As I move through America and share my stories with you as an openly gay man of color, I have the great fortune to learn and grow from the many reader comments I receive. It has been both cathartic and inspiring to see messages telling me that these chronicles are helping some people learn, while giving voice to the true feelings of others. As I move into October with Volume IV, I look forward to continuing to connect with you all.
When Judge Brett Kavanaugh was nominated to sit on the Supreme Court, I felt ill. He is by far the most partisan judge to receive a nomination in recent memory.
If that wasn’t bad enough, he was then credibly accused of sexual assault by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. Like many Americans, I read her story and was horrified. Per a letter sent to Senator Dianne Feinstein, Dr. Ford stated that Kavanaugh pushed her into a bedroom at a party while intoxicated and began grinding his body against hers and was trying to undress her while his friend Mark Judge watched. Hands were placed over her mouth to muffle screaming. When Judge jumped on the bed with her and Brett, according to Ford, the teenagers all fell to the floor and she ran. She locked herself in a bathroom and did not leave until she heard the drunken boys stumbling down the stairs. Critics of Dr. Ford have argued two central reasons for why they do not believe her. I want to explore both of those reasons.
Why didn’t she say anything when it happened?
The reason for Dr. Ford’s silence is the very real fear that no one would believe her, not even her parents. She had admitted that she was also drinking at the party where the assault allegedly happened. Think back to when you were a teenager. What was your biggest fear? Was it getting in trouble? To her teenage mind, the fact that she had been consuming alcohol at a party with no adult supervision discredited her story to the people whose trust she needed the most – her parents. I find it hard to believe that so many of her critics fail to understand this.
Outside of just her parents, a young Dr. Ford had every reason to believe that society at large would doubt her story. It is common among survivors to fear that they won’t be believed if they tell the truth of their sexual assault. Take, for example, any of the most recent news stories about upper-class white teenagers with the “proper look” behaving badly. In almost every instance, these young men – considered boys to preserve the look of innocence – are let off with only a slap on the wrist. This still happens in 2018, well after the 1980’s, when white privilege had not been identified and discussed yet. It’s not hard to believe that most of her classmates would have believed the boys and labeled her as a slut.
At the age of 16, I too, was the victim of sexual assault. A local store owner befriended me and, one day, offered me a job at the store. He informed me that I needed to fill out the employment paperwork the next morning, which meant I would be skipping a few classes. I filled out my paperwork and, when I took it back to him in his office, he began to undress. He told me that he now had all my info and would out me if I didn’t sleep with him. I knew that if I attacked him, he could easily make it look like a robbery. In my mind, I knew I had no choice. I was able to jump out of a window to escape.
Why am I telling you this story? I didn’t say anything for 17 years because I was afraid of being outed, because I didn’t think anyone would believe me, and because I was embarrassed that I was so stupid. I tell that full story on Patriot Not Partisan. Not saying anything when assault happens is a normal occurrence. Her story should not be discounted because she didn’t say anything immediately.
It happened too long ago, it’s no longer relevant.
There are several holes in this critique. The first one is most of the people that love to defend Kavanaugh also believe that his calendar from over 30 years ago is proof he did not commit the assault. I do not believe for one second that a teenage boy kept a calendar with no real sentimental value for over 30 years. For a moment though, let’s pretend that he kept this calendar and was able to locate it so quickly. I do not believe that he would pencil in a sexual assault on said calendar. Lets also remember that no male that has come forward with accusations of being molested by a priest has EVER been publicly been scolded for waiting too long.
I not only believe Dr. Ford, but I trust her. As a nation we need to trust women. Not just believe them, but trust them. We need to hold men accountable. Any woman that would sit through the vile treatment that Dr. Ford received from senators like Lindsey Graham are entitled to my respect and trust. The saddest part of this entire situation to me, however, is that I believe the Republicans know Dr. Ford is telling the truth, but they just simply don’t care.
In September Bill Cosby was sentenced to 3-10 years in prison for his sexual assault. I feel that it is my responsibility to explain why so many black people are apprehensive about applauding this conviction. I want to first clarify that I know that Bill Cosby is guilty, and was rightfully convicted.
When I was growing up, there were very few black male role models for young black boys to look up to on television, other than athletes. You must remember that, prior to Dr. Huxtable, our most prominent black male role models were Sanford, who owned a junk lot and Mr. George Jefferson, who was one of the rudest (and most hilarious) characters on television. Bill Cosby’s character was an inspiration to kids like myself. It was the first time many of us saw a black doctor and good father who was married to a lawyer. When I wrote about the allegations when they were first breaking, I had many white folks explain to me that he was just an actor, it was just a show, and there were writers. I get all of this.
All of my black friends got it immediately though. They understood my sadness. For us, Bill Cosby was not just an actor, but he felt like a family member that did a bad thing. In the same way that we have to grieve the death of loved one, many in the black community had to grieve Dr. Huxtable. We know he wasn’t real, and even though most of us are adults now, we still held on to the belief that the life of the Huxtables could be ours. When I was younger, once a year, my father had the family do a talent show. It established bonding, and it was good for a laugh. He got the idea from a musical number he saw on an episode of The Cosbys. For black folks in America, the Cosby family opened up the minds to what was possible.
I am not writing this to inspire sympathy for Bill Cosby. I have none. I am writing this to inspire empathy for those that have sympathy for Bill Cosby. I am happy he was found guilty, and I hate what he did to those women. I also hate that in America when a white man is accused of sexual misconduct, he can go on to win Oscars, receive defense from Senators, and run for office in places like Alabama. But for a black man, he is thrown in jail. Not only does his legacy go down the drain (as it should), but an entire show, an entire cast goes down with him.
On September 6, a white Dallas police officer shot and killed her black neighbor inside of his apartment. The officer, Amber Guyger, stated that she thought it was her apartment and believed Jean to be an intruder. Neighbors, however, are reporting that she was knocking on his door, demanding to be let in. After he was killed, a search warrant for his home was provided and they found marijuana, and the discovery was widely reported.
This is why race matters.
There are many folk that may believe that they “don’t see race”. On behalf of black people everywhere, I need you to open your damn eyes and see me. If this were a black officer committing this horrendous crime, I assure you, no marijuana would be found and reported on to lay blame to the victim. Saying that you do not see race is the equivalent of saying “I don’t see a cancerous tumor, so it’s not there”.
We need to start seeing race and seeing each other. I want to show you Botham Jean. Jean was a Risk Assurance Experience Associate at the Pricewaterhouse Cooper accounting firm in Dallas. He has been described by those that knew him best as “loving” and for having an “a big smile and a big heart”. By all accounts, he was a good man. And he was a black man. This means that, more than likely, he did his best to avoid trouble and confrontation with law enforcement. He wasn’t committing a crime, he was in his home, minding his own business, and he was murdered by a white police officer. The only crime he committed is the unwritten rule in America, that if the victim is black, they can’t be that big of victim to begin with.
SEE BLACK PEOPLE, HEAR BLACK PEOPLE, AND KNOW BLACK PEOPLE.
SNATCHED with Isaac King and Ken Mejia- Beal
Stories like these will now be available in a podcast called “Snatched with Isaac King and Ken Mejia-Beal”. I am excited and prepared to give these stories weekly.
Snatched will be a one-hour podcast every Wednesday to highlight the cross-section of politics, sex, race, orientation, and class. What makes this show groundbreaking is that it will be hosted by two men of color that identify as LGBT and will feature guests from all walks of life. “Two men of color that are both LGBT, will not attract viewers, it’s a niche” we were told. And on October 24th this niche will hit. For me, this situation came about after experiencing systemic racism within the Democratic Party where I reside (which is a mostly white suburb of Chicago). When the chips were down, I had very little support from the community. I decided to start doing more forums within Chicago and talking to more voters of color, and those that identify as LGBTQ, and those with lower incomes. I listened to their stories and decided to use my voice to speak for those that have been forgotten, those that feel that both parties equally ignore the marginalized. I will be a voice that will call out disparate treatment all over and I will hold bigotry accountable. We will snatch the power back from those that have taken it and abused it, we will snatch back the curtain and reveal what really happens in politics, and we will snatch education and hope. Please follow us on Twitter @snatchedradio . And while you’re looking for more progressive voices, please check out “To the Left w Sameena and Shana” on Facebook.
India made a huge advancement when their Supreme Court unanimously agreed to legalize gay sex. This decision, coming from South Asia, is fundamentally awesome. As a gay man in America, I cannot put into words what this will do to the culture there. Parents may be more accepting of their gay children, employers may be more tolerant of suspected gay employees, and LGBTQ folks can begin to come out of the closet. A country with the sheer population of India standing up and recognizing one’s right to love is the best news in the world. LOVE IS LOVE.