Once again a homophobic blog post attributed to Joy-Ann Reid has surfaced. She apologized quickly for the ones in the past. The new ones, she initially blamed on a hack. After much investigation, that claim may wholly or partially fall apart. This episode should be a learning experience we should all take dearly and here is why.
None of us know, especially in these times of fake news where hacks manipulate the internet, videos, blog posts and more, if Joy-Ann Reid wrote the offending blog posts, or whether she genuinely is unsure if she wrote them. I have several thousand blog posts in my WordPress database. I arbitrarily looked at one I am sure I wrote but is entirely foreign to me today. So it is possible for her to believe she did not. Though some of her past homophobic proclivities should have given her a reason to say just that, she does not remember writing them, but if it is her, she apologizes. That is what she did today.
I want to personalize this story because I think my experience is relevant and my change could be a learning experience in, civility and atonement in our dialogue between each other on ideological, moral, and other subjects.
I am a black Latino Caribbean man. Unfortunately, the many cultures of which I partake have a very homophobic streak. In other words, I was a homophobe up and until 1989. It was amazing how quickly I changed intellectually in 1989. On a business trip to China, my then business partner heard me make some homophobic remarks. He asked a simple set of questions similar to the following. It has been many years, so I am sure I don’t have the wording exactly correct.
“Are you black? he asked.
“Yes.,” I replied.
“You don’t have an option to change that nor would you, right?” he continued.
“That is correct,” I replied.
I saw where he was going.
“A gay person does not have that problem,” he said. “Yet they voluntarily put themselves at risk to be ridiculed by you?”
That was enough for me to accept that being gay was just who these people that I wronged are. But it is deeper. It is not my place nor any of my business to try to gender-attribute anyone. I learned that as I evolved. The intellectual evolution was immediate. The change within the heart took a lot more time. Seeing two guys kiss was still repulsive to this macho man. But as I hung around more and more gay people and our existence comingled, the normalcy came. I knew that change happened when hugging gay folk or seeing gay folk interact like any hetero folk was now normal to me. I had evolved intellectually and within the heart.
The thing is, I was conditioned to be homophobic, and I had to do the work to change. My own experience makes me empathetic to racists, sexists, homophobes, misogynists, xenophobes, and all those I neglected to mention. We must call out these people at every instant. But we must also understand that societal conditioning plays a large part in all our moral deficiencies of this sort.
I am not going to discuss white supremacy in this short post. Many will want to show the connections. That is systemic, and the creation of all these prejudices benefit the white supremacy tenet. The intent of this post is meant to convey one crucial fact. We are all conditioned by society. No race, religion, or culture have a monopoly on prejudice nor does anyone lack it. We must give everyone the space to evolve. We must tolerate a certain level of backsliding that isn’t fatal because just like there is muscle memory, there is “prejudice memory.” The only unforgivable or deplorables are those who choose to be immutable.
For those who know me who either pity or feel sorry for, or denigrated me for the type of engagements I endure with the potential unforgivable or deplorable, don’t. Join me. That is the only way we will change the culture and make these divisions that are in fact necessary for the survival of the status quo, survive.