#NotAllWhitePeople Have a Conscience


Ok.

I’m starting to question at which point in life white people lose their conscience and what we can do to stop that process. I believe we’re all born with a sense of human concern, some form of conscience and somewhere along the line, white people (and potentially people of color aspiring to whiteness as well) lose it.

White supremacy is a racial project taught from a young age, and all of us learn it. Some of us learn other negative racial projects as well, like colorblind racism. Some of us learn positive racial projects that work to fight the hegemonic narrative of white supremacy, like pro-Black thought.

This means that white people are indoctrinated into a system of hate that centers their whiteness and says it is superior to anything else, but particularly in the U.S. context: Blackness.

In other words, white people are taught to hate Black people; hate for an entire group of people is learned. Even if white people have “progressive” parents, the world around them still preaches a white supremacist gospel. In the process of learning this gospel, I think white people lose their conscience in order to be able to dehumanize and erase people of color.

White people then have to fight to unlearn this racism, similar to how men have to unlearn our sexism and misogyny that is so embedded in our heteropatriarchal society.

This means that #NotAllWhitePeople is a misnomer. Or rather, we need to think about it in another way.

#NotAllWhitePeople hate Black people…because they unlearn the hate they were raised with.
#NotAllWhitePeople are practicing racists…because they are racists who have been taught to recognize their racism and are therefore working against their racist tendencies to stop it and are therefore inactive, recovering racists.
#NotAllWhitePeople are ignorant of their privilege…because they have been taught to unlearn the privilege they were bestowed when they were born into this world white.

You see what I’m saying? So there are some white people who’ve acknowledged this and are working toward stopping it…I think? But it doesn’t stop the millions of white people from terrorizing people who aren’t “white.” Even the white people who are fighting the good fight still do not often call out their friends or their family on their oppressive, racist attitudes, beliefs, and actions. Why? Because it’s a risk they’re not willing to take. I get it, they don’t want to lose theirs jobs, their parents or their cousins but until we all take some risks this ain’t gonna stop. As dramatic as it may sound, the truth is that being Black in America means that you risk your life every time you leave your house, regardless of if you’re in the hood or the Hamptons. The levels of risk differs, but the risk is ever present.

Basically: what happened with this Geris Hilton character, or Emmett Till, or any of the thousands of Black people turned hashtags is NOT a fluke, but the way the system was designed. These are not isolated incidents, but a pattern. I need white people to stop allowing white supremacy to snatch their consciences, because I truly don’t have the time for any more white bullshit in my life, whether it be the word “nigger” or the death of a “non-White” person at the hands of a white person (BASED ON THEIR GENETIC PHENOTYPE).

In closing: there is more genetic variation between two members of the same race than variation between two members of different races. This means that white people must have a conscience because we’re all actually so genetically similar. But the white devil is real, and even when I avoid him, he comes to me and the people I love. This shit has got to stop. It doesn’t just hurt us, it hurts you too.

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#MoreThanMarriage – Why same-sex marriage legalization represents privilege

Fact #1: The supreme court ruled same-sex marriage legal in all 50 U.S. states.

Fact #2: Less than 50% of our 50 states have employer non-discrimination laws based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Fact #3: At least 80% of Black gay men have experiences with racism in the gay community.

The Human Rights Campaign and other advocates fighting for marriage equality needs to realize that “equal rights” are about #MoreThanMarriage. We should celebrate the wins when and where we can, but, as a 25-year-old cisgender* Black gay man living in the Bay Area, marriage “equality” is not my top priority. My queerness comes second in both my eyes and the eyes of society. Sure, who I sleep with can get me into trouble, but this beautiful, Black skin of mine presents a higher and more visible risk, and therefore a higher priority.

Marriage benefits include as tax breaks, hospital visitation, and child custody laws, but let’s not forget that people can still be fired for their non-hetero sexuality(ies). There are currently 28 states without laws to protect LGBT folks from employment discrimination based on their gender and/or sexual identity. These states give employers the authority to legally fire a person on the basis of their sexual orientation alone. This does not automatically affect some men because we have the privilege of “passing.” We can pass as heterosexual because we present in traditionally “masculine” ways through our speech patterns, mannerisms, and overall appearance. This a privilege that many–like men with “effeminate” traits–do not have. Passing is also a choice, the alternative is to disclose their sexual orientation despite the fact that it is nobody’s business.

The conversation shifts when the circle of human concern is expanded to consider the lived experiences of trans folks. More so than discrimination on sexual orientation, trans folks are even more heavily discriminated against at work, home, and even within the supposedly inclusive gay community. Keep in mind that a person can be both trans and non-heterosexual, and therefore the marginalization intersects and the risk multiplies.

Take, for example,  the recent “White House heckler” whose comments didn’t make it to many mainstream media narratives. This transgender activist, Jennicet Gutiérrez, spoke up at an LGBTQ event at the White House and received criticism about her methods. Her message was obscured, but let’s be clear: immigrants who identify as trans are misgendered in detention centers and face physical and sexual abuse as a result. As a man marginalized for my Blackness and my queerness, I personally stand with Jennicet in saying #Not1More.

The case of trans detainees highlight the fact that same-sex marriage does not destroy homophobia, transphobia, racism, or racism within the gay community. The notion of marriage itself resides in a very privileged space. While there are many queer people of color who are patiently waiting to marry, this Supreme Court ruling benefits middle-class white gay men in ways that it may never benefit someone like me. I dislike comparing struggles, but I have never heard of anyone dying from not having the right to marry who they wish.

On the other hand we, as Black people, are being systematically targeted and killed daily for merely being Black. This racial targeting is nothing new, because Black people have never been seen as human to the institution of whiteness (read: by many / most white people). But since the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, mobilization took a new form through the #BlackLivesMatter movement. The movement–started by three womxn, two of them queer–is maintained by those same womxn and a Black queer man.

Don’t let silence hide the queer people who led movements for Black freedom. Don’t forget that the fight is not about Black liberation before LGBTQ liberation, but instead liberation for all people of African descent, including those who do not identify in the same ways as ourselves. Think about much further would we be in these intersectional struggles if we abandoned our collective tunnel vision earlier in the battle for liberation?

When the police are killing more of us–primarily Black folks–in a few days than other countries kill in an entire year, it is hard for me to focus on the potential bragging rights of marriage. In fact, this wave of state-sanctioned police brutality keeps me up at night and has many Black people too angry, scared and questioning to even consider marriage. So while I am happy to see colorful Facebook flags, my most pressing question boils down to:

What are you doing to get them to stop fucking killing us?
*meaning that my gender identity matches my biological sex and the gender I was assigned at birth. In practice this means I was assigned male based on my male genitalia and I identify as a man.

note: this article was written by me for the Afrikan Black Coalition and is crossposted here on my personal blog. Photo source: https://twitter.com/ykhong/status/614959735654232064

#YouOkSis – SummerUp Festival

Do you know what these are? The result of Summer Up Festival leaving 1,000 lifesize Nicki cutups on the stairs of a Finnish Cathedral.image image image image image image image

What does that mean? That means that you can now “own” a Nicki by “stealing her.” And then taking photos with her and posting it under the hashtag #MyNicki on Instagram.  Do you know what that’s called? When something can be bought/sold/traded/stolen like a product? Commodification. Her Black body, her “assests” are not just a commodity online, but are manifest through 1,000  cardboard copies. Using Nicki Minaj as a prop is also called symbolic violence.

Did you know that at one point in U.S. history you could own your own Black woman? They were called slaves. At another point you could see “real live Africans” in zoos. Over in Europe you could view the labia and “large buttocks” of Saartjie Baartman after she passed away. And in 2015 a white officer can grab a Black 15-year-old by her hair and sit on her [in her bathing suit] in #McKinney, Texas.

This is the plight of the Black womxn in the U.S. and I will not be silent about it.