There was a blog in the Huffington Post today that declared: “It’s Official: Gay is the New Black.”
Wai…what? Run that by me again?
As in: the black struggle for civil rights is over, the gay struggle for civil rights is what came next.
As in: these two struggles are completely separate and follow linearly one after the other.
As in: there are no gay black people?
The author of the post, Monique Ruffin, astutely made the connection between the hypocrisy of black Chrisitans who simultaneously clamor for their civil rights and deny those same rights for gay folk. But her argument gets lost when she effectively declares the black civil rights movement over because the gay civil rights movement is now at the forefront of America’s brain. And when she (unconsciously I think) places the oppression of gays over the oppression of blacks.
For me it’s never been an either/or. Either we struggle for this or that. Either this group or that one is oppressed. None of us who have ever felt/been oppressed can choose which oppression is “worse” or which oppression we would rather deal with today. Woman or lesbian. Black or gay. Hispanic or undocumented.
All oppressions work together/around/over/on top of/underneath each other to inform each other.
In 1979, Audre Lorde (black lesbian feminist) wrote an open letter to Mary Daly (white lesbian feminist) responding to Daly’s Gyn/Ecology. Lorde has much praise for the book, but wondered why Daly only used white, western-european, judeo-christian goddess images. And then only quoted Lorde when it suited Daly’s purposes.
As I was sitting at work, there was a part of Lorde’s piece that called to me:
The oppression of women knows no ethnic or racial boundaries, true, but that does not mean it is identical within those boundaries… To deal with one without even alluding to the other is to distort our commonality as well as our difference.
So it seems to me that Ruffin, in her Huffington Post blog, was doing just that. Separating out the oppression of blacks from the oppression of gays as if, like I’ve said before, all oppression is not intertwined.
For any one group (person) to become free, all groups must work toward that goal. But they must not do it at the expense of losing themselves in the process. Differences are real and they matter. Finding commonalities among those differences while not denying those differences exist is the fine line I think we all have to walk.
This was another response to the HuffPo blog, thanks to my friend Rashida for digging it up: