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Homophobia: The Only Hate Black People Are Okay With

Image: Author James Baldwin (1985 Los Angeles Times)

THERE is a residue of hate that Black people have ignored or disregard for generations.

If you are a heterosexual, testosterone-filled man, you encounter it every day. If you are a church-goer, it has probably been pounded into your psyche and belief system; you’ve allowed it to seep into your brain. We all know it exists, even in our own hearts and minds, but we allow it to coexist and thrive between us in a state of blissful ignorance and self-denial.

We need to stop it, and according to every guide to breaking bad manners and solving problems, we have to admit it: Black people are homophobic AF.

We often misunderstand what a phobia is. A Phobia is not just a fear, but it is an irrational fear. It is also an aversion to something that makes no sense.

Now, get this one right: The white man (the system of oppression and subjugation which I so despise) enslaved Black people for hundreds of years. They created a system of laws that made our ancestors second-class citizens for hundreds of years. They made women second-class citizens whose only purpose was sauce-making and sex. They also made black women believe their hair should be straight; their skin should be light and their butts should be small. The white man doesn’t just make the rules. The white man agrees with the rules, and even though he might not have any hand in creating or enforcing them, by participating and agreeing with the society at large, he is complicit.

Tell you what? You and I have been the white man. The black man has been the white man.

I, for one, have sat quietly on church pews and listened to preachers wax biblically poetic about faggots, ngochani, gays. I probably said, “amen.” I may have applauded, stood up and clapped hella lot. It is more probable than not that someone listening in the audience had a sexuality that was different from mine. There was never a point in my life where I sat down and made the conscious choice to love women. I have always have loved women, so I assume that most other people’s sexual propensities were not a choice. I will not delve into the complexities of religion, sin and fornication except to say that there was once a time when separating us by the colour of our skin, from who we loved, where we ate, where we could attend school and from which water fountains we could drink from was justified with God and religion. Those people were stupid. Those people were liars. Those people were evil, and I will not be those people.

Back at home, I have also assembled with folk who eschewed bullshit logic for facts and knowledge, but when it came to the acceptance of whom another person was attracted to reverted back to the thinking of cave dwellers. They spit nonsense about how it was a nefarious plot “to destroy us as a people” as if homosexuality had not existed before slave ships or Greek tragedies or Africans figured out geometry.

I don’t believe that Black people are the only portion of the populace with homophobia problem, but as our communities are imbued in the acceptance of the traditions of religion and male hierarchy, we are one of the few people who feel comfortable enough to voice our homophobia out loud and expect it to be accepted. We have normalized it, to the detriment of our communities. Soon our children will be the only ones left hiding in closets and suffering with depression, and we will still be left praying over them and shackling them to our old-school ignorance while the rest of the world has moved on. That is the danger.

Martin Luther King once said, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” The greatest injustice of all is hate, and whenever we allow it to fester and grow, we are contributing to injustice. We are contributing to depression, self-hate and the destruction of the lives of people whose only crime is they don’t feel like most people feel.

I am not an absolutist on much, but my granny always said: “right is right, and wrong is wrong”. Some things are just unequivocally, unquestionably wrong, and we need to stop it… Like I stopped being the white man.

ImChris Charamba

Head Storyteller @ Enthuse Afrika | Progressive Writer | Content Creator | Critic of the Arts and Contemporary Culture | Idealist | Creative | Digital Strategist | Follow him on Twitter @ImChrisCharamba 

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