New York Daily Sun - The Trusted New York Daily Broadsheet » Columnists http://www.newyorkdailysun.com New York’s Daily Newspaper Reporting News, Sport, Politics, Finance, Fashion, Features and Scandal. Thu, 16 Oct 2014 08:39:38 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.1 Jason Collins: The Great Black Hope http://www.newyorkdailysun.com/jason-collins-the-great-black-hope/ http://www.newyorkdailysun.com/jason-collins-the-great-black-hope/#comments Thu, 02 May 2013 09:14:04 +0000 admin http://www.newyorkdailysun.com/?p=2264 The professional sports world has been waiting for a Jason Collins moment— a gay athlete currently playing in a major league to come out publicly.  What you may not know is that the subtext is that it was hoped the moment would star an African American male.

Written by Reverend Irene Monroe

The African American community, let alone the sports world, desperately needed an openly gay current male professional player.

Collins, who deliberately wore the jersey number, “98,” to honor slain gay student Matthew Shepard during the 2012 – 13 NBA season, is a 7′ 0″ center for the Washington Wizards, a former Boston Celtics, and is also African American. Closeted for all of his professional playing life, until now, Collins told “Sports Illustrated,” why he finally came out.

“I realized I needed to go public when Joe Kennedy, my old roommate at Stanford and now a Massachusetts congressman, told me he had just marched in Boston’s 2012 Gay Pride Parade. I’m seldom jealous of others, but hearing what Joe had done filled me with envy….I want to do the right thing and not hide anymore.”

LGBTQ athletes must constantly monitor how they are being perceived by teammates, coaches, endorsers and the media in order to avoid suspicion. They are expected to maintain a public silence and decorum so that their identity does not tarnish the rest of the team.

In what will now hopefully become the last closet where LGBTQ hide their sexual orientation, thanks to Collins, the sports world’s hyper-masculine and testosterone-driven milieu might actually begin to loosen its homophobic hold, especially among black athletes?

Doc Rivers, coach of the Boston Celtics and African American, is revered among black athletes. Having coached Collins for 32 games before Collins was traded to the Washington Wizard; Doc Rivers remarks help spread a message of acceptance.

“I’m really proud of Jason. He still can play. He’ll be active in our league, I hope, and we can get by this— get past this. I think it would be terrific for the league. More than anything, it would just be terrific for mankind, my gosh.”

In terms of when and how you come out personally, timing is everything. So too, in coming out professionally.

The statement, “I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay” by Collins in the  May 6 issue of Sports Illustrated is as momentous as when renown comedienne Ellen DeGeneres’ quote “Yep, I’m Gay” appeared on the cover of the April 14, 1997 issue of “Time Magazine.”

Although the time span between the two statements is 16 years, and many more advances and civil rights have been afforded to us lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) Americans, we now see we’re still a nation grappling with the issue.

While both Collins and DeGeneres give a public face and personal testimonies of their struggle of being closeted about their sexual orientation, their messages reaches and resonates within only certain pockets of the American population and not others. And within those pockets of the American populace, the reprisal and applause they also receive for coming out still fracture alone several fault lines, with profession being one of them.

When Ellen so boldly came out in 1997 she received a torrent of praises from the LGBTQ community and our allies. But “her career puttered and stalled out for the three years following her coming out,” and her impact did little for both the world of sports and for many-straight and LGBTQ- in the African American community in understanding the deleterious effects of homophobia. (It was still being argued, as now, in many African American communities that homosexuality is a “white disease” and not a civil rights.

In the sports world most women athletes, even today, are assumed to either be lesbians and/ or unfeminine. For example, in many African American communities Olympic basketball player Lisa Leslie was perceived to be a “girly- girly;” therefore, not a lesbian, but certainly a weak and non-aggressive player. Tennis phenoms the William Sisters are aggressive players but too muscular, especially Serena, to be seen as feminine.

LBT women in professional sports have come out of the closet while playing, at least, two decades before the “Jason Collins watershed moment.”

While race plays a factor in the African American community coming to grips with its homophobia, especially in the world of sports, so, too, does gender.

Case in point: Just last month, Brittney Griner, also an African American like Collins, is a 6-foot-8, three-time All-America center and was the number one pick in the WNBA draft announced she was a lesbian. It wasn’t considered a big news story.

In 1997, a pregnant Sheryl Swoopes— three-time Olympic gold medalist and three-time MVP of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA)— promoting a heterosexual face for the WNBA was the cover-girl for the premiere issue of “Sports Illustrated Women.” At the time Swoopes was married to her male high school sweetheart. That was considered a big news story. But so too in 2005, when Swoopes came out as a lesbian, becoming the second in the WNBA, and endorsed the lesbian travel company “Olivia.”  She was at the time partnered with Alisa Scott, an assistant coach for the Houston Comets that Sheryl played for from 1997- -2007. And in 2011, it was another big new story because she was with a male.

To incurable homophobes, especially of the fundamentalist Christian variety type, who peddle their “nurture vs. nature” rhetoric that homosexuality is curable with reparative therapies, they saw Swoops as the prodigal daughter who had finally found her way home to Jesus.

Many of my heterosexual African American brothers, Chris Unclesho, the man Swoopes was then engaged to marry, was the MAN! A bona fide “dyke whisperer” who had turned Swoopes out to the sexual joys of what it is to be with a man.

But long before Swoopes, Griner and Collins, both tennis greats Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova came out in 1981.

Martina was publicly taunted for not only being a lesbian but for also not bringing femininity and beauty to her game. Her muscular physique and supposedly masculine appearance killed not only sponsor endorsements but also attempted to kill her spirit in playing the game.

With the sports world celebrating Collins news, Navratilova has joined in voicing her joy in an op-ed she wrote for SI.com.

“Now that Jason Collins has come out, he is the proverbial game-changer. One of the last bastions of homophobia has been challenged. How many LGBT kids, once closeted, are now more likely to pursue a team sport and won’t be scared away by a straight culture? Collins has led the way to freedom. Yes, freedom— because that closet is completely and utterly suffocating. It’s only when you come out that you can breathe properly.”

Navratilova is correct in stating that Collins is a “game-changer,” because he stands on all the LGBTQ shoulders in sports before him.

Truth be told, Collins is not the first professional gay or black athlete to come out. He’s not even the first professional athlete to come out while playing.

But in a sports world that has become overwhelming shaped by African American male players and masculinity, Collins coming out celebration has everything to do with timing, gender, race and many more straight brothers embracing their gay brethren.

Author Bio

A native of Brooklyn, Irene is a graduate from Wellesley College and Union Theological Seminary at Columbia University, and served as a pastor at an African-American church before coming to Harvard Divinity School for her doctorate as Ford Fellow. She writes The Religion Thang, for In Newsweekly, now called New England Blade, the largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender newspaper in the New England, Faith Matters for The Advocate Magazine, The Bilerico Project, Black Commentator, and Queer Take, for The Witness, a progressive Episcopalian journal, and Black Commentator.

As a nationally renowned African-American lesbian activist, scholar and public theologian, her writings have appeared in the Boston Globe, the Boston Herald, the Bay State BannerCambridge Chronicle, and Metro News. Her award-winning essay “Louis Farrakhan’s Ministry of Misogyny and Homophobia” was greeted with critical acclaim. She has also been profiled in OOprah Magazine, and recently CNNs Paula Zahn Now, and “CNN Headline News.”

]]>
http://www.newyorkdailysun.com/jason-collins-the-great-black-hope/feed/ 0
Bombings To Rev Up Islamophobic Domestic Terrorists? http://www.newyorkdailysun.com/will-boston-marathon-bombing-rev-up-islamophobic-domestic-terrorists/ http://www.newyorkdailysun.com/will-boston-marathon-bombing-rev-up-islamophobic-domestic-terrorists/#comments Fri, 26 Apr 2013 15:00:49 +0000 admin http://www.newyorkdailysun.com/?p=2218

The Tsarnaev brothers—Tamerlan and Dzhokhar—of Cambridge, MA are, at present, the sole alleged perpetrators of the Boston Marathon bombings. Tamerlan and Dzhokhar are of Chechen descent and are also Muslim. Please, God don’t let it be a Muslim.” This was Arsalan Iftikhar’s immediate thought upon hearing of the Boston Marathon bombing.

Written by Reverend Irene Monroe

In fact, since 9/11, Iftikhar has had that thought about every bombing and mass shooting in every corner of the world, but particularly in his home country, the U.S. The April 2007 Virginia Tech shooting; the November 2009 Fort Hood shooting; the 2012 Colorado movie theater massacre; the December 2012 Newton school shooting all had him hoping the perpetrator wasn’t Muslim. Iftikhar, senior editor with Islamic Monthly, and popular blogger of “The Muslim Guy,” worried (like so many peace loving and law-abiding Muslims did) that an onslaught of Islamophobic vitriol and violence would follow violence committed by a Muslim.

His fear is, sadly, rooted in fact. Just hours after news spread globally about the Boston tragedy, anti-Muslim vigilantes surfaced. NPR reported that just outside of Boston a woman wearing a hijab (traditional headscarf worn by Muslim women) was attacked while strolling with her baby. In New York, a Bangladeshi man was accosted resulting in having his shoulder dislocated by someone yelled Islamophobic epithets.

Ruslan Tsarni, the Tsarnaev brothers’ uncle, expressed thoughts about collective guilt when he told news reporters that his nephews brought shame upon all Chechens.

“They’ve never been in Chechnya. This has nothing to do with Chechnya. Chechens are different. Chechens are peaceful people…. He put a shame on our family,” Tsarni told the reporters. “He put a shame on the entire Chechen ethnicity.

But the weight of the brothers’ action bares not only a collective guilt placed on Chechens as Tsarni expressed, but their actions also places a collective shame and backlash on Muslims as Iftikhar worries.

“The term terrorism in post-9/11 America has sort of been co-opted to really only apply when it’s brown, Muslim men…. Already today, I have received several pieces of hate mail in my email inbox and I think many brown people in America are feeling very nervous right now,” Iftikhar told NPR.

Salon magazine writer David Sirota’s  expressed similar concerns. In his article “Let’s hope the Boston Marathon bomber is a white American” he stated “There is a double standard: White terrorists are dealt with as lone wolves, Islamists are existential threats.”

Tim Wise, one of the most prominent white American anti-racist writers and educators in the United States, wrote a similar article soon after the bombing titled, “Terrorism and Privilege: Understanding the Power of Whiteness.”

“White privilege is knowing that even if the bomber turns out to be white, no one will call for your group to be profiled as terrorists as a result, subjected to special screening or threatened with deportation,” Wise wrote. “White privilege is knowing that if this bomber turns out to be white, the United States government will not bomb whatever corn field or mountain town or stale suburb from which said bomber came, just to ensure that others like him or her don’t get any ideas. And if he turns out to be a member of the Irish Republican Army we won’t bomb Dublin. And if he’s an Italian-American Catholic we won’t bomb the Vatican.”

In August 2012, Wade Michael Page, an American white supremacist, Neo-Nazi and U.S. army veteran, murdered six Sihks and wounded several others at a Sihk temple in Wisconsin. Sihk males wear turbans and are often mistaken as Muslim terrorists. Page’s act was aptly depicted by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder as “an act of terrorism, an act of hatred, a hate crime.”

Immediately following the Boston bombing several “Muslim-looking” suspects were apprehended to the chagrin of law enforcement that later released them and offered an apology.

Not much has changed since September 11, 2001.

I’m reminded of a 2002 incident when Ayman Gheith, Kambiz Butt and Omar Chaudhary were then our recent poster boys of what it means to be “traveling while Muslim.”  At a Shoney’s restaurant in Calhoun, Georgia, just two days after the one-year anniversary of 9/11, patron Eunice Stone heard the three men unabashedly discuss their supposedly conspiratorial plot to detonate a bomb in Miami. And Gheith, who had a long beard and wore a Muslim skullcap, cemented Stone’s suspicion.

In an interview on CNN that year , Ayman Gheith said, “I learned that injustice, regardless against whom, is wrong. It is against us today, tomorrow it could be against you.”

As I ask myself the question Gheith poses about who will be America’s next suspect I am reminded of the pink triangle, a symbol known to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer community worldwide. The pink triangle dates back to the Nazi Holocaust when gay men were prisoners and confined to death camps because of their sexuality. Relegated to the lowest rung in the death camps’ hierarchy, gay prisoners were forced to wear the symbol which signified their rank; thus, making them among the first to die.

Suspicion of the “other” has always abounded in the psyche and soul of this country. And oddly, the suspicion of the “other‚” does not have to be a person who is an alien to this country or a person who is stranger to this country’s morals or mores. Suspicion of the “other” is simply predicated on just being different.

And being different, these days, exacts a particular toll not just on Muslims, or African Americans or LGBTQ people, but it exacts a toll on us all.

Author Bio

A native of Brooklyn, Irene is a graduate from Wellesley College and Union Theological Seminary at Columbia University, and served as a pastor at an African-American church before coming to Harvard Divinity School for her doctorate as Ford Fellow. She writes The Religion Thang, for In Newsweekly, now called New England Blade, the largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender newspaper in the New England, Faith Matters for The Advocate Magazine, The Bilerico Project, Black Commentator, and Queer Take, for The Witness, a progressive Episcopalian journal, and Black Commentator.

As a nationally renowned African-American lesbian activist, scholar and public theologian, her writings have appeared in the Boston Globe, the Boston Herald, the Bay State BannerCambridge Chronicle, and Metro News. Her award-winning essay “Louis Farrakhan’s Ministry of Misogyny and Homophobia” was greeted with critical acclaim. She has also been profiled in OOprah Magazine, and recently CNNs Paula Zahn Now, and “CNN Headline News.”

]]>
http://www.newyorkdailysun.com/will-boston-marathon-bombing-rev-up-islamophobic-domestic-terrorists/feed/ 0