free thinking

Have you seen this picture?

Serena1

Black people have a problem!

OK, you are are probably saying, “What is this guy talking about”, so let me explain. In May of this year (2015), a deputy from Lee County in FL decided to post a video of a black man and attached the comment, “Can someone please tell me what the [expletive] this monkey is saying?” He also said, “Get a real life [expletive] monkey.”  This deputy thinks that black people are monkeys.  He would like to dehumanize black people in an attempt to justify his racism, justify the things he has done as a police officer.

But let’s not stop there, lets rewind back generations to Frederick Douglass.  Mr. Douglass painted a picture of how slaves were dehumanized.  Douglass says that from the time a slave entered the world, the dehumanizing began.  They were immediately separated from their mother, an attempt to break the bond between mother and child (Douglass).  He goes on to say that slaves were not told their birthday or age, this was a way the slave master enforced the slaves’ status as property.  Rape, torture, forced breeding, being called a sub-species of human were all ways that slaves were dehumanized.  Douglass says the worst way was probably lack of access to education.  All these tactics had one purpose in mind; so that the rest of the general population would see slaves as animals, unworthy of human rights, justice, opportunity or freedom.  And this is still repeated today, just look at the Florida deputy, calling a black man a monkey.

So why do I say that black people have a problem?  Well here it is.  Blacks are still an oppressed minority, and this has been evident in the US with the on-going police brutality, high incarceration rates, white-supremacist terrorist attacks and economic & social inequality.  Some black people are fighting hard against this with the #blacklivematter campaign.  However, there is one thing that is getting in their way.  It is this general attitude to continue to bash other oppressed minorities, in particular the LGBT community.  The picture above, which I will assume was created by DL Hughley or a fan (#teamDL tag on picture), and shared by his Facebook page is one example of blacks actually dehumanizing another human being.  One may say that, no this picture is just showing the way the media is celebrating Caitlyn, while bashing Serena and it is based on race.   I will argue here that this picture has a specific aim, because the person who created it knows that the emotions of blacks (specifically religious blacks) are high on the coat-tail of the SCOTUS ruling on same-sex marriage.  It was created to make a distinct division, and to highlight the need to foster civil-rights “competition” and self-segregate the black community into its own world.  If this picture was just to highlight race and white-supremacy, why not create this picture (below), showing Samantha Stosur, another muscular tennis player, which would make for a better comparison.  Two female tennis players, both muscular and successful, but one happens to be black and one happens to be white.  The motives of the original DL Hughley photo become clear.

Processed with Moldiv

Some may also argue that the first picture is not dehumanizing Caitlyn.  Well, let me show you some of the comments from DL Hughley’s Facebook page.

  •  Ok….check this. Do Not Ever put Serena next to that again. (Calling Caitlyn a that says she is not a human, unworthy of respect)
  • Serena lookin like a Queen.. And Jenner lookin like the BEAST (Didn’t slave masters and the white population call slaves animals? And today, racist continue to call us monkeys)
  • Serena is a woman made from God. Bruce is man made. (Caitlyn is “fake”)
  • don’t call that nigga caitlyn. .that nigga name “bruce” (Will not respect Caitlyn’s reality)
  • Jenner looks like a genetically made freakazoid!!! (Caitlyn is a “science experiment”)

So back to the black people’s problem. In April of this year LGBT groups rallied around black civil rights groups to denounce police brutality. They understood that injustice is injustice and a unified front against it is one way to tackle the issue. What do black people do? Continue to tear LGBT people down, to try to segregate themselves and make civil rights or respect a competition, and post memes like this one.  Blacks try to dehumanize Caitlyn, in an attempt to show that their plight is more valid or more real, conveniently forgetting that their ancestors were also dehumanized (albeit on a much larger and more harsh scale).  Also, this picture is tearing a human down, to show that tearing another human down is wrong.  The hypocrisy is deafening.

Now, I also understand that transgender people are hard to comprehend to some.  I even struggle with it, but I understand that I may never fully understand, because I do not walk in the transgender’s shoes.  However, not understanding something is no excuse.  We have access to so much information these days.  To go back to Douglass he believed the greatest aspect of dehumanization in slavery…was not giving slaves the resources to develop literacy or intelligence.  Are black people dehumanizing themselves when they refuse to get educated with so much information out there?

I leave you with this.  How can people take the “new” black civil and human rights movement seriously, when blacks continue to bash and dehumanize other human beings?  Why is it that blacks cannot work with other disenfranchised groups to create a larger movement against all the world’s injustice (The LGBT groups rallied for the black cause, even while being called abominations, faggots, dykes, man-bitches and the destroyers of civilizations).  When will black people finally wake up to reality and realize that they will never progress if they keep pushing everyone away?

Useful links:

http://cypheravenue.com/found-black-panther-party-founder-huey-newtons-surprising-45-year-old-pro-gay-speech/  (You really should read this one)

http://thefreethoughtproject.com/violent-florida-cop-defends-call-black-people-monkeys/

http://usslavery.blogspot.com/2007/03/how-were-slaves-dehumanized-and-how.html

http://www.advocate.com/commentary/2015/04/23/op-ed-its-time-all-lgbt-people-care-about-police-brutality

http://www.hrc.org/blog/entry/op-ed-its-time-for-all-lgbt-people-to-care-about-police-brutality

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Keep it Personal

Recently, a petition was given to the Bermuda Government in support of same-sex marriage.  After this, there was some media coverage, which included an interview with a pastor.  In her interview she said that while the advocates were concerned with being “on the right side of history”, she only concerned with being “on the right side of eternity.”  She also went on to say that government could not change “divine marriage” and that she has been married for 30 years and gays will “never have that.” I would like to interject here that there are some same-sex couples that have been together longer than her 30 “divine” years.  In conversation with a friend, my friend said that this pastor lacks in expressing compassion for the number of couples that have loving, long-standing relationships that, if left up to people like the pastor, will never be recognized and celebrated in the same way this pastor’s relationship is.  It doesn’t make hers better – it just highlights how quickly some humans can dismiss the lives and feelings of others.  My friend also said that same-sex marriage advocates want equality through marriage enabling all to receive the full rights that everyone claiming to be heterosexual freely enjoys in our society.

So what am I getting at here?  My question is, what happened to the concept of a personal relationship with God?  Dictionary.com defines personal as “of relating to, or coming as from a particular person; individual; private”, or “intended for use by one person.”  So why is it that some religious people say that they have a personal relationship with their God, but constantly try to inject their beliefs into other people’s lives, specifically, using the law?  And when I say beliefs, I am not talking about a high level view of a general philosophy; I mean the nitty-gritty, “Thou shalt or thou shalt not” types of beliefs.  Some are quick to point out to others that they are sinners, worthy of death and need to repent (they even say this to other Christians).  I have even heard someone say how a person who had recently died deserved it because they were not living a “righteous, Christian life.”

We in Bermuda live in a diverse society.  There are Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Atheist, and the list goes on.  Yes, I will admit that in the 2010 census 70% of respondents stated that they were affiliated with some type of Christian denomination (or non-denomination). However, nine percent responded that their religion was “other” and 19% were not affiliated with religion at all.  On top of that, “other” grew by 56% between 2000 and 2010, while “not affiliated” or “nones” grew by 34% during the same time period.  The respondents that identified with a Christian denomination decreased by 12% from 2000 to 2010.  It is obvious that the religious landscape in Bermuda is changing.  With more “others” and “nones”, you would hope that the religious would be more cognizant of this fact, but there continues to be the push to interject beliefs into other person’s lives by some, including through the law of the land.

Do not get me wrong.  Everyone is entitled to their beliefs, but this constant barrage of judgments, condemnation and/or evangelism is not fair to those who live their lives another way.  Trying to keep certain laws in place because they are seen as “God’s law” is infringing on the rights of people that do not believe the same.  For example, do you remember the prohibition of alcohol sales on Sunday?  As times have changed, this law became outdated.  It was once put in place to enforce some religious belief that not everyone followed or agreed to.  Just because some think it is “sinful” to drink on Sunday, doesn’t mean that everyone should adhere to that belief.  If you don’t think you should drink on Sunday, well, don’t drink.

In order to live up to the ideals of the cosmopolitan society we are striving to build and maintain here in Bermuda, there has to be a level of understanding and acceptance that everyone is different, and everyone has a different set of beliefs.  There also needs to be an understanding that just because we believe our principles are the “right” ones for us, that does not mean that everyone else should follow them.  Aristotle said, “It is the mark of an educated mind, to be able to entertain a thought, without accepting it.”

I believe that everyone has the right to pursue a philosophy in life that makes them happy and adds value to their lives, as long as it does not infringe on other people’s lives in a negative way.  For some it’s religion, for some it’s education or personal development; there are many ways for people to enrich their experience and live their lives to their fullest potential.  If you have a personal relationship with a God and have a set of personal beliefs, why not keep it just that, personal.  If there are rules that you have personally agreed with your deity to live by, then you live by them.  Do not expect everyone to follow your rules; they are yours and yours alone.

My Journey (…still ongoing)

question2I like to say that I have always been a skeptic. But, I accept that sometimes our memories can be figments of our imagination. However, I did have questions growing up. I remember hanging out with one of my best friends when we were teenagers and questioning the things we were taught from the Bible. As a gust of wind would go by, we would laugh and say that God was going to kill us because we were asking questions about the secrets of his nature.

Yes, I had questions. But for most of my youth I was a devout Christian, a member of the Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) church. My upbringing was pretty fundamental. I wasn’t supposed to go to the movies, couldn’t wear jewelry, no drinking or dancing and we basically became hermits between sundown Friday to sundown Saturday, only to emerge from into the light of day to attend Church and evening Adventist Youth (AY) sessions. All in all, however, I had a pretty good childhood. The comradery that is associated with Christian fellowship is a nice one at times, especially as a child and as I entered early adulthood.

Yet, I had questions.

I usually would ignore these questions or if I asked an adult, I was met with the cliché answers, “That is part of God’s plan” or “God works in mysterious ways.” As I watched people get sick and die, families being separated by divorce, and as things happened in the world such as war, famine and disease, I conjured up fantastic images of a loving god. One who was looking down and allowing all of these to happen so that we could look from the safety of our lives and somehow learn from these events. When they happened to me or my family, I just knew that everything would be OK, because I was cradled in the arms of a wonderful deity that had a plan for my life and these life events would somehow make me a better person and bring me closer to him.

Still, sometimes, I had questions.

I think the first time that I started to actually and seriously question my religious upbringing was when I went off to school at Oakwood College in Huntsville, AL, USA. This was a historically black college and affiliated with the SDA church. Even though I was still following the dogma of my upbringing, I started to notice things. Hypocrisies, intolerances and untruthfulness on the part of the administration there ran rampant. Rumors of the women’s dormitory dean stealing money from the school. Pastors kids dealing drugs (my roommate) and personal incidents of theft of my property. I won’t even go into the black-separatist, black power (racist?) atmosphere of the campus. I was faced with a new question. If I was part of such a powerful, truthful and righteous way of life, why was I surrounded by such seemingly vile individuals (not all of course, there were some nice people there). Unfortunately at the time, still entrenched in religious doctrine, I quelled these questions with believing that “all have fallen short of the glory of God” and everyone was a sinner and….well you know where I am going with this.

Also during this time, I was really falling into a violent inner war with myself in terms of my sexuality. I went through some deep, dark depressed states, contemplating suicide and begging my heavenly father to save me from sin. My relief never came from above.

And now, I had even more questions.

Rock-a-bye baby, in the treetop
When the wind blows, the cradle will rock
When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall
And down will come baby, cradle and all

My bough broke when I was living in Atlanta. By this time, I had become disillusioned with my past SDA upbringing and had decided to “get saved” into the Baptist church. It was the easiest ticket to heaven I had ever received. All I had to do was say “Yes, I believe” and that was it. One Sunday, after listening to the Bishop, and during a musical selection by the choir, I was overcome with my questions. Why would God just love me for no reason, no matter what I did, who I hurt, or the like? I was so confused. I left church that day confused. I needed an answer. I was tired of living without answers. So, I did what any person should do, living in the 21st century. I went to the Internet.

Since then, I have learned that it is OK to ask questions and that if the answer is “Just accept it”, you need to look for a different source for your answers. Starting to look for real answers has wiped the mysticism from my eyes and I now see the thinks in a more puristic view.

I have given my story to let other’s out there know that there is nothing wrong with questions. It is when you ignore the questions and delay trying to figure out the truths or facts that you lend yourself to living with ambiguity and possibly never living your life fully.

Do not be afraid to always question!

The White Man’s Disease

Niankh

There is a common misconception among some people of African decent.  It is that homosexuality and transgender behaviour is a “white man’s” idea, disease or burden.  People like to spread that the white man came up with it (usually in France) and is now spreading it throughout the world and corrupting the poor black man.  Where does this idea come from and why is it not true?

In an article written by Colin Steward entitled, “21 Varieties of traditional African homosexuality”, Steward gives us an insight of what was going on in the pre-colonial times in Africa.  He states, “Throughout Africa’s history, homosexuality has been a ‘consistent and logical feature of African societies and belief systems.”  Some of the examples that he has given are, “explicit” bushman paintings, which depict same-sex sexual activity, the Ganga-Ya-Chibanda (priest from the Congo) who routinely crossed-dressed and referred to as “grandmother.  Another example is in 1606 it was documented that men in southern Africa behaved “womanly” and were ashamed to call themselves men.  One last example was practice of female-female marriages amongst the Nandi and other various tribes.

Here are some other pieces of history of homosexuality:

  • In East Asia, same-sex love has been referred to since the earliest recorded history.
  • Homosexuality in China, known as the pleasures of the bitten peach, the cut sleeve, or the southern custom, has been recorded since approximately 600 BCE.
  • Homosexuality in Japan, variously known as shudo or nanshoku, has been documented for over one thousand years and had some connections to the Buddhist monastic life and the samurai tradition.
  • The Laws of Manu, the foundational work of Hindu law, mentions a “third sex”, members of which may engage in nontraditional gender expression and homosexual activities.
  • When English and French-Canadian fur trappers first grew acquainted with the cultures of the Native Americans among whom they found themselves, they were surprised to find that there were significant numbers of men dressed as women among the tribes of the region.

The list goes on…and not one of these cultures are “white people.”

Where does this notion come from?  Is it because of black people’s adherence to religion, more so then their white counterpart?  Or is it because Muhammad Ali, in 1969, stated that white people where the cause of homosexuality and that idea stuck with black people?

Where ever this came from, if one looks at the facts, and ignores the rhetoric, one would see that homosexuality is present throughout history, and throughout cultures.