It’s not safe for work, but it *IS* laugh out loud funny, if you’re an out queer. Just sayin!
On Saturday night, a violent man came to a queer night club with a weapon of war and slaughtered 49 of my queer sisters and brothers. While I WILL have more to say about all of this, right now I am too shocked to say much except homophobia continues to kill. And now, we have machine guns for the haters to use on us.
A dear friend just contacted me. It seems her local PFLAG group, for which she was volunteering on their board, decided that she was too queer to belong. In fact, the non-queer folks running the group are really UNCOMFORTABLE with the adult queers who are also part of the group.
So, she has been asked to leave, indirectly. Of course, this has been done in the typical passive aggressive way: “All of the queer adults who come to PFLAG are broken, damaged, ill people who need help, which PFLAG cannot provide, and which makes them inappropriate for board positions. However, the “generous” non-queers opined that. the adult queer “ can serve as a “cautionary tale” for the straight parents who can see what horrors might befall them if they don’t support their kids.”
Right, the “poor tortured queer” meme rides again. And it was AIMED right at my friend.
Yah know, even well-meaning non-queers, can be absolutely toxic, particularly when they dive head first into “respectability politics.” If they think “obviously queer” people set a bad example, I can well imagine how well they understand, care for, and even love their own kids (NOT!) There’s a long, long, long, LONG way to go before queers are seen as ANYTHING but, “damaged heterosexuals.”
One of the appalling issues confronting me has been the anti-black racism of long-time white friends who stubbornly refuse to see racism when it occurs. The latest example is from Spring Valley Hill High School, in Columbia, South Carolina, where a black female high school student was assault by a “school resource officer”–Ben Fields–for refusing to surrender her cell phone. Instead of the school administrators handling the matter, the leadership of the school escalated the entire matter, by calling in the police officer, who promptly flipped the student and her chair backwards and then dragging her across the classroom floor.
The video, which is posted at The State newspaper web site, is damning. I urge you to watch it several times, even though it’s stomach churning.
It’s hard not to see this as racial violence. The student is young, black and female, the police officer is white and male. He completely towers over her. And it is clear that she presented NO threat of violence what so ever to either the school personnel or students. But because she said “no,” the police officer, who has the reputation of “Officer Slam” at the school, felt entitled to assault her. He is lucky that he didn’t break her neck when he flipped her and the desk she was sitting in, over. This is a man who has bragged about bench-pressing 600 pounds.
The officer in question, Ben Fields, was immediately fired the next day. Clearly, if there had been ANY ambiguity in his actions, the County Sheriff would have placed him on administrative leave (either paid or unpaid). Instead, he was fired. Just like that. The FBI and Department of Justice have also announced they are investigating the matter, since it seems he has a history of misconduct and racial bias.
Earlier in the week, I posted on Facebook about the incident as well as my own thoughts. And yet, a few of my long-time friends, stubbornly claimed it was the student who was in the wrong, that somehow, this young woman, a woman who had recently lost her family, was responsible for igniting the very violence that she received. It mattered not when I pointed out that her family had recently passed, nor when I pulled out all of the dismal data and experiences of close friends of relentless, unending racial bias. Without quite saying it, the inference was that if certain folks wouldn’t be so uppity….
No, no, no. Police officers, particularly those working in public schools, are not judge, juries and to be medieval, floggers. And the context is important. White officer, black young woman in Columbia, SC–the heart of the Confederacy. Clearly, she was NOT submissive, not meek, not accepting the demand that she relinquish her phone (which *IS* her property). That the young woman who was brutalized was arrested, was just another injury to the ones that were inflicted on her.
While the majority of my friends also voiced their horror, a few used this as an example of why the student in question “had it coming to her.” I failed to muster any convincing evidence that swayed their dead-certain opinions. One also went to great length in how the “race baiters” would blow this up into a bigger matter–the same person who is a huge Michael Savage fan. Supposedly, this incident wasn’t about institutionalized racism, but that the cop was reacting to an out-of-control student. And there are too many of these out-of-control students in our schools. And why doesn’t anyone report on the out-of-control white students, and and and
In disgust, I blocked the post, which was probably a mistake.
But I have learned a valuable lesson. When rebuking anti-black racism where my audience is partially comprised of the “Michael Savage” contingent, I need to be prepared for the inevitable racial trolling. And call it for what it is.
And I have ended one friendship–32 years or not–For there are some lines that cannot be uncrossed no matter how long I’ve known and cared about someone.
One of the on-going problems in this internet age is the “memory hole,” or where politically inconvenient or unpopular blogs posts go….to never reappear.
Without going into much detail, this may have been the fate of some of my posts from a few years ago. This is not too surprising, though it is disappointing. The situation does underscore the fragility of critique in the internet age. Americans, in particular, are quite deft in disposing with inconvenient data.
Guess who’s back????
I apologize for the radio silence. I’ve been trying to finish a big, bad book on the politics of queer erasure and U.S. public schools, from the 1920s until today. So, between working on that, waiting on a potential Supreme Court decision, etc., it’s been a bit crazy, busy.
On Obergefell v. Hodges: This is one of the most important decisions for queer Americans, ever. I wasn’t not surprised that the court said that states had to recognize valid marriage contracts. In a secular state, marriage is a legally binding contract, just like credit card application–to be rather pedestrian. It is not, nor can it be, a mere matter of religion. Consequently, that part of the decision wasn’t s surprised.
The second part: Did queers have a fundamental Constitutional right to marry? THAT positive response was a happy shock and surprise. Justice Kennedy went further than I ever had hoped. And the dissent was as angry as it was incoherent (4 separate opinions? Really???). Consequently, once the door has been opened to one fundamental Constitutional right, the rest should follow.
This decision has incredible implications for U.S. public schools. It will take more litigation, unfortunately, to hammer things out for queer employees and students, but we now have a path to muuuuch better days ahead. I will be mapping these out in my forthcoming book (with Palgrave).
There have been scads of legal developments over the last 18 months or so. From the Windsor decision to a host of lower court decisions ruling that yes, queer people CAN get married and have our marriages recognized by both the federal and state governments. While the 6th Circuit decision seems to be an outlier, I’m not sure it will go to the Supreme Court. I suspect the entire 6th Circuit judges will hear this case, and, will likely be overturned.
Meanwhile, in Virginia, the board of the Fairfax County Public School System has approved extended legal protections to their queer employees, including recognizing married employees and extending benefits. While one board member voted against the measure, grumbling that the nondiscrimination policy was overly broad and created a surplus of “protected classes,” the change actually brings Fairfax County into alignment with the other DC metro public school districts.
Clearly, the “old order” of state-sanctioned homophobia is crumbling, even in the most recalcitrant states. That said, I fully expect there to be more litigation in the near future. Change this critical doesn’t come all at once, but by constantly chipping away at the institutional oppression.
Today, my wife Mary and I are attending a social work conference on Queer Youth of Color and Suicide. ORIGINALLY, the conference was to be held at the Newman Center at Rutgers-New Brunswick. The sponsoring group has used the Newman Center for years to host social work events.
A few weeks ago, this session was unilaterally canceled by Bishop Bootkoski, without notifying the people who run the Newman center. There was no reason given. But his actions clearly indicate that he would rather have Queer Youth of Color DIE, than have his precious Newman Center be contaminated by queers and our issues.
So much for Bootkoski being pro-life. Not when it comes to queer youth of color. His stance is rooted in both homophobia AND racism.
I’m not going to let his go. Not when there are kids’ lives at stake.
I have a reputation for cultivating a sarcastic tone in my scholarly tomes. But Judge Richard Posner, writing for the Majority of the Seventh Circuit Federal Court of Appeals, makes me look like a literary sissy. He applied the “Kitchen Magician” approach to legal writing, and SAVAGED both Wisconsin and Indiana for barring same-sex marriage.” Here’s but ONE delicious example:
“Heterosexuals get drunk and pregnant, producing unwanted children; their reward is to be allowed to marry. Homosexual couples do not produce unwanted children; their reward is to be denied the right to marry. Go figure.”
Clearly, this REAGAN-ERA appointee has had it with the legal “reindeer games” played by the homophobic political leadership of certain states. The entire opinion is a harsh trip to the legal and policy wood shed. Or as Charles P. Pierce opined:
On Thursday, federal judge Richard Posner was remarkably plain-spoken in his decision that overturned anti-marriage equality laws in both Indiana and Wisconsin. And when I say “overturned,” I mean “tore into tiny pieces, lit on fire, and fed through a wood chipper and into an acid bath.”
Bwahahahaha!!!! I think even the majority of judicial conservatives are sick of state-sponsored homophobia, and will write accordingly. Please go read his decision. It won’t be overturned, though he’s baiting Scalia to try.
Please read and share. This is SPOT ON!
This week, you crossed a line.
Until now, your pieces in the Star-Ledger about Newark’s school system and the reorganization of the district have been ill-informed and reckless. You’ve ignored the warnings of teachers, parents, community leaders, researchers, and students, preferring instead to cling to recycled talking points crafted by those with scant little experience in education policy, but much to gain in profits.
You’ve paid a price: like your ridiculous attempt to walk back from your disastrous endorsement of Chris Christie, your continuing effort to support State Superintendent Cami Anderson while distancing yourself from the consequences of her catastrophic leadership has shredded any integrity you had left as a journalist. Any standing your newspaper had left as a champion of the people of Newark has also eroded: as with Anderson, no one in the city trusts you or the Star-Ledger’s editorial page anymore.
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