Can Victims be Perpetrators?

by Guest Contributor M. Dot, originally published on Model Minority

Yesterday the internet was abuzz with the fact that Prince might be homophobic.

Carmen from New Demographic commented on Twitter that this didn’t make sense. She wrote ,

“I’m still amazed that Prince is a homophobe. I mean, isn’t there a good chance he’s been gay-bashed in his life? (Even if he’s not gay).

I responded back saying that she presumed that possessing a “fringe Black masculinity” would make him more likely to be tolerant. I added that tolerance, like hate is taught. She responded saying she agreed, but it was still sad.

I agreed.

Even before I read the evidence of what Prince said, I suspected that if Prince was being intolerant, then perhaps may have something to do with his interpretation of the tenets of his faith practices.

This Prince moment also reminded me that our generation has a hard time accepting the fact that victims can be perpetrators.

The question of whether victims can be perpetrators has been on my mind for a while. A couple of weeks ago, I was having conversation with Krisna Best, of the Hip Hop and Democracy Project, which grew from my review of Byron Hurt’s film, Barack and Curtis.

Below I provide two quotes, which in my opinion get to the issue of our discussion of whether victims can be perpetrators.

Krisna wrote,

Your example of the white woman reminds me a lot of the whole “black on black crime” thing. This is where I start to disagree with you. There’s a white supremacist tinge to the black-on-black-crime concept because it pathologizes, if you will, black behavior. Black folks commit crime not because of a pathology or because of false consciousness, but because of much larger structural circumstances and is related to my point about this generation breaking with the conditions of work. They see the old arrangement as providing no road out of the circumstances of our society, not because they believe in their inferiority or whatever the conclusions of this bogus psychoanalysis are.

I responded,

Aren’t you pathologizing them into permanent victimhood?

They have agency. They can choose. We all choose to sell crack, blog, have children, vote, join the army. I am completely aware of the fact that our choices take place within the range of options available to us, and that often times our parents class status dictates exactly which options we just may have.

Let me ask you this? Do you think that D-boys/Pimps have agency?

While he didn’t respond at the time to my question, he has done so since I posted this.

The notion of victims being perpetrators weighs heavy on my mind, as I have been reading a lot about the Black Power Movement, Gender and Sexism for the past few weeks. You may be surprised, but, there were folks who felt that Black men weren’t capable of being sexist because they were victims of racism. Somehow, they some folks to believe that being a victim, they couldn’t be a perpetrator.

Now this of course makes no sense.

For example, Black folks who have been victims of racism can be prejudicial towards other Black folks regarding skin color. Paper bag party anyone?

That’s the horror of racism. It corrupts. It poisons.

Once we decide to refuse to look at people solely as victims who have nothing to contribute, and to see people as subjects who have agency and a will to change, the path will be laid for us to have personal transformation on an individual and societal scale.