Thursday, May 19, 2011

Voices Carry 2011: A Thursday Edition

Legacy X:
American Revolutionary on Fire

Today would be Malcolm X's 86th birthday. His life, legacy and vision for African Americans living in the United States of America was bold, defiant and crackled with searing language caused a sensation then and even today. The recent publishing of Manning Marables book, "Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention," has reignited not only interest in the iconic activist himself, but has reached for far flung facts, myths and perceptions that have become Topic A in literary circles. The chatter has reached a zenith among the who's who in Black academia from Amiri Baraka to Cornell West, each with points of view on this latest look at his historical impact on American culture and society. I read the Autobiography of Malcolm X many years ago, however, in this book Marables continues to peel back the multi-layered, complex and intriguing person that "X" had become. During his 39 years of life, we re-live his reported hustling days as "Detroit Red" with the now added alleged tidbit that he may or may not have had some minor "gay interludes" with male acquaintances. This scenario has raised some eyebrows among some black scholars who have dismissed the allegation as pandering for shock effect while others have called for a greater discussion of homophobia in the black community. The book raises numerous controversies and provocative such as the knowledge that FBI and the NYPD has advanced information concerning a possible assassination plot on Malcolm at the Audubon Ballroom. Also, there are further discussions on his marriage to Betty Shabazz concerning infidelity, the diaries of his travels and his thoroughly complex involvement with the Nation of Islam and the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. It's more that we can even begin to discuss in this forum. So, we've included a link to a video debate and other resources to enlightened you about this unforgettable figure in American history.   
Manning Marable’s Controversial New Biography Refuels Debate on Life and Legacy of Malcolm X

Coming OUT Into the Light

Well he done done it. Don Lemon, CNN's Weekend anchor put it out there that he's gay and in true 21st century style, he "tweeted" it his followers and fan base. And I had to do the hard way, by just telling folks to their face while living my life.  Alright then. In the meantime, Mr. Lemon who also has penned a memoir, "Transparent" which is scheduled for a June release by Farrah May publishing will address molestation incidents, racism and "colorism" and all things that have shaped his 45 year old life thus far. His statement that:

 "It’s quite different for an African-American male,” he said. “It’s about the worst thing you can be in black culture. You’re taught you have to be a man; you have to be masculine. In the black community they think you can pray the gay away.” He said he believed the negative reaction to male homosexuality had to do with the history of discrimination that still affects many black Americans, as well as the attitudes of some black women.
“You’re afraid that black women will say the same things they do about how black men should be dating black women.” He added, “I guess this makes me a double minority now.”
I think it would be great if everybody could be out,” he said. “But it’s such a personal choice. People have to do it at their own speed. I respect that. I do have to say that the more people who come out, the better it is for everyone, certainly for the Tyler Clementis of the world.”

Speaks volumes to his journey and gives us insight that he's taken the time to mull over the impact of his move. Lemon has received an outpouring of support from his fan base, activist and viewers. But with that support comes the hate and backlash from sectors within the black community that have framed his remarks as "throwing the black community under the bus," such as the headline on NewOne for Black America. I wasn't surprised at some of the vile comments that have equated Mr.Lemon as "less than black, being turned out and other gross misrepresentations of his stance. Others have commented that they didn't care if he was gay, but rather he should have kept it to himself. "Why do these folks have to tell all their business to the world," one such comment charged. Mr. Lemons assertion that we have homophobia in the black community is not flawed, but has been cloaked in varying degrees of theology and misconceptions. All the while, transgendered people are violently murdered, isolation, poverty and co-morbidity health issues have developed a hub and spoke dilemma within the HIV/AIDS crisis continuing to spike in the community. Even though he may not consider himself a role model, his coming out demonstrates that with persistence, talent and dignity you can achieve living out loud on your on terms. High five and Kudos to you Mr. Lemon, here's to you and wishing you the best!! 

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