Davis and Spencer are both incredible actors whose talent demands that they consistently star in—and be awarded for—performances that do not require the revivification of old stereotypes. And if it is our claim that Hollywood needs to do better, I’m not sure how we applaud acceptance speeches that don’t begin with, “Damn, it sucks who I had to play to get this…” Context is everything. And it is not a convenience. We cannot cringe at the thought that @BravoAndy has watched and will be commenting upon Negros acting crazy for our entertainment with some Hollywood celebrities (or the owners of RHOA resident house slave, Sweetie, for last night’s episode) after we’ve stopped shaking our heads, then not feel similarly nauseated by the visual of a room full of (white) Hollywood standing and applauding our latest pitch-perfect portrayal of a maid—even if she is dressed to the nines.
The Voice. When one is colloquially known as such, it becomes easy to forget that such sound emanates from inside a human being. The Voice. A disembodied moniker. So spectacularly general, simply an article and noun sans the dressing of more instructive, clarifying wording: “of reason” or “of God” or “of an angel.” The Voice. So intangible, yet generating a viewable response that cannot be contained within the body, that must express itself in paroxysms of applause, spontaneous standing, or dimmed eyes, mouths agape, heads nodding in utter disbelief of what their ears have witnessed. The Voice. An appellation, like air or magic, that implies an ethereal otherworldliness, an omnipresence so unique that the one to which it refers can never be confused with another.
This weekend, The Voice lost its vessel.
All aboard the self-hype train:
Articles like Tatchell’s exhibit the exact concerns I attempted to address in my response to the email I received after posting my my Whitney eulogy. It’s so clear that Tatchell’s investment is not in honoring Houston or her relationship with Crawford. Rather, Tatchell sees Houston’s death as an opportunity to forward his own agenda. Houston is not a friend, but an example. And using people as examples is a horrendous thing to do, as it selectively chooses the portions we find (un)acceptable and does away with that we do not in order to preserve or undermine a myth we have locked in our minds.
Although I enthusiastically advocate the show of support for Martin and his family by throwing on one’s favorite hoodie and snapping a picture, the act is marginal at best, as it simultaneously highlights yet mutes the core issue. Which is to say that it wasn’t simply the hoodie, but rather the black body inside of it that sparked the suspicion—not vice versa. After all, the KKK wears hoods; monks rock them. Geraldo’s son wants them for Christmas. It seems that no clothing can quiet the suspicion that black bodies inspire. Even our previous efforts to dress ourselves in the attire of respectability never thwarted the gaze—especially the one that helps aim the gun—from concluding that black people did not resemble and therefore stood outside of the body politic. Thus, the hoodie didn’t do it. Rather, the violence occurred because Zimmerman concluded that the body inside the hoodie did not belong inside gated spaces. Blackness is (the) outside, making those black bodies within exclusive regions vulnerable, and violently disconcerting to the ever powerful gaze of and/or view of one who more readily identifies with whiteness.
Anyone who has played pick-up basketball has encountered the bratty, non-balling dude who will leave the court and take his ball with him if things aren’t going his way. I suggest that LGBT advocates take a lesson from that guy, and adopt a new campaign slogan: If we can’t get married, nobody can. That’s right. Instead of working to be included in the marriage ritual, make real, non-assimilative gestures. Channel that energy for same-sex marriage towards abolishing the institution–for everyone. Marriage rights for absolutely nobody. No more getting them to like us. No more forwarding a heteronormative and respectable notion of same-sex encounters in an effort to get them to see that we’re not all that different. That didn’t work for black people. No more with this love talk. Although that may have seemingly worked for interracial couples, those who pay close attention know that such language cannot completely undo hundreds of years of socialized, race-based fetishism. No more discussions of Ellen and her wife or thinking of convincing Time-Warner to remove Bravo from Tobacco Road cable packages. Tokenism does nothing but justify the rule. Just say nothing, leave the court, and take your ball with you.