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7 comments | Friday, September 21, 2007

Let me forewarn you, this might hurt . As thousands of protesters descended upon the small town of Jena, Louisiana in support of the Jena 6, many of whom were African-American ministers, students, activists, or just ordinary people who felt compelled to stand up against the racial injustice that has plagued Jena and our country . There was a surprising ally present marching with the multitude, displaying their signature yellow and blue logo, and even taking to the microphone to verbally express their support of what many people believe is just a "black issue".

Joe Solmonese, president of The Human Rights Campaign said they were there "because this injustice cannot stand". "We are here because we know about bigotry. We know about hate. We know the pain in high school of standing apart. Of being taunted. Of standing up, only too often, to be shut down. I am here -- we are here -- because you have stood with us. Because all of us know that one injustice against any of us is an injustice against all of us.

I've been very critical of HRC in the past because as a black gay man the issues that directly affect my community are often ignored by this powerful white gay organization. Proving that separatism and racism also exists in the gay community as I will illustrate a bit further shortly. But on September 20, 2007 HRC chose to stand with the African-American community and The Jena 6 despite the backlash they were sure to receive from their ardent supporters for aligning themselves with a non LGBT issue, or should I say just a non-white issue.

No matter where you stand on this issue, whether it's in support of the district attorney's decision to charge the Jena 6 with attempted murder or the public outcry to have the boys released you would have to be in complete denial or simply a racist not to acknowledge the unfair and racially biased treatment of the Jena 6. I applaud HRC for not limiting the scope of it's organization to mainstream white gay causes, by acknowleding that they should represent black gays and lesbians not only who are victims of homophobia and workplace discrimination but racism as well. However, some within the HRC ranks are not pleased with Solmoneses' presence at the rally and they are not biting their tongue.

Blogger and Washington Blade editor Chris Crain had this to say, "I understand the politics of why HRC became involved in the campaign to "Free the Jena 6." African-American and other civil rights leaders have been very supportive on the issues we say are important to us, and now HRC is being supportive on the issues they say are important to them. It's scratch-your-back and no doubt for some based on a genuinely felt bond among civil rights groups.

Still, why pick this case? It doesn't involve discrimination of the type suffered historically by gay Americans. I would agree completely that there is racial discrimination in this country, and that the criminal justice system suffers from prosecutorial abuse, biased jury verdicts and lopsided sentences based on race.

But if these injustices are as common as Joe and I both believe they are, then why pick the "Jena 6"? Why pick a case of six bullies who beat, kicked and stomped a defenseless teen unconscious in a schoolyard -- as the one for the GLBT movement to take a stand?

The thoughts of Chris Crain exemplifies the white privilege many gays in the mainstream community still benefit from despite knowing all too well the dark side of discrimination and inequality based on their sexual orientation. Chris was right when he said the Jena 6 kicked and stomped the white student. I don't condone violence of any kind, but I've only been out of school for 10 years and during my time students who fought were written up, given detention, or even suspended but they were never locked up and charged with attempted murder, especially when the victim was well enough to attend a party the very same night.

Chris' dismissal of the racial overtones of this case and his description of The Jena 6 as "macho bullies" and "them" or "they" clearly displays his lack of compasssion and understanding for any injustice that doesn't resemble the Matthew Shepard story. Sad, but unfortunately for blacks and black gays and lesbians this is our America, we are still fighting for a place at the table.

While Joe Solmonese and HRC have a lot of catching up to do in terms of including black LGBT folks and truly showing a commitment to diversity within the HRC ranks, yesterday was definitely a step in the right direction.

But I do have to ask where were all of the Bishops from the hundreds of mega-churches all over the country? TD Jakes, Bishop Eddie Long, Bishop Paul Morton, Bishop Charles E. Blake, Creflo (Give Me A) Dollar? (*sounds of crickets*)

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<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

Certainly, it is amazing how people yell separation of church and state and gays love that. But when someone is in trouble or need help, everyone turns to the church. Since you want separation of church and state, leave the pastors alone! You think you can move mountains and solve problems in your own strength by protesting, marching and fiery brimestone speeches of retaliation against our white counterparts, go right ahead. You're only setting yourself for failure. Don't you dare blame the church for this!

September 22, 2007 12:37 AM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

Captain you are so special and I mean that in a "short bus" kind of way. You might want to read my post again. I wasn't laying blame on anyone, I just simply asked a question. It seems like this would have been an event the good bishops would have participated in but they were nowhere to be found.

September 22, 2007 10:04 AM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

Darian, I never rode the short bus, I had a private car. Ha! I guess that is why I am well accomplished today...you think?

Back to the comment for discussion; although it is nice for our church leaders to attend and support, this is a matter for the state to govern. However, I want to clearly point out to you and your readers that gays, such as yourself, always cry separation of church and state, but when there is trouble,or when there is a need, you want to band together. Until you solve that disparity in the gay community you advocate your life for, please refrain from making biased and accusatory assumptions towards our church leaders.

I take it no one taught you manners.

September 22, 2007 4:33 PM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

@ the Captain... You may want to research the context behind separation of church and state as it relates to governing in the U.S. All Darian was speaking of was support from the churches. He wasn't advocating for the black church to intervene in creating laws and regulation. I have a degree in political science, I did pay attention in Constitutional Law 101.

Darian as always I enjoy reading your blog. I wanted to respond to your comments about the HRC. A little over a year ago I had the same issues with the HRC as you did. One thing I did learn from my father while growing up in Selma, AL is that when you see something wrong don't sit back and complain, do something about it (which also is the reason I chose to have a career in the Federal Gov't). In 2006, I decided to do some volunteer work for the HRC. I believe in the HRC and its mission. I believe organizations like the HRC and NBJC are needed. But when it comes to the HRC there is little to almost no representation from other minority sub communities within the GLBT community. I believe this is the reason that the HRC tends to focus on mainly white gay issues. The HRC is a mostly volunteer organization. I do believe that if more minorities would join the HRC and participant in its events this would facilitate the broadening of the HRC's focus. To be honest with you, I do see the HRC's participation in the Jena 6 rally as mostly an opportunity for exposure. But nonetheless, I am glad to know they participated and I hope this type of participation and focus continues. I have not had much time to participate in many of the HRC's events for 2007. However, I have joined in their letter writing campaigns to various Congress members. But to be a more all inclusive organization two things must happen: 1) the HRC needs to have a more aggressive and targeted recruitment for membership among minority communities and, 2) more of "us" need to stop thinking about clubbing and other superficial things and focus more on helping our community.

September 24, 2007 9:03 AM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

Im convinced, Captain is a White Gay Republican hiding behind a Black face,
Darian u do have a point, these mega bishops only represent when its time to gay bash, any real issues that effect the black community as a whole they run and hide behind there Bentleys

September 24, 2007 8:21 PM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

So, Darian, if you so concerned with Jena 6, why didn't you take off work and go down there yourself? If you're such a journalist and if this is such a current event that is so profound, I would think you would have gone to Louisiana and fought for their rights, but where were you?

September 24, 2007 11:16 PM

<$BlogCommentAuthor$> said...

BTW- Omar, you may want to re-read the context of my response. It had nothing to do with the church trying to legislate laws or induce change in the legal system. I simply want to point out the fact the gay community only reacts and make expectations for the church when they feel is needed. So what if the Bishops didn't march down with 30 buses full of niggas!

September 24, 2007 11:20 PM


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