Tag Archives: Think Piece


Lessons Worth Learning, Especially if You Plan on Teaching Children

As the school year is getting underway, I am reminded of a conversation I had with a classmate pursuing a Bachelor’s in Education with a focus on History. The conversation was centered around how Black and brown people shouldn’t be forcing intersectionality on a movement that is exclusively about LGBT concerns. The topic was about adding black and brown stripes to the flag expressing LGBT identity more specifically and how oppression caused by race and sexual orientation are different. What made this conversation frustrating was having it with a white cis gendered heterosexual male, who identified as an “ally”. He made the argument that we should not combine the two because it is historically inaccurate and bad for both the growth of LGBT youth and teaching the movement. I responded to the notion that race and sexuality have no connection in this conversation with the following: “There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.” – Audre Lorde. I identify as a non-binary Black gay person. These identities are not separate for me… There is not a core-identity that separates my race from my sexuality because for me they intersect. The racism I experience is often sexualized and the homophobia I experience is often racialized.

His position on this topic alarmed me mostly due to his track in being an educator. He will be responsible for shaping the minds of children and teaching them accurate information. Teaching things like “oppression due to race doesn’t affect oppression due to sexuality” can be more damaging than not having access to education at all. A teacher is also someone who students should be able to confide in and see as a safe space. Having an understanding of how important intersectionality is in relation to the lives of the children we teach is detrimental to the future growth of our students. This also has the potential of leading to trauma or re-traumatization of LGBT youth of color.  His response is best described with this: “The dual identities of yours probably don’t have a “standard core identity” because the concepts are disparate (and I’m sure you understand that), no matter how much you associate the both together in your mind”.  A white cis-gendered heterosexual male told me, a Black gay non-binary person, that my identities have nothing to do with one another and that any issues stemming from them are not linked. This is something that all queer persons of color deal with. Having a teacher who expresses these ideas knowingly to a member of the community is not someone I would want to teach my children.

 Let me be clear, my thoughts are not due to him being a hetero-cis gendered male, they are centered on his ideology and the fear of it influencing him teaching children, more specifically LGBT children, who can be traumatized as a result of his teachings. I offer a few suggestions for those wanting to work with the children in an educational environment, especially LGBT youth of color: 1) Be aware of the issues that the community faces and survey their needs as described. 2) understand personal positions on topics should not hinder your ability to accurately teach and engage students of a marginalized population.

As for more societal takeaways: If you call yourself an “ally,” learn your place. Speaking for others and/or out of place is toxic and does nothing but cloud narratives. It was not his place, especially as an “ally,” to tell me, a member of the communities being discussed, that my race has nothing to do with my sexuality. The next is by not considering intersectionality when discussing issues of gender, race, sexuality, religion, etc. has effects not only on individuals but all members in the respective community. One final takeaway is that if you are going to make an argument about something, ensure you have researched it well. When my classmate said that race and sexuality have nothing to do with the movement it shook me because the movement he is referring to is the Gay rights movement. The gay rights movement was started by Marsha P Johnson… a Black… Gay… Transwomen who threw the first brick at the stonewall riots which marked the start of the gay rights movement. Understanding history is important, especially if you want to be a history teacher…

Black Panther movie

My Thoughts on the Underlying Message from Black Panther

Black Panther movieBlack Panther. The Hollywood version of when America got a Black president. It’s a movie that has captured the lion’s share of Black Americans attention for the past month at least. Since opening night, Black people have been at movie theaters dressed in their finest African garb, faces painted, sometimes playing drums, dancing, even conducting rituals, and otherwise culturally celebrating right in the lobby! We are excited about seeing a high budget film with a dominantly Black cast, Black writers, and Black director (even if not from a Black film company). No, it’s not the first time a Black comic character has been brought to the big screen, but this time the title character is a rich powerful king, not a demon (Spawn) or half vampire (Blade). In addition, and likely more importantly, Black women are integral heroes as well. I have noticed some make shaming comparisons between the support for the fictional hero Black Panther’s movie vs. the historic hero of freedom Nat Turner’s recent movie, Birth of a Nation. That’s an important comparison. It is too rich to completely discuss here, but let us look at the smear campaign launched against its writer and producer, Nate Parker, right before its release. Two things were brought up. First, an accusation of rape from his past that had already been resolved, and, second, the fact that he has a white wife. Amongst Black people, those two things would be more of a trigger to the women than to the men. Black women are also the most likely to go support a historical Black film. Which if you are astute enough, you will see that Black Panther is very much directed more at Black women than any other superhero film to date. Aside from that, I have heard many Black people say they are wary of slave movies, even if it is one of revolution.

Understandably, Black Panther answers an innate desire in Black people to enjoy stories of themselves as brilliant, resourceful heroes with superior qualities and deserving of respect. Therefore I can give props to Marvel and Disney because of acquisition, for being the first to take advantage of the “natural movement” and create a product that accurately targets the Black media consumer without cultural blowback or accusations of insensitivity. However, Disney has a history of including the occult and subliminal messaging in their products, so I had to watch carefully. I have been concerned that, beneath all the beauty that causes us to celebrate this film accomplishment, there will be subtly inserted elements to cause emotional/mental dissonance of some sort. I found some of course. For this article, I will discuss only one.

Black Panther movieThe main antagonist, Killmonger, seems to have garnered as much affection from the audience as any of the protagonists, if not more. The character has great lines that are delivered with ample charisma. Michael B. Jordan is a very capable actor (and eye candy). Apparently, there is a general empathy for his character, because we can identify with his passionate anger at oppression and injustice, and because he sounds and moves like a Pan-Afrofuturist revolutionary. All of that being backed up by the tragic plot twist of his father dying at the hands of his uncle, the previous king of Wakanda, triggers our sense of Ma’at (karma). He’s the only main character who gets to drop slang in our Black American voice. He’s the king’s cousin, but he reminds us of our cousin! All of these things have given him full access passes to our hearts. That is why he is probably the most psychologically damaging aspect of this film.

For the appropriate tone, consider the thoughtfulness put into featuring strong Black women at all levels of power. At every crucial point in the movie, a Black woman was vital to success. So it goes without saying at this point that a large part of why this movie is so beloved is because of how prominent the image of the powerful Black woman is throughout this film, on and off screen. Therefore it should have been the most vile offense that the first person Killmonger personally killed on-screen was his own [assumed] girlfriend, who was also his accomplice! We never even learned her name. Goodbye down ass Black woman with a nice twist out. Once he became king, he also choked out an elder Black woman for not wanting to burn her garden of sacred super herbs. We love how fierce and proud the all-female Dora Milaje are, and yet we quickly forgot how he cut one of their throats while she was defenseless. He wounded Nakia and was a millisecond away from killing Shuri. See the pattern I’m pointing out?? He was the ONLY main character to hurt and kill women in the movie. How does this slip past us to the point that I’ve heard, “he wasn’t really even a villain,” even from women who are usually vigilant against misogyny. Remember how we enjoyed his movie entrance by talking that talk to a woman, right until she succumbs to the drug he put in her drink.

Even with me pointing out all that, I still say he is a worthy character and had excellent potential for redemption, or even further villain development. In the comic book, he didn’t give a damn about the diaspora, he was just a crazy killer. Why was he killed at the end of the movie then? The very nature of comic books is that villains are defeated but don’t always die. In the Thor series, Loki’s treacherous ass has escaped death in multiple movies. Why did Killmonger have to die then, when it was clear that he was portrayed as motivated by deep hurt but admirable? We are to accept his death at the end as inevitable, because of the already legendary and beloved line he dropped about being like his ancestors who jumped into the ocean rather than accept bondage. But why did he even have to go to prison forever? We can heal Bucky from being the Winter Soldier but can’t get N’Jadaka out of Killmonger? Or was there no one in Wakabi’s tribe who still sympathized and could have saved him at the end? No, I think the obvious answer is “death to any Black revolutionary who fights back against oppression (without western backing).” So we are set up to love this “Black freedom fighter” only to lose him at the end, echoing the psychological terrorism of assassinating so many historical figures.

So yes, I root for the benefits that can come from this kind of film. However, I always invite my ancestors to watch Hollywood films with me and help with discernment. I’m willing to enjoy a movie and still call it out if it has unhealthy elements too. We grown.