• I’m sorry to hear about your health issues.

    I have HIV, hep B, chronic back pain and PTSD/depression so boy do I get chronic health problems. This is one of my favorite blogs but I haven’t checked in a while because of life stuff. But you’re definitely one of my favorite bloggers and I’m glad your chronicling your health battle. Hang in there.

  • Gary Alton Russell commented on the blog post The Hunger Games’ young racist fans

    2012-04-12 17:25:42View | Delete

    “Do writers for children and young adult literature have a responsibility to be more explicit when introducing non-white characters in their books?

    Or would being more explicit when introducing non-white characters play into a racist assumption that literary characters are white unless otherwise stated?”

    To the first question, I remember my Buddhist organization hosting a racial healing conference (I think there was a book by that name). One of the things that I remember talking about during that conference was that unless the character is clearly identified as black or non-white I automatically assume the character is white. In fact, when a character is later identified as a person of color, it’s pretty jolting because up to that point I’m assuming they’re white.

    While we need more diversity in literature, particularly youth literature, it should be done as a matter of course rather than to provide some sort of racial lesson. What I mean is that if a character is black, make them black. But if you’re making them black to enlighten young minds, I don’t know if that’s the way to go.

    To the last question, being more explicit might play into the racist assumption that you and I have stated. It’s tricky because we need more diverse characters to shatter stereotypes but at the same time we might be accused of injecting race to “indoctrinate” kids – a charge hurled at writers of children’s stories that include gay characters.

    There’s no easy answer, because we tend to see things in racial terms. Perhaps these kids should take occasional breaks from Twitter and educate themselves a little bit. Then again how will they ever be educated if they aren’t confronted with their own prejudices – especially when the utility is their beloved novel. Visibility both shatters stereotypes while inciting charges of indoctrination. It’s tricky. I don’t think I answered the questions though. :)

  • First I want to address some of shooter242’s comments:

    “If the left and media hadn’t started a lynch mob, this wouldn’t have happened. You have only yourselves to blame for inciting racial tension.”

    Shooter, I think you need to look at the definition of lynching. Saying that a man who racially profiled then murdered another man should be arrested is not lynching. I wish that people would stop using that term. I don’t know if this is intentional (perhaps it is) but constantly using lynching to define things that are not lynching not only dilutes the word but dilutes the history – the act of lynching. Please stop.

    Secondly, shooter, you said: “The racial slur never happened.”

    Whether or not the racial slur happened – to me – is irrelevant. Whether or not a crime was racially motivated does not rest solely on whether or not a slur was used while committing that crime.

    “Trayvon was the attacker.”

    No, George Zimmerman was the self-appointed cop who decided to chase a black kid who was committing no crime other than walking home from the store while carrying Skittles, iced tea, and committing the cardinal sin of walking while black.

    “The entire episode has been race-baiting based on falsehoods.”

    “Race-baiting” to my ears sounds just as loaded as another term I’ve been noticing a lot when I do Google searches on Trayvon Martin stories: race hustler. Using racist-sounding terms to deny that one is a racist is both amusing and frightening.

    “Anyone pushing those falsehoods is the racist.”

    No, a racist is a racist. Let’s stop pretending there is no racism in America, first of all. Second of all, stop using the word “racist” inappropriately. See my concern over the misuse of the word “lynching”. I’m suspecting there is a deliberate attempt to distort words like “racism” and “racist” to make them mean nothing more than political strategies to smear opponents. STOP DOING THAT.

    mswinkle wrote: “Remember Richard Pearl the so called bomber at the Atlantic games. The media executed him without a trial.”

    Re: execute. STOP using violent words to define non-violent things. It dilutes the word and the action.

    “What happened here is tragic. But so far, given how much MSM has had to walk back its race baiting claims, I am not sure it was about race.”

    Of course you are “not sure it was about race” because apparently it’s NEVER about race. Again with the “race baiting”. STOP IT.

  • I appreciate your response, Pam. It helps. I don’t understand the hoodie thing at all. I wear hoodies a lot and have never connected hoodies with race.

    I read Tim Wise saying that there are people in this country that want to take us back to the 1850s and it’s hard not to believe that. Not just with race but with a lot of others things. I get a real visceral feeling when I read things like your brother being accosted by a white woman. It’s the same feeling I get when I read the nasty stuff people are saying about Trayvon Martin. It just literally makes me feel sick. So while I admit to my own prejudices (it’s hard not to have them) it’s hard not to feel sick over what’s happening. That there isn’t a collective revulsion over the incident jolts me into remembering that race prejudice remains.

    Of course, being gay I don’t have to be reminded about homophobia because it’s a part of my daily life. So persons of color probably don’t need a Trayvon Martin case to remind them what kind of country we live in.

  • When I lived in Colorado some people thought I was Latino (I’m part Native American). On several occasions people told me to go back to Mexico. (I was born in Kentucky?!). It was not uncommon to go into stores and have security follow me. At airports, after 9/11, I always get the enhanced searches. And I’m not even that dark-skinned.

    Since moving back to Indiana I’ve had people for some reason ask me if I’m Asian. I don’t understand why people want to know and it makes me uncomfortable.

    The Trayvon Martin deal really makes me ill. I feel nauseous and tearful and just plain sad. I joined the local rally and brought my hoodie and Skittles and Arizona tea and the protest was peaceful and unified. I come home and read on my local news site the most racist garbage. Most of the white people were just yelling and it bothered me not just because it was mean but because I wanted to talk about my experience at the rally and no one seemed on a level to do that.

    The thing I wanted to talk about was this: At the rally I felt completely safe and I felt real solidarity. But as I was eating my Skittles I thought, I wonder what would happen if I was walking down the street and suddenly saw thousands of black people in hoodies?

    I was raised in Kentucky and taught all the stereotypes about blacks, women, and gays. I still deal with internalized homophobia, so I have to still be dealing with the other stuff, right? And after reading your blog about the issue I definitely feel I’ve still got work to do.

  • Congrats for the honor. Also thanks for shining a light on Bayard Rustin. I think the fact that an important figure in the black civil rights movement was a black gay man helps counter the “black civil rights have nothing to do with gay civil rights” argument. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere as King said, but also such arguments ignore the many people of color who face dual discrimination of racism and homophobia. Our movement also needs to do a better job of recognizing our diversity. One of the reasons I canceled my subscription to the Advocate was because the mag seemed to cater to privileged white people. I checked out an issue while in a waiting room recently and see that it’s gotten even worse.

  • Sounds like a good idea I guess but how effective will the campaign be? I question GLAAD like I question Gay Inc. in general, which has been largely weak and ineffectual. GLAAD’s poor handling of the Roland Martin deal is a good example of what I mean.

    I’m puzzled by this one bit from CAP: Journalists or producers who are on deadline often don’t have the time to dig into the histories of a commentator.

    Honestly? If Tony Perkins and Bryan Fischer are a mystery to journalists then they should really find another line of work. Micah Clark might be unknown to people outside of Indiana but he fronts the local American Family Association and his extreme views are well-documented. Anyone locally who doesn’t know what his views are hasn’t read a newspaper.

    I don’t think it’s the media who need educated; they can’t all be that ignorant of who these people really are. The people needing educated are the viewers, the ones who listen to the lies and don’t realize they are lies. When Tony Perkins puts on a suit and goes on Anderson Cooper he is given legitimacy. When Maggie Gallagher is asked to testify before Congress she is elevated to the status of expert.

    Micah Clark wrote a ridiculous attack on Indiana Youth Group – a local gay youth organization – that was published in the Indianapolis Star. I wrote a four page rebuttal – with sources – and posted a link to it in the comments section. I think that is going to be a more powerful method to counter the lies and distortions of these people: publicly refute what they say. Letting the suits do the work has amounted to very little in terms of progress as far as I can see. And as far as calling out these hate groups and individuals they are a massive fail in my humble opinion.

    Instead of putting together information packets for the media GLAAD should be staffing itself with educated individuals who are better equipped to battle these professional bigots in the public arena. Again just my humble opinion.

  • I am a gay man who knows very little about being transgender, so I found your piece educational. I’ve always wondered what to call transgender people – by the gender they identify as, or simply transgender? Sounds like there isn’t a universal agreement on that, but then gays and lesbians aren’t in agreement about what we should be called either.

    I agree with your argument about using transgender for political purposes. I wear a wedding ring; though I’m not legally married (Indiana doesn’t recognize same-sex marriages), I had a religious ceremony in 1996 and consider myself married. People often notice my ring and ask about my wife. I could simply refer to my husband without addressing his gender, and sometimes I do just that. Sometimes with a quick encounter there isn’t time to go into the specifics. Other times I’m not in the mood for a lengthy discussion. But I recognize the importance of outing myself. Visibility doesn’t always change minds, but in my experience, many times it has. It’s an important tool to open the doors that are closed to so many of us.

    I applaud your courage and insight.

  • Superb blog post as always. I had just read about another gay kid killing himself before reading the news about Roland Martin’s tweet, so I went kind of ballistic. Hope CNN lets him go.

  • I’d heard of RuPaul’s defense of that word and found it odd coming from a black drag performer, someone who has likely endured insulting labels. Your critique of the issue is enlightening.

  • I appreciate the way you thoughtfully address how the movement is essentially white-washed. This is a big problem, and this is the right way to address it. Directly, but respectfully.

  • Good job! We need to call these bigots out in plain language – expose them for the hateful people they really are.

  • Gary Alton Russell became a registered member

    2012-01-14 14:49:26View | Delete