Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Minister Farrakhan Refers to Lesbians and Gays as Swine and Attacks Rihanna


Minister Louis Farrakhan has been a controversial figure for a very long time. Speaking Sunday at the annual Saviours’ Day convention at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Farrakhan used the event to continue his record of misogyny and homophobia. He also inexplicably stated that he believes that Church of Scientology's mission is "civilizing White people." He further went on to assert, "that white people were created from blacks 4,000 years ago on an Aegean island by a black scientist."

Minister Farrakhan seems to be incapable of making a speech without making an attacking historical marginalized groups . According to the Chicago-Sun Times:
[He] criticized the sexually charged performances of popstar Rihanna, saying they were “filthy” and that people who enjoyed such antics were “swine,” a description he also applied to homosexuals and lesbians. He also criticized immigrant Muslims in the Chicago area for moving to white suburbs and being patronizing toward black Muslims.
Minister Farrakhan is a very complex man.  He has often made amazingly insightful commentary about White supremacy and the role that it has played in oppressing people of colour.  As a Black woman, I find it hard to ignore these thoughts, even though his brilliance is absolutely tarnished by his continual forays into promoting homophobia, as well as misogyny.

I have found myself occasionally being forced into the position of defending him, because it is clear to me that not everything he has to say is meant for a mixed audiences, and Whiteness attacks him based simply in the fact that they are upset, that he has the nerve to assert that they are not all powerful and have committed heinous wrongs against people of colour. What Farrakhan has failed to realize, is that his continual forays into misogyny and homophobia serve to dilute his message, while confirming that we have the right to stand in judgment against others.

I am not a fan of Rihanna's music, and I certainly concur that her latest video was sexual, but why is this an issue?  I understand that Islam calls for both men and women to be conservative in dress and behavior, yet the charge of being overly sexual is continually aimed at women. There are plenty of male musicians that play upon their sexuality to sell records, and yet they are somehow immune from attacks.  There is also the issue of the way that male rap stars continually demean women and exploit them in their videos to sell their product, but it seems that Rihanna, who demeaned no one and certainly did not exploit anyone visibly in the video is the issue. I further find it problematic that as a Black man, Farrakhan found it acceptable to slut shame a Black woman in this matter.  For far too many Black men believe that racial progress means oppressing Black women, in the same manner that they have witnessed White men doing to all women for centuries. 

Part of Minister Farrakhan's mission is to uplift Black people.  What I fail to understand is how his continuous attacks against gays and lesbians aids in this project.  Gays and lesbians do not stop being Black because of their sexuality.  They are important members of our communities and have greatly contributed to the goal to emancipate Blacks from White supremacy. When he attacks gays and lesbians, he is attacking the Black community.  All isms interesect. I am further horrified by the fact that Minister Frarrakhan referred to them as "swine".  For years, Blacks have been compared to animals to argue that we are not human and so turn around and use the same tactic to attack another marginalized group, is employing the master's tools.  He may not see this as an example of internalized racism, but that is exactly what it is.

His latest speech will be reduced to yet another bigoted attack against marginalized bodies and his most important messages will be lost and ignored.  When he said "that if Gadhafi is persecuted for crimes against humanity, the same should apply to former President George W. Bush for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan," how could any reasonable person argue the validity of this statement?  Bush is certainly no better than Gadhafi, and his actions lead to the death of thousands of Brown people in his colonialist mission of nation building.  I believe this kind of commentary evidences one of the many reasons why we cannot completely dismiss him, however I cannot support him when he decides to attack women and the LGBT community.

Minister Farrakhan is important to the Black community; however, I think it is our responsibility to point out the parts of his message that we can all learn from, while at the same time speaking out without reservation when he dehumanizes any group of people.  We cannot excuse him his hatred, simply because he looks like us and has made brilliant philosophical comments on the state of White supremacy's assaults against Blackness.  There should never be equivocation when it comes to hate speech, no matter who is doing it or why. There are no shades of grey when it comes to things like homophobia, sexism and antisemitism.