Saturday, February 11, 2017

#CABQ: Like Baldwin, I REFUSE To Be Silenced!

The Chronicles Of An Angry Black Queer

It should be noted that I am writing from my perspective, which is that of a Black, masculine presenting gay man who happens to be an Atheist. I will be writing about my thoughts and experiences as an activist, human and life in general. These posts will not be academic or even properly written in some of your opinions.

Entry #7: Like Baldwin, I REFUSE To Be Silenced!

I remember it like it was yesterday, the day I was silenced and vowed that it would NEVER happen again. That day, a cold December 2014 day, I (With the help of Tarah Taylor) had led a march from Houston's Shape Center to uplift the name of Jordan Baker to a larger event in front of the Harris County Criminal Court complex in downtown Houston. We had a rally after arriving to our destination, where the people shared their thoughts on what they were feeling in that moment until the bigger rally started on the steps of the court house. It wasn't until the bigger rally that I noticed activism of a different style that hearkened me back to the respectability politics and erasure of James Baldwin at the March on Washington in 1963. They did not let me speak, they did not let me share the perspective of being a Black man who happens to be in this movement. It hurt like fucking hell. The speakers stood king style shouting chants in Jordan Baker's name while his mother stood there taking in all the support. It was in that moment I left it alone, because I was there to support Jordan's family. In the back of my mind I still stood angered because they erased me for my homosexuality. Maybe they shared Dr. King's mind set on homosexuality back when he wrote an advice column called "Advice for Living" for Ebony in 1958...

"Question: My problem is different from the ones most people have. I am a boy, but I feel about boys the way I ought to feel about girls. I don't want my parents to know about me. What can I do? Is there any place where I can go for help?

Answer: Your problem is not at all an uncommon one. However, it does require careful attention. The type of feeling that you have toward boys is probably not an innate tendency, but something that has been culturally acquired. Your reasons for adopting this habit have now been consciously suppressed or unconsciously repressed. Therefore, it is necessary to deal with this problem by getting back to some of the experiences and circumstances that lead to the habit. In order to do this I would suggest that you see a good psychiatrist who can assist you in bringing to the forefront of conscience all of those experiences and circumstances that lead to the habit. You are already on the right road toward a solution, since you honestly recognize the problem and have a desire to solve it."

They wouldn’t let Baldwin get up there because they know Baldwin is liable to say anything.

GO TO 46:38

- Malcolm X “Message to the Grass Roots" -

I should note that Dr. King and Baldwin had a good relationship, but I've been thinking about his erasure, how he was barred from speaking at the March. Was it because he was same gender loving or to unapologetically Black? Either way, this screams respectability politics and toxic masculinity. They wanted to see his written speech, to water it down out of fear that his comments would be too inflammatory. Malcolm X was dismayed by what took place, “When James Baldwin came in from Paris...they wouldn’t let him talk because they couldn’t make him go by the script. Burt Lancaster read the speech that Baldwin was supposed to make.

It wasn't until Baldwin wrote the introduction in Michael Thelwell’s 1987 publication Duties, Pleasures, and Conflicts: Essays in Struggle that he was more candid about the situation:

 “The official and semi official opposition to any kind of March on Washington was terrified and profound....I had absolutely nothing to do with the March as it evolved, but I was asked to do whatever I could do to prevent it. In my view, by that time, there was, on the one hand, nothing to prevent—the March had already been co-opted—and, on the other, no way of stopping the people from descending on Washington. What struck me most horribly was that virtually no one in power (including some blacks or Negroes who were somewhere next door to power) was able, even remotely, to accept the depth, the dimension, of the passion and the faith of the people.

This snapshot into Baldwin's life helps me to push through the haters and naysayers who wish to silence me and to encourage others like me to take a stand, to use their voices. There will ALWAYS be a great silence from the straight "activists" in our communities when folks attempt to bash and silence us. It is required of us to hold antagonists and all who aid them accountable when we call them on their bullshit.  More often than not, the person who experiences the violent actions and words from those who wish them harm are left to fend for themselves. We can no longer go easy on these antagonists and their cohorts who have gotten away with their homophobia or heterosexual privilege. Our job is to kill anti-Blackness wherever and whenever it takes place its bad enough that we have to dismantle systems of oppression externally, why should we be nice when it is in our own backyard?

Our Blackness matters! We ARE Black! We are NOT a monolith! WE exist!

"WE are the first to stand when you get shot down by that blue bullet, the first to organize and protest. I see how y'all privilege the straight men over me and people like me who do the work so that you can be comfortable. You think that I dont know that a lot of yall are walking around in Houston telling others who dare to work with me "I dont see how you can work with him, he on that gay shit." What the fuck is "gay shit?" - APW