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Sunday Soliloquy: Keeping it “Post-Racial” and In The Closet June 28, 2009

Composers and Collaborators, Duke Ellington (left) and Bill Strayhorn

Composers and Collaborators, Duke Ellington (left) and Bill Strayhorn

The study of the African American collective consciousness can be one of great complexity. To say there is a collective assumes that we are all bounded by race exclusive of the black individual. No matter who we are or what we do as African Americans, we are all going to die black.

As I observe the goings ons surrounding  pop singer Michael Jackson’s death, I find  great dissimilarities between the verbal reflections of his Caucasian associates verses those of his African American associates.

Michael Jackson died of cardiac arrest, most likely due to the overuse of prescription drugs. There is not much controversy in that. So why all of the hoopla? Because there is much controversy in the way Michael Jackson live his life which was very let say ‘un-black’.

Historically, the African American community has not been very welcoming to gays and lesbians. Nor have they been very open or honest about mental illness within the community. The idea was that homosexuality and mental illness was something only white people experienced. Let me just pause here to say that I am in no way correlating homosexuality with mental illness, I am simply bring up two subjects that are taboo within the African American community.

When a black celebrity is gay, everything is usually done to erase the societal memory of that. Recently, when I visited the Smithsonian’s Museum of American History, there was an exhibit on African American composer Duke Ellington and his collaborator Billy Strayhorn also an African American and openly gay. Strayhorn composed “Take the A Train”  but he was also friends with Martin Luther King Jr. and did much to advance civil rights. While I can understand that the Smithsonian exhibit was about music, there was nothing mentioned about Strayhorn’s sexuality which was an paramount part of his music and associations.

There is also Bayard Rustin, a gay civil rights activist that was gay. I have mentioned Mr. Rustin in previous posts. Rustin was a close adviser to Martin Luther King Jr. and organized the epic “March on Washington”. Do you hear much about Bayard Rustin?

Much of black leadership has come from the religious wings.  The black church has been viewed as the cornerstone of the black community. This can be traced back to the days of slavery.  Look at the leaders in the black community today. Michael Jackson is dead. Who shows up to the home of his family? Rev. Al Sharpton and Rev. Jesse Jackson. A black person is wrongfully accused of something or murdered  by the police who shows up to defend them Rev. Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson. Some innocent political cartoonist draws something about President Barack Obama that is perceived as racist (whether it really is or not) who leads the calls for the publication to fire the cartoonist? Rev. Al Sharpton.

black credsRacial profiling, youth violence, and media racism can all be colored as political issues. So where does religion come into this? Why do we need these “reverends” to come out for us? They do a lot more than praying. They speak for African Americans as a race. This disturbs me because I feel that my views are often not in alignment with theirs. Incidentally as a little anecdotal side note, when GOP chairman Michael Steele or former Secretary of State Condi Rice  were referred to as “uncle toms” by blacks and whites alike, you never heard so much as a peep out of the reverends. Black gays, conservatives, and the mental unstable are kept in the closet.  The National Organization for Women (NOW) also keeps its mouth shut when conservative women such as Gov. Sarah Palin get mauled by the media. In both cases it is an awful but unfortunate double standard.

With Barack Obama in office, many of the religious reactionary and conservative African American voices are now empowered. We are seeing this with the passage of Prop. 8 in California and we are also seeing this with regards to the shaping of Black collective memory. Reverend Jeremiah Wright is being called upon for public appearances more than ever. Rev. Wright’s well known “God Damn America” speech hardly makes him one that should be consulted as a speaker on the black community.

I am by no means condemning the black church.

While I do not attend Sunday services, I consider myself to be “spiritual” . I pray and I read the Bible. I am just not a believer in organized religion. I am a proponent of the separation of church and state, which means separation of church and politics.The black church in my opinion has overstepped these boundaries.

Having a forum for black dialogue is important especially in the public arena. But there is more than one avenue we can take in order to achieve that. At the oresent moment, there is no balance. Something bad happens to a person of color, the media calls upon Rev. Al Sharpton to speak for all blacks.  Sharpton will not defend a black conservative or gay, so where is the diversity in that?

PowellDuring the election, it was clear that Rev. Jesse Jackson did not care for Barack Obama but he backed him anyway. Where is the freedom of choice in that? Jackson felt pressured to support Obama because they are both of color. I encountered quite a few African Americans that did not agree with Barack Obama. Hell, they did not even like Obama but they voted for him anyway.  Colin Powell turned his back on the Republican Party and his long time friend Senator John McCain to support Barack Obama. Why would Powell do this when Obama has little respect for the military or the policies he instituted under the Bush administration.

When you throw legacy and collective memory into this, you are left with this sort of myth making on the part of our so called African America leaders.  A famous black person dies and you see this rush to create some weird white washed revisionist black history. Oh, no Martin Luther King never cheated on  Coretta. Writer Richard Write loved black women. Josephine Baker was not a lesbian and Langston Hughes was not gay. Michael Jackson was not “off the wall”.

I am bringing this all up specifically because the recent approach by the African American community on Michael Jackson’s legacy is to erase the fact that man while talented and an American icon, demonstrated behavior that was incredibly bizarre.

What I am hearing from the AA side is “Oh, Michael was not taking drugs…let’s remember his accolades.”

So that is what we are saying now about Michael Jackson

Is it just me or do anyone else recalled that most of the parodies an fodder made of Michael Jackson during his life came from African Americans  like Eddie Murphy or African American shows like In Living Color…

WARNING THESE CLIPS CONTAIN EXPLICIT LANGUAGE AND CONTENT


So now Michael is suddenly normal again and in the closet?

Welcome to the Black Image Makeover Awards. I loved Michael Jackson the way he was and I will remember him for his talent as well as his faults. Perhaps if the African American community intervened more in his life and been helpers rather than turning their backs and making light of his personal situations, he would still be alive today. Now the leeches  or ” friends” will come out claiming to know him for a lifetime even though all they did was share airspace with him for two seconds.

The press called upon Barack Obama to “say a few words” about Michael Jackson. WTF? Why? Would you have asked George Bush to say a few words about Michael Jackson? Didn’t I once see “W” do the moonwalk? You are only asking Obama to say something because Michael Jackson is black like Obama.  On FOX News, Geraldo Rivera repeatedly emphasized how “post-racial”  Michael Jackson was. WTF? Post-Racial?

Yes MJ was so post-racial that he dramatically altered his skin color and Barack Obama is so post-racial that the media feels he should comment on the death of a performer just because they are both of color.

Suddenly now Michael Jackson in death, is an honorary black person again.

In closing here is the video to my favorite Michael Jackson song and video  “In The Closet”


The Black Image Makeover Awards
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24 Responses to “Sunday Soliloquy: Keeping it “Post-Racial” and In The Closet”

  1. sstorm0730 Says:

    I enjoy your writing immensely.

  2. manbearpig68 Says:

    Post racial is such a great term!! I’m really glad the US has moved into a post racial environment! I know if I (a white man) went out and did an act like Dave Chappelle’s bit, I would be welcomed with open arms by all races now and nobody would come down on me since we are now in the POST-RACIAL America.. Right!!!

    Post racial and 98% of blacks voted for the black candidate because?

    Post racial and we still have affirmative action for minorities?

    Post racial and a thousand other statements?

    • Liberal Larry Says:

      Afirmative action helps women too. Ur statement is racist.

      • ghostofsparta Says:

        Your statement has atrocious spelling. Are you saying that I, as a white male, should hate affirmative action because it helps females and minorities at my expense? Because that’s the implication you’re leaving hanging out there.

      • manbearpig68 Says:

        SPARTA
        Sarcasm? Do you know what it is? No spelling errors in my statement.. Post racial is joke!!!

        I AM A WHITE MALE. IF I WENT OUT AND MADE JOKES LIKE DAVID CHAPPELLE, I WOULD PROBABLY GET ACCUSED OF BEING A RACIST.. 98% OF BLACKS VOTED FOR BO AND MANY OF THEM JUST BECAUSE BO IS BLACK. THERE ARE MANY PEOPLE OF OTHER RACES THAT VOTED FOR BO JUST BECAUSE HE BLACK AS WELL. POST-RACIAL SOCIETY DOES NOT EXIST OR THIS WOULD NOT HAPPEN. WE STILL HAVE AFFIRMATIVE ACTION. IN A POST-RACIAL SOCIETY, AFFIRMATIVE ACTION WOULD NOT EXIST!!! THERE ARE MANY OTHER EXAMPLES THAT PROVE THAT POST-RACIAL SOCIETY DOES NOT EXIST. UNDERSTAND?

        LIBERAL LARRY,
        THERE IS NOTHING RACIST BY STATING THAT AFFIRMATIVE ACTION STILL EXISTS . YOU ARE AN IDIOT AND A VERY PREDICTABLE LIBERAL. THE FIRST THING A LIBERAL ALWAYS CLAIMS IS THAT THE OTHER IS A RACIST.

      • ghostofsparta Says:

        Sorry manbearpig, my statement was directed at Liberal Larry, not at yourself. I should have clarified, my mistake.

      • manbearpig68 Says:

        Sorry Sparta,
        I jumped the gun because I was ticked off at Ludicrous Larry…

  3. SYD Says:

    The Reverends will not come out for *us* (meaning women and gays) because it serves them not to.

    One of the most liberal denominations in the country has, again, used the “any minority male is better than a woman” meme to keep it’s presidency in the hands of the good old boys. Look here:

    http://www.uua.org/news/newssubmissions/144235.shtml

    This is not the first time this hand has been played by the denomination of Susan B. Anthony. In fact… the last President was African American… and won against a (gasp) white woman.

    Now there are those who will say “the most qualified or best or most dynamic candidate won. Yada, yada.

    But, if so… I ask you this…. What is wrong with the women of the UUA that they are never “most qualified” or “best” or “most dynamic??” Where is the systemic problem that leads us down that path? Are the scholarships only being given to promising male seminarians??? Is there a lack of mentorship for female ministers?? WHAT IS THE PROBLEM???

    The “post racial era” is not about to happen. Nope. It serves the patriarchy all too well.

    SYD

  4. Liberal Larry Says:

    This post is proof that Afrocity has an identity disorder. She cannot see a post racial US because of her hatred for Barack Obama. The only party that helps the causes of minorities is the democrats.

    Facing your inner conflicts on your own identity Afrocity will help greatly in your abilty to see a post racial country. Obama has done this entirely by bringing people together to vote for him.
    He is for everyone and gay folks too.

    Groups like PUMA and rethuglicans are the racist but hide it as being for women rights. PUMA can’t say anything good about Obama and they are democrats. the only thing about you that I kinda respect is that u r upfront about being a rethug. Look at the woman in the mirror n’ change yo ways. Welfare should have made u thank the left instead of biting the hand.

    • manbearpig68 Says:

      Would you rather give somebody a job or keep them on welfare and enable them to do nothing? How is Obama helping the “gay folks”? How did Obama help the people in the Chicago communities in his early days? They are still living in disgusting conditions but free of asbestos. He used people (democrat votes) to make a name for himself and nothing else? How is it helping people by slamming through a purely democrat agenda as fast as possible without giving anybody a chance to study the bills in his agenda? How is he helping by racking up more debt than any other president? How is he unifying by making fun of people that have opinions different than his?

      Can you answer any of these truthfully without moving into such tactics as calling me a racist because I don’t like Obama……. I don’t care what color or race or sex a person is but I do care about their character and ideals..

      Why don’t you have some input that is constructive?

    • WMCB Says:

      *Sigh* Typical response. Here afrocity makes a cogent and thoughtful exploration of why she thinks the way she does, and instead of having a conversation, or disagreeing on points, you jump to the “she hates her own blackness” defense.

      Of course, if you read her with any regularity, it’s obvious that she is smart, well-adjusted, and very much in touch with and proud of her AA heritage. And she has reasons for her positions, but you conveniently ignore those reasons and merely denigrate her.

      I’m neither a Republican nor a Conservative. I’m a centrist Dem with some Libertarian leanings. I don’t agree with afrocity on everything. But I respect her, and give her the courtesy of treating her points as those of a reasoning human being, which she is. She pays me the same courtesy.

      In the real world, everyone with whom you disagree is not damaged, or delusional. In the real word, equally intelligent and thoughtful persons can DISAGREE on solutions.

      Perhaps we should psychoanalyze you, as you did her. Perhaps we could opine that your personal lashing out is indicative of your deep-seated fear that if black people, and especially black women, start thinking for themselves and owning their own arguments, instead of parroting yours like dutiful little plantation residents, you and your political wing will lose all control over those scary black folk.

      And that, sir, would simply blow your f*cking mind. That’s a huge danger to you, so you reflexively cry “She’s a race-betraying witch! Burn her!”

      Me, I like the fact that afrocity pays me the respect of arguing with me as if I had a brain of my own. And I will continue to pay her that same respect. That’s what you DO with people whom you truly view as equals.

      • afrocity Says:

        WMCB that is one of the nicest things anyone has ever said about me. Thank You I appreciate your comments always.

        Many have asked why Liberal Larry is not banned.
        I want everyone to see that even the stupid have a place to air their views.

        I have been accused of not being black many times. What Larry is saying is nothing new. Remarks like his are actually racist in that these people believe that all African Americans should think and vote alike.

        I could be a black person who bathed in Clorox on the daily basis and as long as I voted for Obama, Larry would think my identity was fine. 😉

    • valorie Says:

      “Look at the woman in the mirror n’ change yo ways. Welfare should have made u thank the left instead of biting the hand.”

      OMG! This is the most ludicrous and racist statement I have ever read! It’s like Liberal Larry is telling you, Afrocity, that you have stepped out of your “place” and you better get back in line and be thankful you have a place in line. That you shouldn’t try to improve yourself or circumstances. It’s sickening!

  5. SYD Says:

    Did you hear that Afrocity? Be thankful for the way they oppress us. Or they might stop doing it!

    Now can we hear from Conservative Curly? And Moderate Moe??

    SYD

    • Janis Says:

      More like “be thankful for the way they oppress us, or else they can start doing it worse.”

      That’s all I’ve ever heard — women should STFU because other women have it worse, and black people are starving in Africa so STFU if you complain here.

      The threat is always “so we can make things a lot worse for you if you don’t play grateful like you should, bitch.” That’s what’s behind Liberal Larry’s fury. He’s gone so far out of hiw way for our benefit as to not actually lynch or rape ANYONE (that bitch from college is lying), and we’re not on our knees in gratitude.

  6. Ario Says:

    Great Post! But I’m not sure that the black community turned its back on Michael. As far as I remember, he has always been loved and adored by our community.

  7. Rose Says:

    The AP article in the paper here today – said he ‘erased’ the lines of racism by being ‘white’ – I think that is insane – he ‘erased’ the lines of racism by being great, not by what color he was – the AP reporter is an idiot.

    If I find the story online I’ll come back with a link.

    In the meantime – this second autopsy stuff is disgusting – he died from an addiction to drugs/painkillers, regardless of how he got them – If a doctor injected him or he did it himself is kind of irrelevant.

    Why on earth would his family put his body through a second autopsy when you really didn’t even need the first one.

    This is gruesome and disgusting at this point – get Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson out of there and give the man some dignity, some freedom from the horrific hype that gave him so much but ultimately not only robbed him of his childhood but took his life. In death, give him some dignity.

    Am I wrong?

  8. ghostofsparta Says:

    I have a small quibble with you right here:

    “I am a proponent of the separation of church and state, which means separation of church and politics.The black church in my opinion has overstepped these boundaries.”

    I can only say that it is simply not possible in any representative government to completely separate church and state. Why? Because I vote, thereby being involved in the state. How do I vote? Based on my beliefs. How did I come by my beliefs? Well, my religion/church have had a big impact on my beliefs. I see the argument for government staying out of the church (Government shall not establish a religion or prohibit the free exercise thereof….roughly paraphrased), but to say the church needs to stay out of government is a Sisyphean challenge, becuase too many people, like myself, are shaped by their religious beliefs for that to happen.

  9. Bookworm Girl Says:

    brave and excellent post here. your points are well taken by me. i find it frustrating that so many blacks like to pretend issues when it comes to acknowledging their role in them.

  10. bob Says:

    No matter who we are or what we do as African Americans, we are all going to die black.

    And they are surely wrong if they think that. If there is a collective consciousness, as I think there is, it’s not a racial one, unless we think of the entire human family as one group. The process is the same, and though we all die alone, we all die the same. And whatever lies ‘beyond’, be it judgement, or bliss, or nothingness, is the same for all of us too.

  11. Rose Says:

    Funny, I find I am in agreement with all except your Liberallarry LOL… whatever lies ‘beyond’, be it judgement, or bliss, or nothingness, is the same for all of us too, yep, Bob.

  12. WMCB Says:

    @afrocity@10:45

    I hate that patronizing crap – it just boils my blood. Sorry for the long rant, but that crap makes me CRAZY.

    A free and equal people have the right to have political opinions all over the board, left to right, same as anyone else.

    If you don’t believe that black people have that freedom, if they are not seen as fit to form their own opinions (whether you think all of those opinions are right or wrong), then WHO is the racist here?

    You only argue and debate with those you view as equals. The refusal of many to argue with a black conservative on the ISSUES reveals a lot.

    • it really is a plantation mentality… many many Blacks are diverse in their thinking, but there is a good bit of fear based thinking imposed sociologically on Blacks via family and community. it simply is not allowed for Blacks to be conservative or not vote for democrats and voice it. most blacks who are simply keep quiet lest they be shamed and browbeaten. what liberal larry does is an attempt to do the same to afrocity. but she, like me, have developed a tough enough skin to deal with it. even so, she and I could probably (and has) point out times when we quietly say nothing rather than dealing with the mess that hits the fan when we speak up

  13. Madrigal Says:

    To Liberal Larry,
    Your post is amazing for its hypocrisy & ignorance. Your accusations of manbearpig68 looks rather silly when YOU are the one behaving in a racist manner (ie: automatically attributing characteristics to humans based *solely* on melanin differences). It is truly a weird world we are living in now, as I feel like Alice in Wonderland when racist & sexist & homophobic Obama supporters are like the pot calling the kettle black so frequently. I don’t agree with some of Manbearpig68’s opinions but he is certainly not saying anything racist. Your comment about Afrocity was insulting & condescending. IMO the only psychological pathology that is showing from commenters on this thread, is your own issue with projection.

    Jeesh! Sorry Afrocity that this is my first post! I’ve lurked here before, along with other favorite blogs. I really like your writing & you bring up a lot of interesting & valid points. Of course I don’t agree with some of the topics but, heck, this is not a Kool-aid blog so we don’t have to behave like groupthink robots. I really like that you have a place open to respectful (but passionate) discussion & value your integrity! Healthy & respectful debate from a diverse group of free-thinking people, was what (at least some of) the founding fathers were envisioning for the future of our citizenry. Thanks & sorry for the length of this post!


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