It is 2018, and we are still having to have the conversation about homophobia in the Black community. Sigh.
In a post on Instagram on Monday evening, rapper Nipsey Hussle, who is most known for his mixtape Crenshaw, posted a photo regarding a demonstration led by various Black men. The post itself wasn’t the source of frustration but its caption that read, “They gone feed us every image of our men and boys but this one-No hyper violent...no homo sexual...Just strong BLAC MEN AND YOUNG MEN.”
Many people on Black Twitter weren’t having it, stating that Black cishet men are only interested in the liberation of themselves. Activist Deray McKesson would later respond to the post stating that even after his own issues with the Black community, said people in the community are still not seeing queer black people as people but rather just props to uphold their own masculinity.
And not only is he right but this mentality is literally killing us.
Demonstration speaks louder than Conversation. They gone feed us every image of our men and boys but this one. No hyper violent...No homo sexual...No abandoners....JUS STRONG BLAC MEN AND YOUNG Men. RESPECT TO MY BIG HOMIE @bigu1 for Leading with love and intelligence. GOD IS WITH US WHO CAN GO AGAINST US 💪🏾
What Hussle posted isn’t something that we queer people have never heard. In fact, the homophobia that many people of color face within their communities are things we’ve come to expect due to how many marginalized people will still feed upon systems of power they themselves battle against.
But what many fail to realize is that the idea that Hussle shares in his Instagram post about queer Black men not being strong is a product of toxic masculinity and patriarchy. And his post speaks volumes about the way homophobia works to divide communities of color with the sole purpose of telling straight cishet men that their masculinity is predicated on the hating of queer people.
What many cishet Black men fail to realize is that homophobia only exists as a weapon to normalize colonialism, A.K.A., violence. Homophobia, like colonialism, creates a policy and practice of power that extends and controls those who are thought to be weaker.
Why is this problematic?
Because the same system is used against communities of color. While Black cishet men may believe that they are of greater worth and hold power over other queer Black men, the same system they are feeding with homophobia is the same system being used to kill them.
Furthermore, we have to understand that being queer and Black aren’t mutually exclusive. We are honestly fighting the same battle, the same struggle and the same system of oppression. You can’t be pro-Black and anti-queer. It just doesn’t work that way.
The reality is that in order for us to dismantle homophobia in any community, we have to understand the system to which it works and work collectively to end said system. We have to recognize that it can’t just be queer Black/Brown people who call out homophobia, but that those who identify as allies to the community must continue to hold cishet men accountable for their actions as well.
Because not addressing homophobia as a whole is, in fact, deadly.
When straight, cisgender individuals make comments about queer people not being whole, they are validating the violence and victimization that queer people experience. Even more, they are failing to acknowledge the privilege they have of being valued by society simply based on their gender and sexual identity.
But homophobia isn’t just belief systems. It is about the idea that when someone says or does something homophobic, they are insinuating that because of one’s queer identity, they are somehow less of a person which often translates to the idea that we don’t deserve the right to live.
Homophobia like Hussle’s justifies the attacks that QPOC and trans people face. Homophobia validates the notion that because we are different, that we don’t deserve the right to exist. In 2017 alone, there were 28 trans women of color murdered, and in 2018 we have seen a spike in murders of black lesbian women.
It is time to begin recognizing that all oppression is connected and that one's sexual identity does not determine their strength, their value or their worth. Black cisgender men (or people) are not the only ones deserving of liberation. Black men, Black people, should not have to destroy one another to get the freedom that we so rightfully deserve.
Keep in mind that erasing QTPOC from the conversation of liberation won’t get you freer any sooner. If we continue to work together to end each system that we all face, we can actively end the game that white supremacy uses to keep us from the keys to unlock the chains of oppression.
Yes, Black lives matter, but it will take ALL Black lives to get us to true freedom.