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How We Mourn Those Who Would Not Mourn Us

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The death of rapper Nipsey Hustle was deeply felt across the country. The  rapper/entrepreneur was a very outspoken anti-violence advocate who tried to create economic opportunities in low income areas in an attempt to reduce crime and alleviate the issues that stem from poverty. He was a community leader, a husband, a father, a son, and most importantly he was an agent for change. Now, having said that we can’t talk about Nipsey without discussing his homophobia. To discuss his life in its entirety is not a disservice to the man, it is an acknowledgement of his fragile humanity and the beliefs that made it hard for queer people to find the proper way to mourn for him.

When a leader in the black community dies there is usually an outpouring of reflection on the way that person presented themselves to the world. The fact is  Nipsey Hustle 100% believed in the “gay agenda”. Now, full disclosure I’m not particularly well versed in the specifics of the entire gay agenda because every time some Hotep tries to explain it to me I get enraged and I go temporarily deaf. However, enough of the ideology has gotten through to my brain for me to give a cursory explanation of some of the tenants of this ridiculous line of thinking.  Specifically, a lot of black people believe that there is an ongoing conspiracy perpetuated by gay people to emasculate and effeminize the black man in order to eliminate the black family. I guess they didn’t get the memo that 1) There have been gay black people since…. the creation of people and 2) black queers can and do have kids 3) when black queers have children…they are creating black families. I know this belief has roots in slavery and the treatment of black families subjected to human bondage. Slave owners would frequently rape the wives of male slaves, sell off children, break up families, and kill heads of households in an attempt to break the spirit of the black community.

For the record queers don’t have the energy to recruit  anyone into our community because we are too busy worrying about whether or not straight people are going to try and take away what little civil rights we have.

(Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/Reuters)

We can be sad for Nipsey’s family, and the loss to the STRAIGHT community but we also get to say that this man was part of a belief system that is literally killing us. And, saying that Nipsey was the BEST the black community has to offer is a slap in the face of every single queer black person who is out here just trying to survive in the midst of dangerous homophobia. The BEST we have to offer shouldn’t believe in unfounded and violence conspiracies that lead to the real harm of black people because despite what straight people would LIKE to think queer black people ARE a part of their community.  Nipsey remarked that he had gay people in his life so he would never “judge their lifestyle” and this is essentially the crux of the problem. Straight black people thinking that my sexuality is a “lifestyle” choice. This isn’t a diet, or Crossfit. This is who I fundamentally am and to call it a lifestyle deeming and dismissive.

Black queers constantly show up for our cis-gendered counterparts when the fight is racially based. A black queer organized the march on Washington, black queers lead the fight for legislative equality, and black queers started the Black Lives Matter movement, We are constantly devastated by the full throated dismissal of our humanity by the very people we are fighting for. So, when someone who was really good to straight people and said really terrible things about gay people dies we have to check our grief and how we show up in the face of our straight counterparts who would rather ignore the homophobia and push the narrative that when straight black people win we all win. The life expectancy of a trans woman of color is about 35 years, so we can dismiss that narrative in its entirety. We want more for our community and part of our grief expression is calling out those who would refuse to protect us. We want people who know firsthand what it feels like to be oppressed to show up for us. It’s only too much to ask if you enjoy having someone else at the bottom of the social latter and fear that helping them out will jeopardize what little advancement white supremacy has seen fit to give in the last 70 years. Black queers will still keep showing up though, don’t worry, we just wish that sometimes straight black people who show up for us too.

Cover Photo: highsnobiety.com

Chris Coakley

Chris Coakley is a walking talking super nova. She’s a poet, a womanist, an activist, and quite possibly the biggest lesbian you’ll ever meet in your entire life. She’s allergic to toxic masculinity and cats. She’s an anxious dreamer in love with big sweet words and the power they wield. An attorney and writer from Chicago, Illinois she is passionate about advocating for the less fortunate and is committed to improving her community one case at a time. Chris believes that the best way to change the world is to change the people around you, so she educates her community on the dangers of unchecked patriarchy and offers sustainable feminist solutions for how we can create a more equal society. In her free time, she helps organizations that address the needs of the LGBTQ and underprivileged communities with legal issues. Chris can be found on Twitter @ChrisHCoakley and Instagram @alphaqueer.

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