Monday, November 1, 2010


In 1964 Malcolm X gave a speech entitled, The Ballot or the Bullet. The following are some excerpts from that speech:

I'm not going to sit at your table and watch you eat, with nothing on my plate, and call myself a diner. Sitting at the table doesn't make you a diner, unless you eat some of what's on that plate. Being here in America doesn't make you an American. Being born here in America doesn't make you an American. Why, if birth made you American, you wouldn't need any legislation; you wouldn't need any amendments to the Constitution; you wouldn't be faced with civil-rights filibustering in Washington, D.C., right now.

I'm not an American. I'm one of the 22 million Black people who are the victims of Americanism. One of the 22 million Black people who are the victims of democracy, nothing but disguised hypocrisy.

I don't see any American dream; I see an American nightmare.

You and I, 22 million African-Americans — that's what we are — Africans who are in America. You're nothing but Africans. Nothing but Africans. In fact, you'd get farther calling yourself African instead of Negro. Africans don't catch hell. You're the only one catching hell. They don't have to pass civil-rights bills for Africans.

If it doesn't take senators and congressmen and presidential proclamations to give freedom to the white man, it is not necessary for legislation or proclamation or Supreme Court decisions to give freedom to the Black man. You let that white man know, if this is a country of freedom, let it be a country of freedom; and if it's not a country of freedom, change it.

Now, substitute LGBT for "Negro" and "Black man," and we can see that the current state of the LGBT Civil Rights movement is woefully lacking in intensity and in coordination.

Moreover, within that movement there are traitors who wittingly or unwittingly seek to undermine the quest for full and equal civil rights!

Many are against same-sex marriage because it mimics heterosexual marriage which they hold in disdain; many are grateful for crumbs of incrementalism, and pee all over themselves to get access to politicians who couldn't care less about equal rights for LGBT people, despite their rhetoric to the contrary; many demean themselves by begging the voters to affirm their status as citizens who have the same rights and privileges as do heterosexuals under our Constitution; many, if not most, revel in referring to themselves by terms the oppressor uses to demean and even define LGBT people, not realizing or caring that their use merely cements "outsider" status, and serves as a destructive example to young LGBT people; many give credibility to homophobic churches, where the pastor and congregation view them as "sinners," and not worthy to partake of all of the sacraments of that church or, for that matter, worthy to partake of full and equal civil rights; many participate in parades and pageants that irrationally celebrate one's sexuality, further fueling the stereotype that Gay=Sex, and celebrating sexual outlaw status at the same time that many LGBT people seek full and equal civil and sacramental rights.

In distinguishing the "House Negro" from the "Field Negro," Malcolm X, in part, said:

There was two kind of slaves. There was the house negro and the field
negro. The house negro, they lived in the house, with master. They
dressed pretty good. They ate good, cause they ate his food, what he left.
They lived in the attic or the basement, but still they lived near their
master, and they loved their master, more than their master loved
himself. They would give their life to save their masters house quicker
than their master would. The house negro, if the master said "we got a
good house here" the house negro say "yeah, we got a good house here".

It is my opinion that in what LGBT Civil Rights movement exists, there are far too many "house negroes," far too many traitors who are content, and/or often even revel, in their second class citizenship status. These LGBT "house negroes" are fiddling while the Rome of LGBT equality burns!

They are those who like to live in "the master's house" by either celebrating their sexual outlaw status, thereby fulfilling the oppressor's expectations of what LGBT people are like, or by elevating their desire to be "liked" by their heterosexual neighbors and co-workers over engaging in meaningful activism, thereby assuring that they, and subsequent generations of LGBT people, are forever consigned to the status of second class citizens.

It is the relatively large number of such LGBT people, those who are, in one way or another, content with their lives as second class citizens, to give us any reason to be encouraged that this civil rights battle will be won any time soon!
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James Hipps said...

This is a very good piece. I remember how when President Obama was elected, Whoopi Goldberg made the comment, "I've always felt American, but now I feel like I can set my bags down". I'm looking forward to the day when I can say, I too feel as though I can set my bags down.

I was watching clips on CNN yesterday about Sarah Palin and she was spewing about "Old Glory" flying high. The problem is she's only speaking for those who enjoy straight, white privilege. For the rest of us, "Old Glory" is a half mast.

Jerry Maneker said...

Thanks so much, James. There has always been contention between those who have a stake in the status quo and those who have the boot on their neck. The tragedy of the LGBT Civil Rights movement is that many of those with the boot on their neck have accommodated to that oppression in one way or the other; many even revel in that oppression by absorbing the rhetoric of the oppressor and/or living up to the stereotypes with which they are labelled by the oppressor. In this regard, they are handmaidens of the oppressor and are wittingly or unwittingly doing the oppressor's work. Best wishes, Jerry.


Seems to me Whoopi Goldberg is guilty of a superficial analysis. She's carrying some baggage, all right, and she hasn't yet set it down! Just because a person of color occupies the White House, that doesn't mean people of color are empowered. The same would be true of an openly Gay Chief Executive. Appearances can deceive! Actions are what really matter. The same goes for churches that appear to welcome LGBT faithful but fail to live up to their promise.

genevieve said...

You make an excellent, Don Charles. Too many of the same of the same people who defend the status quo are pulling on the puppet strings.

Jerr,your post was excellent. I read Malcolm's comment about the house and field negro.

One issue that's always gnawed at me is why so many 'leaders' want to get on the news or be 'in' with some politician. To me this is the Democrats downfall. Too much Hollywood. The Republicans defend the status quo too much to the detriment of GLBT people and other minorities.

Jerry Maneker said...

Thanks so much, genevieve. Actually, in my opinion, forgetting their rhetoric, I don't see a dime's worth of difference between Democrats and Republicans. Best wishes, Jerry.

genevieve said...

You're right about that, Jerry. It's all about money.

Jerry Maneker said...

Hi genevieve: A good rule of thumb, especially in America, is to "Follow the Money!" I've always maintained that if there was more money to be made affirming LGBT people, many, if not most, reactionary homophobic pastors would be proudly marching in Gay Pride Parades. Best wishes, Jerry.