
Racism is the act of perpetuating negativity towards people of races variant to that of the race that currently has complete socioeconomic control over a given state or states. Meaning, black people can’t be racist against white people because no matter what, what I or any other black person says against a white person it won’t affect said white person by lowering their station in the grand scheme of societal hierarchies. In fact, it may even help the white person to the detriment of the black person; the former now has ammunition as to why black people are “racist”, and can use that by perpetuating the idea that there is equity among the races.
Think: are black people the only ones at a detriment at the hands of white hegemony? Is black power the only real social movement that matters? Are black men the only ones who suffer from police brutality?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you’re what some would call a “hotep”.
For the Whites or those who aren’t familiar with black vernacular, I can supplement the attached link with my own outline of hotepistry.
A hotep is:
- A black person who stresses “black liberation” but only has black men in mind. (Black women included).
- Thinking constantly that any punishment that a black man faces is the act of racism, when the black man is probably just a murderer, rapist, etc.
- Someone with a “black first” attitude because if someone attacks you they saw your skin color before they saw your gender presentation or sexual orientation. (Also known as homophobia/transphobia).
- A person that excuses rape because “did you see what she/he was wearing? She/he was asking for it!”
- #BlackLivesMatter only if you’re straight and cis-gender
- “wHy ArE bLaCk MeN bLaMeD wHeN iT’s WhItE pEoPlE aRe ThE oNeS wHo DiD tHe CrImE???????” Promptly said after posting on twitter/facebook “If my son is gay I’m disowning him by throwing him off a balcony because that shit is for the birds.”
- Anyone telling Terry Crews “you’re bigger than him why didn’t you just smack the shit out of him?”
- Anyone who thinks the #MeToo movement is ruining dating culture. News flash! You’re just a rapist.
- Rapists (synonymous to abusers).
- Tariq Nasheed and his Clan.
- “He’s a he! He has a penis, don’t he?” Ew.
- People who think that black people are the only real people of color.
- Someone who has an IQ of 4.
Black people who think this way seem to forget the trepidation of immigrants at the border. They seem to forget that there are children that are being separated from their parents and placed in concentration camps. They eagerly bear the cross of slavery while ignoring others who are still being systematically victimized by white nationalists. And they seem to think that they’re beyond nationalism when toxic Afrocentrism is nationalism. You’re hurting people. You’re perpetuating willful ignorance. You’re racist.
The intersection of racism and homophobia/transphobia is rampant in the black community, and I, for one, am sick of it. My brother once told me – after I came out to him, mind you – that if anyone said that “faggot” was just as bad as “nigger” that he would punch them in the face. Despite the fact that gay people and people in the LGBTQ+ community are killed every day from hate crimes.
What makes it worse, is that I’m both. I’m both black and gay. My family thinks that I experience the same amount of discrimination from just being black, but I endure even more hatred from racist homophobes. My experience is so distinct from straight cisgender black people that they don’t see that they’ve become the oppressors, too. I’m being oppressed by the people who claim to have my best interest at heart, when they really want me to tear myself apart in ways that would make me a shell of a person.
As for the people who are homeless, a person of color and LGBTQ+, we need to prioritize them. They’re the most vulnerable population in this country. The idea that there are people losing their lives by violence, or even adverse weather like the polar vortex, because of who they are … it makes me sick just thinking about it. My organization is looking into helping homeless people locally, but we can only do so much. The Trevor Project is dedicated to bettering the lives of LGBTQ+ youth of all races and backgrounds in America. I’m stubborn, so I refuse to take down the fundraiser. If you would like to donate, please feel free. If you can’t, that’s okay too. QSOC would appreciate you spreading the word. The link to the donation page is below.
Tl;dr: Dear LGBTQ+ kids, you are valid. You are loved. There are people fighting for you. Stay strong, and even if you can’t, that’s okay too. Take it a day at a time. No matter your race or ethnic background, you are YOU. You got this!