maxresdefault 2

I could blog about Kathy Griffin…or the Paris climate agreement…or another attack in London…or not blog at all since I just blogged my first blog since February, earlier today. But then I heard on the news that HBO’s Bill Maher dropped the “N” bomb on Real Time. After rolling my eyes and opening my laptop, I was aghast. Amid a milieu of dog whistles, populism, white working class self-pity, religious white supremacy, and #alllivesmatter, a white liberal male celebrity “ally” jokingly uttered the phrase “House Nigger.”

So here we go. What to say? What to say? I could say nothing, but to do so would be to ignore the reality of whiteness in America. I’d rather say nothing, than to deal with the definite progressive revelation of liberal ignorance that will surely be revealed in the anticipated comments that will be posted by white “friends” on the Book of Faces once the blog is drops. So here goes nothing or EVERYTHING.

Most blacks understand the implications of existing in a civic reality in which white supremacy is pervasive. We know that whether our collar be white or blue, gold or platinum, we will always be black. In order do survive such a maddening fate, we have adopted coded terminologies that, when used amongst ourselves,  provide a sense of humor, healing, and hope in eager anticipation of that “great gittin up mornin,” that holy expectation of the “already, not yet.”

Co-opting the term “House Nigger,” which originated in the antibellum south, to use amongst ourselves was our way of expressing self-awareness and social consciousness. For whether I am Lebron or Tiger, Serena or Michael, Obama or OJ, white supremacy will always deem me a nigger, whether living in the White House, confined to the Big House, or subjugated to cleaning the Out House. Understanding this, for better or for worse, has always been the first step toward embracing black liberation.

But what about Bill Maher? Why can’t he say it? First of all, as a straight white alpha male liberal celebrity, he can say whatever he wants. He can rap, or nah. He can drop the “F” Bomb on his own show, or nah. He can shoot hoops, or nah. He can cackle with white supremacists, or nah. And he can say “house nigger,” or nah.

The problem with Bill Maher is not that he jokingly labeled himself a “House Nigger” vs. a “Field Nigger.” The problem is that in so doing, he revealed his own lack of self-consciousness and social awareness. And in so doing he revealed that his pseudo-woke liberal progressive socio-political caricature has not liberated him from his own deep-seated racism and white supremacy, which we with melanin already knew.

The for real, for real is that Bill Maher’s self-designation as “House Nigger” reveals that he is just that…a pseudo-woke liberal progressive socio-political caricature propped up by Massa to capitalize on the false notion that white supremacy only exists on Fox News. Any white liberal celebrity who presumes he/she/they are not is just that, a House Nigger.

 

IMG_4626It’s June. June! It’s only June. Everyday since November 8 the news has been nonstop. From #pussygate to characters streaming in and out of Gotham Tower to #fakenews about crowds to failed attempts to ban Muslims to Spicers press briefing antics to crazy nonstop tweets to #fakenews about #Obamagate to failed Obamacare appeals to #Russiagate and on and on and on. It just hasn’t quit. It’s June. June! It’s only June.

It hasn’t even been six months, but already there is plenty of proof that we have been Trump-ed by traitors. A traitor is a person who betrays a friend, country, or principle. Traitors have infiltrated our government under the guise of piety and American Pie in order to rob us of our dignity for the sake of personal gain.

But the traitor is not Trump. Trump is who we have always known him to be, a self-interested, narcissistic, misogynistic, racist who will do whatever it takes to advance his own agenda. The real traitors are all 54 senators and 247 house leaders who are betraying American values by defending Trump’s self-interested, narcissistic, misogynistic, racist antics. The traitors are the white evangelical church leaders who are betraying American values by worshipping a God who is ambivalent to exhorbitant wealth, women’s rights, immigrants, refugees, extreme poverty, and racism. The traitors are the rust belt middle class pretending to be pitiful and poor to mask their fear of blacks, immigrants, refugees, and industrial progress.

These deep and subtle betrayals are what makes all this Trumpian chaos so horrific and unimaginable. Prior to November 8, I assumed I had friends who held differing views and values. Prior to November 8, I assumed I lived in a country with a constitution that states “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Prior to November 8, I assumed that my interests were being served by a democratic government that would protect me from the wiles of authoritarianism, nationalism, unrestricted capitalism.

But since the election of Donald J. Trump, I can no longer be led by such ill-advised assumptions.  Since November 8 it has become clear that those who have voted for this self-interested, narcissistic, misogynistic, racist president are self-interested, narcissistic, misogynistic, racists themselves. While Donald J. Trump is indeed problematic, the real traitors are these treasonous wolves in sheep clothing who pretend to be pious and patriotic in order to carry out their own self-interested, narcissistic, misogynistic, racist agendas against the poor, the immigrant, the refugee, and the American who still believes in Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness for all people everywhere. Such values no longer Trump all.

moonight-oceanBeing a black gay boy was my worst nightmare. I knew that one day I would need to stand before my family and my world and confess my unpardonable sin. This was the cross that was mine to bear. This was the thorn in my flesh. This was the crimson stain that would never be washed away. And I hated it. I hated it with the wrath of thousand suns. I hated who I saw in the mirror. I hated the sissy who was mocked on the playground. I hated the sound of my voice. I hated my girlish ways which brought on the wanton whispers. I was gay and I hated it. I wanted to be someone else. Anyone else. Just not me. I did not want to be a black gay man. I did not want to be a black gay man because I did not know what that looked like. I did not know what it looked like to be me. I only knew what it felt like. And it felt like hell. It was a living nightmare.

Tonight’s Moonlight Best Picture WIN…is typical of my living nightmare. It’s that feeling deep deep down that knows that you are the best you can be, even if no one else does. It’s that abiding uncertainty of knowing you are better than the mediocrity that continuously passes you by. It’s that never ending nightmare that tosses you into hell, while knowing one day you’ll wake up in heaven. Moonlight is the movie of that life. Moonlight reveals to the world the hell that black gay boys go through. It shows the shame that is so deep that it forces you to absorb everyone else’s pain in order to cover up your own. Moonlight is that silent cry in the middle of the night, when everyone else is asleep. Moonlight is that deep deep need to be wanted, but too afraid to believe you are.

Tonight, when Moonlight won, black queerness won. Little black gay boys won. Boys bullied. Boys called faggot. Boys touched by men and told not to tell. Boys whose lifeless bodies lie dead in the grave because they were too ashamed to live, too afraid to love. Tonight, Moonlight exhumed those dead lives, those dead hopes, those dead dreams. Tomorrow, black gay boys can go to school a little less confused, a little less afraid, a little more emboldened to live the life that is theirs to live. A moonlit life shining in the darkness, just waiting to be lived.

For nearly two years I’ve been yelling, “OMG, I love Empire!” By “empire,” I didn’t necessarily mean the American empire, but the hit TV show, Empire. For months my televisional week revolved around Empire. I was obsessed with its characters. I was infatuated with Jamal. I was captivated by Cookie. I loved the terror exacted by Lucious the patriarch.  I loved the bougie hip hop #veryblack shade that was constantly being thrown as a #veryreal constant of the upward spiral of blackness in an empire defined by the demise of blackness. And because I love (big “e”) Empire, I’ve been wanting to write this post for quite some time.

The delay is due to my reluctance to critique the very things I love…and I do love the American empire (little “e”)  so very very much. Perhaps too much. So much so that I am guilty of hating the abuses of America more so because of how they besmirch the American ideal, and less so because of the abuses themselves.

But at the end of the day, America is an empire in the purest form. And anyone committed to justice for all has to question their love for the American empire. The great James Baldwin said it best when he said, “I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.”  

But the problem is, empires are generally not open to criticism. To call into question the assertions of empire is to question the very premise of imperialism itself. The problem with empire is that the promises and guarantees, therein, require the execution of grave injustices and brutal atrocities. To question such executions is to threaten the empire that I am devoted to loving. Jamal and Cookie and Lucious are but figurative commodities depicting the imperial realities for which I aspire. A reality in which blackness and queerness and power personified is privileged are centered in imperial conquest.

But then, I am reminded that empire is not defined by diversity but dominance. A dominance that if spoken against is in itself an unspeakable betrayal. To speak against empire and live in opposition to empire is existential treason of the highest order. For this reason loving empire is dangerous. Loving empire endangers the marginalizations that are created by empire. Blackness, queerness, and liberty and justice for ALL do not coexist in empire. Freedom of speech that is prophetic and subversive is a threat to empire. To truly love empire is to love oppression, to love stratified power, to love armies, and homogeneity, and hegemony. To love empire is to love all the things that sustain empire. To love empire is to love all the things that denounce who I am. Loving the American empire is juxtaposed to black selflove, queer selflove, and the sacrificial love of the other.

As such, I love America more than any other country in this world, but because it is an empire I must persist on an internal self-critique of my complicity to the evil that sustains its imperial allegiance.

untitled-2

Move over Mariah, this Kim Burrell thing is blowing up! As if we didn’t know the black Christian homophobic gospel is complicated. Race, faith, and sex always is. Just an hour ago I praised a beloved Facebook friend for posting solidarity against the black gospel of homophobia. Black Christian homophobia is wreaking havoc on the black community by way of LGBTQ youth homelessness and abysmal rates of HIV infection. At the same time, the black church has always been a sanctuary for bi-curious homosexuals where obvious queers could find shelter from unrequited lust.

So, this Kim Burrell is not new. What is new is that Ellen DeGeneres booked a homophobic gospel legend without understanding the intersections that would be ignited. What is also new is the white mainstream outrage against black homophobia that is en vogue for the week. But, black Christian homophobia is not new. Just as the black masses have taken flight from the threat of the Jim Crow south, antiquated patriarchal norms, and Christian supremacy, black queers have fled black church oppression in all its forms for decades. So, the antics of Kim Burrell and her ally Shirley Caesar are troubling, but not shocking. It’s complicated!

It’s complicated because the black church and gospel music is the cornerstone of black liberation, which is the backbone of queer liberation. The architect of black liberation theology, Dr. James H. Cone, asserts, “But one could correctly say that the spirituals and the church, with Jesus’ cross at the heart of its faith, gave birth to the black freedom movement that reached its peak in the civil rights era during the 1950s and 60s. The spirituals were the soul of the movement, giving people courage to fight, and the church was its anchor, deepening its faith in the coming freedom for all.” (The Cross and the Lynching Tree, James Cone)  As such, bashing Kim Burrell and the black church creates an existential crisis for black queerness. For we know that underneath their hate is a gospel of love that has sustained and liberated our ancestors through generations and centuries of slavery, lynching, Jim Crow, and white nationalism.

So, let’s not throw out the baby with the bath water. To be clear, Kim Burrell and other anti-queer gospel artists should be condemned outright. But also, their antics must be understood and interpreted within the larger social context of white supremacy, Christian dominance, and systemic classism in the LGBTQ community. Kim Burrell and the homophobic black gospel are the by-product of Christianized racial oppression and is rooted in the myth that the only way to freedom is the black heteronormative Christian way of being. In other words, it’s complicated.

 

rs-trump-vote-d05871da-ab7b-4d5e-9f53-d1be9bd32260

Who are these people? What do they want? Where do we find them? How are they polled? Are they poor? Are they rural? Are they educated? What is it that unites them? What kind of music do they listen to? What sports do they watch? How do their interests differ from black working class voters? If Trump won by reaching out to the WHITE working class voter, how was he able to delineate them from the black working class voter?

I envision two working class voters, each living outside of Anywhere, OH. One black, the other WHITE. Both have 3 kids under the age of 13. One roots for the Browns, the other the Bengals. Both celebrated LeBron’s victory for Cleveland and grieved the Indians loss. One is married to his high school sweetheart, the other is divorced and is having his child support garnished from his check. Neither of them need Obamacare because their company insurance has sufficed.

I envision the WHITE working class voter voting for Trump and the black working class voter voting for Hillary. The WHITE working class voter attended a thunderous Trump rally, but the black working class voter never attended a Hillary rally, as his mind was made up. Every voter that the black working class voter knew, voted for Hillary. Every voter that the WHITE working class voter knew voted for Trump. What does Trump or Clinton have to say to sway these voters to vote for him or her?

Trump constructed a movement, “Make America Great Again.” Clinton created a slogan, “Stronger Together.” “Make America Great Again” was marketed toward the WHITE working class voter. “Stronger Together” included the black working class voter, but was intended for the WHITE working class voter’s WHITE wife (or ex-wife). But ironically, Trump was able to capture the vote of the WHITE working class voter and his WHITE wife (or ex-wife). How did “Make America Great Again” inspire the average WHITE working class voter and distance the average black working class voter?

The Trump campaign knew who the WHITE working class voter was, what he wanted, and where to find him. He knew what to say to win his WHITE working class vote. He knew his WHITE working class music and his WHITE working class sports team. He also knew what separated him from the black working class voter. Whatever it was that distinguished the WHITE working class voter from the black working class voter, the Trump campaign captured it and utilized it to bring about a victory. While there may be many things that  distinguishes the WHITE working class voter from the black working class voter, the main distinction is that he is WHITE.  As such, all Trump will need to do to continue to win WHITE working class voters is continue to remind them that they are WHITE!

160127164121-donald-trump-aug-rally-exlarge-169

I get it. You were fed up. You couldn’t take it anymore. You’re tired of being told how to think, what to say, where to go, and who to love. You are fed up with being called a racist. You are tired of feeling guilty for being white. You are tired of being forced to pay for entitlements that your don’t want or will never need. You resent having to earn a degree in order to make a living. I get it. You are fed up. So you said, “Fuck it, I’m voting for Trump.”

I get it. You are fed up. You want to be heard. You must be heard. You will be heard! And I hear you. Actually, I’ve heard you all along. I’ve heard you all my life. I know what you believe, as you rammed it down my throat. I know what you think, because you forced me to learn it from your one-sided textbooks. You’ve actually been very outspoken about it, from the pulpit, the town square, and the football stadium. I sat silently on your couches and at your dinner tables and in your pews. I’ve overheard exactly what you think about blacks, Jews, gays, and woman. I’ve sat close by scared to disagree. Scared to tell the truth. I was skeptical of your skepticism, but wanted you to be true because you seemed so right. I wanted to believe you. I needed to believe you, but I knew you would never believe me. And when I shared my naked gay truth, you did not believe me. In fact, you rejected me.

So, yes. I get it. You’re fed up. You are so pissed off with the liberal revolution surrounding  you that you voted for Trump. You chose him over me. Your friend. Your veteran. Your testament. You wanted to send the message that you are anti-abortion, anti-black power, anti-gay, anti-government, anti-immigrant, anti-etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. I get it. Trump’s subversive rhetoric was refreshing. He told it like it is. He didn’t care what anyone thought. And to you, that was liberating. You were waiting for a world where you could be who you are and say what you want without impunity. As such, you elected a president who has done the same.

I get it. You are fed up. You are tired of being laughed at, condescended, silenced, and dismissed. That’s totally understandable. And now it’s time for the rest of us to shut up and listen. It’s time now for we liberal elites to listen and understand your pain…to empathize with your plight, now that you have elected a demagogue into the White House. It makes perfect sense. People suffering so much pain that can only be alleviated by a protest vote, deserve to be heard.

So, yes. I get it. You are fed up. You demand to be heard! But what you must understand is this: It’s really difficult to listen to your silent protest vote, when for generations you haven’t tried to hear mine. The futility of your argument rests in the fact that your vote alone is your pain elixir, while we fellow citizens on the left carry the deep pain of racism, sexism, and xenophobia that our sacred vote has yet to absolve.