People intricately involved in these movements are silenced, censored, or worse erased from queer history as much as they are erased from the actual sites of the riots. The eradication of queer people of color from the neighborhood in which the Stonewall Inn is located is even more alarming. The queer and trans people of color that flocked the area around the Christopher Street Piers in New York City in the s and s and into the s have been forced out of the area through massive gentrification measures and its usual suspects: increased police presence, skyrocketing rents, and the closing down of queer places in favor of chain-stores.
For the white neighbors and the predominantly white tourists, the erasure of queer people of color signifies safety. Hanhardt argues that the historical developments of queer activism and the economic policies of the neoliberal city have led to the development of an analogy between race and sexuality in which queerness can only function if it is dispelled from other markers of identity such as race, class, and gender.
These particular gay and lesbian U. Supreme Court rulings, Lawrence vs. Texas , Brown vs. Board of Education , and Loving vs. Nevertheless, the socio-political movements of blacks and queers remain severed and the rift between both communities grows with every new articulation of gay equals black analogies, homophobic utterances of leading black community institutions, the silence on racial equality from leading LGBT organizations, or the calls for safety within gay neighborhoods that target people of color and economically deprived populations.
It has since continued to challenge police violence against African Americans across the U. It centers those that have been marginalized within Black liberation movements. It is a tactic to re build the Black liberation movement.
Major queer organizations remain ignorant of race in their attempts to find incorporation into a colorblind society instead of attempting to queer the nation-state in relation to race. BlackLivesMatter is thus not a call to the specificities of black life.
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It is a simple call to the inviolability of black life and the black body that thinks race and sexuality together, while being attentive to the different histories of each. By vowing to embrace queerness and blackness simultaneously, while clearly focusing on the attacks on black lives, queerness becomes a critical tool for those marginalized by a dominant, heteronormative, heterosexist, patriarchal, and racist society. BlackLivesMatter does not empower a utopian feeling for queer belonging because this belonging is framed by the privilege of whiteness.
Even worse, it has actively attacked blackness, positing queerness as everything but black. A reading of blackness through a queer lens thus centers queerness as it currently positions itself—before blackness. A reading of queerness through a framework that centers blackness, however, brings both race and sexuality into conversation with each other rather than against each other. There is little doubt that the numbers will not diverge much in Despite the erasure of blackness in most of mainstream queer organizing, what then does queerness have to do with the mass shootings of black men and women, the murders of black trans women, and the attack on voting rights and civil rights for the African American community?
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Omi and Winant argue that colorblindness enables neoliberalism 15 and both enforce upon the U. The words of Coates resonate even more deeply at a moment when the black body, as individual agent and abstract concept, is widely attacked by the state. Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Sandra Bland—these names resound with the tragic deaths of innocent black bodies at the hands of white police officers. And the list continues to grow. The immense amount of black people incarcerated within U. Michelle Alexander reminds her readers that the logic of colorblindness is extremely at fault when looking at the criminal justice system.
In an interview with DemocracyNow! Alexander and Coates, among other black intellectuals, academics, artists, and activist, make their voices be heard in their various calls for black liberation because the racial ideology of colorblindness does not mean being blind to race as much as it means being blind to racial inequality.
The result of such blindness to racial inequality can be seen all throughout U. Alexander explains:. Arguably the most important parallel between mass incarceration and Jim Crow is that both have served to define the meaning and significance of race in America…. Slavery defined what it meant to be black a slave , and Jim Crow defined what it meant to be black a second-class citizen.
Today mass incarceration defines the meaning of blackness in America: black people, especially black men, are criminals. That is what it means to be black.
In the analogy of race and queerness, the determining factor of differentiation is criminality. Queerness then, needs to define itself as anything but the criminal, anything but black. The black body remains criminal, while the queer body moves into the realm of citizenship.
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In the era of colorblindness, it is no longer permissible to hate blacks, but we can hate criminals. While the black body is increasingly violated in the U. Queer U. As such, queer life is constitutive of black death as it ignores those queer subjects who are both black and queer. The primacy of death has given way to the primacy of life. This is certainly not a contingent, deracialized move. The nation-wide decriminalization of sodomy in marked the ultimate end to the criminalization of queer bodies. The queer body that is detached from criminality, however, is first and foremost white, before it is queer.
It is clearly framed as the one who is violated by criminals and not as the perpetrator. It is attacked by the police and right-wing politicians, deprived of voting rights by the courts, thwarted by an economic system that increasingly cuts social services while supporting privatization, and ultimately left to die. This leaves blackness in a state of emergency, while queerness steers unapologetically toward the safe haven that is full equality and consumer consumption.
It also drives a wedge between two imaginary communities—one black, one queer—in which the former one is marked by straightness, while the latter one is marked by whiteness.
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These events are emblematic for the erasure of blackness within mainstream queer organizing and point to a political strategy that is even more possible through colorblindness. Leading LGBT organizations and queer spokespeople blamed homophobia within the black community for the passing of Proposition 8.
Hate Crimes Prevention Act in The bill, which is most widely know as the Matthew Shepard Act once again centering the white gay male, while dropping the name of the black male that was lynched was passed as an attachment to a Department of Defense bill. This results in further funding for state institutions like the police and the military that ultimately target those that the act attempts to protect, or, in the case of the military, enable violent acts upon populations of color outside of the U.
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Spade The third key element is the silence of leading LGBT organizations on the mass-incarceration of black bodies. Jared Sexton explains why such lack of attention to blackness will ultimately lead to failure:. Without blacks on board, the only viable political option and the only effective defense against the intensifying crossfire will involve greater alliance with an anti-black civil society and further capitulation to the magnification of state power.
However, the identity lines of leading LGBT organizations are often clear-cut with little potential for intersectional thinking. A queer political movement clearly follows the logic of political whiteness and positions itself as a stable concept that is only sustainable when race, class, and gender are rejected as social formations. The racial and ethnic differences within a queer community have also been erased in favor of a whitewashed image of the community that can be used as a marker of progressiveness when compared to non-white, non-Western countries.
A colorblind society that leads to the exclusion of people of color, some of them queer, often goes hand in hand with a homonormative structure in which the norm is not only marked by sexuality, but also by race.
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Queerness becomes an emblem of state power, not a powerful force critiquing state power as queer originally hinted at. Within these contexts, queerness functions as a destabilizer of identity while remaining aware of the material realities that affect some identities more than others. It allows for a reading of culture, politics, and activism that puts marginalized voices into focus while constantly and consistently challenging the definitions and positions of blackness and queerness at a time when they are often, sometimes unknowingly, defined in opposition to each other. Black queer aesthetics, although not always explicitly, also function as political engagements that push the boundaries of queerness, blackness, masculinity, and femininity.
Popular culture as theory, however, also poses a risk. The expropriation happens when the margins tell critical stories of the mainstream. By doing so, these stories nevertheless place the mainstream into the center.
By doing so, the film resonates well with what James Baldwin expressed in an interview in All you are ever told in this country about being black is that it is a terrible, terrible thing to be. Now, in order to survive this, you have to really dig down into yourself and re-create yourself, really, according to no image which yet exists in America. You have to impose, in fact—this may sound very strange—you have to decide who you are, and force the world to deal with you, not with its idea of you. Stanley and Pratt This diversity includes queerness.
Yet, if the lens through which black life is most commonly framed is first and foremost assumed to be male, and the lens through which queerness is framed is almost always white, then black queer women are marginalized within both the fight for black liberation and queer equality. This multiple marginalization offers opportunities to speak from a social experience that does not stop at being female in a patriarchal society as much as it does not stop at being black in a sea of white privilege.
The complexity of this intersection of blackness and queerness is the starting point for a discussion of The Same Difference that challenges the centrality of maleness in the discourse surrounding black liberation, while at the same time acknowledging its unique position.
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