Tag Archives: bigotry

Why Are The Gays So Loud? Unsolicited Advice From David Brooks

3 Apr

David BrooksIn the nasty wake of Republican Governor Pence making it legal to discriminate  against the LGBT community (which Presidential wannabes Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush have both applauded), we have been admonished by his holiness, White Hetero David Brooks, shining his beacon from atop his throne  at The New York Times.

While I have never been a fan of Brooks, I used to think of him as being at least a quasi rational conservative, albeit one who never quite understands his position of power and privilege as a white heterosexual man in  the United States. Apparently our uniting and proclaiming that we will not be considered second class citizens was enough to cause Brooks to clutch his pearls and grab his smelling salts. Sadly, Brooks’ latest diatribe does not even bother to include transgender people, or bisexual people.

Brooks has missed the civil rights bus at several stops. First, NO,  the law passed in Indiana is not “just like” the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act. That Federal Law and the 18 state laws actually modelled after it have their own problems — just look at the recent Hobby Lobby decision irrationally referencing RFRA — but are fundamentally different from the Indiana hate legislation. RFRA prohibits government action from interfering with the faith of individuals. Indiana — just like Arkansas, North Carolina, and Georgia if they are foolish and bigoted enough to follow suit — allows individuals to use their personal beliefs as a weapon against other individuals, refusing services and goods. That is absolutely not the same, something a man with Brooks’ education and background ought to clearly understand.

Secondly, my goodness what great privilege you must enjoy, demonstrated by your ability to remain this obtuse:

Instead, the argument seems to be that the federal act’s concrete case-by-case approach is wrong. The opponents seem to be saying there is no valid tension between religious pluralism and equality. Claims of religious liberty are covers for anti-gay bigotry.

While I would never have claimed you as an ally of the LGBT community, I do fear you are working against us, and this editorial certainly commits great trespass, for which I’m fairly certain you will neither reflect upon, nor make any attempts at repair.

Like many of your contemporaries, older, white, heterosexual males, you seem to be driving the train to irrelevance in the 21st century world. This is not what I would want, for I truly believe there is room for us all, however, the onus to get up to speed and become more inclusive is on you, not those of us who are targeted, marginalized, and have disproportionately less power. One should note, the Anti-Violence Project has reported that the homicide rate against the LGBT community is up exponentially in 2015.

Looking at this through a lens of social justice, I would add that people of color who are also LGBT often have even more at risk, thus I have to bring up the issue of race, as race and misogyny are always inextricable from the conversation.

Mr. Brooks, your aimless, thoughtless piece puts the blame on the victims, wondering why we have to push so hard to make ourselves heard. Your own deafness should answer that question for you. As a Jew Mr. Brooks, what happened to tikkun o’lam? Your behavior along with this editorial do nothing to help repair the world.

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Defining Racism in the United States: A Starting Point

29 Jul

racism_logo_sqThere has been an amazing amount of discussion after I posted my Paula Deen/ Trayvon Martin story.  While I am so appreciative of much of the conversations, I have to admit a few items gave me pause.  I shared this article on LinkedIn’s Diversity A World of Change group and I’m not sure that several people, while prolific in their comments, truly understand the definition of the word Racism.

Sadly, Racism, Prejudice, Discrimination, and Bigotry seem to be used a great deal as though they are interchangeable.  These words are not interchangeable — they are not all synonyms for Racism.  Racism has to contain an institutional and structural power dynamic.  Here in the United States that power dynamic is held primarily by white, heterosexual, middle-aged, Christian, well educated men; these are the people who establish norms in our society and have a great deal of unearned privilege because of the color of their skin.  This group, called the dominant culture, creates laws and policies — laws and policies that have an ugly history and were designed to help white folk while oppressing folks of color. Thus, Racism is: structural, institutional and systemic power that allows for discrimination and bigotry affecting someone’s health, well being, safety, and livelihood based on real or perceived racial or ethnic affiliation.

Perhaps a bit of a history lesson might be useful here.  Let us keep in mind the multi-generational impact of these laws both economically and emotionally.  1857 the Dred Scott Decision: The Supreme Court said that all people of African dissent were not and could not be counted as citizens of the United States.  Let us jump to 1935 with the start of Social Security — a great act to be passed, but sadly it did not initially apply to anyone who was not white, a significant economic impact.  Now let us move to the 1945 GI Bill — great opportunity for soldiers returning from WWII. Sadly, this bill did not initially apply to any of the soldiers of color returning from WWII.  Here we see a HUGE economic impact for generations of whites with great advantage and thus a huge disadvantage for multi-generations of people of color.  The GI Bill allowed for white soldiers to buy their first home and get a college education; this would qualify as unearned privilege due to one’s skin color.

Let us jump to 1954 when we witness the Termination Act.  The Termination Act stripped ALL Native Americans from their identities as our government told all of these people: “Okay, you are white now, so you must live in the cities and turn over your lands to the U.S. government.”  The cultural and financial impact on Native Americans was and remains profound.

Even more recent and disgraceful is SB1070 adopted by Arizona in 2010 and then adopted by Alabama in 2011, which demands that ALL Latinos/Hispanics must have proof of citizenship on them at all times.  If someone with dark skin that is, or is perceived, to be Latino/Hispanic and cannot provide documentation of citizenship, they can be put in jail.

I approach the work of equity and marginalization as a gay man.  Working as an agent of change means I am also obligated to know about the start of Gay Liberation in 1969.  The LGBT community has a long history of being targeted and imprisoned.  Until 2003 with Lawrence v. Texas, it was against the law to be gay in the United States.  Sadly, regardless of Lawrence v. Texas, it is still against the law in most states in the south.  In fact, the LGBT community have zero rights and protections in almost all of the South.  My personal call to action is to stand in solidarity with all those that are oppressed by the dominant culture and to honor their narratives–to understand how LGBT people of color are targeted and why.

This history is carried with all targeted people and passed down from generation to generation, much like if you are Jewish your family knows about the Holocaust because it affected your family for many generations.  Of course, the impact is more severe if one carries more than one of these identities.  For example, if you are a woman and a woman of color or if you are a man and a gay man of color, the impact is far worse.

Finally, let us illustrate the sad state of racism in the United States with the belligerent, bellicose, bigot Ted Nugent.  As of late, Nugent seems to be the appointed spokesperson of the GOP.  In response to the Zimmerman verdict, Nugent went on a racist tirade:

Why wasn’t Trayvon [Martin] educated and raised to simply approach someone he wasn’t sure about and politely ask what was going on and explain he was headed home? Had he, I am confident that Zimmerman would have called off the authorities and everything would have been fine.Why the nasty “creepy a– cracker” racism and impulse to attack? Where does this come from? Is it the same mindless tendency to violence we see in black communities across America, most heartbreakingly in Chicago pretty much every day of the week?…When you live in a fog of denial, usually inspired by substance abuse — you know with all the lies about dope being a victimless crime, I think you’re listening to the victims of this dopey crime, because their brains are fried. They’re either fried on substance abuse, and all of them know who I’m talking about.

The fact that the severely misguided and undereducated Nugent feels justified making these very public racist comments, along with people like Rush Limbaugh and Pat Robertson makes it quite clear that we still have a long way to go around issues of racial and gender equity.

Call to action: Imagine how powerful we could be if all of the targeted populations joined together to stop this type of oppression and even more powerful if we enlist the support of all of our allies that are within the dominant culture?

My hope in publishing this article is to encourage and invite people to engage in a meaningful dialogue around the issues of race, gender, power, and equity.  I hope many will contribute to this conversation in a respectful manner and also correct me if I have committed any trespass in my exposition here.  That being said, I certainly appreciate all of the comments people offer on the Facebook and on LinkedIn; might I invite you to also share those comments here on the blog, so as to reach a larger audience?

Bigot of the Week Award: April 12, Brad Paisley and LL Cool J

12 Apr
Bigots of the Week

Bigots of the Week

The musical merging of Brad Paisley and LL Cool J is strange enough as a concept. Sadly, it also results in a horrific song. The title, Accidental Racist, is bad enough, demonstrating a blatant race to innocence and ignorance of privilege. The lyrics are even worse. Paisley defends wearing the Confederate battle flag as a simple expression of “southern pride” while implying that the way people may look down on Southern whites is somehow comparable to centuries of institutionalized racism.

I’m proud of where I’m from but not everything we’ve done
And it ain’t like you and me can re-write history
Our generation didn’t start this nation
We’re still pickin’ up the pieces, walkin’ on eggshells, fightin’ over yesterday
And caught between southern pride and southern blame

Paisley doubles down by name-checking Lynyrd Skynyrd, the band whose Sweet Home Alabama famously celebrates George Wallace.

We’ve noted Paisley’s behavior previously, notably his overt homophobia. More surprising is hip hop star LL Cool J joining in the song. He engages in some tragic overidentification with the oppressor, rapping

If you don’t judge my do-rag
I won’t judge your red flag.
If you don’t judge my gold chains
I’ll forget the iron chains.

So trendy street bling somehow neutralizes militant defense of human slavery and a long history of racist laws that were designed to define “whiteness” and oppress black folk? That’s a seriously offensive and dangerous message. Even in the controversy, however, both artists continue to defend the song, with Paisley stating, “I wouldn’t change a thing.” I’m sure you wouldn’t, Brad.  I’m sure “some of your best friends are black, or gay.”  Wow, his obliviousness to his own unearned power and privilege make me rather ill.  While, I don’t expect any better from Paisley, I am rather disappointed in L L Cool J–who is not so cool!

Dishonorable mention this week goes to Rep. Paul Broun (R – GA). The arch-conservative, who is running to replace retiring bigot Saxby Chambliss in the Senate next year, was responding to a proposal (currently shelved, by the way) to include gender reassignment surgery in Medicare and Medicaid coverage. The ever-delightful Broun commented:

I don’t want to pay for a sex change operation. I’m not interested. I like being a boy.

Apparently he also likes being a bigot and an idiot. Don’t want a sex change, Rep. Broun? DON’T HAVE ONE! But don’t use your power to prevent others from receiving reasonable medical care.

Social Justice For All

7 Apr

SJALL BlogI started my blog, The Solipsistic Me, three years ago.  I must confess it started off as a lark and at that point, I did find the whole process of blogging a bit solipsistic.  However, three years later and my surprise at the success of the blog have made me reflect that blogging can be far more than just a lark.  I have found there is amazing power and impact through blogging.

The content of the blog is exactly the same, but now the name of the blog actually reflects the mission of the blog.  Social Justice for All will continue to address: misogyny, homophobia, racism, ageism, bigotry, discrimination, hypocrisy, power differentials while also celebrating the heroic acts of our fellow human beings who work to expand social justice and civil rights for everyone with a focus on the marginalized and underserved and those living poverty.  Of course, I hope most of the stories published here will also contain some humor, for if we can’t laugh at our selves and the world around us, we lose a great part of our humanity. Thus you can count on another interview with my friend the Dowager Countess Goosenberry, and we must keep vigilant, now more than ever, for that scary Gay Agenda! 

Welcome to Social Justice For All, same blog with a new name.  Let us hope that I and all of you readers learn how to create a space that provides a counter narrative to the dominant discourse and celebrates allies and those that stand in solidarity while spotlighting and embracing with joy those voices that are marginalized and oppressed.

Bigot of the Week Award: January 18, National Rifle Association. Again. Really.

18 Jan
Bigot of the Week

Bigot of the Week

In the month since the Sandy Hook shootings, the NRA (Nasty Repulsive Arrogant) has exceeded all its previous behavior and shown its true colors at every turn. Somehow, they managed to top themselves AGAIN this week. In a clear preemptive strike against President Obama’s upcoming press conference — at which he discussed VP Biden’s gun task force recommendations — the shoot everybody ‘casue some of ’em are bound to be guilty organization released their most odious and racist advertisement yet.

The spot, titled “Elitist Hypocrite” targets the President, presumably to undermine his credibility before he even presented his plan. The sick, tragic core of the ad is an attack on his parenting skills based on gross misinformation about his daughters and their school. (The ad is here if you can stomach it.) An ominous voice asks “Are the President’s kids more important than yours?” The rest of the ad talks about the security given to the President’s children and mentions the security staff at the school they attend. It then calls the President a hypocrite for protecting his kids and opposing armed guards at every school in the country.

This is so vile on so many levels that I don’t know where to start. What happened to the simple decency of leaving presidential kids alone as innocent members of an important family? Oops! Did I just expect decency from the NRA? Silly me.

They also neatly overlook the fact that these two children are at massively higher risk than most other kids and that providing security for the families of dozens of high-profile political families is common sense and long-established practice. Whatever the NRA would like us to believe, they also lie about the Obama girls’ school. It has NO ARMED PRESENCE. The security officers carry no weapons, making the hypocrisy charge an ugly falsehood.

Can we also talk about racism here? Need I really remind the NRA that people of color are profiled unjustly in such horrifically disproportionate ways?

Can anyone take this bloated lobbying whore seriously? Well over 90% of Americans (including 90% of gun owners) support common sense gun reforms including background checks. Of course those who only profit from more gun sales don’t care who is safe or what anyone thinks. They just lie their way to the bank.

Thanks go to my friend Jennifer Carey for this week’s dishonorable mention. Mike O’Neal (R), Speaker of the House in Kansas, sent an email to his colleagues calling for the death of President Obama. Lifting a passage from the bible (Psalm 109, calling for the death of a leader), he gleefully wished of the President

May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow.

O’Neal refuses to apologize and insists the comment was taken out of context. How exactly a direct bible quote with the observation “At last — I can honestly voice a Biblical prayer for our president!” is out of context he didn’t bother to explain.  What kind of monster is O’Neal? It will take a lot more than prayers to help this man.

Bigot of the Week Award: November 30, U.S. House Leadership

30 Nov

Bigots of the Week

Rumor has it that elephants never forget. It seems like the lumbering mastodon of the GOP never learns. In this month’s historic elections, American voters sent the most diverse group to Congress ever. Record numbers of women, African Americans, Latinos, LGB Americans, and other minorities are represented. So what did Speaker Boehner (R – is for Racist) do? He appointed all white men to be chairs of the House committees.

That’s right, there isn’t a minority heading even a small committee. You’d think an overgrown, tearful Oompaloompa like Boehner would be more sensitive, but apparently not.

Now, to be fair, there just aren’t that many minorities in the Republican House caucus, so the choices are limited (and usually creepy). After an election where the GOP got slapped down for its misogyny, racism, and homophobia, however, you’d think they would have made an effort. Maybe they could have borrowed one of Mitt Romney’s binders to find someone.

I can only think of one explanation. Since Romneybot 2012 cost the party the White House, maybe they are compensating by displaying their own white House. What do you think?

A dishonorable mention goes to Dr. Oz for thinking that it is acceptable to offer “reparative therapy” tips on his show.  Shame on you Dr. Oz!

Get Out The Vote!

5 Nov

Tomorrow is election day and I cannot underscore enough how important it is to get to the polls and vote.  Not only are we voting for President (at this point, I don’t think it is a surprise that TSM is endorsing President Obama), but there are myriad other issues and seats that will be decided. On the national level, control of the Senate is clearly tied to tomorrow’s votes. The House is less clearly up for grabs, but there may be hope. Hundreds of state and local issues, including ballot measures about taxation and marriage equality also abound.

Let us hope that intelligence, compassion, and the social contract prevail over the homophobia, bigotry, lies and lunacy that are so pervasive in the GOP/Tea Party — the party that seeks to crush all who are not white, heterosexual, male, and wealthy.  Let us hope that we stop the victimizing of women, people of color, and the LGBT community. Tomorrow is our opportunity to say: “We will not be intimidated and we will not be deterred.  We will cast our ballots for hope and solidarity.”

We must not succumb to the intimidation tactics from the white rich Republicans who have purchased billboards in Ohio and Wisconsin to threaten minority groups and keep them from voting. Two days ago, in Clackamas County, Oregon, Republicans started tampering with ballots by filling in blanks with Republican candidates. Mailers in Florida are clearly designed to compel Republicans to vote, while intimidation tacics are in place to keep minorities from the polls.

There is only one sound reaction. Stand up and vote. Do not let anyone tamper with your rights. Do not stand for intimidation or suppression. Many issues — including most of the significant ones — will be decided by slim margins. Every vote counts. Let yours be among them.

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