Tag Archives: tokenism

Bigot of the Week Award: May 24, E.W. Jackson

24 May
Bigot of the Week

Bigot of the Week

Congratulations Virginia Republicans! Your nominee for Governor, current Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, is a pretty nasty piece of work in his own right (aggressively anti-choice, virulently homophobic, suing to destroy the Affordable Care Act, trying to gut the EPA’s powers…) Somehow, you managed to find a candidate for Lieutenant Governor who is at least as horrifying.

Minister-turned-politician E.W. Jackson is charm free and worse. After decades as a Democrat, he made headlines a few years ago with a very public refutation of the party and a baffling insistence that the GOP was “better for the black community.” (Bonus facts: he called support of Democrats “slavish devotion” and predicted a black landslide for Romney — what a madcap!) A Baptist bishop and founder of Exodus Faith Ministries, Jackson turned to politics and founded the creepily-named S.T.A.N.D. (Staying True To America’s National Destiny — he and Michele Bachmann must be close friends with the way they re-write history). He ran unsuccessfully for the GOP nomination for Senate in 2012; last week the state GOP convention gave him the nod for Virginia’s second-in-command.

Jackson has a rabidly homophobic history — that obsession makes you wonder what’s in his closet behind those well-pressed bishop’s robes; could it be Marcus Bachmann? Just a couple of choice quotes:

Their minds are perverted, they’re frankly very sick people psychologically, mentally and emotionally and they see everything through the lens of homosexuality. When they talk about love they’re not talking about love, they’re talking about homosexual sex.

Homosexuality is a horrible sin, it poisons culture, it destroys families, it destroys societies; it brings the judgment of God unlike very few things that we can think of… It’s an authoritarian, totalitarian spirit.

He has also repeatedly compared Planned Parenthood to the KKK. He calls the national Democratic platform “worthy of the Antichrist” and calls Democratic leaders “slave masters” for assuming that African Americans might actually vote in their own best interests. (Another fun fact: Jackson defends the 3/5 black citizenship clause in the original U.S. Constitution as “anti-slavery.” Isn’t he witty?) Sadly, he reminds me of Clarence Thomas.  The lateral oppression be bears down on the black community is nothing less than shameful!  Am I the only one that sees his internalized racism?   Does it feel as though the GOP is tokenizing Jackson?  Just asking.

Virginia is a reddish state, but in statewide elections the Democrats have been trending. (Obama took the commonwealth in 2012.) Let’s hope reason prevails and the Cuccinelli-Jackson 19th Century Hate Parade fails to launch.

Dishonorable mention this week goes to those scamps at the Boy Scouts of America. They surely hoped to get some better press yesterday when they voted not to consider gay scouts completely disgusting. Unfortunately, by saying vaguely that they won’t deny membership “on the basis of sexual orientation alone” they give local troops plenty of leeway to oust gay scouts for any number of imagined transgressions. More significantly, by refusing to even consider allowing LGBT adults to serve in any leadership capacity, the Scouts play into the disgusting gay=pedophile myth. Rather than embrace equality, they cowardly BSA has created a confusing mishmash worthy of DADT, set up gay scouts to fail, and embraced ignorance and prejudice. That’s quite the achievement — is there a badge for that?

Hero of the Week: May 17, Pablo Pantoja

17 May
Hero of the Week

Hero of the Week

The Republican National Committee was very happy to have Pablo Pantoja on its payroll. Energetic, savvy, a decorated National Guardsman — what could be better? As a Latino in Florida, a state the GOP needs to win or steal to have a shot at the White House, he was well positioned to represent the hypothetical rebranding the party rolled out earlier this year. As the RNC Hispanic Outreach Director, his role was very important.

Sadly for the GOP, Pantoja also possesses a heart and a mind. Reflecting on the corrosive failure of the GOP’s fake embrace of minorities after their loss in November, he decided he’d had enough. In a powerful statement, he left his position and switched parties, becoming a vocal Democrat.

Yes, I have changed my political affiliation to the Democratic Party. It doesn’t take much to see the culture of intolerance surrounding the Republican Party today. I have wondered before about the seemingly harsh undertones about immigrants and others. Look no further […]

The complete disregard of those who are in disadvantage is also palpable. We are not looking at an isolated incident of rhetoric or research. … I think you get the idea. When the political discourse resorts to intolerance and hate, we all lose in what makes America great and the progress made in society.

It’s a scathing indictment of the othering done by the GOP as it attacks immigrants and minorities at every turn while callously courting their votes. Coming from an informed insider, it is particularly damning. As a nice parting shot, Pantoja also made a contribution to the ACLU for efforts to protect immigrant rights. Well done, sir, and welcome.

DC’s Newest Gay Hero: Diversity or Tokenism?

27 Nov

DC's Newest Gay Hero, Bunker

As we noted here at TSM a while back, DC Comics’ “New 52” relaunch of all their titles has been a bit of a mixed bag. Many of the characters are getting truly fresh starts (especially Superman and Wonder Woman) while others are barely being tweaked (Batman and Green Lantern). One stated purpose of the relaunch was to make the DC universe more appealing to a broader cross-section of readers. The first month did a mediocre job in terms of bringing in more female readers and the subsequent two months haven’t improved on that much.

So how do LGBT characters fare in the New 52? As we reviewed before, Batwoman is still a strong lesbian character with a clear history that includes Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Former gay couple Apollo and Midnighter have been fully rebooted, so their new versions have just met, but the editors promise us that they will remain a couple. In the 31st Century, Legion members Lightning Lass and Shrinking Violet are pretty clearly still a couple; recent additions (just before the relaunch) Gravity Kid and Power Lad have yet to be seen.

The biggest gay splash in September came from a character who was not actually seen in the comics until just last week, new Teen Titans member Bunker. Co-creators Scott Lobdell and Brett Booth indicated that they would be introducing Bunker, a gay teen from Mexico, in Teen Titans #3, which was released on November 23.

So how does Bunker stack up on a first read? Also a mixed bag. He’s a fairly flamboyant character, which is a departure from other gay superheroes. While some readers will find this an irritating stereotype, I actually found that aspect of the character refreshing; some gay men are flamboyant, and having one hero represent that part of the community is fine. Topping that off with a purple and pink costume and the power to generate purple psionic constructs, however, is a bit over the top. His dialogue is also pretty improbable, even for the character as briefly defined. He makes a casual reference to his own “cute butt” when speaking to a hobo he’s just met on a train, which screams stereotyping to me.

His Mexican heritage also reads as tokenism in this first appearance. His dialogue is pretty improbable, coming across more like an American teen who speaks Spanish as one language than someone from a “very small village” in Mexico. He peppers his speeches with random Spanish phrases (like “Madre de dios!”) which serves only as an irritating reminder that he’s part of a larger cultural fabric. We’ll see how his background is fleshed out; over a few issues many of these concerns may be eliminated, but the initial presentation feels very self-congratulatory.

I’m also concerned about writer Scott Lobdell’s ability to create a three-dimensional gay character. He did write the famous issue of Alpha Flight in which Northstar comes out, but the dialogue and characterization were pretty cardboard. He’s also responsible for the horrific rewrite of Starfire in the New 52, and his treatment of female characters (including Wonder Girl in a nurse’s uniform in this issue) is built heavily on objectification. Given his defense of that approach as “empowerment,” it’s clear that he doesn’t understand feminism; we’ll see how he does with a gay character.

Bunker’s first appearance lacks the subtle complexity of Marvel’s young gay couple, Hulkling and Wiccan, introduced a few years ago. The character may develop well, but the overt stereotyping in the first appearance isn’t promising. Fans of the Teen Titans will find Red Robin and Kid Flash compelling as characters but no real meat in the series so far. Readers interested in a strong gay character would be best advised to take a wait-and-see approach. The New 52 has a long way to go before it demonstrates diversity that even begins to approach the world it purports to reflect.

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