In reviewing 2019 and the decade in tandem, one must acknowledge the surge in power allotted to the LGBT community. By LGBT, I do not reference black people who may encompass one or more of these letters in their identification. This omission seeks to recognize that black people fail to execute the power of their non-black counterparts bearing the same orientation.
I first became privy to the power of displaced homophobia while pursuing my Master’s degree in the bay area. Here, the LGBT community consistently attempted to align my pro-black statements with homophobia, as if the two were mutually exclusive. It became evident that in every setting we had to share, there was an elephant in the room. This elephant illuminated a strategy to veil anti-blackness with an unexpressed and virtually non-existent homophobia.
This strategy revealed itself publicly with Kevin Hart’s twitter scandal. When news that Hart would host the Oscars went viral, tweets almost a decade old resurfaced. The tweets featured a comedic effort to castigate conventionally effeminate behavior. Hart’s adversaries placed his words in a homophobic context. This exposure, however, did not say as much about Hart as it revealed an anxiety around black people consummating conventional success.
It may be 2019, but there is still massive tension surrounding black people attaining what most still believe to be consummated solely by whites and non-black minorities. The LGBT politics, or homophobic accusations, have become a weapon wielded to individually challenge black character and collectively challenge blacks as an oppressed faction. This fact became devastatingly obvious when it happened to me this summer.
Let me being by saying that terms like “white supremacy” and “white privilege,” while visually meaningless in their use alone, exposed white “achievement,” “success,” and overall societal placement as a product of systemic fervor. To the African-adjacent who have never had to understand race relations, these words introduced a power dynamic the ignorant interpret as negotiable. Thus, instead of examining their societal placement, the white supremacist endowed at birth with white privilege, seeks to displace their sins onto those sinned against. The term “homophobic,” as displaced onto members of the black community, evidences this praxis. This praxis that unveils a Neo-racism where the globally oppressed become psuedo global oppressors due to a racist and and one-dimensional caricature.
The past summer, I received an opportunity I pursued for a number of years prior. The job presented an opportunity to travel and teach, but more pertinently, it allowed me to visit the scene of a crime cast against the black collective (more on this later). For years, the institution’s pseudo elitism cast my ambitions aside, but when the gates opened, I was unprepared for what awaited me. The position placed me on a residential site where I would teach and design my own course. I would also have to work alongside an assistant who would aid my pedagogy and student evaluation. They paired me with me a young white woman who, upon learning that I, a black woman, was the instructor, inundated me with queries that made our first encounter feel more like an interview. It only took about a minute to realize that my complexion instantly deemed me a novice. Thus, to her, the course had no chance without her guidance, though she had no degree or experience. A meeting with our student’s parents cast me as an invisible woman. One parent inquired about the instructor’s role in the course and my assistant answered not only as if she were the instructor, but as if I was not present.
To spare you the details, she ended up losing the position, but before her exit she told everyone that she was leaving because I called her a f*ggot.
As if a white woman’s departure from a position where her black co-worker would remain visibly unscathed did not upset the pervasive anti-black paradigm on its own, these words gave the hateful a faux reason to accompany their racist emotions.
This person displaced homophobia onto a black person to veil the true reason for her firing—her own anti-blackness.Not to mention that the accusation itself betrays anti-blackness in its flattening of blackness. Specifically, my presumed heterosexuality, though not confirmed, was employed as a weapon.
She took advantage of black placement in a hegemonic institution, and sought to project her prejudices and bigotry onto one who seemingly emerged as the victor from said offenses.
Needless to say, this slur hung over me during my entire time there. This three-week endeavor felt more like three months.
Homophobia as a means to attack the black individual and black collective undoubtedly references the myth that the black community does not embrace LBGT identities. This myth illuminates anti blackness by projecting white supremacist sins onto the black collective. The black collective does not bear the systemic power to circumscribe LBGT trajectory. Black people are not those precluding LBGT individuals from housing and job opportunities. If fact, it was a black president who afforded the LBGT community legal franchisement. Furthermore, the hue of homophobia is not and has never been black. Therefore, to indict black people as homophobic in the court of public opinion, is to employ a revisionist history that allows white supremacy to continue its wrathful reign.
Interestingly enough, homophobia, as projected onto the black individual and collective, is not limited to those in the LBGT community. I say this to underscore that this anti-black agent in the selected example was not a member of the LBGT community. In the case of Hart’s public shaming, it is quite probable that these tweets resurfaced not out of personal affiliation with the LGBT community but to incite personal anguish within the context of a contemporary fervor. Two decades ago, this news would have meant virtually nothing; now, this content means everything. Nevertheless, this truth underscores that one need not be affiliated with LGBT identities to solicit its use against the black collective. This is not only careless, but a callous disregard for two groups simultaneously. Additionally, this praxis exposes white supremacy as asserting its dominance by any and all means necessary.
For many, LGBT and even gender trajectory, appears to suggest that there is a new minority in town. A closer look illuminates sexual orientation and gender as diversifying the means in which the black collective remains at the bottom of the societal hierarchy.