Race Matters

Dissecting Intersectionality

It is high time that black men in the position of power start standing up for black people irrespective of gender, age, social class or sexuality.

It is ironic when people from minority ethnic groups, who struggle to attain a prominent status, use their positions of power  to castigate vulnerable people who do not identify within heterosexual and cis norms.

They need to recognize that the reality is that we are not just a composition of “one”. We are made of many identities that define our reality.

Two recent events involving prominent black men stood out for me. Both these men found themselves in a position of power where they could speak publicly, and both failed to dissect the reality of intersection.

The first incident involved Mark Walcott, the Head of Performing Arts at Newham College. In a video released last November, which lead to his dismissal, Walcott accused his gay colleagues of turning straight students gay.

He said, “those boys are becoming gay not because they have a gay gene but because they have gay teachers who are indoctrinating them with their gay mentality”.

The second incident involved Michael Johnson a former professional football player at Birmingham City, Derby and Notts County who was appointed to the inclusion Advisory Board of Football Association. One of the aims of this board is to promote diversity.

In 2012  Johnson referred to homosexuality as “detestable” when he was asked about his views on homophobia in football on the BBC’s The Big Question.

These two black men, who may have faced challenges in their own lives, used their position of power in a society dominated by white middle class men to discriminate against other minority and vulnerable groups.

The black community in the UK has suffered from years of racism and discrimination, since the arrival of our parents many years ago. Our parents have been made to fight for basic rights, the right to vote, the right to rent and buy property and the right to access good education and healthcare. Over the years, we have seen governments coming into power and tighten the equality legislation in this country as pathway to building cohesion and social mobility.

If we, people who have spent out lives being the 'other', turn around with the slightest taste of power and attack other disadvantaged groups, it that says a lot about our reality.

One thing is clear from Walcott and Johnson. Both men have failed to dissect intersectionality. They have failed to realise that while their positions of power protect the black race, they are letting down the many Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people who are also black.

The fact still remains, by attacking the LGBT community, both men are attacking black people who are LGBTQI, and are negatively affecting how safe they feel in their communities.

Powerful black men, and women, need to engage with intersectionality and understand that being black could mean being: a woman, a man, a Lesbian, gay, bisexual, Trans, disable, poor, rich, tall or short.

Bisi Alimi is an LGBTQI and HIV advocate. He is a motivational speaker, an Independent on Sunday Pinklister, policy analyst and co-founder of Rainbow Intersection and Bisi Alimi Consultancy. He is on Twitter @BisiAlimi.
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