Pride and privilege collide in a most novel and discordant tale of manners and misconduct, the repercussions of hasty judgments, and coming to appreciate the difference between superficial and actual goodness.
I find members of this next generation well-versed and well-rehearsed as it pertains to matters of theory, but practical application often eludes them. I imagine how tickled they were with their catchy couplet, blissfully unaware of its explosive and Faustian nature. Equally tone deaf was the choice of the kickoff song. While one could, in theory, entertain a discussion on the merits of Gaga and her standing in the zeitgeist, I hope that we can all agree that selecting a song entitled Bad Romance for a demonstration that celebrates radical self-acceptance, sets the wrong tenor and tone. A song, whose lyrical content contains the line “I want your disease”, used when considering the occasion and intended audience, exceeds the milieu of bad taste. Contrary to popular belief, we are still in the throes of an epidemic and such a pronouncement is not only crass but also highly irresponsible.
Queer, Trans and Intersex members of the community took center stage at this demonstration with lefty fringe gays, lesbians, and allies of all colors and persuasions providing backup support. Among them, a bloc marching under the banner “Queers for Palestine”. As the demo took off, the Queers for Palestine Bloc became increasingly larger, significantly dwarfing other blocs. It’s estimated, that at full force, they numbered close to 500. While the sheer number of Queers for Palestine participants might have been jealousy and envy-inducing for others, the fact that they were also there in support of B.D.S. (Boycott Divestment Sanctions against Israel) was the tipping point that caused the entire protest to come to an abrupt halt. Only two hundred meters traveled and an official request for the Queers for Palestine Bloc to disband was issued. At this moment, I pricked up and started paying closer attention. I knew whatever transpired next would be noteworthy and consequential. A few months prior, the German Parliament became the first in the European Union to pass a symbolic resolution that designated the B.D.S. movement as anti-Semitic. How Germany became the arbiter of what is and isn’t anti-Semitic is mind-boggling in and of itself.
I suppose this is where I should invoke my background and personal connection to the events on the ground. Born in Jamaica in 1965 and immigrating to the USA in 1970, I am a product of what I like to refer to as The Projects of Liberation: Civil Rights, Women’s Rights and Gay Rights. I was fortunate enough to catch the first seismic shift in U.S. racial socio-economic progress. As a result, my family obtained a house in the suburbs, a luxury car in the garage and placed an offspring in the Ivy League. The proverbial American Dream: received, believed, received and achieved. Most of my life was spent addicted to our story of hard work and self-actualization, only to later realize it was all a myth, bolstered by luck, good timing, and access to opportunities that heretofore never existed for people “of color.”
America, as a nation as well as a notion, is a carefully constructed mythological miasma, born of deceit, reared on denial and sustained by dissimulation, delusion and darkness. If you are so inclined to embark on a fact-finding journey of truth, eventually you will not only begin to see but also see through the nefarious web that precariously binds the lores and legends of the land. I refer to this as the reckoning. The coming to terms with the lies you’ve been told and the lies you needed to tell yourself to survive the gaslighting, a byproduct of a duplicitous and racist environment. Exiting through the light, one is then able to discern sense from nonsense and to see things for what they are, not as you wish they should be.
I say all this to alert you to the fact that I have spent a great deal of my life intimately familiar with the neurosis that accompanies white supremacy. I am fully acquainted with its plans and schemes, and have an intimate relationship with its ways and means. Cognizant of the lies white supremacy has told to and about me, I therefore instinctively mistrust what it has to say about others. I no longer greet or treat the projections, deflections, and assembled tools of obfuscations as naive or benign, but rather view them as violence, designed with the sole intent to dehumanize and undermine. When they erect their glasshouses and intone their supremacy, I stand ready and armed with pockets full of stones. Deconstruction of their structures is the most powerful tool I’ve come to own.
On my way home, an acquaintance asked: “I’d love to sit down and talk to you about what happened here as seen through your Civil Rights lens.” I thought: “That’s rich.” Why would one need to consult me on that? What lens?” The Civil Rights Bill was passed in 1964, a year before I was born. I certainly don’t have any inside information that isn’t available to everyone. Could it be because I’m black? The Civil Rights Movement may have been largely championed by black people, but its crowning achievement, The Civil Rights Bill, was not only for black people. It is considered landmark legislation for it ended segregation in public places and banned employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. So the work of the movement was for everyone. Every piece of ensuing legislation regarding discrimination owes a debt to the vision of that movement.
One would think a well-informed and educated gay person would know that? I guess not. For me, that was just another immaculate confession, that many (read: white gays) don’t see themselves as marginalized and part of the greater cause of liberation. They don’t see themselves as “us,” they see themselves as “them.” Their ultimate goal has been to restore the privilege that they had been denied. The Gay Rights Movement leveraged the Civil Rights Movement while coining the slogan: Love Is Love. Clearly both a slogan and marketing tool, I still think it’s an odd and telling mandate on which to center a civil rights argument. Love Is Love asserts affinity by proclaiming oneness with the majority. Proximity to the majority is theoretically irrelevant as it pertains to matters of equality and discrimination. And if love is love, then they would have love for everyone. But my observations tell me otherwise. The actual cornerstone of any healthy, long-standing relationship is not love but rather trust. So, the universal question that requires its due diligence, is perhaps not who do you love, but rather, who do you trust?
The most marginalized are often the most vulnerable. The question with whom one places one’s trust can be riddled with life-altering ramifications. One would think one could place one’s trust in the organizers of such a march - obviously not. Did they consider that black and brown people have a very different, potentially fatal relationship to the police? Apparently not. Was thought given to the fact that some people in the bloc arrive from places under occupation, and fear and trauma may be triggered by being surrounded by the police? Doubtful. History has provided people of color with little reason to place their trust in white people, and this march has provided us with another stellar exemplar. The struggle for rights - civil, human or otherwise; who has them, who gets them, and when - is an ongoing story. To be radical is to grab something at the root, chief among them is the basic and fundamental question of human rights. That so many of our allies do not comprehend the story of “the others” says one of two things to me. Either they are mentally imbalanced and lack the wherewithal to confront their psychological shortcomings or we need to question the suspicious and unscrupulous nature of their character. Queer is defined as mentally unbalanced or deranged or of a questionable nature or character - suspicious, shady. Perhaps those are the implications that I simply cannot reconcile?