On The Transness of Blackness

 

“If its wrong to prevent blacks and whites from marrying, it’s wrong to prevent gays from marrying”

“Black women are women, trans women are women”

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The transformation of the civil rights movement from a humanistic politics of protecting black people from abusive and inhumane treatment, into an LGBT centered identity politics based on the feelings of marginalized white people can be easily understood if one understands what I call the transness of blackness. What I mean by this is that the concept called “blackness” is a trans identity, that is, one that is defined not on its own terms by its own members, but rather by its opposition to a set of socially constructed stereotypes, in this case, the stereotypes associated with “whiteness.”

In other words:

“Blackness” is not defined by actually being black, nor is it defined by those who are black, rather, it is defined by not being “whiteness” as defined by white people.

This is similar to the way that under the logic of patriarchy/trans activism:

“Woman” is not defined by actually being a woman, nor is it defined by those who are women, rather it is defined by not being  a “man” as defined by men.

In much the same way that transgender identity is a shifting mosaic built on the rejection of existing conventions of masculinity and femininity, blackness as an identity is constructed by white supremacy as a shifting mosaic of attributes that stand in opposition to whatever it is that whiteness has decided that it is.

Before we go any further, I should clarify that both “whiteness” and “blackness” are conceptual “black boxes” created by white supremacy, meaning that they are loosely defined and allow the white person to project into that box whatever attributes they would like. It is critical to understand that whiteness and blackness are identities invented in order to both impose white supremacist abuse, and consolidate a kind of “white morality” that justifies this abuse. As such, it is ultimately white people who have control of the meaning of these identities.

Both white and black people are conditioned to identify with these racialized constructs. However, because the majority of the attributes projected into the blackness identity box are so obviously false and negative, most black Americans live with a form of double consciousness in which they maintain an awareness of the difference between their own self-concept qua “identity” and the one ascribed to them by whiteness. As such, for most black people, black identity (self-concept) =/= “blackness” (externally imposed trans identity).

For white people on the other hand, there is often no such secondary awareness, except for a very few white people who have done a tremendous amount of work on themselves. This lack of secondary awareness exists because the identity of whiteness is attached to the concept of “humanness,” and as such is deeply submerged within the psyche. Blackness by comparison is well defined in the white mind, and is largely dis-identified with, in large part because blackness is attached to “non-humannness,”  though the positive elements within blackness are often coveted and misappropriated by whites.

“the concept called ‘blackness’ is a trans identity, that is, one entirely defined in opposition to a set of socially constructed stereotypes, in this case, the stereotypes associated with ‘whiteness.’ “

Because the blackness identity attached to black people stands as a trans identity defined in opposition to whiteness, white people are able to project onto blackness (and by association, black people) whatever it is that they do not want to identify with, namely being abused, exploited, and marginalized.

In this way, we can understand that when gay whites’ attached themselves to and then co-opted the black civil rights movement, it was not because they actually empathized with black people, but rather because they identified with blackness due to their own experiences of stigmatization and marginalization.

Indeed, the fact that gay whites did not and still largely do not actually empathize with black people is reflected in the fact that they not only co-opted the civil rights movement, but then turned around and demonized the Christian value system that was at the core of the black civil rights movement, since this was seen not as a source of strength, but rather as a barrier to the enactment of their desired individual liberties.

Indeed, very early on in the process of gay whites’ attachment to the black civil rights movement, there was strong objection by black people to the eliding of their humanity with gay identity, given that human sexual desire is a fluid social construct in a way that black skin is clearly not. Moreover, there are moral dimensions to homosexuality (particularly when it comes to sexual reproduction and their obligate commodification of the opposite sex’s gametes/body) that are simply not present with respects to black humanity. Black skin is a normal phenotype possessed by about a fifth of the human population and is simply embodied. There is no action that one can take to be black beyond being born black. Homosexuality on the other hand is an enacted form of sexuality that deviates from the norm and is possessed by less than a tenth of the population. Being black is clearly not like being gay, despite the fact that there are parallels between the white supremacist marginalization of blackness and homosexuality.

“…it was not because they actually empathized with black people, but rather because they identified with blackness due to their own experiences of stigmatization and marginalization.”

As I have noted in other essays, the connection between transgender activists and the rest of the LGBT alphabet is readily apparent if one critically examines their political tactics, including a social norming campaign via media-saturation, legal challenges grounded in obfuscating the salience of relevant biological difference, a demonization of anything seen as traditional Christian values, and a willingness to use social shaming tactics that labels any opposing thought, however principled it might be, as “phobic” and “hateful”.

Indeed, when you compare the strategy used by the individual liberty focused gay rights movement with the human dignity focused civil rights movement, it is frankly laughable to believe that such a coalition could ever endure, and, sure enough, the cracks have begun to show. Whereas the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. won coalition support for his civil rights campaign by appealing to notions of universal love and respect, the gay rights movement appealed to notions of inclusion and acceptance, and were all too happy to accuse anyone in opposition of being hateful, exclusionary bigots.

This difference is noteworthy because it again highlights that the gay rights movement’s primary desire was never solidarity with black people, but rather escaping the stigmatization and exclusion associated with blackness so that they could be included and accepted within the norms of whiteness.

Because of the reality of skin color, black people do not have the option of simply relabeling blackness as whiteness in the way that gay whites were able to relabel homosexuality as “normal”  rather than “deviant”. Moreover, because there was also a deeper recognition on the part of black people that this dualistic construct of racialized identity is destructive and damaging, their goal was to do away with this externally imposed construct altogether. In this way, we can see that while the black civil rights movement sought to de-essentialize the externally imposed blackness identity for black people, the gay rights movement sought to essentialize sexual orientation as an identity for gay people. In this way, we can see that the black civil rights movement and the gay rights movement were never conceptually aligned.

“the gay rights movement’s primary desire was never solidarity with black people, but rather escaping the stigmatization and exclusion associated with blackness”

This understanding of how black people are located in relation to the identity of blackness is what led to the principled strategy within the civil rights movement of appealing to a shared humanity, with the ultimate goal being the abolition of the toxic and irrational form of dualism called racial identity. Ironically, in so far as the gender neutral, pan-sexual trans activists similarly seek to do away with a dualistic construct, they are at least being more faithful in their cooptation of the black civil rights movement than their gay counterparts were. However, in so far as their desire to abolish this specific form of dualism, namely biological sex, is grounded in biological denialism, it is entirely irrational. In that they are clearly the political children of the gay marriage activists who engaged in biological denialism while asserting that there is no relevant difference between same sex partnerships and heterosexual ones.

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The intrusion of the gay rights movement into the civil rights movement didn’t merely cause a disruption to the campaign for building shared humanity, it also caused a re-entrenchment of identity politics by demonstrating/validating that a political strategy grounded in identity accrued benefits for its constituents much more quickly than a politics grounded in shared humanity.

In so far as this has long been a tactic used by segregationists to create disharmony, the LGBT movement can be seen as white supremacist in its political orientation. This becomes even more evident when you examine its campaign of cultural imperialism abroad (a tactic that has often backfired and caused more damage to gay people within their communities), as well as its focus on speech and thought control. Though initially branded as a unifying campaign under the cloak of “diversity”, the actual strategy and tactics deployed by the movement has led not just to entrenched division nationally, but also infighting and fragmentation on the left, including within the LGBT coalition which has begun to cannibalize itself.

This reshaping of the political landscape has been far from benign, particularly when we examine the way in which white identity politics has now been used with great success on the right to empower its own constituents. Indeed, by shifting the Democratic party’s overarching framework from humanity based to identity based (that is, from justice to “diversity”), the gay rights movement also effectively collapsed what had been a key ideological difference between the politics of the right, and the politics of the left. In fact, the right is now essentially attempting to re-brand itself as the party committed to a politics of shared humanity over identity by stating that it welcomes anyone who identifies as a “patriotic American.”

Additionally, the re-centering of a politics of identity by the left has also had serious consequences for black people because it has arguably led to more black people, particularly younger people, embracing the notion that the validation of their humanity requires that they embrace an identity grounded in “blackness.” Granted, they are often seeking to re-frame blackness or to control the narrative of blackness, however, in so far as they are often caught up in arguments regarding what constitutes “blackness”, they often end up doing to other black people exactly what white people have done to them, namely define the validity of their self-expression in terms of its proximity to an externally imposed standard defined by someone else, in this case, their own re-definition of what constitutes “blackness”.

Such conflicts around “blackness” as an identity are often particularly fraught between African Americans and black foreigners, most of whom do not identify with the identity of “blackness” precisely because it as a foreign concept grounded in white supremacist stereotypes. This rejection of “blackness” is then misinterpreted by black people as a rejection of black Americans, or a form of self-rejection on the part of the black foreigner. These kinds of conflicts serve to show once again that the conceptual division of humankind into narrow, racialized poles is corrupting, destructive, and divisive, even within a so-called racial group. While a politics of identity might be more politically expedient for gaining power, it is clearly not sustainable for maintaining power.

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As cracks in the coalition on the left continue to grow, there will undoubtedly be desperate attempts by party leaders to keep these various constituents together. However, I believe that it is highly unlikely that this will actually happen. Black people in particularly have grown tired of a Democratic party that continues to center other identity groups’ political needs above their own, even as it exploits the political right’s marginalization of  them in order to coerce, and even outright demand, their continued support.

Many people have also grown weary of the form of identity politics championed by the left which has confused actual issues of social justice with the desire of sexually libertine narcissists to behave as they please without regard for pre-existing social norms of privacy, speech, and decorum. The tactic of labeling the opposition as bigoted and hateful, even when they are not, has alienated moderates and centrists like myself, meaning that the Democratic party is increasingly becoming a party of leftist extremism.

The demonization of Christianity, or a demand that only specific forms of acceptable leftist religion are practiced will also never fly in a country with a constitutional commitment to religious freedom, particularly when you consider that America probably has a better record on religious tolerance than it does on racial tolerance.

The growing acceptance of the service model of womanhood, as reflected in policy positions supporting prostitution, along with the willingness to let trans activists define womanhood is increasingly alienating feminist women.

Though the left is probably not yet ready to accept its culpability for the current hostile political climate, the fact remains that the shift towards identity politics orchestrated by the LGBT movement has not only been detrimental to the coalition of the left, but to the entire United States as a whole. As much as they might wish to claim that they are not responsible for this descent into ugliness, the idea of calling anyone who disagrees with you a phobic bigot can be directly traced to the rhetoric of the gay rights movement. Indeed, the decision to do what was expedient instead of what was thoughtful will in the end prove to be the unraveling of the left.

 

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