Many people continue to defend the racism of a white male drag-queen donning blackface as “humor” and insist that we ignore it if we don’t like it.
Many people feel free to tell me how to react to racism, even as I stand and see people I considered friends and allies walk away from me when I ask for help fighting this battle.
Many people turn a blind eye to this issue because they don’t have time.
There are many examples of how, over the course of history, this country has stepped away from ugliness and hatred. And there are many examples of how our attitudes are still ugly.
These are two photographs of lynchings of Black Americans by white Americans. You’ll note the smiling faces, the little white girl beaming up and the mutilated corpse of a Black man who never had a day in court. The little white boys standing beside their stern faced fathers.
This was entertainment. Family entertainment, American style. Hell, you could buy postcards to send home of lynching parties!
Sickening? Doubtless. Horrifying? Yes, it is. And it is a really real part of our shared story. And these crimes against us continue. Not all contemporary lynchings are done with a noose. And not all racism takes the life of its victims.
But it batters and bleeds our souls, every day.
Dehumanizing Black people lead to the capacity of those who would call themselves civilized to treat us like animals. And now I am expected to smile and “agree to disagree” with people who support racism? Because some Black folks think it is fine? Because some white folks have decided it is funny? Because some Black people have performed in “whiteface?” Because RuPaul speaks for all Black people and he has endorsed this racist diatribe?Because it is just a joke and I should just “lighten up…?”
Because my opinion doesn’t matter?
Well, yes..because I matter less because I am Black.
As a Black American, I will, on average die younger than a white American. I am more likely to be assaulted by a Peace Officer, or die in their custody. I am more likely to be incarcerated, and for a longer period of time than a criminal who is white who commits the same crime. I work longer hours for less money.
And I am supposed to accept this, and smile. and “Be Strong!” Through racial profiling. Through narrowly escaping a sexual assault at the hands of a white cop and knowing there was no point to me trying to press charges. Through having racial epithets hurled at me on the street. To having my hair stroked by people who forget the day they could do as they wanted with us are long past. Through having my then-boyfriend’s father make flagrantly racist remarks and my boyfriend begging me to be silent, to suck it up, because his father “will never change, so what’s the difference?”
I have spent 43 years trying not to let Them see me break. It was a point of pride in my family.
I am not sure I will automatically connect silence with pride in myself any longer.
There are those in the Leather community who point fingers and say “Well, why is blackface racist and race-play not racist? I find race-play offensive!”
Let me clarify this for you:
BDSM-BASED RACE- PLAY IS ABOUT CONSENT. RACISM IS NOT ABOUT CONSENT.
RACE-PLAY IS SPECIFICALLY ABOUT TAKING THE HORRORS OF RACIAL ABUSE AND EXPLORING THEM AND RECLAIMING ONE’S POWER IN A SEXUALIZED CONTEXT.
RACISM IS ABOUT ENACTING THE HORRORS OF RACIAL ABUSE REGARDLESS OF THE DESIRES OF THE OTHER PERSON.
I’ve been interviewed on and written a bit about race-play and you can peruse these discussions at your leisure.
The difference between race play and racism is the difference between a BDSM scene and domestic violence.
There is a Forum happening February 10th, 2013, hosted by Leatherati. The title of the forum is so very broad, and a bit misleading as the only panelists are Black. And we are hardly the only ones faced by racism. Not by a longshot. I am approaching it on good faith. I don’t know how it will go, but the support of those who would support my right to be human is most sincerely appreciated.