I’m coming out with my own response to recent events that have, frankly, unearthed OUR prejudices.
Black People vs. Ni%&ers
The Trayvon Martin case was a clear example of seeming disregard for the welfare and life of a young black child. I became aware of the line of rhetoric, which claims, “there are black people and then there are n__gers.”
The arguments: Black people are educated, employed, ‘dress normal and ‘talk right.’ And n__gers are unschooled, live on welfare, and talk wrong. Black people deserve respect and n_&gers don’t. For some, Trayvon Martin was a n__ger because he allegedly smoked weed a few times per week.
Today, because a black man or woman lights up, sags and dresses a certain way, he or she becomes less deserving of basic human dignity. I, in no way support irresponsibility or behaviours that lead to dysfunctionality, but even then, we aren’t stripped of our human right to respect.
The implications of such a philosophy are scary. When did we warp into a time where one’s humanity is irrelevant? The ideals of respect and dignity are thrown out the window when someone dresses or speaks differently. Our society has determined that people’s situations and circumstances are enough to forget our common humanness.
Gays vs. Fa&g*ts
Last week, a throng of Jamaicans beat, chopped and stabbed to death a teenager of about 17 years. The crime was, he was wearing women’s clothes. A crowd of partygoers, some mildly injured, witnessed the onslaught. The other men, fathers, brothers, sisters, women and mothers just stood there… watching the angry mob murder Dwayne Jones.
The arguments: He’s not a gay. He’s a faggot. He deserved it. He knows Jamaica is homophobic. Did he really have to dress that way?
It’s mortifying that a ‘civilised’ people could conduct such a callous act. It’s perhaps equally shocking that well-thinking people would justify such an act. It’s the same as suggesting that a meagrely dressed woman has given an open invitation to her rapist. Interestingly, our politicians are mum, religious leaders could care less and the media… sigh.
The privileged many of our society has determined that normal has a look, a sound, a face, a dress code and oh let’s not forget, this normal also subscribes to traditional gender norms and a view of sexuality – which really don’t exist in reality. I put to you that there’s a new normal.
When as a society we construct rigid models of “normal” we risk returning to the dark threads of worlds history when being different was a crime punishable by hanging, burning on a stake, feed to lions or even imprisonment.
Whats also dumbfounding is the hypocrisy of our people, who are quick to accept the celebrity rebels among us who break gender norms and heteronormal rules, all the time.
ALSO, It’s disturbing that black people who can passionately articulate and identify as victims of racism can so easily suppress and oppress other minorities in their midst.
I long for the day when we can truly honour Dr. King. On that day, people will not be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character.
I once heard Tanya Stephens say, a man doesn’t become less of a man because he’s wearing tights pants. He’s just a man in tight pants. A [woman] with ‘bleached out’ face isn’t less of a woman because her face bleached out. She may have a problem, but it doesn’t make her less human and deserving of respect and dignity.
A cousin and friend of mine once shared that our values and belief systems are influenced by the mores of society and most of us will require an ‘unlearning’ of these harmful ideas we seek so hard to hold on to.
We have a lot of unlearning to do.
“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
~George Orwell, Animal Farm