Archives for posts with tag: BlackHistoryMonth

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.

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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.