African-Americans have been asking to be treated like human beings for all of the 20th Century. In the 21st Century we find ourselves still asking. Tupac Shakur once said that if he was hungry and he knew that there was food inside of a hotel, and he was outside of the hotel starving he would try to sing his way in. At first, it would be polite. He would continue to be polite. Days goes by, then what? His song will become louder–the cadence stronger, and after thirty days he’ll begin to pick the locks and bust his way in.
I had a chance to see “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” today, and I can finally understand what Tupac meant, all those years ago. We fought for our rights by subservience. Over time, subservience transformed into civil disobedience. And when all the leaders of that movement died we became militants. What I loved about the movie was the story between Cecil Gaines and his son Lewis Gaines. Cecil felt the way to equality was to serve the white man so, in turn, the white man wouldn’t view Blacks as threatening. Lewis, on the other hand, felt that life was not worth living without fighting for the rights of all the other Black men. Lewis’ journey took him from the Freedom Rider movement, to the Black Panther movement and ultimately into politics. In the end, Cecil was just a butler…a very noble profession.
I used to be very critical of the Black Panther movement. As a student of history, I remembered the accounts of the riots that broke out after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. This made-out Blacks as thugs, but what do you expect? They were hungry. They were starving to death, and the previous way of fighting against racism didn’t work out well. Medgar Evers, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., Robert F. Kennedy, Malcolm X all dead. Yes, there were some white people that were fighting on our side. For too long, I blamed the riots of ’68 for the rise of the Silent Majority that led to the Nixon presidency. During the time of the Silent Majority there was also a silent minority in this Country–homosexuals.
It would be naive to think that homosexuals have only existed on Earth for forty or so years. They have been around since the first existence of man. They have been forced to live their lives in secret. For them, living in secret failed to exist as an option anymore. They came out. Not all homosexuals came out, however. For every one homosexual that comes out there are thousands that remain “in the closet”. The ones that did come out were ridiculed, beaten and even killed. All of these things were done to them for something that they were born with.
This past July, the paths of these two movements collided. They collided in three decisions in The United States Supreme Court. African-Americans received a dagger through the heart when the court decided to strike down a key piece in the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Chief Justice Robert’s wrote in his decision that discrimination is over, and he kicked the can over to the “Do-Nothing Congress” to redraft legislation.
The very next day, gays received two decisions favorable to their cause. The court found The Defense of Marriage Act (legislation that defines marriage between a man and a woman) to be unconstitutional. and they found the plaintiffs in California’s Prop 8 case had no standing thereby kicking the case to the lower court. A lower court that overturned Prop 8 (banning gay marriage in California). In Justice Scalia’s dissent regarding D.O.M.A. he wrote that this will lead to a dangerous precedent. He predicted that this will make gay marriage legal in all fifty states. The day after that verdict gay rights activists filed a law suit in Utah, on behalf of a gay couple that was married out-of-state. This will be the test case of the marriage equality movement. In just a few short years, when this case makes it to the high court, the Justices will be on the right side of history. However, every advance is met with setbacks. Case in point–Russia.
The Russian president, Vladmir Putin, has enacted one of the most discriminatory laws against homosexuals in Russia. Homosexuals in Russia are not allowed to be gay, display gay pride, or hold hands in public. In fact, the citizens of Russia are allowed to round up and beat any gay people they see. So, why is this important to Americans? It holds the same importance to all Americans just like the Anti-Apartheid movement in South Africa held importance to us…we’re also sending our athletes to Russia in the Winter Olympics.
Right now, people are not taking the talk of boycotting the Olympics. And there are many gay people that do not support boycotting the Olympics. We boycotted the Russian Olympics in 1980. They, in turn, boycotted the U.S. Olympics in Los Angeles in 1984. Many people feel that this will hurt our athletes. I used to share in that sentiment. However, no one is talking about the 1936 Olympics in Germany…Hitlers Germany. The people that are talking about it bring up the fact that Jesse Owens (an African-American) won the Gold Medal in track. He even broke a World record, and that must have really pissed off Hitler. Germany was told to calm down their rhetoric regarding the Jews, and they did. They sold the Olympics and made it into this spectacular propaganda tool. After the Olympics was done, Hitler continued with his mission and eleven million Jews were slaughtered in the holocaust. In the end, almost every nation on Earth got involved in a War. A war in which cost the lives of millions, and millions, and millions of people in the World.
I’m the wrong person to ask when it comes to fighting the fight. I have my own way of fighting. My fighting doesn’t involve displaying some marriage equality ribbon on my Facebook or Twitter page. My fighting doesn’t involve saying I’m going to boycott a dining establishment while making excuses to sneak in as many times as I can. I like to fight my battles with my wallet. Walmart pays their workers shit–I don’t shop there. Papa Johns hates Obamacare–fuck Papa Johns. Chik-Fil-A uses their money to fund anti-gay campaigns–I make my dog take a shit outside of their doors. Russia doesn’t like the gays–make the muthafuckas starve. And this muthafucka won’t be picking the lock to get in.