Friday, January 27, 2012

Yes, There ARE Bigots in the LGBTQIA Community

I'm just going to jump right in here and explain what's wrong with the way this supposedly liberal writer used the term "redneck". In a letter that Mitchell S. Gilbert wrote to a Tennessee politician who has been engaging in homophobia, he said,

"Why do southern red-necks open their mouths and advertise to the world how incredibly simple, bigoted and foolish they are?"

The term "redneck" is a lot like the term "cracker" or "honky". Sure, it's perfectly okay for people to use those terms about themselves, but it's certainly not okay to use them as pejoratives that are then applied to others.

My daddy is proud to refer to himself as a "black redneck". Anyone from here knows that "redneck" really describes a rather decent way of life. My daddy views it as a capitulation every time he has to buy fish from the store for dinner. My daddy saw the raccoon that got trapped in our garbage can one night as a boon from the good Lord. My daddy made sure that every girl under his roof knew how to shoot a gun, before she moved out. Like a good redneck, he thinks that women should leave the cooking to men. My momma hasn't cooked dinner in over a decade and he hates when she gets in the kitchen and moves stuff around. My daddy kept skinned rabbits in our deep freezer. He worked outdoors most of his life and when his first wife left him, he raised his eight kids all by himself for many years until he met my mother. From then on he raised his 8 plus her 4, without a single complaint about it.

Using the term "redneck" as if it's something to be ashamed of is really low and more than a little bit prejudiced. I'd like to see folks stop looking for labels that they can use to denigrate those who belong to a different way of life. I readily identify as queer. However, if I walk down the street and someone says, "Look at that queer!" you and I both know that they are using it as a slur. It's the same thing when you use the term "redneck" in the way that the author did. It's rather irritating when people in the LGBTQIA community see nothing wrong with slurring an entire group of people, just because they don't like what an individual did. It's disgustingly hypocritical.


Aaminah Shakur said...

I have zero problem with the word honky being used against bigoted white people, although in the circumstances here it would be inappropriate because it is not a race discussion and I'm quite sure it isn't only white people who are acting the fool in Tennessee right now. But use of the word cracker bothers me because it is a class-based term created by white people to identify poor whites. Redneck is a big no-no as far as I'm concerned, despite my feelings about honkeys, because again, it is much more tied to class than actual race and people of many ethnic backgrounds get lumped in with it (by self ID like your father, or by others who are looking down on them) since it is explicitly talking about "low class" people. I don't know if I would have grown sensitive to it if not for having family in the South, but I do think redneck is a pretty sneering word when used by outsiders. It's far too easy to say "redneck" than to actually engage what is wrong with the ideas being put forth by the person, or to help educate those who genuinely haven't had access to a wider world-view. And those same anti-gay/anti-trans* or racist ideas most certainly are being put forward by people of higher class backgrounds who don't have access as an excuse as well, but no one calls them rednecks. Sadly, we take them serious enough for them to enter Governor's mansions, Congress, and Presidential debates. So basically, calling someone a redneck is a way of waving them off as "poor trash" and that isn't okay no matter what their ethnicity.

bint alshamsa said...

Thanks for articulating it better than I could.

it still is! The rednecks that I know are the most sharing people you'll ever meet. They may not have much materially, but what they have they'll give to anyone who asks.

In other parts of the country, people have started making a big deal out of "going green" and "sustainable living". All I can do is laugh and wonder what took them so long to catch on. Down here, we grow up knowing that you can't abuse the land and the water, because it's central to our lives. We've used compost toilets and solar power in fishing camps out on the bayou for years and years before folks in other parts of the country started paying "experts" to come in and install that stuff in their house.

Darn near everyone with a house has a deep freezer for long-term food storage. Lots of folks (us included) have generators, so that we don't have to run around like chickens with their heads cut off, just because there's an electricity outage. A good redneck knows how to rig up darn near anything. He can not have a dime in his pocket, but as long as he has his tackle box, his family will dine like the gods every night.

Now I dare somebody to tell me that we should be ashamed of that!

One of my brothers married a woman from a family deep in the bayous. She'd never met more than a couple of black people in her life, before she met my brother.

Her grandfather used the n-word for black people and didn't see anything wrong with it. However, when he got to know my brother, he apologized and decided to change his ways. This man was in his eighties, but he was still willing to acknowledge that he'd been doing something wrong by using that word and assuming that black people are like they're depicted in the media. Now, he just adores my brother. He's always bragging about how well his granddaughter is treated by her husband. He's always trying to slip them a little money to help them out. They tried refusing, but it makes him happy, so they just accept it gratefully.

They are the kind of people that are like you said: folks "haven't had access to a wider world-view". I'd rather be around them any day before I'd spend a minute around folks who have no problem getting enraged whenever they are slurred, but refuse to acknowledge that other people and their lives and experiences are just as worthy of respect.

Daisy Deadhead said...

You rock, my friend. :)

sanda aronson said...

bint alshamsa,
Hello. I was reading the comments before making mine and your comment about my brother is an example of a great way of learning about different groups of people is to date and marry. I have experience.

Bigots can be found in all groups. I confess that I was surprised when a gay neighbor said something racist to me. My inexperience. Being in a minority group and of a certain age, is no guarantee - and he's in theater. My first fiance's younger brother referred to Jews as "weejs" (of which I am one, an atheist Jew) and only his mother would talk with me.

Our mothers were strongly against interracial relationships. My mother said, in anger, as I realized I had to move out, "what will the neighbors say?".

She worked in a state office as a clerk, had friends of in all the groups, including having African-American, Christian, (a woman of the Catholic faith was her best friend, as were mine in our Jewish and Italian neighborhood) coworkers at my brother's bar mitzvah. That was in the late 1950s in NYC. It's a segregated city, although I live in integrated rental housing,by color and income, which has been wonderful, for 4 decades.

One of my college pals (in a state teachers college; I was there on the GI Bill as child of deceased WWII vet)had to leave due to not enough money. He went to work in the same Brooklyn located NYS state office as my mother. Soon after, my mother told me one day a young man came up to her and said, "Your laugh
sounds just like my friend Simi's." And she said, "Must be because I'm her mother.". Thought I'd end on a happier note.

P.S. CFS/ME being the "P.S." disease,
I am the first Jew some of my friends ever
"met", especially people from outside of NYC, via pen-pals with other disabled artists who are professional artists. I had a ten year pen-pal correspondence with a man, a disability rights activist, who is African-American and Muslim,religious, not an artist, while he was in prison, until he was paroled. (We got linked thru the late "Grandpa" Al Lewis, and his wife, Karen's, former radio show on WBAI, which had a prison pen-pal program.)

I am the first severely disabled person some of my other friends have met.

I am reminded of the time between marriages, a few decades ago, I went to a party and a young man, a sculptor, told me, "You can't be a sculptor; you're a woman.". I swore at him but didn't call him a name. I don't like name-calling, but I will point out to someone when they say something bigoted or racist or homophobic or sexist or disabilophobic, etc. Well, I did make one exception: I did call my Oklahoma artist pen-pal (and on the phone) a "male chauvinist" during the 20 years of friendship. He was disabled, severely, in a car crash. He had a similar quirky sense of humor, so I just made fun of his chauvinism and he had a large collection of pig things gifts that I sent, which tickled his family. He died from that Mercer infection in a hospital, 3 weeks after being admitted for treatment for bed sores (from wheelchair seat)a few years ago. His sister told me that he'd made the same joke I did, when she called to tell me he died, (He was paralyzed from the neck down) - he didn't feel the infection.