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Her name has a 'y', her divisiveness a 'WHY?!'

by Jeremy Hooper

This writer would challenge the following post, which has been penned by African American lesbian writer Jasmyne Cannick. After all, commentary on LGBT issues is what I do, and something I've been able to accomplish with most anyone (even Shirley Phelps-Roper) without things getting overly unfair or personal, or with the person I'm challenging making dead-end generalizations that shut off all further conversation. I pride myself on fair and open dialogue.

Picture 19-46However, since I am a gay white male, Jasmyne, as per her wont, will unfairly write off anything I say as me being just yet another white gay man who doesn't get it. This is what she has become primarily known for in recent years, frustrating the many would-be, should-be allies who would love to have a conversation with her. Whether it's to be provocative for the sake of provocation, or because she sincerely believes everything she says, Jasmyne has proven extremely divisive, and not in the good, reasoned way that sparks growth. Instead, she cuts her LGBT brothers ad sisters, with a startling lack of concern for the hurtful things she is saying. She seems to feel that she is above all scrutiny. Above all outrage. She writes without remorse, passing off her criticisms with abandon. It makes me sad, quite frankly.

So without further comment on its merits, here is a snippet of Jasmyne's latest:

"At a time when you should be apologizing to and trying to build bridges with African-Americans after exposing your closeted racism towards us over the passage of California’s Proposition 8, you’re at it again.

The man isn’t even in office yet and you are all up in arms over the inaugural invitation of evangelical pastor Rick Warren by President-elect Barack Obama just because Warren opposes gay marriage.
Instead of denouncing Obama’s choice to invite Warren, you should be hailing it as it shows a continued effort on Obama’s behalf to reach across the aisle in an effort to bring everyone to the table. You know that thing that you haven’t quite learned how to do yet.

If no one ever told you—the world doesn’t revolve around gay marriage. If it did, let’s face it, Obama wouldn’t be the President-elect, now would he?

If you would like to respond to Jasmyne's trivialization of the Warren fiasco (which, obviously, is about WAAAAAY more than marriage), she does accept comments on her site. But honestly, I think I am done trying. For me, Jasmyne (who I have both supported and defended) has crossed a threshold. And her voice, once powerful, has become such a shotgun of unfair, unwarranted condemnation, it feels almost masochistic to even let it into my life.

White Gays Guide to Dealing with the Black Community: Chapter 4: STFU Already [Cannick]
(H/t: Queerty)

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Your thoughts

This inaugaration is our time. Why do we need to find a middle road here? We won. Can we not just have our moment of glory? As a straight white female raised by a Lesbian mother I saw the struggles my mother indured. Give her her moment in history. Why must it be tainted by a bigoted religious zealot? Shame on you Obama.

Posted by: andy | Dec 22, 2008 12:13:36 PM

What disturbs me equally as much as Cannick's rhetoric is the attention paid to it. There are so many other lgbts of color who have written opinions in less polarizing fashion. But you never hear about them.

So I have to ask if Cannick's words weren't as fiery and as polarizing, would anyone in our community give a damn about her opinion as an lgbt woman of color, period?

Posted by: a. mcewen | Dec 22, 2008 12:13:36 PM

I was briefly confused as to what the white, fair-haired Rick Warren has to do with the black community in particular. I presume she thinks that nobody would have complained if the President-Elect were a white man. I suppose I can't know how many people would or would not have done, since that's not the situation, but the fact remains that Obama described himself as "a fierce advocate" of LGBT rights, and yet seems now quite happy to ignore people who might be offended by him giving a platform to a bigot who runs an ex-gay group in his church - as far as "reaching across the aisle" goes, these people have been the voice in power for many years, so why they need to be coddled by anyone is unclear to me.

Posted by: Celia the lurker | Dec 22, 2008 12:13:36 PM

Your right about that, Alvin. For me, the reason why Jasmyne has merited this (likely) final mention is because she does already have such a major platform. She has been booked on so many national shows recently, and she is a regular Advocate columnist. So rather it be that I'm mentioning her because is an LGBT person of color, I'm more that I'm mentioning her because she is an LGBT person who gets so much attention.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Dec 22, 2008 12:17:27 PM

I think she's so cranky because she needs a nap. Of course, I've thought the same thing for the past few years.

Seriously: She used to be a serious, thoughtful person, some times a leader, often a wise strategist.

But no more. I'm not sure why, although sometimes it seems to me that she's categorized her viewpoints into mutually exclusive identities. Thus, when she's in her lesbian mode, she tends to shout down all men (gay or straight), and during A-A times she shuts out gay or straight people of any other race.

If we -- black or white or otherwise, gay or straight ally -- can't multi-task our various identities, we have no hope of ever getting anywhere.

So, yes, I think some of Jasmyne's rants of recent years (e.g., her recent diatribe in the LA Times, I believe it was) set back the cause of rights for all of us, because she's only thinking about some of us at a time.

Posted by: K | Dec 22, 2008 12:25:55 PM

Maybe it's just me, but...

Immediately after the passage of Prop. 8, I expressed some shock and dismay that there was such a gap between my perceived understanding of the African-American community and my own self-identity. (How's that for an artful turn of phrase?) But that was it. I wasn't "angry" at anyone, except Mormons and the Catholic hierarchy and I think they're STILL fair game.

I have no idea who this woman is that you're talking about here. I may be a bit provincial, but I don't read shrill people. Their voices are too grating. Anyways, maybe I'm just a little too provincial to "get" someone like this woman.

I don't know a lot about Blacks. Oh sure, I live in Oakland, California and know dozens of African-Americans. I work with them, have sex with them, fight with them, feud with them, shop with them, compete with them, live next door to them, well, you get the picture. I obviously don't know anything about them because I'm not Black.

And despite obvious appearances, neither am I White. I come from a mixed-race people, much like Mexicans, and you know what? I'm just as annoyed by Blacks who are racists as I am by Whites who are racists. I don't have an opinion about obvious African-American issues because I'm not African-American. I don't comment about their failure as a community to take care of their own, their failure to acknowledge the crisis of drugs, murder and fear that grips their community, their failure to nurture their own criminals back into a constructive role in society, their inability to acknowledge the crisis of HIV in their community. That sort of stuff.

None of those things are issues with me, because as a Rich White Gay Male, I have no empathy for anything that is not White, Rich and Gay. Except, I'm not rich, only half White, although I am FULLY Gay.

I don't need lectures from Black bigots about how to reach out to the African-American community. This woman should get her information from a news source other than Fox news. I don't know what the fuck she's talking about.

Posted by: Houston | Dec 22, 2008 1:27:26 PM

Sorry, but is she just trying to get attention? Her writing is so divisive and, by the way, way to fuel the anti-gays. They're going to love this latest gem of hers.

I notice in her article that she wrote:

"It’s no secret that Obama isn’t exactly the poster child for gay marriage, and for the record, neither was your Hillary Clinton."

I wonder what she meant by that. That no white lesbians or gay men voted for Obama over Clinton in the primaries?

What an ignorant assumption.

In light of her ignorant, polarizing piece I can only find it ironic that she has the gall to tell other people that they "have a lot of work to do."

Posted by: fannie | Dec 22, 2008 4:07:36 PM

I've also been very disappointed in Jasymne's recent blog posts, especially that whole "White Gays Guide" series.

Posted by: Kamikapse | Dec 22, 2008 5:07:45 PM

Jasmyn Cannick, please tell me how you would have reacted if Obama has invited (Imperial Klans of America, Knights of the KKK Imperial Wizard) Ron Edwards to the inauguration?

Posted by: tavdy79 | Dec 22, 2008 8:04:28 PM

I fail to see the authors asserted latent racism in the gays community reaction to the surprising weight of the black vote in the passing of prop 8. There could have been some racism from some people, and a great number of us failed to take into account the feelings of black gays, but the communities reactions can in no way be perceived as inherently racist.

As for Warren, I have little doubt that he will still be the one to give the prayer at the inauguration. I even understand Obama's choice and can except it. But the "reach across the aisle" approach to Obama's choice does not some how magically make Warrens degrading and demeaning comments and support of the bigoted prop 8 any better or acceptable. During the no on prop 8 campaign before the vote many bridges were built, and while agree we need to focus more or continuing to build those bridges instead of ignoring them for more trivial protests. That does not mean we need to or should ignore the words of Pastor Warren as he becomes an elevated figure in the public eye. This, as ever, is in fact the time to remind people that we will not except the discriminating and bigoted messages of those who would see us relegated to a status of second class citizens (diseased and demoralized) simply because it interferes with the open handed message of the president elect or because the man acts like a sheep when in fact his word show him to be a wolf in sheep's clothing. I can except but i do, in no way, have to like it no should i or anyone else be made to feel bad for that fact.

Posted by: Patrick B | Dec 22, 2008 8:19:12 PM

One of the most annoying things Cannick has caused to happen in the debate is have people rush in and declare their racial makeup (i.e. "as a black man, I think," or "as a lesbian white woman, I believe") and that's a disaster.

ML King spoke of a world where people were "judged by the content of their character," and not the color of their skin. Cannick is undermining that vision with her hateful rants.

PS -- I am a white gay man, which presumably means "I don't know oppression." Then again, most of my family was being starved to death in work camps, cremated, and their tooth fillings extracted by the Nazis at Dachau. Using Cannick's "logic," I "know more oppression than she does."

It's all so ridiculous and doesn't merit serious consideration. She's a racist crank.

Posted by: Brian Miller | Dec 28, 2008 12:46:01 PM

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