Setting aside the willful racism of the smear campaign against Trayvon Martin, the public response to his murder has exposed a lot about America’s issues with race, much of it disappointing.
Others have pointed out the ugly implications of the mass online outcry over “Kony 2012,” juxtaposed with the lukewarm response to Trayvon’s murder. Trayvon was killed two weeks before the Kony video’s incredible viral surge, and the news story about his death first got widespread public attention about a month after the incident. I’m not convinced the parallel is warranted – the Kony video is a half-hour of masterful propaganda* designed to play on every point of the rhetorical triangle, while Trayvon’s killing came through the lens of “impartial” news reports. That said, it has been a learning experience to see many of my friends, people I would never label as ‘racists,’ many of whom seemed ready to buy tickets to Uganda and personally beat Joseph Kony to death, respond to the Trayvon story with reserve, often “waiting to see more facts” before they settle on an opinion.
Let me be clear: I believe in the right to due process, and George Zimmerman is, for all legal purposes, innocent until proven guilty. I would never expect a jury to be anything but impartial, or for an alleged perpetrator to face justice outside the courts. But everyone has an opinion, drawn from the facts available to us. Many of the peers I see complaining about “the court of public opinion” were the same people recently condemning the acquittals of Casey Anthony and Amanda Knox as evidence that the justice system is dead. It’s hard for me to understand how anyone following the Trayvon Martin case (or is that lack of case?) could possibly see anything except an innocent child murdered because of his race.
What’s happening, I think, is that people refuse to give up the dream of “post-racial America.” Despite evidence to the contrary, they refuse to believe that racism could be such a problem in America that ‘Walking While Black’ can be fatal.** Confronted with circumstances that say otherwise, they assume there must be some deeper explanation, some fact as yet unrelieved that will prove racism was not the sole motive behind the murder of a 17-year-old boy. It’s this refusal to accept reality, the refusal to admit that our nation might have a very serious problem with race – serious as a gunshot – that allows the water to be muddied by smear campaigns and deceptive reporting. Continue Reading
I bought a weight bench a couple of years ago. I have it set up near the windows in my bedroom, the only place in my apartment it fits.
When I work out, I’m pretty sure this is how the neighbors feel:
So a high school principal in Tennessee, Dorothy Bond, was using the PA system to preach about Jesus Christ and his sacrifice. She was holding assemblies to tell her students that gay people “weren’t on God’s path” and were “going to hell.” She promised 60-day suspensions for any students guilty of same-sex PDAs. She also told female students that if they got preganant their lives would be over, and that they would end up “jobless, homeless, and living off the government.”
So then the ACLU found out, and we sent the school district a letter. Three hours later, Dorothy Bond was unemployed.
Dan Savage says: “The ACLU means business, and they will fuck you up.”
What a way to end the week. I’ll be walking on air all the way home.
A friend forwarded me the story below from the current William Way Community Center newsletter. I just love it:
THIS MONTH IN LGBT HISTORY: 1968 POLICE RAIDS ON RUSTY’S
This month, we honor Women’s History Month while also remembering a key moment in LGBT history.On the south side of Walnut St., opposite the Forrest Theatre is Moriarty’s Irish Pub and Restaurant. Around the corner, through the side door on Quince and up a flight of stairs is what was “Rusty’s,” the most popular lesbian bar in Philadelphia in the ‘50s,‘60s and early ‘70s. Although back then the sign on Walnut St. identified the bar as “Barone’s Variety Room,” women in the city knew it as “Rusty’s,” after Rusty Parisi, the tough, butch, no-nonsense lesbian manager.
On the night of March 8, 1968, Rusty’s suddenly found the jukebox unplugged and the house lights brought up. It was a police raid, an all too common occurrence for gay and lesbian bars under then Police Commissioner Rizzo. Many of the women were verbally abused; police accused them of being drunk and disorderly. Some were booked and held overnight, then brought before a magistrate the next day, but all charges were dropped. It was a clear-cut case of harassment.
The local chapter of D.O.B. editorialized against the raid. D.O.B., the “Daughters of Bilitis,” was a national lesbian social and support organization with a policy of political non-involvement. The Philadelphia chapter was one of the exceptions. A few nights later, when there was another raid on Rusty’s, local activists Ada Bello, Lourdes Alvarez and Barbara Gittings were present. When asked for her I.D., Gittings flashed her ACLU card and the police moved on.
In May, the D.O.B. arranged a meeting with the Philadelphia Police Inspector and they brought along an ACLU observer. The D.O.B. let the Inspector know that they represented the community and that they were not afraid to protest violations. The police issued a statement that “homosexuals have been, are now, and will be treated equally with heterosexuals.” Because of their active support in the incident, membership in the Philadelphia D.O.B. increased dramatically. A year before the Stonewall riots, the raid on Rusty’s and the reaction of local lesbians was a clear success story for gay rights.
My favorite line is the one about Barbara Gittings being asked for her ID, but instead showing her ACLU card, “and the police moved on.”
For years I’ve had this idea of staging a police raid at a gay bar as a fundraising event. My generation of LGBT patrons have never had to experience that (at least, not in Philadelphia) and I think it would be engaging and startling. Halfway through the event, the house lights would come up, the music would suddenly stop, and actors portraying police would barge in and start harassing patrons. Perhaps they could even “arrest” patrons, and the “bail money” they paid would be their donation to the fundraiser. I don’t think it’s quite right for the ACLU, but maybe I can sell the William Way on it.
I’ve even heard there’s at least one gay bar in Philadelphia (I don’t know which…maybe the Bike Stop?) that still has its raid light installed. This is the bright red alarm light they used to trigger when the cops showed up, to tip off the patrons that they’d better high-tail it out the back.