Saturday, October 29, 2011

Over using Racist and Homophobic

When we too quickly apply the terms racist and homophobic to someone, not only is it a rush to judgment; it shuts down any possibility of meaningful dialogue between you and the person. More importantly, it lets the person off the hook without their ever really examining their shadow beliefs about people of other ethic groups or sexual orientation. The person quickly says, oh I'm not racist, or I'm not homophobic. And of course there are those who go a step further and say, some of best friends are....  This may or may not be true, yet, it allows the individual to skirt the larger issue, which is the benefit of white and heterosexual privilege.  

Now mind you, heterosexual privilege is an issue that I had to struggle with as a straight black women.  There was a time I felt that as a woman and a person of color, I was afforded few privileges if any, and did not see my heterosexual orientation as any kind of privilege.   However, overtime, and with some very heated discussions, my homosexual friends educated me on the errors in my thinking.  I was able to remain open to the dialogue because my friends were smart and sensitive enough not to just call me names, but engaged me in ways that allowed me to honor my feelings and opinions,  while exploring new ways of seeing and being in the world with others who had a different sexual orientation.

Now let me be clear, I've come a long way in my thinking, but I am not at the "Gay is the new Black" stage by any means.  I still feel that when I walk into a room my blackness and the negative historical legacy connected to my ancestry enters with me.  I am at the mercy if you will, of the other person to be enlightened enough to know that I am more than my color.  On the other hand, in my opinion, when a gay or lesbian person walks into a room their sexual orientation is not immediately known or for that matter judged. Again, IMHO.

However, I digress.  I was motivated to write this post because of the article, "Oh Shit, I'm Racist" (  Mike Arrington could easily let himself off the hook by saying he's not a racist, which he probably isn't. Nevertheless, this quote from his article made me think Mr. Arrington might just need to dig a little deeper into his world view as it relates to issues of race and even class. He stated:

"I may be the poster child for racial ignorance in Silicon Valley, but my motives are pure and I always have and always will do anything to help out the underdog. Frankly, I’ll invest my time in people like, who are actually trying to fix the problem at the root level."

Will i am. Dude are you serious? Rubbing shoulders with a black guy, by the way, wealthy entertainer should not excuse your "racial ignorance". Yet, this is what happens when we use language like racist and homophobic loosely.  People get a free pass and continue with their lives feeling exonerated that they are not racist or homophobic, while their negatives views and the bigotry of low expectations remain intact.

The moral of this rant if there is one: The next time you confront someone who is expressing negative views or comments about a racial or sexual minority; don't immediately brand them racist or homophobic. Instead, engage them in meaningful dialogue if at all possible.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Note to Single Moms and Mr. West

This post is in response to Kanye West' new song Mama's Boyfriend. Thanks Nessa for the nudge. You knew I couldn't resist.

In the mist of what I consider Kanye's whining, he raises a very relevant issue regarding the relationship between mothers and their children, especially sons.  Single mothers stop telling little boys that they are the man of the house. Your child is not your boyfriend or your husband, he's a child and should act in a child's role.  Until he pays the bills, he ain't the man of nothing. End of conversation.

As a woman who raised a son as a divorced mom, I know a little bit about what I speak. I was very mindful in my relationship choices, but I was always clear of a couple of things: 1) every man I met, my child didn't need to meet 2) I was still a young woman and deserved the right to date  3) I recognized that it was important for my child to see me engaged in "healthy" relationships with men. Yet, I was also mindful that my son was taking his cues from me about how women should be treated. I can proudly say for the most part my son his a gentleman. Though he's hit some bumps in the relationship department, I'm proud of the man he is becoming.

Single moms, I'm not dumping on you. I know it's hard navigating the whole dating thing. Especially today when it's a real challenge for women in general to find the right mate. That's not to say that there are not good men out there, it's just connecting that right man with the right woman. And of course, blending baby mamas and daddies, it can get complicated.

The interesting thing is men handle the situation totally different.  I watch my son as a single dad raising his son. He is oh so clear that he's going to have a life and the littlest Hunt just has to get on board.  Of course the fact that L. Hunt's mom is not in the picture makes it both easier and sometimes much more complicated.

As for me Mr. West, I admire his artistry and I certainly empathize with the loss of his mom. However, Kanye was a whiner before his mother died and he continues. I said it before, I think the brother has some serious issues that I hope he's addressing. However, he's not the first person to lose a parent unexpectedly, and most don't have the benefit of wealth to get quality counseling or be able to afford the luxuries that he has.  Now of course there certainly could be much deeper issues with Kanye and some of his mother's boyfriends (IMJS). We all know that little girls are not the only ones that get violated by the mother's boyfriend or possibly even the father's girlfriend or whatever the configuration.

At some point we have to put a statue of limitations on all the ways that our parents f@cked up, and keep it moving. As someone once said, and I'm paraphrasing, "if your mom put you on the potty backwards as a child, by the time you're are 25 or 30 years old you need to have the good sense to turn yourself around.

Just my two cents.