Homophobia and Black Americans

The incomparable and all-around incredible Alvin McEwen links us to an article that I found absolutely fascinating. Essentially, Adam Serwer responds to Charles Pierce, writing for Grantland, for his attempt to use Jason Collins’s coming out as an excuse to blame homophobia on the black community.

I recommend reading the whole piece, but here’s a pull quote from Serwer responding to a horrendous fail trying to reference W.E.B. Dubois.

Look, man: It’s called “double consciousness,” not “dual identity,” and it’s an intellectual concept applicable to black existence in America prior to Jim Crow and after its demise. “Dual identity” is what Batman has.

There is a tendency to attribute homophobia disproportionately to the black population. It’s a mistake that I made as well until I started reading McEwen’s blog and was very slowly convinced that the evidence for a higher rate of homophobia in black communities simply isn’t there.

This narrative that black people are simply more homophobic is harmful to both the LGBT community and to communities of people of color because it validates baseless claims by the religious right, giving them an uncritical pass because of some “everybody knows” appeal. It’s little different from Rand Paul’s assertion that Latin@s are natural Republicans because they share GOP social values, which is manifestly not true.

Buying into these sorts of narratives cedes that point to the religious right, basically saying that yes, we accept that being black means being homophobic and anyone who tries to be anything else doesn’t count and can be safely ignored. The modern black community is only about 1 percent more homophobic than the modern white community according to work done by Greg Lewis of Georgia State University. Statistically insignificant.

While I get that Pierce is attempting to be compassionate and praise Collins for coming out against incredible odds, his obvious lack of research on the topic makes the whole thing sound condescending. Pierce’s piece just smacks of “You’re a credit to your orientation,” and watching Serwer skewer the guy is really amusing.


(h/t Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters)


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