Michael Sheppard. The Blog Assignment
Being a queer and black individual in America throughout history has suffered persecution, maltreatment, and oppression. Due to the set alone hardship of being black in America, African Americans that also consider themselves queer have occasionally secluded themselves to conceal their true identity to prevent discrimination and or isolation unto themselves from heterosexual individuals, or from a society that’s over combined with capitalism. Even despite your race, the struggle on suppressing being queer in America is prevalent in our modern day society; why do heterosexual Americans frequently condemn LGBT individuals, or why is LGBT individuals feel like they need to disconnect themselves from our society?
Throughout the history in the United States there has been a prevalence of present social dogma of discrimination, and or segregation onto being black and queer in America, whom W.E.B Du Bois termed a double consciousness. Double consciousness can be defined as the ongoing struggle African Americans have to endure while staying true to black culture, while conforming to a white dominating society. The struggle and the difficulty of being black in America has caused psychological, sociological, and secludedness onto black people, and with the blog I’m focusing on, black and queer individuals are succumbed to even more discourtesy. With conducted research, I have discovered that in a school setting, the discrimination a black and queer individual can be faced with is more prevalent, and with harrassing black and queer individuals at a young age can result in terrifying psychological consequences within the individual. “Lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth are almost five times more likely to have attempted suicide as compared to heterosexual youth.” “Meanwhile, in 2018 suicide became the second leading cause of death in black youth aged ten through twenty.”
In April 18th, 2019 a fifteen year old African American child named Nigel Shelby committed suicide after being constantly harrassed in school due to his race and his sexual orientation. Nigel Shelby was a fifteen year old freshman at Huntsville high school in Huntsville, Alabama. The teenager was facing discrimination and bullying at school, and on social media. With several self reports from Nigel onto the school’s principal on the discrimination and bullying he was enduring, the principal and certain school officials ignored his cries, and even the principal stated that “being gay was a choice.” There were also several reports from Nigel’s friends, who all came forward on separate occasions to report that Nigel was harming himself, and were afraid that Nigel might take his own life. Even after Nigel’s friends reported their concern for Nigel’s well being, actions against Nigel’s resolution were still ignored. To hopefully bring justice for Nigel, the parents of Nigel, Camika Shelby and Patrick Cruz filed a lawsuit onto the principal and the school staff for violating Title VI, which prohibits intentional discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin, and Title IX, which prohibits public schools from ignoring harassment based on gender stereotyping. Before Nigel Shelby took his life there were reports that the principal, Jo Stafford stated to Nigel that “Nigel was just going through one of his episodes,” and another statement from Jo Stafford stated “if he was going to make adult decisions regarding his sexual orientation, then he had to be prepared to face adult consequences.” There was even an instance where Jo Stafford flipped over a sand hourglass clock down on her desk when Nigel went to her office for help. The sand timer was the allotment of time that Jo Stafford had given to Nigel to hear his plea. For a mother to lose a child at such a young age, or any age really, due to bullying is terrifying, and as a nation that’s currently a nation within a nation, how can we fix the discrimination and maltreatment that’s being implemented on African Americans, African women, and the LGBT community?
From the in class text, “Freedom on my mind” there was an historic march in October, 1995 called the “Million man march.” Within the march there were between four hundred thousand to two million black men that gathered in the national mall in Washington D.C. to address “Americas criminalization of black men and what black men needed to do to improve themselves and their communities.”(1670) One of the pledges within the march was for the black men to atone for their neglect and abuse of African American women, black families, and communities. “They vowed to dedicate their lives to spiritual, moral, mental, social, political, and economic improvement.”(1670) Two years following the Million man march, a new march ignited, which was called the “Million woman march,” in which women called for “Repentance, Restoration, and Resurrection.”(1671) “Repentance for the pain black women caused one another, restoration and resurrection of the bonds of family and community in African American life.”(1671) Also within the text postponed after the Million man march, and the Million woman march, In 1963 Bayard Rustin, an African American civil rights leader who was most notorious for his planning of the 1963 march on Washington, had to conceal his homosexuality, due to the fear of the decline of the black freedom cause. From 1963 to the 20th century, the black LGBT community has continuously marched to protest the heterosexual construction of the black identity. “They marched to counter the idea that sexual difference was inherently abnormal, undesirable, shameful, and un-black.”(1671)
I had the pleasure of attending an African American LGBT panel, in which four individuals spoke about how being black and queer in America has altered their lives in their upbringing to their current age, and how they had to adapt and/ conceal being queer to adapt to their given surroundings. The first speaker to speak was Joshua Rice, he is the Assistant Director at the Black resource center at The University of San Diego. Joshua Rice is from Southern Illinois, and was awarded his MD at the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Being that Joshua is an African American and proclaimed queer, he told stories on how he had to navigate away from conversations and groups that he felt he had to conceal his sexuality from. He felt like in ways, he would feel isolated or looked at in a disgusting way, Joshua states: “I feel like I am constantly judged.” He currently has a small friend group due to the oppression he faces from heterosexual individuals. After earning his MD, and striving towards his career, Joshua feels self accomplished, and proud. The next person that had spoken was Kristina Garland, she is the Associate Director, Center for Inclusion and Diversity at The University of San Diego. She is an African American woman and proclaimed queer, and she speaks on the discrimination she endured growing up, and how it continued throughout her life. As an African American woman she endured mistreatment, and mainly disrespect when it came to job interviews and on the job training. She said that jobs would talk to her over the phone, ecstatic to have her be a part of the team, however once she showed up in person, she was told that the job quickly got covered. She told the story of Malcolm X’s mother and compared the story to her upbringing. Malcolm X’s mother, Louise Little, a light skin woman and tough to differentiate her from being black, would constantly get fired and harrassed when employers found out she was black. Kristina Garland said she is content with her current position as an Associate Director, Center for Inclusion and Diversity at The University of San Diego as she can teach and guide students, and it has made her feel empowered and proud for how far women came up in history. The next person that had spoken was Dr. T.J Tallie, he is an Associate professor, history director, African studies CEE, and racial equity liaison. Dr. T.J Tallie graduated from the University of Illinois with a PhD, and he joined the University of San Diego in the fall of 2018. At The University of San Diego he teaches various courses including African history, global history, pacific history, and gender and sexuality. Dr. T.J Tallie is very intelligent, and he quickly became aware growing up on how heterosexual individuals would avoid communication and physical interaction with him due to his sexuality. He quickly stated “I didn’t care,” and he went right up to the heterosexual individuals and conversed. He boldly put himself in conversations and is and always will be proud of his sexuality. He continues to teach certain courses regarding African American history, in addition to the course Queer and sexuality. The last person to have spoken was Dr. Byron Howlett, he is the Assistant Vice President for student life, he is also an African American male and proclaimed queer. Born in San Antonio, Texas but raised in Southern Central Los Angeles, Dr. Byron earned his Ed.D degree in organizational leadership from the University of La Verne. Dr. Byron states he feels like a unicorn because there isn’t much staff/faculty around the campus that shares his culture and orientation. He says he feels more noticed, he’s often called to represent his culture, and it makes him feel like he’s needed, he also believes his opinions are sometimes sought because of his identity. Dr. Byron is proud to be an African American queer, and he’s open to discuss his views with anybody that is interested.
From the given external research, panel discussion with the individuals from The University of San Diego, and the information from the in class text book, “Freedom on my mind,” there is undeniable prevalent persecution, maltreatment, and oppression onto individuals that are African American and queer. The answer might be clear, but why do these individuals believe concealing their sexual orientation is going to allow them to be accommodated in society or be acclimated to their surroundings? Why do African American and queer individuals feel they have to use these tactics to socialize, converse, or to belong? It’s total blasphemy how our nation condemns those who look different, have different sexual orientation views, and those who are of a certain color. Our entire nation is a history of oppression and discrimination, and the biggest issue in our world is why has this oppression and discrimination carried onto today’s society? How can our nation come together from oppression and discrimination and unite? How can this world come together, and see every human being as equal? Being an African American myself, I hope soon.
- (Class source)
Chapter 16 “Freedom on my mind” by Deborah Gray White, Mia Bay, and Waldo E. Martin Jr
- (External source) https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/parents-gay-teen-who-died-suicide-sue-school-district-ignoring-n1263957
Citation and works cited choice: Times new roman