17 January 2010

The man behind the myth

Bayard Rustin told Malcom X he was wrong, history proved Bayard was right. He taught Martin Luther King complete civil disobedience when King still believed in carrying guns for his end, he put together the March on Washington where King Gave his "I have a dream" speech that changed the world, organized the 1964 New York school boycott and fought for the equal treatment of blacks on buses 8 years before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat. How did King repay him? Kicked him to the curb when Rustin's homosexuality was going to be made public. king didn't stick by his mentor, King didn't stick by his friend.

"Today, blacks are no longer the litmus paper or the barometer of social change. Blacks are in every segment of society and there are laws that help to protect them from racial discrimination. The new "niggers" are gays. . . . It is in this sense that gay people are the new barometer for social change. . . . The question of social change should be framed with the most vulnerable group in mind: gay people."

- Bayard Rustin


  1. Wow. I never knew that. That's really sad :(
    Rustin's quote there really hits the nail on the head. It's pathetic that it's still ok to discriminate against people on the base of sexuality. O.o What year are we in again?!

  2. It's important to keep this troubling bit of history in mind today. Folks like Michael Eric Dyson have been criticizing Obama for not being enough like MLK (more specifically, for "running away from race"), but as Melissa Harris-Lacewell points out in "The Nation," many of us have a rather deified recall of MLK and have forgotten his, well, "politically expedient" choices. The article is worth a read -- and bless Harris-Lacewell for reminding a broader (if still mostly progressive) audience about MLK and Rustin. You can find the article here: http://bit.ly/82xXDK

    And thank-you for this post and video.

  3. AD,

    It angers me that a big thrust of support for Prop 8 came from black churches and grass roots organizing from within the black community, I witnessed it myself here in Los Angeles. African Americans resent it when the struggles of homosexuals for equality are compared with civil rights struggles, but it was Coretta Scott King who first made that comparison.


    Thanks for the read. Rustin should be celebrated in the black community along with King, but instead most in that community don't even know who he is. MLK made a mistake with what he did to Rustin, a mistake I think history should note. I'm no fan of Obama who pulled the wool over the eyes of gay voters with promises he had no intent of keeping, I'll stop at that.

  4. I had no idea that there is resentment for homosexual rights within the black community or that homosexuality was the reason MLK turned his back on Rustin—it just seems strange to me.

    As I have said on my blog, my mother's side of the family is Ani-Yun' wiya. Traditionally Native Americans had a very different concept of love and sex than our current society. Before contact with Christian Europeans, most Native Americans believed that sex was a way to show intimacy and love and could be shared with anyone, male or female, without stigma or persecution. They believed that love was a blessing and was bestowed on individuals regardless of gender differences or similarities.

    Homosexuals were considered "Two-Spirit" (a recent term for a complex native belief), meaning that they possessed both the male and female spirit in one body. Most often they were seen as special and revered, becoming Shaman and healers and sought after for creative and diplomatic pursuits.

    It wasn't until white Europeans forcibly taught Christianity to Native Americans that homosexuality began to be seen as perverse and something to hate and fear. Today there is a slight revival in the "Two-Spirit" belief, but sadly, most Native Americans have adopted the white European Christian ideology, and I have a feeling that the same missionary work and evangelism has taken it's toll on African Americans.

    I do not believe that all Christians share the concept that homosexuality is an abomination, but unfortunately there are many who do. They are also the people who labeled Native Americans as primitive godless savages that should be exterminated. It seems to all go back to that curious need for superiority.

    I have to believe that homosexuals will gain basic human rights although it may take time—then who will society find to marginalize?

  5. I'm familiar with the Berdache (I know, Berdache is a bad term for a complex native identity), but I don't see early Christian missionaries as complete bastards. The human sacrifices of the Aztecs (including children) took on ridiculous proportions, I don't see what the Spanish conquerors did in stopping it as a bad thing.

    We will always have scapegoats, even if they be of our own invention.

  6. I loved watching that special and wish it wasn't limited to a "gay" channel.

  7. I am sorry, I didn't mean to give the impression that I believe that all Christian missionaries were evil. They were acting out of devotion to their belief system. Unfortunately, their ideals gave them a sense of supremacy and they systematically implemented an agenda of destroying the cultures of indigenous Americans—truly believing all the while that what they were doing was in the best interest of humanity and the will of their God.

    The Aztecs were certainly an extreme and, from our perspective, violent culture, but it is just one society within thousands that existed in the Americas. Native cultures were made of humans with all the flaws that comes with that, but the majority of tribes were not as violent as the Aztecs, nor did they sacrifice children. I also believe that it is safe to say that the indigenous people had no interest in becoming dutiful vassals of the Spanish crown.

    Although it can be argued that the Christian missionaries and the Spanish conquistadores were just as violent as the cultures they encountered, I certainly did not mean to give the impression that I view missionaries as a scapegoat. Just as I am sure that black churches and the grass roots voters cannot be viewed as the scapegoat for the outcome of prop 8 in California.

    Yes, we make our own saviours and our own monsters. Cultures change and the human condition is ever evolving, whatever the impetus.

    Sorry to ramble on about something that now seems so off-topic from your post, but your comments actually prompted me think and I really appreciate that—

    Also, I am glad that you didn't see the Dale Bozzio pics—"Surrender Your Heart" is a great tune, I still have the "Rhyme and Reason" album on both vinyl and CD.

  8. You have nothing to be sorry for, you didn't offend me in the least.

    Current historians like to downplay the barbarism of indigenous cultures with saying the accounts from missionaries where either false or exaggerated, what they're doing is historical revisionism.

    The black community shouldn't be blamed for the passage of Prop 8, but I believe they should be held accountable with how they voted, Every poll from CNN, Associated Press, the Washington Post, and every poll I've seen in between say the vote was 70-30 for Prop 8. Somehow the argument is being made that because African American voters did not put Prop 8 over the top, they shouldn't be blamed for homophobia in how they voted, but they should. Even if the vote was 30-70 for prop 8, 30 is still too much from a minority that should know better. The Mormons ran for the hills from the backlash because of what they did with this proposition, why shouldn't the black community also hear an ear full? Like I said, grass roots support from black churches is what galvanized people to vote the way they did. I saw myself how it transpired with the large rallying in the black communities in places like Compton and Long Beach. The black community has always had a problem with seeing or accepting it's own bigotry with it's fellow black gay brothers and sisters and even with light skinned blacks, they feel they shouldn't have to, at the same time almost every Jewish group came out in opposition to Prop 8, another minority group who knew better.


I eat your comments with jam and butter.