Seven years ago

I’ve been thinking about Trayvon a lot lately, actually, although I admit I wouldn’t have known today was the anniversary of his murder without the Internet’s help. One of my 8th graders transferred to another school today– there was some sort of a kerfluffle involving DCS that I’m not privy to the details of, and Mom pulled him in retaliation for being reported. And the thing is, every time I’ve ever talked about or to this kid, I’ve thought about two other young black men: Trayvon Martin and Tamir Rice.

I like the kid, a lot. He’s a Goddamn mess in a lot of ways, but he wasn’t ever mean, and that gets you a hell of a long way with me.  In a building that has more fights in a typical week than anywhere else I’ve ever worked would see in a month, I never once knew him to be violent towards anyone. Which is good, because at 14 he’s 6’3″ and probably around 200-220 pounds. The last time I talked to him, he was complaining about the fact that he still couldn’t dunk a basketball. He was close, he said. It was coming, he was sure. But he wasn’t there yet.

Here’s the thing about him– I gotta call him something; let’s go with Ben, which was Trayvon’s middle name. Ben didn’t always realize quite how big he really was, in a way that you can really only apply to fourteen-year-old boys who have tripled in size in the last year of their lives. He was a physical, touchy sort of dude– he was one of those kids who needs to be in physical contact with anyone they’re talking to, which meant he was constantly putting a hand on my shoulder whenever he talked to me. Hell, he hugged me a few times. I’ve been teaching for sixteen years and I can count the number of male students who have hugged me without a damn good reason on one hand.

And, again, he’s huge. 6’3″. And heavy at that height. And while, again, I never knew him to be violent toward anyone, he had a lot of trouble keeping his mouth shut and — as I said, in a way specific to fourteen-year-old boys — absolutely could not keep his body under control, in a way that I know good and goddamn well intimidated several of our staff members. Did he mean to do it? No, I really don’t think he did. But the same type of behavior from Ben that would be laughed off from a smaller kid got him sent to the office. Because he was huge, and black, and this is America.

And over the course of the, I dunno, maybe six months I’ve known him, I’ve genuinely lost track of the number of times I clamped my mouth shut and didn’t say you can’t be like this because eventually someone is going to shoot you to him. Because a cop took two seconds before killing Tamir Rice in what I will go to my grave describing as a drive-by shooting. Tamir was big for his age too. Because Michael Brown was described in frankly impossible, inhuman terms by the racist cop who murdered him, and Michael was big for his age. And because Trayvon Martin got shot walking home from the corner store because he was a young black man wearing a hoodie at the wrong time.

And because murdering black people is legal in Florida if you’re willing to claim you wuz skurred, but that’s another conversation.

I emailed a couple of friends I have on the staff in his new building. I didn’t really get into the details, but I told them he was a kid I liked and asked them to keep an eye on him for me if they could. I just wish I had someone I could email and ask to protect the kid. Keep him from becoming a hashtag until he’s old enough to have some sense. Keep him from becoming a hashtag after that, too, because black men get gunned down in this country every single goddamn day and having sense isn’t gonna protect you from the likes of George Zimmerman or Darren fucking Wilson.

Just … keep him safe, somebody. Anybody. And fix this broken goddamned country so that we don’t have to worry about this shit any longer.

GUEST POST: I Refuse to Apologize

Luther again: this is the second post that my student asked me to put up; as I said earlier, I thought the first one deserved to stand on its own for a bit before getting Bigfooted by this one.  Go read that first, if you haven’t already, then come back.


When the news about Jussie Smollett came out about a month or so ago, my organization, the Queer Students of Color, decided to post a fundraiser to raise money for queer youth of color that experience violence everyday. We wanted to so something while people were paying attention. 

We were fooled. And we’re not sorry for it. 

We’re not sorry for believing a victim. We’re not sorry that there was an example of hate crimes that finally gained mass media attention. The only thing we’re sorry for is that we were lied to by someone we thought we could trust. 

The fact of the matter is this: whether or not we were lied to doesn’t take away from the truth that is violence against LGBTQ+ POC. For that reason, the fundraiser is still on, and we’ll be advocating for it until we meet our $10,000 goal, and everyday after that. We are representatives of a community that is the one of the most vulnerable demographics in the world.

Jussie Smollett took advantage of the vulnerability of millions of people. He spit in the faces of trans women of color that have been murdered. He spit in the faces of Gemmel Moore and Timothy Dean – stole attention from their story in favor of his own selfish goals. That enrages us, saddens us, and makes us even more passionate and dedicated to our cause. 

The Queer Students of Color is a collection of youth with the voice and power to bring attention to the very real fears of people that feel like they don’t have a platform. We are loving, caring people who want to use our intelligence and resources to better the world, so that we don’t have to live in fear any longer. Jussie Smollett spit in our faces. We are not ashamed, we are emboldened, and we will not stop our advocacy just because one person decided to do a bad thing. 

For those of you that feel like LGBTQ+ people of color owe you an apology: fuck you. The fact that you’re attacking us because we believed someone is just that – an attack. Why should we apologize to people that have always thought that we were predators, criminals, liars? Why should we concede to your twisted idea that we’re just attention seeking hypocrites? I’m most definitely not. I’m un-apologetically black, genderqueer and bisexual. If anything you should be apologizing to us for using the instance with Jussie to spew your homophobic vitriol. I have never had so many attacks on my character until I was accused of starting a fundraiser for the Trevor Project – a third party organization whose mission is to provide care to young LGBTQ+ people. The money never went into my hands, it will never go into my hands. The money goes to programs that want rights for LGBTQ+ medical insurance, for LGBTQ+ safe spaces, etc. Google is free, y’all. Use it. 

I’m angry, that much should be obvious. But I’m not angry at my own people, I’m angry that there are some saying “Ha! This is proof that those faggots are liars!” I’m angry that we’re receiving hate instead of support, when Jussie’s lie affected us more than anyone else in this country. That there are some thinking that this debunks all of the very real testimonies of violence that LGBTQ+ POC have finally had the chance to bring to light. I’m angry that straight cisgender black people are the main perpetrators of this awful, awful rhetoric. I’m so fucking angry that after this, people will feel emboldened to hurt us because they’ll feel like they’ll get away with it. 

I’m. Mad.

GUEST POST: On the Intersections of Homophobia/Transphobia and Race

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:

  1. A black person who stresses “black liberation” but only has black men in mind. (Black women included). 
  2. 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.
  3. 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). 
  4. A person that excuses rape because “did you see what she/he was wearing? She/he was asking for it!”
  5. #BlackLivesMatter only if you’re straight and cis-gender
  6. “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.”
  7. Anyone telling Terry Crews “you’re bigger than him why didn’t you just smack the shit out of him?”
  8. Abusers. 
  9. Anyone who thinks the #MeToo movement is ruining dating culture. News flash! You’re just a rapist.
  10. Rapists (synonymous to abusers). 
  11. Tariq Nasheed and his Clan. 
  12. “He’s a he! He has a penis, don’t he?” Ew. 
  13. Sexists. 
  14. People who think that black people are the only real people of color. 
  15. Wack. 
  16. 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. 

Despite the fact that thousands of gay men were killed in the holocaust. Despite the fact that children are killed by their own parents if they’re even suspected to be gay. 

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. 

https://give.thetrevorproject.org/fundraiser/1863720

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!

In which white people make terrible decisions

I seriously thought Ralph Northam’s stupid lying racist ass was the dumbest thing I was going to encounter this week, I really did. He issued what I thought was a pretty decent apology the night that the blackface/Klan picture broke, and I almost– almost– thought that maybe he shouldn’t have to immediately resign.

Well, fuck me for giving a racist a second’s benefit of the doubt, because the very next morning this asshole is not only trying to take back his admission that it was him in the picture, he “defends himself” by saying he wasn’t in blackface that time but there was this other time that he did it and man, isn’t shoe polish hard to get off your face?

So fuck that guy. He can go. Ain’t nobody gonna miss him.

(I won’t be entertaining a lot of debate on this point, for the record. We can lose everybody who ever wore blackface, period. I don’t give a fuck who you are or when you did it. I can’t believe that not only am I still having this fucking conversation, but it’s like the third time in a few weeks.)

And then I log onto Twitter for a moment during my lunch break and I get to play the Dead or an Asshole? game, since Liam Neeson is trending for some fucking reason. A wise man once said that the Internet plays a game where every day a new person is chosen as the Main Character of the Internet, and you win the game if that person is never you.  So, Liam lost the game today.

And Liam’s story kinda had me fucked up for a minute, you know? Because– and stay with me, here, because I’m phrasing this carefully– I very much do get the feeling that something terrible has happened to someone you care about, and you weren’t able to do anything about it. I very much do get the idea that in response to that trauma he went a little crazy for a little while. That’s not the problem.

No, the problem for Neeson is that he phrases this whole thing in terms of revenge, which … uh, randomly walking around with a club in your pocket and hoping that somebody black starts shit with you isn’t actually revenge, Liam. That’s racism. It’s not revenge when somebody does something to you or someone you care about and you beat the hell out of somebody who maybe sorta looks like the person who did it. That’s not what that word means. And from what I’ve read, he didn’t seem to recognize that distinction at all during his deeply weird interview for a movie that I already wasn’t going to see because I can’t tell if it’s a revenge fantasy or some sort of weird, fucked-up Fargo-level black comedy shit. Nothing about Cold Pursuit was worth this shit. Nothing.

I mean, ultimately I think Neeson’s gonna skate on this, because the story basically just boils down to I had some terrible racist thoughts for a while that didn’t lead to any actual actions, and that’s not enough to have a serious effect on his career unless it turns out he’s got some stories in his past where he did do some shady shit. I’ll call it 50-50 that that happens, we’ll see. But … dude? Why the hell did you decide to tell this story in the first place? This is shit for your shrink, not a goddamned junket interview!

We also watched the first half of the Netflix Fyre Festival documentary last night, a process so horrifying that my wife legitimately looked over at me and asked if I was okay a couple of times. It’s not even Tuesday, y’all, and I have had enough stories of stupid white people to last me until next Black History Month, thanks. We can be done now.

In which I self-censor

My general mood for the last several days

I am trying very, very fucking hard right now not to write an entire post about how we need to burn down a certain racist shithole of a school in Kentucky and then take what’s left after we’ve burned it down and throw it in the ocean. I am as angry about this horseshit as I have been about anything in a very long time. Martin Luther King Day weekend is always a trying weekend for me, because I am so, so, so very sick of white people (and it is always white people) trying to turn him into The Nicest Man Who Ever Lived, and it just never ever fucking stops.

That the former happened during the latter is not helping my mood one goddamned bit. And let’s be clear here: the boys are assholes, yes, and I suspect that a number approaching but not quite reaching 100% of them will remain assholes as grown-ups. But there’s a reason I’m directing my ire at the school and not at the students.

(WordPress, right now is not the time to start fucking with me about how you can’t handle italics anymore. Not. The. Time.)

No, the real reason I’m pissed is that at no moment anywhere in any of those videos is any adult presence at all seen. I have taken kids on these trips before, remember. Not just as a chaperone; as the person in charge of the trip. You have two jobs on these trips: 1) to get the kids safely home to their parents, and 2) to make sure that at no point during your trip are any of your students showing their asses. And … well. You may have seen the video of the one kid literally tearing his shirt off.

If any one of my students at any point during any of my trips to DC had even had a dream about taking off his shirt and making a fool of himself on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, when he woke up he would have been on a bus, by himself, halfway home already, and probably hogtied to boot.

And there is no evidence of any adult presence anywhere in any of these videos. None. These kids are being allowed to do whatever the fuck they want, and what they want is to make asses of themselves in public and shout things about rape at passing women.

And all this was before the blackface imagery came out, and at that point I don’t even care what the fuck happened at the Lincoln Memorial any longer. If this school lets these kids show up at basketball games in blackface it needs to not be a school any longer, and I will not be entertaining any suggestion otherwise from anyone. The Memorial’s almost irrelevant at this point. Gaslight away, assholes. The school lets them show up to basketball games in blackface. We’re done talking about whether they’re all racists or not.

Fuck it. Fuck them. Fuck all of this.

I’m tired.