April 9, 2012 | by Kevin Naff
All aboard the Trayvon bandwagon

The shooting death of Trayvon Martin in Florida last month was yet another tragic reminder that our nation’s lax gun laws must be overhauled if we are to stem the endless tide of senseless killings that plague our country.

Roughly 30,000 Americans die each year due to gun violence, including homicides, suicides and accidental shootings, according to the CDC, yet gun control remains a taboo, third-rail subject.

Instead of prompting a national dialogue and soul-searching on this important topic, the reaction to the shooting of Martin by a neighborhood watch patrolman, George Zimmerman, has focused instead on questions of racial bias. Reckless pot-stirring by ambulance-chasing zealots like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, along with typically lazy and even deliberately inaccurate reporting by the mainstream media have stoked racial tensions while ignoring the problem of gun proliferation. Jackson told the L.A. Times that the case is an embarrassment to white America, ignoring Zimmerman’s Hispanic ancestry. Sharpton masquerades as a TV journalist for MSNBC while leading rallies demanding that Zimmerman be arrested.

LGBT people and black Americans are no strangers to these horrifying crime statistics — both groups are disproportionately impacted by hate crimes. But the focus on race, which was largely triggered by NBC News’s doctored 911 recording for which a producer was fired last week, is a distraction that pumps up cable ratings and generates lots of heat, but no light.

Adding to the toxic and dangerous reaction: celebrities and their vapid Twitter commentary. Director Spike Lee re-Tweeted Zimmerman’s home address, but got it wrong and an innocent retired couple residing there was forced to move out to avoid a vigilante mob. Correcting Lee’s error, Roseanne Barr then Tweeted the correct address for Zimmerman’s parents and later apologized for promoting the same sort of vigilante-ism that purportedly killed Martin.

Not to be left out of all the bandwagon posturing, the nation’s leading LGBT advocacy groups belatedly leapt into the fray on April 2 — 36 days after the shooting — to draw parallels between black and LGBT crime victims and express solidarity with Martin’s family.

“Trayvon’s killing is tragic and the stark reality that racial bias played a role in his death has alarmed our nation,” read the statement, which was signed by HRC, GLAAD, Freedom to Marry, Lambda Legal, National Gay & Lesbian Task Force and many other national LGBT rights groups.

“Stark reality?” Unfortunately, there’s not much about this case that’s so crystal clear. The facts are few so far: Martin was unarmed and shot by Zimmerman, who was released after claiming self-defense. That infamous 911 recording was edited by NBC to make it appear as if Zimmerman was targeting Martin because he was black. NBC later apologized. CNN, too, played fast and loose with the recording, initially reporting that Zimmerman had called Martin a “fucking coon,” then later acknowledging that after enhancing the recording, what he actually said was “fucking punks,” or maybe “fucking cold,” alluding to that evening’s chilly temperatures.

LGBT rights groups, along with celebrities and civil rights activists, should do what Zimmerman failed to do and exercise some self-restraint. The Martin case is in the hands of a special prosecutor who could bring charges as early as this week against Zimmerman. A grand jury is expected to convene Tuesday. Let’s hear from the experts and investigators before rushing to judgment and issuing our politically correct press releases. Did Martin attack Zimmerman and break his nose? What is the full transcript of the 911 call? Did the dispatcher order Zimmerman not to follow Martin?

The Martin case is a tragedy and a clear indictment of Florida’s draconian “stand your ground” law that has so far shielded Zimmerman from arrest. But portraying Martin as a hate crime martyr is premature and irresponsible. We don’t know the facts and in the weeks since the Martin shooting, LGBT people have been attacked, shot and killed in the U.S. without a press release or peep of protest.

 

Kevin Naff is the editor and a co-owner of the Washington Blade, the nation’s oldest and most acclaimed LGBT news publication, founded in 1969.

70 Comments
  • ….. The white privilege of LGBTQlandia is out of freaking control. While you make good points about “stand your ground” and gun proliferation, dismissing the racial aspects of this case due to “lack of evidence” is insulting to people of color at best. Guess what? Most white people are racist. They are more likely to kill unarmed black teenagers because they are black.

    If a black man punched me in the nose and broke it, I probably still would not murder them. Done and done. Zimmerman quite clearly equated black with suspicious and unfortunately (as you pointed out) had a gun in order to act on his racist suspicion.

    You’re correct that the LGBT community’s response was belated. They should have denounced it that day. Sigh! Fellow queers, wake up from your white privilege.

    • Over Gay White Privilege

      Thank you so much for commenting and putting that post. You took the words outta my mouth. This article is appalling. Here’s an example of minority groups not sticking by one another and an example of when “white gay racist speaks.” The bottom line is simply this, YOU CANNOT ERADICATE THE ISSUE OF RACE IN THIS CASE. The end. I’m sick of white ppl, obviously tired of being made to feel “bad” by the media, trying to eradicate the racial issues of this. And yes, Zimmerman is half Hispanic. But obviously, like most ignorant Americans, this writer failed to realized the immense fact that there is a such thing as WHITE LATINOS and that also Latinos can be very racist. I’ve talked on this so much, I just can’t discuss this anymore. But LGBT “white privilege” is disgusting.

  • I’m just an audio guy.. I make no claims to anything else.

    I took the 911 call with the most audio informatiion regarding screams, pulled down some of the louder noises (the actual shot and a few times the woman caller gets a bit loud) so they don’t hurt you while listening to the softer noises… Then ran it at a slower speed and pitch corrected it 100 percent true. Anyone with an ear for music can tell not a note has been changed.. Digital affords you this luxury. In the analog days we had to physically slow the tape/medium down and you lose pitch and clarity.

    THIS AUDIO IS NOT ENHANCED per sey.. not like enhancing a photo.. the only enhancing has been to adust volume levels so you don’t hurt your ear listening to everything at relative volume levels.

    There are a few swirling artifacts in this copy because I had to compres the wav file to a 128 kbps mp3 to fit on my page so you had a player to hear it on.. These artifacts are slight and will not distract.

    http://soundclick.com/share.cfm?id=11548279

    This exercise is just a way to access the call and hear things you would not of as easily (but every bit of audio information from the original is still there) just listening to the raw recording. Akin to slowing down video without the frame per second limitations.

  • Kevin this is article is a disservice to the LGBTQ community of color. Clearly, you have no idea what you are talking about.

  • This is the most smug and self serving piece of [EXPLETIVE DELETED] article that I have had the misfortune of reading in a LONG time. Quit trying to make this about the LGBT community… THE WORLD DOESNT REVOLVE AROUND US.

  • Mr. Naff, another fact not presented in your story is the fact the Sanford Police Department did NOTHING to fully investigate this act when in happened in February. NOTHING had been done then to fully investigate this situation by the local police. It’s taken at least month for anyone outside Sanford to truly understand the gravity of this situation. Those so-called “zealots” Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson brought it to your attention and that’s why you’re writing about it now. Of course, I know the real reason you’re writing about it even though you sound somewhat “through with it” is because it’s a trending topic and new media needs to cash in on trends to get every digital penny they can get.

    And to make a blanket statement that “LGBT people have been attacked, shot and killed in the U.S. without a press release or peep of protest” as if to say that because this young man wasn’t presumed to be gay that we shouldn’t as outraged is absolutely ridiculous! It would be equally wrong if a crime toward any gay person for being gay went unreported and uninvestigated by the police.

  • Have you only been reading about this on Fox News?

  • I didn’t think it was possible for me to take the Blade less seriously. Now I do.

    What narrow-minded, smug crap. That it’s published by the editor and part-owner makes it even worse.

  • This article in a major LGBT publication is yet another example of white gay male privilege incorporated. This time it is not so cleverly masquerading as journalistic restraint and critical thinking. It is neither.

  • You should title your article “All Aboard the Gun Control Bandwagon” since that is what you are asking people to do.

  • “Most white people are racist.” Racism comes in every color against every color in every nation. Let’s be honest, and not act like racism is a “white” thing – it’s a human thing, built on division, destruction, and otherness.

    Without a doubt, racial profiling played a role in Zimmerman’s suspicions of Trayvon Martin. This article gets to the heart of the issue – what the law says, and what the evidence is. Determining justified or unjustified shootings in the context of this case demands critique of “Stand Your Ground” laws.

    Feeling intimidated does not equal self-defense by deadly means. If it did, women would be shooting men on the streets all the time.

  • Youre [EXPLETIVE DELETED] me, right?

    Black gay males were attacked in Dallas and aren’t volunteering any information to the police department. Cases like this show you why: nothing is done by the white & privileged Powers That Be. Your tearing down of the assumed straight black man (Trayvon Martin and those who defend both him and the stance that this was racially motivated) does not help empower the gay black man to stand up for himself. It shows the gay black man that he’s on his own.

  • Kevin,
    If it had been a black man who shot a white boy (and we’ll make him gay for good measure) then your article would NOT be one where you’d sit by and dismiss the racial aspects of this case. Being Hispanic is NOT a race Kevin. It’s an ethnicity. Zimmerman’s race is white. If you’re going to make an arguement then make sure you’re bringing something new to the discussion, not some half baked opinion.

  • Its articles like this that continue to divide the gay community. Gay media seems to take a stand of looking down on black gay men and woman. The reality is as a black man in America, me being gay is secondary, I’m a black man first. This is a tragic situation and for this article to imply that people are blowing it out of proportion and jumping to a conclusion is sad. The fact is a young black man was killed simply because he was a black man. If this were a young white gay boy all of the gay rights groups, news papers and media organizations would have been raising hell, just like the Black community and other organizations have. So please stop choosing battles of people that only look like you and start including ALL!! RIGHT IS RIGHT & WRONG IS WRONG!!

  • Outraged Activist

    Queer white privilege is exceedingly evident in this disturbingly ignorant op-ed. How dare a leader of the LGBT community diminish the tragedy of a hate crime and the suffering of an innocent victim, in light of the recent violent attacks targeting our very own?

  • Thank you, Ian! I love how Kevin criticizes news agencies for factual inaccuracies, then proceeds with a whopper of his own. Mr. Naff, the outrage that flowed about the racism evident in this case was not at all a result of NBC’s stupid doctoring of the 911 call. We all know the outrage was immediate and that fact is too easy to confirm. Secondly, I can find no original thinking in this piece that is supposedly your opinion. Each point is rehash of the talking points that have been circulating among right wingers. Who, as you know and is also easy to verify, is a group of people who never want to acknowledge racism. I am embarrassed for the Washington Blade.

  • As an avid reader of the Blade and someone who’s lived in the Washington DC area for a decade now, I am shocked (to say the least) to see an opinion come from a respected LGBT leader in our community. This does absolutely nothing to reinforce my view, as a gay black American, that the supposedly inclusive DC LGBT community in particular, is capable of being very insensitive (and in some cases outright discriminatory) and intolerant at times towards its racial minority members. It’s deplorable that NBC doctored the tape as so many of the facts on their face, highlight racial insensitivity and bias (would we be in the same place right now if a black 28-year-old man followed, approached and gunned down a white or Hispanic teenager under the same circumstances. Some would argue no). It’s equally deplorable that this article makes no mention of the fact that Zimmerman followed Martin without provocation and confronted him without provocation. We know he had no real weapons (although, I’ll concede that a skittle at close range could probably put someone’s eye out). We know he was not breaking into someone’s house at the time of the confrontation. What exactly was he doing, other than being black and wearing a hoodie, to cause Zimmerman to refer to him as “suspicious” and go to the extent of confronting him? As a member of two minority groups, I shake my head in anger when members of the African-American community chastise LGBTs. The LGBT community is right to vent its frustration about this, particularly to a group, having endured intolerance and discrimination and biblical-based consternation, should be more empathetic towards the struggles of LGBTs. However, what is constantly overlooked by members of the non-racial-minority LGBT community is how their own insensitivity towards issues concerning race-relations, particularly towards African-Americans, often trumps that of society at large. This is blatantly displayed for all to see with this article. A simple op-ed from a contributor would be one thing, but The Washington Post, New York Times or any major reputable newspaper would never publish an editorial like this as representative of the views of its senior staff. The sad reality is how many self-proclaimed liberal Caucasian LGBTs will read this and immediately come to agree with Neff. As a black gay American, I can say with confidence that I am as outraged over this incident as I would be had a gay teen been followed, confronted and subsequently shot for looking different or like he didn’t belong. It’s sad that there are too many straight blacks and non-minority LGBTs who cannot say the same and Neff, with this woefully insensitive editorial, is only adding fuel to the fire on both sides.

  • Mr. Naff…..you’re ridiculous. Your opinion, much like everything about this topic as heard on Fox News, embarrasses the LGBT community and The Blade.

  • Had a 17-year-old gay teenager been followed, confronted and subsequently shot, simply for appearing suspicious, or looking like he didn’t belong in the community, I would be just as outraged. Anyone who’s been discriminated against for something they have no control over should be. Naff, as a gay man, should see the inherent singling out and murder of a young person that resulted from him not committing any crime at the time of the incident, but simply appearing different or like he doesn’t belong as an outrage, yet he doesn’t and that’s pretty sad to me.

  • “….our nation’s lax gun laws must be overhauled if we are to stem the endless tide of senseless killings that plague our country.”

    Firearms rights have been expanded over last several years, and more citizens are now free to carry firearms in more places. Yet, homicides, including homicides with firearms, as well as all other violent crime have been decreasing since 2006. Moreover, after a dramatic increase in firearms sales and ownership after the last Presidential election including an increase in first time firearms purchases and an increase in firearms carry permits, gun ban groups and zealot predicted that there would be a corresponding increase in murders. However, the U.S. homicide rate decreased from 5.0 per 100,000 in 2009 to 4.8 per 100,000 in 2010.

    Preliminary data from 2011 shows Murder is down by 5.7%, Rape down 5.1%, Robbery down 7.7%, and Aggravated Assault down 5.9%

    http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2010/crime-in-the-u.s.-2010/tables/10shrtbl08.xls

    http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2010/crime-in-the-u.s.-2010/tables/10tbl01.xls

    http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2010/crime-in-the-u.s.-2010/tables/10tbl01a.xls

    We do not need any new gun control laws.

  • I disagree with this editorial. Kevin, if you don’t think the fact that Trayvon was a young, black male played a part, a BIG part, in why Zimmerman called 911 to report a “suspicious” person who “looked like he was on drugs” and then pursued him – in defiance of the 911 dispatcher – you are only fooling yourself. Issues of racial profiling are clearly at play here. Who do you think Zimmerman was referring to when he said “these assholes” on the 911 call. By the way, the entire 911 recording is available. It would have been worth listening to before writing this editorial. Those who care about fairness and equal treatment under the law – which includes the LGBT community – should absolutely be concerned about this case and want to see justice for Trayvon and an opportunity for an actual judicial and legal process to play out. After all, an unarmed, 17-year-old child was shot dead in cold blood simply while trying to walk home. I wholeheartedly applaud the LGBT rights organizations who signed the letter.

  • Thank you Steph. Great points!

    • No, they are not. They are racism.

      Made worse because a queer person is uttering the words. Queers should know what it means to be killed and beaten for simply being oneself – which is exactly what happened to Trayvon Martin.

      He “looked suspicious” because he was a Black man in a neighborhood with few Black people. This fear of the Other is something any queer in a straight situation should be familiar with.

      You lie if you – as a queer – have never felt people being suspicious of you being HIV+ for being gay, and then no giving you a handshake or getting all worried every time you cough.

      • Umm, it would behoove you to read the comment thread carefully and to pay attention to who it is exactly I am saying “great points” in response to. I was not responding directly to Kevin Naff who wrote this objectionable op/ed piece. But rather, to one of the commenters here in the comment thread (Steph). Thank you.

  • I am strongly recommending (requesting) that the staff of this periodical, from the publisher down receive some cultural diversity training and soon. The fact that the editor, no less, can pen such a culturally insensitive, naive, myopic, and privileged based opinion piece can be nothing less than a very tangible cautionary tale of the type of oppressive and/or uninformed culture there likely is at The Washington Blade. Help is available. I am certain there are very competent diversity trainers in the DC area. Do your staff, your brand and the rest of us a service and find such a person ASAP. Please avail yourself of his/her/their services immediately.

  • Wow. Congratulations. You just made me embarrassed to be queer.

  • Wow, Kevin, this is seriously misguided, for reasons others have stated.

  • This is the smuggish, most arrogant AND ignorant madness I have ever READ! You, Mr. Me Me Me White man, are a part of the world, but apparently don’t come out of Dupont Circle! YOU ARE APPALLING! This is why the Black Gay community often stays closer to Black than to Gay! YOU ARE AN MORON and YOU SICKEN ME! I cannot imagine that you had nothing better to do this week than to CONDEMN the community for standing with another community against INJUSTICE! So, when we march for justice or lobby for justice, we should expect support from ONLY OURSELVES?! You are an idiot and a fool. This is why I don’t date white gay men. At the end of the day, when all we have as a common denominator is Gay, you always (ALL WAYS) remind me that I am dealing with a White man!

    The fact that this is The Washington Blade, a paper that I read WEEKLY when I lived in DC, one of the Blackest cities in America, is just an embarrassment! WOW.

    I don’t even want to talk about the facts of the case that you have completely ignored in your mad-rant. I don’t even want to talk about that facts about human decency that we SAY we are marching about when we march for human (read EQUAL) rights! I am only going to say that you are forgetting that the SAME HATE that killed Trayvon Martin is killing transwomen in DC at alerting rates and YOU have nothing better to do than RACE-BAIT?!

    YOU ARE THE DEVIL IN A PINK TRIANGLE!

  • And P.S. You idiotic so-called “EDITOR,” if there are LGBT people who are attacked, shot or killed and there is NO PRESS RELEASE ABOUT IT, that’s YOUR FAULT! You should be using your platform and your energy to be talking THEM….relentlessly. Yet, you are on a rant for ratings and controversy. YOU HAVE OFFICIALLY COME OUT OF THE CLOSET AS A RACIST! Thank you! What color flag do you wave for THAT?!

  • Never forget that it was Black and Puerto Rican queers who started the Stonewall Rebellion.

    The whitewashing of the queer struggle is part of the same racism that killed Trayvon Martin.

  • as a queer poc im disgusted and enraged by this article. the us vs them rhetoric is just the same NOM is used to try and divide queers and people of color. an everyday reminder of the racism and white privilege i have to face both inside and outside the queer community.

  • Joseph DeFilippis

    And THIS, ladies and gentlemen, is a perfect example of everything that is wrong with the “gay rights” movement in this country, and why I am always so angry, ashamed and frustrated with it. This editorial makes me nauseous. It is exactly this kind of myopic thinking (“ME, ME, ME”) coming from white, middle-class gay people that is the reason why people of color, poor people, immigrants, etc do not join gay organizations. It is exactly this kind of myopic thinking that is the reason why other social justice movements do not take us seriously. It is exactly this kind of myopic thinking that has prevented the gay rights movement from being a movement about “justice”, and made it, instead, a movement about “just us”. (“Us” of course being defined as white and middle-class.) This editorial is beyond embarrassing. It is depressing.

  • Naff is a hack and a fraud. His allegation that there’s no evidence that racial bias played a role in Trayvon’s death is a lie. Zimmerman has a long, documented history of unnecessarily calling police after sighting black people doing things that in reality were not the least suspicious. Zimmerman has no corresponding record for calling the police about white people doing things that weren’t suspicious. Naff’s question about whether the police “ordered” Zimmerman not to follow Trayvon is irrelevant. There is a recording of Zimmerman calling the police over his sighting of an 8-year-old black boy. Hello? Neighborhood watch groups specifically state in their guidelines that neighborhood watch people are not to carry guns. Naff is a hack and a fraud. He chose what things to say in this racist post, and should consider talking about his choices with a competent therapist. Frankly, his asshole opinions shouldn’t be dignified by repeating them in order to rebut them, and his asshole opinions should not at all be considered representative or characteristic of white gay people’s thoughts on this matter.

  • I can’t believe I just read this in the Washington Blade. Wow. Just…wow. And Kevin Naff no less. I swear I will never be surprised at how low people I admired can suddenly sink ever again.

  • Gay people fail. Nothing else to say.

  • Mr. Naff, what in the world were you thinking, drinking, or smoking? I add my name to the rest of those who are disgusted by your skewed, disingenuous perspective on this incident. If you were trying to fan the flames of mutual distrust and interracial animosity, congratulations–you have succeeded marvelously. You are the one who should have exercised self-restraint before besmirching the Blade’s reputation, such as it was, with this regrettable column.

  • Kevin, I am afraid your editorial comment serves only Gallagher and NoM in driving that wedge between the queer community and the black community.

  • I guess bigotry and unearned white privileged is not just a white guy thing. Next thing this editor will be doing is claiming that Brownie did a great job.

  • More proof that white queers can defend white supremacy with the best of them. Never mind that the queer liberation movement was started by people of color, or that the majority of queer folks killed in homophobic/transphobic hate crimes are also POC, or that many of these hate crimes have taken place right in Washington DC. No—Kevin Naff would rather pull the same racist divide-and-conquer tactics as the right-wing homobigots who are trying to destroy all of us. His apparent cluelessness about this fact is proof that he shouldn’t be publishing at the Washington Blade.

    Oh—and the title of this so-called essay? Dehumanizing garbage if I ever seen it. A seventeen-year-old child died, Naff—and you reduce him to a “bandwagon.” You should be ashamed of yourself.

  • Thank you for having the courage to express the voice of reason, and to point out that many open questions remain surrounding the facts of this case. You will no doubt find yourself widely labeled as racist, stupid, ignorant, and outright crazy. But I agree with your remarks entirely; so I suppose that makes me all of those things, too.

    In my opinion, it is the great wash of people who speak with righteous conviction that they know exactly what transpired that night –that they know exactly what was in the mind of the gunman (racism), that they know the man ‘should’ be tried — who themselves are prejudiced, ignorant and, with some of them, outright crazy. The almost ubiquitous assumption that racism was behind this, with little to no evidence to that effect, contributes nothing positive toward understanding what actually occurred to bring about a young man’s tragic death.

    I think nearly everyone can agree that stand your ground laws are ill advised, and that this is a picture-perfect example as to why that is so. It is unfortunate that the gunman was acting within the law, if indeed it is true he was physically assaulted by the youth.

    I was the first in my own circle to hear of the events around Trayvon Martin’s killing and to begin circulating information and online petitions. Like thousands would subsequently do, I immediately assumed a “here we go again!” reaction.

    But as more and more information has arisen around the shooting victim himself, followed by the claims being made by gunman’s family, I began to question what had at first seemed a very black and white issue. I have moved from assumption, to questioning, to skepticism. And in the process of raising questions, trying to understand this case, my questions and calls for facts instead of mere opinion have met with silence, have been dismissed as “apologizing for racism”, and have even been waived aside with the inane assumption “you’re not black, you don’t understand.”

    Honestly, I have moved from feeling myself a supporter of the Martin family in their loss and suffering to finding the whole Trayvon – Zimmerman subject unwelcome, disheartening and depressing. It is deeply disappointing that there remain so many in this country who are knee-jerk in reactivity, willing to rapidly racialize every situation. It is mystifying that there are so many who confuse their own personal assumptions and opinions with fact, and who apparently have no interest whatsoever in learning the actual facts. And it is surreal when so many people counter known facts around the Martins with rumors about the Zimmermans and who proclaim they don’t CARE what the Martins or Trayvon do, or did!

    Most of all, I am dead-tired of racism. And – as probably nearly every gay person has had cause to notice in life – it is so often those who are making the most noise about, and pointing the finger at, others who themselves need to do a lot of self-scrutiny.

    So GOOD for you, for nothing that questions still abound about the facts in this tragedy, and that the real opportunity has been missed in favor of furthering divisiveness and racism.

    • Hear hear. I’m embarrassed for my LGBT community right now. “Most white people are racist”? “I’m sick of white ppl”? Soon, the voice of reason is will be a trembling whisper in a world of shouting, accusing bigots on both sides. Could Naff have made his point in a less incendiary way? Yes, absolutely. Would the s***storm still have hit the Internet like it has? Sadly, probably.

  • Anybody who has been assaulted by a young black man, for no apparent reason other than having been in the wrong place at the wrong time, has NO trouble believing Zimmerman’s story.

    The first time I was assaulted, coming out of Bachelor’s Mill one night with friends, I saw a guy sitting on top of a city trashcan and thought to myself, “That guy looks suspicious.” I followed the instinct by convincing myself “That is a racist thought,” because the guy was black…moments before the guy – and two of his friends who emerged out of nowhere – stuck a gun in my friend’s neck and demanded we all give up our wallets.

    The second time I was assaulted I was walking to work one dark winter’s morning earlier than usual. Again, two men passed me on the sidewalk, both wearing hoodies, and I thought “I ought to be careful.” But I hadn’t learned my lesson yet. My next thought was, “That is a racist reaction” because they were both black. Immediately after that thought, I was grabbed from behind and my wallet was then ripped right out of my pants, leaving them torn in shreds and me bruised and shaken.

    The third time I was assaulted, it was in the lobby of my own building, when I let the front door shut behind me as I entered. A guy coming up the walk demanded, and then pounded on the glass screaming, to be let in. I did not hold open the door for a stranger, no matter how well-dressed; the condo fined people for doing that. Moments later, as a neighbor exited and proved the reason the condo board deemed it reasonable to levy fines for admitting strangers, the man rushed into the lobby and punched me in the face, so hard that my glasses broke in two. The man turned out to be a real estate agent, who had come to show an apartment to a prospective renter, so he and he guest then went about their business. By the time he re-emerged from his tour he was stopped in the lobby by two waiting policemen, and the first thing out of his mouth was a claim that I had refused to let him in because he was black…an idea that in his thinking, apparently, was justification for a physical assault.

    Perhaps Trayvon Martin thought the same.

    Much was made, when the Martin story first came out, of the differences in size, with Zimmerman weighing more than Martin. I am 6’3” tall and weighed, in those days, around 180 pounds. ALL the men who assaulted me were shorter than I.

    Eventually, I learned my lesson from these assaults. If I were to do what Martin supporters are doing – claiming “this” happens all the time, claiming Zimmerman assaulted Martin first, claiming that any questions suggested by Martin’s prior conduct as an individual sully his memory and are motivated by racism – I would have concluded “all black males always go around assaulting people.” But I know better.

    The lesson was not – as misguided supporters of the Martins conclude – that what happened was due to race…how could I know if I was assaulted because of my race? The lesson was “trust your instincts.”

    And in this case, I do. Instinct suggests that it was probably Martin who jumped on Zimmerman. It probably WAS Zimmerman in that recording, screaming for help.

    Even if that is the case – how sad that I need to add here “obviously” due to the rabid assumptions of people who think of themselves as anti-racists – it does not excuse a shooting death. And that goes right to the point of Naff’s editorial. We do not know that Martin’s death was connected to his race. We DO know that Martin’s death was due to the prevalence of guns. And we know that Zimmerman’s release after questioning – like it or not — was due to Florida’s gun law.

    • Thank you Mr. Perry for channeling just a *slightly* kinder and gentler JOHN DERBYSHIRE (http://takimag.com/article/the_talk_nonblack_version_john_derbyshire#axzz1rHzlfgy8). At least you spared us Derbyshire’s “Bell Curve” acquiescence. Thank Goddess for all the little things.

      As for you Mr. Naff, I hope you are reading all of these comments. I especially hope you read this comment I am responding to and the comment that immediately follows it. I hope you read those two comments especially carefully including reading between the lines of them. And I hope you take note, serious note of what these two comments, that are most in alignment with your “opinion” piece above are really saying and that you do a sober analysis thereof and realize the company you are in thusfar in the comments here. I hope you are able to recognize your allies here and recognize them fully. I don’t hold much hope that much will be revealed to you when/if you do all of that. If you had the type of insight I am ascribing to you, you would never have written this op/ed piece to begin with.Then again perhaps the avalanche of negative and critical commentary you have received here may…just may have birthed in you at least a little of that insight I am hoping you have the ability to somehow conjure up now.

    • Anybody that has been molested by a gay person, for no apparent reason has no problem believing that all gay people are child molesting perverts. It is not rational to believe that all people who share a characteristic (like skin color, or sexual orientation) are cut of the same cloth purely by belonging to a status group. It speaks to ridiculous amounts of bias on your part to “believe Zimmerman’s” story based purely on having been attacked that one time. Does that mean that anyone attacked by white people are justified in being racist too? Because this is what you’re saying.

    • Wow, thank you Ryan for having the unintentional courage to admit that you hold bigoted and racist world views. So let me get this straight….it is perfectly reasonable to draw a conclusion about an entire race of people based upon one event that was not related to race that happened to you? So the gay guy that is an bigoted asshole means that all gay guys are bigoted assholes right? Or should I just conclude that just you and the co-owner of the Blade are bigoted assholes? Let me know because I am dying to find out what I should think.

    • “Anybody who has been assaulted by a young black man, for no apparent reason other than having been in the wrong place at the wrong time, has NO trouble believing Zimmerman’s story.”

      Really? So, if I have been assaulted by black men, then that makes me more likely to follow a random young black man, fight with him and then shoot him? Or is it more likely that I’ll call the police and do what they advise?

      The only reason it’s acceptable for Zimmerman to shoot this kid in your head is because you have already formulated an opinion that black males are dangerous, evidenced by your next comment.
      “The first time I was assaulted, coming out of Bachelor’s Mill one night with friends…
      The second time I was assaulted I was walking to work one dark winter’s morning earlier than usual…
      The third time I was assaulted, it was in the lobby of my own building….”

      It boggles my mind that people like you feel it’s acceptable to forge your opinion of PoC by a few interactions with people within that community, but are usually completely unwilling to accept that PoC, who have been subjected to historical and systemic injustices, may also form opinions about whites. Since you’re implying that Martin accosted Zimmerman, perhaps this was his motivation. The difference here is that injustices toward PoC are systemic and not just random interactions with individual people.

      “Perhaps Trayvon Martin thought the same.
      Much was made, when the Martin story first came out, of the differences in size, with Zimmerman weighing more than Martin. I am 6’3” tall and weighed, in those days, around 180 pounds. ALL the men who assaulted me were shorter than I.”

      And still you have not been shot and killed by any of your “attackers.” Trayvon Martin cannot say the same.

      Eventually, I learned my lesson from these assaults. If I were to do what Martin supporters are doing – claiming “this” happens all the time, claiming Zimmerman assaulted Martin first, claiming that any questions suggested by Martin’s prior conduct as an individual sully his memory and are motivated by racism – I would have concluded “all black males always go around assaulting people.” But I know better.”

      I assume by “this” you mean racial profiling. Although you don’t seem to believe it, there are statistics and research done on these things: http://www.aclu.org/racial-justice/racial-profiling and (in case you don’t accept the ACLU) http://www.racialprofilinganalysis.neu.edu/. Ignoring these things does not change the fact that Trayvon Martin, a black child, was shot by a white man walking home. And, just in case you don’t know, being Hispanic is not a race.

      Claiming that Zimmerman assaulted Martin first? Assuming somehow that you don’t believe he didn’t, remember that stand your ground law that’s supposed to protect Zimmerman? It also protects Martin. A man was stalking him, and he felt threatened, so according to the law he had every right to protect himself.

      Martin’s history is irrelevant because he didn’t do anything wrong. And Zimmerman would have had no idea of his past history before following him. I will never understand the people who defend this man.

      You know better? And yet you have concluded that it’s acceptable for whites to follow random blacks and shoot them if they don’t feel comfortable. How is that different?

      “The lesson was not – as misguided supporters of the Martins conclude – that what happened was due to race…how could I know if I was assaulted because of my race? The lesson was “trust your instincts.”

      What instinct was Zimmerman trusting? Follow strangers to protect yourself? Was that the lesson you learned?

      “And in this case, I do. Instinct suggests that it was probably Martin who jumped on Zimmerman. It probably WAS Zimmerman in that recording, screaming for help.”

      Right. Because this keeps you safe in the belief that blacks are a threat and any killing of them is acceptable and justified. However, what about my instincts that tell me the opposite? Do mine not matter? This is why we look at evidence because white people trusting their instincts in regard to PoC has never historically turned out good for us.

      “Even if that is the case – how sad that I need to add here “obviously” due to the rabid assumptions of people who think of themselves as anti-racists – it does not excuse a shooting death. And that goes right to the point of Naff’s editorial. We do not know that Martin’s death was connected to his race. We DO know that Martin’s death was due to the prevalence of guns. And we know that Zimmerman’s release after questioning – like it or not — was due to Florida’s gun law.”

      His death is due to the prevalence of guns and he looked “suspicious” to Zimmerman and was shot because he was black. Those things are not mutually exclusive. Excusing racism away because you have not personally experienced it, does not change the fact that Zimmerman is recorded as calling this child a “coon.” Or perhaps you accept that he said “goon;” a term for which he could not have known simply by Martin walking down the street.

      Ignoring that, why do you suppose that Zimmerman found Martin suspicious? Other than like you said, “Anybody who has been assaulted by a young black man, for no apparent reason other than having been in the wrong place at the wrong time, has NO trouble believing Zimmerman’s story.” From your own words, it’s all about race.

    • And yet the majority of white queers are bashed and bullied by other white people. Matthew Shepard’s killers sure as hell weren’t Black. Yet you come on here and engage is race-baiting while claiming not to be racist. Thanks for proving everyone’s point.

    • Experts have determined that the person screaming for help on the recording could not have been Zimmerman. They also have Martin’s phone records showing that he was on the phone at the time of the incident. They also have Zimmerman’s 9/11 recording where he admits to pursuing Martin despite being told not to. Zimmerman got out of his vehicle with a loaded gun. Zimmerman pursued Martin. A physical fight ensued. Zimmerman used his gun to shoot Martin in the chest while Martin screamed for help. The cops tested Martin for drugs and did a criminal check on him. They did neither to Zimmerman (which would have been standard procedure whenever a shooting occurs).

    • WOW! Mr. Perry, you do realize if you analogue your three examples of being attacked tithe shooting of Trayvon that Trayvon would be you-minding your own business, and Zimmerman would the men that attacked you- watching, following, approaching, engaging and committing a crime. Are you so blind that you are unable to see your very own story when the victim is black? Do you think black men can only be attackers? If so, only then should you align yourself with Zimmerman.

  • Congrats on publishing such a ridiculously myopic screed. The very idea that taking an issue of obvious social relevance like the shooting death of a minor by an unauthorized “self appointed” Watch captain (something I would like to think more people in a society that has any empathy whatsoever would do), you find reasons to criticize LGBT people for…caring about potential bias crimes. Which, might I add happen to people of color who happen to be gay at higher numbers too. Its galling and tone deaf to make the claim that race trumps gay rights issues. Is it not possible for true social progressives to be able to dislike and concern themselves with injustices that relate to their special (self) interest? This is an appalling article and one that I think will speak for your publication going forward. Remarkable job in tarnishing your credibility.

  • Kevin, given the vehemence of your column and the responses, I think you should publish a rebuttal to what you wrote in the next edition.

    • Thank you for publishing Maya Rupert’s rebuttal today.

      However, I was rereading your column and one line jumped out at me: “But the focus on race, which was largely triggered by NBC News’s doctored 911 recording for which a producer was fired last week, is a distraction that pumps up cable ratings and generates lots of heat, but no light.”

      Race was part of the story even before the NBC broadcast. Yes, the network made a big error (for which they apologized and fired a producer) and yes, Spike Lee and Roseanne were irresponsible in their tweets. However, the reaction was much larger than those incidents. That it took several weeks of public outcry to even arrest Zimmerman is ridiculous and would not have happened if the gunman was black.

      I wonder what news sources you were following in this case. Just because you are a Republican does not mean you should take Fox or talk shows as gospel. There were significant holes in Zimmerman’s story. Why did an investigator not believe his story, only to have a DA intervene to drop the charges? Why were there no injuries on either Martin or Zimmerman to suggest an all out battle? Why did witnesses say that it sounded like a younger male was the one crying for help? Why did Zimmerman pursue Martin after being told not to by the very same police dispatcher?

      I agree Zimmerman should not be tried in a court of public opinion, but it seems to me that this whole incident would have been swept under the rug had it not been for the very same outcry that Naff is decrying. While gun laws are certainly part of the issue (and possibly political interference), I have a hard time believing that race played no role even if it was not the only role or an overt role.

  • Personally, I’m glad the LGBT community is contributing to the racial debate because all these issues intersect with each other. United we stand, divided we fall.

  • I want to thank Mr. Naff for publishing his pedestrian, myopic column because it gave me an opportunity to see all of the comments from the AMAZING people who not only disagree with his views, but are willing to call him out on them. I am so frigging tired of people like Mr. Naff making statements like, “LGBT people and black Americans are no strangers to these horrifying crime statistics — both groups are disproportionately impacted by hate crimes.”

    Mr. Naff, I am black, and I am a member of the LGBT community. I belong to both groups. You speak as though there were no overlap. I’ve been saying that I don’t understand why people are either surprised by the presence of racism in the US or continuing to pretend like being “color blind” means being blind to racism. Four years ago I wrote a column for the now defunct, The New Gay, website. In it I said that if the mainstream LGBT community would recognize its black members, you would be able to tap into the incredible amount of knowledge amassed over decades of fighting – successfully – for civil rights. Instead, I watch as you waste time and resources reinventing the wheel. Black LGBT people would get help undoing the harm white evangelicals have done to our churches if the mainstream LGBT community were to help launch the campaigns for acceptance in the black mainstream community.

    I’m not buying into the “white privilege” argument because I know white guys who wish they had my life. I will say this column is intellectually lazy and shows that Mr. Naff hasn’t discussed this issue with any black people that he knows and trusts, if there are any other than a co-worker or the typical “some of my best friends are back” guy, to get a different perspective. Some people look at our differences and see problems. I look at them and see opportunities. When we share our knowledge and experiences, we’re stronger.

    Most of the comments have been great! However, the people who support Mr. Naff’s position probably aren’t going to post a comment. They’ll email him or call him personally. They are the ones who have great online conversations with guy. Then, they see a photo and find out he’s not their chosen “preference” and disappear. Let’s not pretend like Mr. Naff’s comments are more than what they are. They are sloppy and limited in vision, but they are nothing more than the tip of iceberg.

    • With all due respect EOJinDC, you have in fact unknowingly legitimized the very legitimate “white privilege argument” myslef and various other commenters here have referenced when you said this: “I will say this column is intellectually lazy and shows that Mr. Naff hasn’t discussed this issue with any black people that he knows and trusts, if there are any other than a co-worker or the typical “some of my best friends are back” guy, to get a different perspective.” Let me break it down for you. When one takes that observation that you yourself wrote, just a little bit further and explores it at the level of cause, there is one principal reason *why* Naff or any other white person would not feel compelled to “discuss this issue with any black people…” and that reason is white privilege. White privilege is such that whites who have it and have not engaged in a pretty intense examination of it in their own lives, have absolutely no motivation to “discuss this issue with any black people” or any other people for that matter. Privilege erases the need for such productive exploration. That is what all expressions of privilege do. Any form of privilege prevents one from feeling or believing it is necessary to explore or bounce one’s ideas off anyone especially one who is the primary target of your privilege. In the case of this op/ed piece by Naff, one of those principal groups is black people. White privilege is not the only type of privilege in the world, of course. There are endless forms of privilege. There is male privilege, class privilege, the type of privilege that people have whose gender identification and physiological expression are in sync (the technical term for that is cic-privilege) and so many other expressions.

      It neither surprises me nor offends me that you are a black person and do not know these basics about white privilege and possibly about privilege in general. Many people including many black people are not educated about privilege nor white privilege specifically. I will make a suggestion to you however. Please find some way to educate yourself about privilege and white privilege in general. Because while you and everyone else is entitled to their opinion, your comment above speaks, in my opinion, very strongly of your lack of education about white privilege and the insidiousness of it.

      While you do make some excellent points in your comment, you will be prepared to be a far better advocate to and for your fellow LGBT sisters and brothers of color and ultimately to everyone, if you avail yourself to the plethora of resources that are out there to educate you about white privilege. May I suggest you begin by goggling the name of Tim Wise, one of America’s pre-eminent anti-racist and white privilege authors, essayists and teachers. The first result in your google search should be his website.

  • Kevin…you are right that the media have made mistakes, that we need gun control, that things need to cool down BUT if it hadn’t been for people like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson and Trayvon’s family making all that public noise George Zimmerman would never have been arrested…whether George Zimmerman is found guilty or not he SHOULD have been arrested and turned over to the court system to make a determination as to his guilt….the police investigation appears to have been botched and certainly any concern for the victim was lacking in anything I saw coming out of the police department….. the negative experience of many gay people with the police and the American justice system dictates that we support other groups who have historically been mistreated by the police….we have a special responsibility to support equal justice for all not just for ourselves……

  • Mr. Naff’s editorial is so offensive, on so many different levels, I’m not sure where to begin to be annoyed. Fortunately, Mr. Naff will never be a leader in the same-gender loving community because he can’t see beyond his own shallow self interests, so we need not take him too seriously. We are proudly part of a larger community and have an obligation to participate in those issues, especially those that impact our lives. Because this tragedy would not have happened if he was white, and because Gay people of African descent also get profiled and harassed, this is our community’s concern. Kudos to those organizations who understand the bigger picture, and stood up!

  • “The Martin case is in the hands of a special prosecutor who could bring charges as early as this week against Zimmerman. A grand jury is expected to convene Tuesday. Let’s hear from the experts and investigators before rushing to judgment and issuing our politically correct press releases.”

    You can say what you want about al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson but if it weren’t for their big mouths this case would have never seen a court room. You are a product and an example of poor journaLism.

  • I normally leave my full name when posting comments, but won’t on this one out of fear for my safety. The nastiness of these responses is threatening.

    Seeking common ground (unlike most above), I certainly agree the Martin killing was a senseless & avoidable tragedy. Yes, race played a role. And I admit that to some degree, I am a racist – WE ALL ARE, including those who have made assumptions about Zimmerman’s behavior based on his race. Let’s ALL deal with it.

    Thanks & condolences to Ryan (above) for sharing the tragic attacks against him by black males, a common occurrence in our area & elsewhere. The many good black males bear the stigma of their dangerous piers. Of course Zimmerman was suspicious of this young black male in his largely white neighborhood following several burglaries committed by the same demographic. He was undoubtedly responding to indisputable facts, unless the vast racist conspiracy theory includes a complete denial of eyewitness & police statistics here & there.

    We obviously have a long way to go in race relations if an editorial like Kevin’s strikes such a violent outcry from so many. To my eye, he has taken a liberal position decrying gun proliferation, denouncing the Stand Your Ground law, blasting prejudice, & rallying for common minority rights. But for the monolithic, politically correct, left-wing purists, it is never enough. Zero tolerance for actual diversity or objectivity. Despite the needlessly provocative headline, the only divergence I culled from Kevin’s article & most of the above was the need to allow justice to rule, not mobs. Thanks to Robert & Kevin for daring to speak truth to power.

    I’ve heard virtually none of the public mob “jurists” sympathize with victims of black male violence, denounce it or offer solutions to disarm this impediment to peace & racial harmony. Any concerns about inciting violence against the accused? Any problems with rushing to judgement over garbled & blatantly touched up 911 calls? How about encouraging blacks to participate in gay activism instead of attacking from the outside?

    How about coming together, instead of blaming everything on white racism? Woops, we should actually say “clear”, since apparently “white” is no longer a (“people of…) color”?

    • Thank you Jeffrey (last name omitted due to alleged fear for personal safety (Child, please!) for your contribution here. That main contribution I see you bringing to the table here is your making a complete and total mockery of the concept behind the phrase to “speak truth to power.” In all my years I have literally never witnessed someone make such a complete mockery of that phrase like you just did. I got a good chuckle out of that one, baby. So I guess you did contribute something here. Otherwise, try harder next time!

  • As a gay black man, I’ve been saying for sometime, many white gay males are just as racist as white heterosexuals and white gay men aren’t a minority. White gay males belong to the 220 million white population in the United States. I found Kevin Naff’s article to be bigoted and he showed his true colors as white gay racist male. I was glad to see black gay and lesbian men come out against Kevin Naff’s racist statement. Caucasian gay and straight will never understand, there being born white affords them privilege in this country.

  • Correction:
    Caucasian gay and straight white males will never understand, their being born white affords them privilege in this country.

  • Thank you Ian! Let’s just call a spade, a spade. Zimmerman’s actions were racist…period. Would he have followed a white boy, or a white girl? Of course not. For us to think that racism doesn’t exist anymore in 2012 is completely ignorant. One example of racism, is this opinion column by Mr. Naff. The white gay privileged community is just embarrassing! Wake up!

  • For the record, Hispanic isn’t a race. Hispanics can be of any race and many Hispanics are black or Afro Latinos. However, many white Hispanics like Ricky Martin, Ricky Levy, and Desi Arnez can assimilate into white America and are accepted by white America, gay and straight. A black or Afro Latino isn’t accepted by white America and being black is seen as being inferior by most whites in America, and Kevin Naff is one of them.

  • Correction:

    William Levy, the white Cuban American on ‘Dancing With The Stars’.

© Copyright Brown, Naff, Pitts Omnimedia, Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.
Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin