Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Pic of the Day: Scapegoating Then & Now
The response to yesterday's Fuck Dan Savage post (just below this one) on Barack Obama's victory and the white gay racist backlash to the passage of Prop 8 has been overwhelming. I thank those readers who've checked in either on the comments section or via email. I was gonna chill on the issue for a minute 'cause it makes me heated and exhausted all at the same time, but then I came across this image from actor/artist Quincy LeNear and had to put it up. I'm crazed today as I prep for a trip to Chicago to speak at DePaul University, but I'll try to post up something non-election related before I leave. Try...
UPDATE: I have received a TON of comments on this image, most of which I am not posting up. Y'all can take the "nigger" comments over to any number of sites where they will be posted up and have good company. A lot of the comments I've received also say that the comparison in the cartoons is false because the KKK never actually had rights taken away from them. That is true. But that didn't stop them from rallying the troops by claiming that if black folk got the right to vote, to live in certain neighborhoods, to work in certain areas, white folk's very lives and livelihoods were in danger; it didn't stop them from putting forth the notion that the mere presence of black folk took something from white folk. It didn't stop the assignment of blame to black folk when things didn't go the way white folk wanted. That is the echo heard in much of the anger being aimed at blacks right now. I do realize that when black artists create anything, it is almost always taken "literally," with no regard for the fact that there can be play on words (and images) and play with words (and images) in order to make a point, and I think that's one of the issues at play here. I also think there is a real reluctance / refusal on the part of a lot of folk to own up to the racism at play in their feelings and words over the last few days.
Here is my reply to one of the comments in the comments section for this post:
The cartoon does not equate the LGBT movement with the KKK. It takes a symbol of white supremacy and uses a mirroring gesture (the admittedly / unfortunately stereotypical limp wrist) to underscore that the same reflexive racial bigotry and unfounded fury that drove (and drives) the KKK, and is a HUGE component of the queer "community", is at work in the backlash unfolding against black folk. LeNear is not guilty of intellectual dishonesty or false equivalence in this panel. What's at work in the differing perceptions on the image are the varying cultural meanings that can inhabit a single artifact or image. It's the different experiences and references brought to the image by the viewer. You look at the two juxtaposed images and see an argument being made that LGBT organizations = KKK. I, and a lot of other "of color" gays and lesbians (I don't presume to speak for all), don't see that at all. We see a potent symbol of racism being used to critique the real life actions and mind-set at work against our community.