links for 2011-05-16

  • "CNN’s weekend anchor Don Lemon has come out publicly this weekend as gay with a new book about his life titled Transparent expected to hit the shelves next month. Lemon who has candidly spoken about his childhood abuse before will go into even greater depth in his new memoir. The announcement this evening on his twitter feed was met with support from his nearly 87,000 followers.

    "Lemon acknowledges that coming out as gay has special challenges as a black man in particular and that some may judge him negatively."

  • "Most Southern states followed a one-quarter or one-eighth rule: anyone with a black grandparent or great-grandparent was legally black, and those with more remote ancestry were legally white. Antebellum South Carolina, though, never had a legal definition of race. 'It may be well and proper,' a state judge and leading defender of slavery wrote in 1835, 'that a man of worth, honesty, industry and respectability, should have the rank of a white man, while a vagabond of the same degree of blood should be confined to the inferior caste.' Preserving the institution of slavery mattered far more than preserving the purity of white 'blood.' As long as people who claimed to be white were productive members of society — in effect, supporting the prevailing order — it made little sense to mandate a stricter measure of race."
  • *TRIGGER WARNING* "'I looked at it, and what it brings back to me more than anything else is that I got so much notoriety because I was white,' he says. 'I looked at that picture and I thought of all the people that never get their names in a book, never get interviewed but literally had given their lives. Who the hell am I to have my picture up there?'

    "He was suddenly flooded with guilt. He started bawling during the ceremony as startled people looked on. Then another Freedom Rider veteran, a strapping black man named Jim Davis, walked over to Zwerg.

    "Zwerg's voice trembles with emotion as he recalls what Davis said. "'He said, 'Jim, you don't realize that it was your words from that hospital bed that were the call to arms for the rest of us.'"

  • "Gingrich sought to lay blame for the recession, as well as the economic and social upheaval in Detroit, on Obama and his policies. 'President Obama is the most successful food stamp president in American history,' Gingrich said. 'I would like to be the most successful paycheck president in American history.'

    "Clearly an attempt to tag Obama as an effete, latte-sipping liberal. Or foreign. Or Clintonesque. Or something. Anything but race.

    "Move along…

  • "A majority of those swept into our nation’s prison system are poor people of color, but the sudden shift away from the 'get tough' rhetoric that has dominated the national discourse on crime has not been inspired by a surge in concern about the devastating human toll of mass incarceration. Instead, as Professor Bell predicted, the changing tide is best explained by perceived white interests. In this economic climate, it is impossible to maintain the vast prison state without raising taxes on the (white) middle class.

    "Given this political reality, it is hardly a surprise to read a headline that says, 'N.A.A.C.P. Joins With Gingrich in Urging Prison Reform,' rather than the other way around. If there were ever an illustration of Professor Bell’s theory that whites will support racial justice only to the extent that it is in their interests, this would seem to be it."

  • "Last month, Ms. Ortega and eight other plaintiffs sued San Mateo County in an effort to change the way voters elect the powerful Board of Supervisors. Latinos and Asians make up half of the county’s population, yet they rarely hold high-ranking elected offices. Ms. Ortega and her fellow plaintiffs in the lawsuit argue that the county is in violation of the California Voting Rights Act of 2001, which outlawed at-large voting in places with histories of racially polarized voting or where minority groups are 'too geographically dispersed to elect their candidate of choice from a single member district.'

    "The lawsuit — and its implied suggestion of racism — has struck a nerve in a county that considers itself solidly liberal. County officials say going to a district system would promote provincialism, while others point to San Francisco’s polarized Board of Supervisors."

  • "The South Carolina Senate late Wednesday passed legislation that will require voters to show photo identification in order to cast a ballot. South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicle statistics show that nearly 180,000 voters in South Carolina – most of whom are elderly, student, minority or low-income voters – will be disenfranchised as a result of this discriminatory bill. Proponents of the bill claim the voter ID requirement will curb in-person election fraud. The South Carolina Election Commission, however, reports that no cases of fraud exist."
  • "Federal officials issued a memorandum to the nation’s school districts on Friday saying it was against the law for education officials to seek information that might reveal the immigration status of children applying for enrollment. "Last year, Ms. Lieberman’s group found that 139 districts in New York State — about 20 percent of the total — were requiring children’s immigration papers as a prerequisite to enrollment, or asking parents for information that only lawful immigrants could provide."

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  • Lyonside

    ATC: Yeah, that doesn’t read well. It honestly sounds as if he hasn’t given much thought to his male privilege, and really hasn’t processed how gender stereotypes and racial stereotypes TOGETHER make it much harder for a BLACK man perceived as somehow “less than” a (straight, cis-gendered, white) man.  Black women have nothing to do with it, it’s the consequence of a male-dominated, white-dominated, kyriarchy in which the image of hypermasculinity has been placed on black men, sometimes with our own blessing, as a response to the historic (and current) belittling and emasculating (physically and socioeconomically/politically).

    • Alex

       I dont know…see I think he loses male privilege due to homophobia existing in society including our perceptions and how racism affects the brand of homophobia…for instance if he is attacked for coming out, he will be attacked on his race and sexual orientation.

      And in his defense, if one perceives their own community rejects who they are and what they stand for, that is VERY real….Black GLBT people deal with unique challenges that many GLBT organizations that are predominately White do not address, because of how racism and homophobia interwine–and getting attacked on both ends–from the Black community and the greater community is very painful and real.

      The perception of Black women as angry Black women will always exist even if we took homophobia out of the conversation. I understand that it may make people uncomfortable to even discuss the homophobia in the Black community amongst GLBT White folks but why do you think many GLBT Black celebrities stay in the closet but White celebrities have more community support to come out the closet? The economic disparity amongst White men who make up the majority of the GLBT movement and Black men and women also points to access to support and resources.

      Don Lemon coming out is a big deal for all the reasons he stated. He is being very observant. Before her came out the closet he was seen as one of those intelligent Black men that Black women wanted to date and marry. Now that he’s off the market to Black women, of course the homophobia he receives would cover that angle too. Homophobia will cover whatever social arena the person is seen to no longer occupy; it attacks the person based on how the person is viewed to have fallen down the kryiarchy totem pole.

      In a world of twitter, Facebook, gossip blogs, and the acceptance of people commenting on the lives of public figures of course it would matter to Don that some Black women will direct their homophobia at him in a way that community members may do to each other.

  • Atc

    “He said he believed the negative reaction to male homosexuality had to do with the history of discrimination that still affects many black Americans, as well as the attitudes of some black women.

    “You’re afraid that black women will say the same things they do about how black men should be dating black women.” He added, “I guess this makes me a double minority now.”

    This quote from Don Lemon is problematic to me because it’s furthering the stereotype that black women have an ‘attitude’ and black women are against interracial couples that involve black men and white women, and last but not least, that black women have a problem with gay men.
    Don did not say “some black women”, he didn’t say that most black women probably don’t have a problem with any of these things, but as usual, you only hear the few loud ones who have issues with gay black men and black men who date/marry interracially.
    The problem for me is that it affects me and black women like me, in a very negative way.
    I am probably one of many black women who DON’T have an issue with gay black men and black men in interracial relationships and I hate the stereotype that we are angry, bitter, jealous and have an attitude when that stereotype most likely only applies to a few black women.
    I wonder why Don even mentioned black women, what do we have to do with him being gay? I was very happy for him until I read that quote that yet again, portrayed black women in a stereotypical negative way.
    I expected more from someone who is a double minority…how quickly we forget that black women are also a double minority.

  • Slush

     Michelle Alexander’s book (related to her NYT op-ed listed here) is a must-read for anyone who cares about social and racial justice.  It’s awesome.