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Tuesday, February 28, 2006



Jasmyne I really appreciate your website and the compiled and organized sharing of issues and concerns concerning the black and/or black lgbt community. I always love reading your passionate comments, although I am not always in total agreement with your comments or approaches, I appreciate your heartfelt intention. I am extremely proud of your actions and work. You inspire me and many others. Your annointed-- and keep your head up Gurl... Stay Strong in Love and dont forget that while we have to deal with a lot of stupid ass people in this society-- let us recognize that our greatest truth is in our expression of self love. Real TRUTH doesnt always need to be defended-- It just needs to be lived peacefully and confidently. No one can take that way, nor threaten it- especially when your at peace that thisis the power that fuels your political and social efforts. Much love to you and thank you so much.

rick hatton

is there a video copy available of the presentation of The state of the black union hosted by tavis smiley with harry belafonte anf louis farakhan? If so where can I get a copy?

Jasmyne A. Cannick:
I just so happened to have read your article (today) regarding Travis Smiley's State of the Black Union. I must say that I had similar concerns as you, but for other reasons that I will touch on shortly. Fortunately, I was able to watch much of the conference on C-SPAN. Let me share a few brief comments.
We as a (Black) community continue to fail in our overall analyses regarding the dynamics of Black America, primarily because we tend to never take our analysis far enough--to the level of questioning the basic assumptions for which one operates. You have to question why individuals hold the views that they hold. This will explain much of their behavior and the choices that they make.
One reason Blacks fail to recognize the (Black) GLBT commuity is due to the underlying prejudice and insensitivity of "the Black church"--although we know that it goes much deeper than this. For example, Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, a religious conservative, believes that the "correct" agenda for African-America is "the same as the one for white and other Americans: Love of God, country, and family; lower taxes, a good education, and a good environment to raise a family." He doesn't just believe that "liberal" blacks and those within the democratic party are misguided by the "evil Democratic platform," but he suggests that blacks need to turn away from "abortion on demand and homosexual marriage." Stated more clearly, gays and lesbians are not only "misguided," but engage in sinful, immoral behavior.
A significant portion of the Black church underpins the Black community. Many of these churches are "conservative" in nature and hold similar views as outline above. Ironically, particularly due to the church's long-standing involvement in the civil rights movement, Black conservative churches by-and-large view GLBT issues as moral versus civil right issues. One would think that civil rights issues are moral issues (in general); and gay/lesbian concerns are a category of civil right issues--and therefore, are rights that need to be vehemently fought for similar to the many other matters (listed throughout your piece) that impinge upon the community. Historically, the Black church (and the community) was not so fractured over GLBT issues and subsequently united for a whole host of civil right concerns.
As an example of another current issue needing a unified Black front--I haven taken issue with the Black conservative church, specifically with Rev. Floyd Flake (and others Black religious conservatives) on the issue of school vouchers. I can understand the need inherent in philosophy behind "love of God, country..." (etc, etc), but it is sickening and saddening to watch Black pastors used by the religious right (Louis Sheldon). Similarly, as the Republicans use the Christian right, they use Black Christian conservatives. This deceptive and immoral behavior!
Another of your comments is appropriate here: "The courting of Black pastors by Republicans using moral values as common ground is problematic if we’re trying to build a unified voice and vote for the best policies for Blacks. Dancing around this issue doesn’t do us any good. It’s happening, we know it, and we know who’s doing it."
I like your comment, "Thank God, or whoever you believe in, for..." This phrase seemingly is reflective of a viewpoint based on the constitutional (civil) right to believe or not believe in God--to hold views/suppositions that are acceptable to the individual, although this is not to say that religiosity is unimportant (depending on your point-of-view).
HIV/AIDS, as well as many other issues, were not discussed--poverty for one, and the inability of American Capitalism to address the issues of the poor (generally) and the Black poor (more particularly). What does "Accessing good jobs, wealth, and economic prosperity" mean? The State of the Black Union does not address the underlying systems that have created the conditions needing deeper attention. A question that I continued to have was "Were there any (Black) poor people there?"
Subsequently, shouldn't we recognize the inherent problems associated with having corporate America underwrite this conference? Are there any problems? Two, why don't "we" underwrite the conference? Three, are corporations "benign," and therefore, worthy of our continued allegiance? Should we build ongoing "partnerships" with corporate America? If not, why not? Four, do Blacks work and/or site on boards of these corporations? Etc.
Finally, is there hope? I am longsuffering in my search! Whether there is hope or not may not be the question. More importantly, hope rings quietly as people like yourself attemp to stand up and shed light on much of the misguided discourse of our day. This is not to say that I have answers, but I agree with you final comment: "Not talking about it is bad. to Not wanting to talk about it is worse."

jay lassiter

I am glad someone said what you've said, Jasmyne.

As a regular fan of Tavis Smiley, I've often wondered why he was so chickenshit to take on the issues you've raised.

Seems like brother tavis is becomeing more and more like the commentators he seeks to distance himself from.

Drew Jones

Hi Jasmyne,
I thought your article was thought provoking. I too take issue with these "pimp daddy pastors". However, your piece missed critical self examination of African Americans who have created coalitions with Gay & Lesbian groups like GLAAD and others. Dont you think that they too bare some responsiblity for how gay and lesbian issues have been spot lighted in our community. For example, Blacks involved in the media campaign linking gay marriage to the civil rights movement-even going as far as stealing images and slogans knew that this would divide young and old, believer and non-believers in our community. In fact, I lay at their feet our recent set backs with Black Churches and HIV/AIDS, sexuality, and reproductive health education and testing. As a public health professional I see the harm that both sides are commiting while brothers and sisters continue suffering from HIV/AIDS and other socioeconomic woes.

Monica Roberts

It's time for GLBT African-Americans to say bump this, come out en masse and DEMAND our place at the table.

It's time for us to start joining the NAACP and other mainstream African-American orgs and force this debate out in the open.

I agree, we should not allow white fundies to drive wedges between us. But since these bigots for bucks want to keep pimping for faith based dollars and call GLBT peeps everything but children of God from their pulpits, it's time for us to repeatedly smack them around for their hypocrisy.

A bully will only keep picking on you until you kick his behind. WE GLBT peeps need to start dishing out some butt whippings.

Doug Cooper-Spencer

Jasmyne, this is a great article! You are right. So often our (the black community) analysis of issues that affect our community does not include conversations of gays and lesbians. It is why, I rarely attend such events. And when I have stood and voiced my concern over the absence of the subject of gays and lesbians in the black community, there is usually weak responses that show that the average Black American really does not consider us! I am glad for voices such as yours and many others in our (the black gay and lesbian community) that are speaking out. I now see that I must attend events such as Mr. Smiley's, as we all should, and stand up and demand to be heard. By the way, so many of these black events take on such a circus atmosphere that they usually lack serious conversation anyway.

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