Friday, July 17, 2009

It's Now Or Never

I just finished reading a commentary entitled, “Gay Is Not The New Black” written by LZ Granderson and posted on CNN. It was interesting read, to say the least. At first I was angry after reading the article because of the writer’s tone and the implication by black gay people that all white gay people view Obama as a disappointment because he has yet to follow through on some of his campaign promises (gay marriage and “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”).

My anger has since faded and all that remains is sadness because we are left with more dialogue that contributes to the already intense divide of White/Black America. I am literally tired of listening to the condemnation on both sides. When are we going to start talking about solutions… Real solutions?

I speak for many white gay people when I say there is no doubt in my/our minds that gay is not the new black (but then again I only spoke to 100 people). I agree that comparing the gay struggle to the struggle of black America is lunacy. It’s this type of rhetoric that fuels hate, creates gangs and supports violence. There are always going to be overlapping similarities in groups challenged by civil unrest. However, to think that all or even half of gay people compare their plight to that of the challenges of African Americans is absurd. Stop comparing and begin to appreciate the struggles of all people, because only then will we find common ground.

As for Mr. Granderson’s allegation that white gay people are maliciously attacking the President because he has not worked swiftly enough to secure marriage for all and reversing ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,’ this is part of the game of politics and so it should be. All of us must be diligent about holding our political leaders to their promises. President Obama (whom I voted for and support) made many promises on the campaign trail, and now more than ever people are going to see that this President keeps his word. Some would think this is unjust pressure because President Obama is black and we are holding him more accountable than our past presidents, but that is far from true. It’s
because our last few presidents failed to recognize all Americans as part of “We The People.” (For the record, I’m not one of those selfish gay activists with a specific political agenda. I don’t have any interests in the debate of gay marriage. I’m more concerned about basic civil rights for ALL. As for gay people serving in the military, I have some concerns, but they can easily be resolved, thus insuring all Americans (gay too) serve without fear or backlash, and most importantly, with pride.)

As for the racial rant about “lack of perspective is only going to alienate a black community that is still very proud of Obama and is hypersensitive about any criticism of him, especially given he’s been in office barely six months,” this is a threat (which I don’t appreciate) because it again pushes black people away from the center. When you leave the center, cancer moves in and destroys the spirit of an individual and of a people.

Mr. Granderson and others, I encourage you to visit Baltimore so that I may introduce you to some straight and gay black people who are not happy with some of the President’s decisions. President Obama identifies with being black, but there are many (white, black and especially biracial individuals) who feel he is, in fact, biracial. However, that is another argument, and I’ll climb that mountain when and if I read a post about the topic.

This commentary has raised many questions that have lingered in my mind for so long. I want to know why minorities always attempt to out minoritize each other? I want to know why people feel excluded and how we can make them feel included? I want to know why we can’t just get along?

I must admit I’ve grown tired of the selfish and often childish arguments of White/Black America… And of gay people too. I am exhausted by our contempt for each other, often forgetting there are other minorities fighting for the right to be heard, acknowledged and respected. We are all in search of one thing, equality.

What about Hispanics? (And BTW… Kudos to Sonia Sotomayor for her amazing spirit, courage and words during her confirmation process. You changed the lives of many young Hispanic girls who now know they can do/be anything if they work hard. Justice Sotomayor is another great Hispanic woman paving they way for future generations). I’ve often heard that “Hispanics are the new black.” (Talk about profiling. You can’t get any more prejudice than with this statement.) Hispanics have surpassed blacks in numbers, but many of the Hispanic struggles parallel that of Black America. Also, what about Jewish people? “Oh, that’s right, they have all the money so they be fine,” as I heard one man say on the bus not too long ago. What about Asian Americans? “They are very smart people. They can do anything,” as I heard an elderly woman say while waiting for Chinese carryout. What about all the others… German, Polish and Greek Americans? The people with different religious backgrounds? Fundamentalists, Catholics, Muslims and those who are Atheists or Agnostics? What about those with green, blue, black and brown eyes…

The point I am making, and it’s very clear, “Listen up, white and black people, it’s not all about you. It never was.” It’s about America and the land of opportunity, but it only comes to people who work hard and meet the challenges. It’s sad that so many of us have to work harder than others (that would be me), but you must move forward and stop looking back. Yes, remember your roots and struggles, but don’t relive them. Find strength in them so your ancestors will not have died in vain.

At some point we are all minorities, some more than others. Yes, people will put you down because you are different, but that is no excuse not to rise above it all and shine. No one is going to do it for you, so do it for yourself. Don’t wait for someone to help you, help yourself. However, you must always go forward in life with respect, dignity, and grace, and with the realization that we all must live together. What impacts you (negative or positive) will affect others and me in the long run, thus the need to make life great for everyone and not a select few. You might not see or feel it now, but it does affect us in ways that will compromise future generations if we don’t hold true to the center. When you drift away you choose segregation.

There should be no separation of gay pride. There must be one pride of all gay people. If you feel excluded, find ways to be included by using your voice in a constructive way, always remembering words must not hurt. Hands of violence have no place in the center, or anywhere, for that matter, where people are trying to make a difference and coexist.

Festivals of diversity must be enjoyed by everyone, not just by those they celebrate and hope to unite (African American, Hispanic, German, Polish, etc.). I would hope people, especially minorities would encourage outsiders, like me, to come and see what they are all about. Show me your rich culture and heritage. I want to learn about you, and hopefully you would want to learn about me.

Each year I try my best to go to all of the ethnic festivals Baltimore celebrates. I’m an avid walker, so I walk through neighborhoods where I see rich and poor, black and white, German and Polish, etc. There is not one time that I don’t hear in the distance, “What is that cracker doing here? He doesn’t belong?“ This is just the tip of the iceberg. I belong wherever there are people.

I have an interest in ALL people. As my dear friend Ruth says, “We are all in this together.” (BTW, she’s black – LOL) To all who read this, it’s time to talk about what is good instead of what is bad. There is a mandate in the world for everyone to move to the center. I am forever hopeful. I still believe much of the tone in the commentary fuels the haters of the world (especially those deficient in education and with economic struggles), and disengages those trying to make a difference. America, it’s time to coexist! It’s now or never. – paerki

What would life be like without memories? It’s fair to say, there would be no life at all. Memory is our communication, reason, coherence, our action and more importantly, our feeling. Memories create our path in life, developing our psychology and leading us emotionally.

One of the best ways to create and store memories is with video. These simple effortless little snippets of time create diaries and become perpetual time capsules, which justify our walk on earth, telling all with great enthusiasm… I was here! I mattered! I lived! Please, don’t forget me.

Share your views, thoughts and opinions in the written word. Snap photographs so that your eyes can travel back in time, remembering the happy and sad moments that made you the person you were, are and became in life. But, whenever possible, capture video to enhance the memories you leave behind, so that others may pass the essence of your life on to future generations.


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"I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do because I notice it always coincides with their own desires." - Susan B. Anthony

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