A Hope for Civility Amongst Racism and Stereotypes
Posted on April 7, 2014
I was tempted to start this post off by asking if gay has become the new black. Why? Dictionary.com defines racism as “a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to rule others.” If you remove race from the definition and substitute it with heterosexuality vs homosexuality, you’re left with a snapshot of parts of the world today. The problem with asking if gay has become the new black, though, is that there are people who happen to be homosexual and who also happen to be black. Kinda doesn’t work as well then, does it?
The current state of politics in the US and other areas of the world has led some to state the gay movement is the new civil rights movement. And that’s angered some leaders who happen to be black. Bishop Nedd of the Episcopal Missionary Church is one such leader and who stated in an interview with WND “There are lots of people who lived and died and suffered merely because of race. Any individual who happens to be homosexual, they’re already covered under the law because of their color, because of their sexuality, because of various other things. It’s not a separate classification and personally I’m offended by it.”
Well, there are many of us who lived and died and suffered because of our sexual orientation. And we haven’t been covered under the law. The state of Michigan—where I happen to live—still allows us to be discriminated against regardless of the color of our skin. That kind of negates what Bishop Nedd believes to be fact, only it’s a fairly common refrain to hear. Well, that and being compared to pedophiles and so many other lovely things. For the record, I do believe it is a civil rights movement. I simply wish there’d be more civility involved.
I had a crash course on a different version of racism when I started dating my husband, who happens to be half Chinese. Ever heard of Yellow Peril? Let’s go with Dictionary.com’s definition again: “the power or alleged power of Asiatic peoples, esp the Chinese, to threaten or destroy the supremacy of White or Western civilization.” The amusing thing—if there can be such a thing about this kind of racism—is how perception has evolved over the years into thinking that Asian men (and women) are lesser people. And gay Asian men? Lesser still when compared to the might of white men. Not this white man, but other white men. What happened to the threat of destroying Western civilization? People sure were paranoid back in the day.
Then, of course, there was the recent Stephen Colbert controversy on his show’s Twitter account. The tweet “I am willing to show #Asian community I care by introducing the Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever”. It’s important to note that Colbert himself didn’t write the tweet. Someone else did, but isn’t it incredible what 140 characters can do and how they can be interpreted? I’m a fan of satire probably more than the average person, only I failed to see the satirical value of that tweet not matter what it was in regards to. In this case, the owner of the Washington Redskins.
When it comes to racism on a national scale, I’m going to state this quite bluntly: I have never been so embarrassed by some leaders of my country as I am today with their treatment of President Obama, specifically by the Republican leadership. I have never seen such blatant disrespect as I have since that man took office. I don’t agree with everything the president says or does, but I have never, ever seen such horrific behavior as I have from people who wear self-deluded entitlement as a reason to act like they do.
And on a local scale—and here’s what originally prompted this post—a man was driving home through Detroit a couple of days ago and a young boy stepped out in front of his truck. He hit the boy, then stopped, got out and went to the child’s aid. That’s when he, the driver, was mobbed and beaten to within an inch of his life. As of this writing, the driver remains unconscious in the hospital in a medically induced coma.
A surprise here is that the driver was white. The mob wasn’t. One of the first comments posted on a Detroit News Article is “So where is Al Sharpton? Jesse Jackson? Eric Holder?” Had the situation been reversed and it was a black driver and white mob, the commenter infers that one or more of these men would have shown up demanding justice, a comment shared in feedback on other news sites. I can’t say based on previous incidents that they don’t have a point.
The real surprise, however, and a pleasant one at that, is the incident hasn’t prompted a white/black backlash. Instead, outrage has crossed ethnicity, skin color, age, and economic background. Nearly $80,000 has been raised for the driver’s medical bills (he doesn’t have insurance). That’s a community of communities coming together.
It always makes me cringe, though, when something like this happens and I inevitably hear someone say “Oh, some of my best friends are black!” Or white. Or Asian. Or gay. As Mrs. Brown is fond of saying in Mrs. Brown’s Boys, “That’s nice.” See, things like this confound me. I have friends who fit all of those descriptions, only I don’t feel the need to make a point of it—unless I’m being satirical. I like to think I treat everybody the same. I could care less what your ethnicity or skin color happens to be. I also like to think that I’ve learned something from all of my friends, differences and all.
They are the civility I wish would catch on in a much bigger way.
Kristoffer Gair (who formerly wrote under the pseudonym Kage Alan) is the Detroit-based author of Honor Unbound, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To My Sexual Orientation, Andy Stevenson Vs. The Lord Of The Loins, Gaylias: Operation Thunderspell, several short stories featured in anthologies (to be combined in a forthcoming book), the recently re-published novella Falling Awake, its sequel, Falling Awake II: Revenant and Falling Awake III: Requiem.