Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Ending Media Attacks On Gays & Blacks

The above is a, I guess, satire-type song of someone trying to be Al Sharpton singing about Obama's lack of blackness and his appeal to the mainstream. Apparently, Rush Limbaugh played it on his show.

"And he's still on the air?"

Jush hush, okay? I've been wondering why Limbaugh is still around, particularly after his little drug scandal, but...hasn't responding to the Imus thing, i.e. solely blaming blacks for that, been exhausting enough? Is it so that every other week, we either have to be raising hell about a "gay thing" or a "black thing," as if we are not yet somewhat, but unfortunately, accustomed to this kind of stuff...especially from people like Limbaugh? Apparently, people who do these things are not learning anything from--or scared of--the rather predictable ways in which many of us respond, because these things really are happening every...other...week!

A lot of people have been writing about free speech and the possibility of banning some words, etc. Mentally, today I'm not in the best shape to give my well thought-out, well-articulated opinion. I just think there's value in everything everyone says, something to learn from it. I think that's even more true with the Limbaugh clip than with what Imus initially said about the Rutgers women. To me, Limbaugh is telling us exactly why a lot of white people like Obama and how a lot of whites think of him, as well as suggesting some blacks think the same way, too--which is true. It's not funny. It might be offensive to some. But it sends a message that actually kind of matches some of the concerns I wrote about with regards to Obama, only I said it in--I think--a more intelligent way.

I don't know what to do about all the offensive media lately, even though I still question whether or not offensive incidents are just being reported more now and/or whether or not people are being blatantly offensive on purpose to get attention, etc. I do know two things: 1) the way we respond isn't working, and 2) nobody in the gay community uses homophobic incidents to point the finger at gays like many people just did with blacks, which suggests that other people are entirely the problem when it comes to gays but not with blacks and that there's something blacks can do to make people stop hating them.

There's a larger problem, i.e. two groups with overlap are alternating their turns at getting picked on in a rather carefree fashion by the majority. If telling gay people they need to clean up their act and behave better is not the answer to make people stop saying hateful things about that group of people, then I don't see why it's the answer for blacks. Make no mistake--there will always be ignorance. There will always be hateful comments. If you succeed in banning words (which I seriously doubt will happen), then there will still be those who say them and there will still be other ways to demonstrate hate. After all, some states have hate crime legislation, and hate crimes still happen. So, no, I don't know what to do.

In my mind, what people are asking is for something to be stopped that simply can't and never will be, in which case...why all the uproar each and every time? For me, personally, I can experience, hear and be the target of racism, sexism and homophobia without generally thinking of myself as a lesser person in this world. Maybe this is what we should be focusing on. Maybe this is another reason why I have never gotten the "hair" thing or the skin color thing among blacks, another reason why I don't tend to get offended by derogatory comments, etc. Maybe all it takes is instilling in people in these groups the confidence, the self-esteem and the mindset that even though people will say XYZ about you that's not who or what you are, so that when those things are said they, too, can ignore it and walk off unscathed...because I've noticed a lot of black people are lacking in self-esteem, and even more gay people than that are lacking in self-esteem.

Maybe we should be telling our people to do things not to please whites or heterosexuals or to make these people think a certain way about us, but so that we can think a certain way about ourselves. Some might argue differently, but I really don't think this was the message behind the black Imus responses--it was more so the former, i.e. "white people won't treat us like this if we don't treat ourselves like this." Oh, yeah they will. As mentioned before, I'm not interested in living my life for whites, for making sure they are comfortable or that they think a certain way about me or other blacks. I think living like that is a manifestation of self-esteem problems. It's still a master-slave mentality. And I've started hearing gays express this master-slave mentality, which really makes me worry about gays who are racial and ethnic minorities, that perhaps they have double master-slave mentalities (or maybe even more, depending on how they think about things such as sex/gender).

Furthermore, I think minorities--racial and otherwise--need to shed group mentalities just as much as we think majorities should shed them about us. In other words, we need to stop looking at everything a black or a gay person does as a reflection on all of us, because when we do that we've engaged in the same essentialism we despise. Essentialism, as I understand it, is reducing an individual to nothing but their plain-face identity, i.e. sex, race, sexual orientation.

Forget about the fact that the majority will continue to do this, which I know is important since we find ourselves at their mercy for so many things. I'm saying we need to focus more on us than we do. If a black male commits a crime, he needs to be viewed as another criminal, not as another black criminal or another male criminal...or, really what it is, as just another typical black male...because, as I spent the weekend writing in a paper for one of my classes, criminals aren't just black men. Even black people do this--I've admitted to it. The point is, a lot of the time, when we're feeling like someone else is a reflection on the whole group, they've done something that anyone could have done, i.e. we're ignoring individualism and assuming sameness just as much as the majority does. And that's the argument I would make to the majority, as well.

Whew, I think I actually did manage to type out something decent! ;)