We can’t talk about Black Greek hazing without talking about slavery

By George Johnson

It’s been a few months since Netflix aired the controversial movie Burning Sands, written and directed by Omega Psi Phi member Gerard McMurray about the underground pledge process of Black Greek Letter Organizations (BLGOs). The violence displayed in the movie was at times over-the-top and in many scenes hard to watch, as a narrow lens focused on some of the worst parts of our illustrious Divine Nine organizations, erasing any hope of full context and comprehension around the needed discussion around hazing.

“Representation matters,” but not more than everything else

I went to film school chasing a dream of telling my story to a world that always seemed not to know what to do with queer Black bois like me. A dream of forcing the world to know.

But it was just a dream. At film school, I quickly learned that while you may be able to make a person see you, you cannot make a person know you. You cannot make them interpret your body the way you want them to when their own sense of sanity demands another interpretation of humanity. And you cannot ignore forever how the over-simplicity of the term “representation matters” often renders it useless, just like it rendered so much of my work as a young liberal artist useless, or at least un-impactful, before I knew these limitations.

We are in a queer media movement, but is increased visibility the answer to violence?

By George Johnson

This June marked the 17th celebration of “Pride Month,” a designation declared by Bill Clinton to recognize and observe the heritage and culture of LGBTQ people. As LGBTQ rights continue to be attacked politically, growth in pop culture and media is simultaneously surging in areas of journalism, television, Broadway, and the big screen, creating new narratives and shifting the conversation from a hetero focused lens to one more inclusive of what life actually looks like.

However, these two opposing trends lead one to question whether increased visibility and representation is only doing the beneficial work we presume it to be doing in the fight for LGBTQ existence.

Black and Latinx queer people need safe spaces, too

By Preston Mitchum

This past Pride month marked the one-year anniversary of the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, Fla. At approximately 2:00 AM, 29-year-old Omar Mateen – who allegedly pledged allegiance to ISIS on a 911 phone call during the hate crime and terrorist attack – walked into Pulse on June 12, 2016, killed 49 people, and injured 53 others on the club’s weekly “Latin Night.”

As a Black queer man, it’s hard not to see myself in the victims and survivors. Despite much of the media’s attempt to whitewash this tragedy, the fact that the victims were largely Latinx and Black queer and trans people matters because our communities are often told that safe spaces are not a reality, and only part of our fictitious imaginations. But if Pulse made anything apparent, it is that spaces for Black and Latinx queer people are now, and always have been, necessary.

Stop hoping “the shooter” isn’t Black.

Consider how much death and destruction has been permitted that there is even a such thing as “the shooter,” in quotations. Terror has become such a commonly wielded weapon that “the shooter,” the terrorist, is now an archetype, ready to appear at any moment, anywhere, for the foreseeable future and beyond.

And every time he does, without fail, there is an overwhelming faction of Black folks who hope and pray he isn’t one of us.

More Than a Token: Parting reflections on being Black at the University of Chicago

This article was originally published in the Chicago Maroon.

“If I were you, I would just go to whatever state school you’ve already been accepted to. The University of Chicago is really a tough institution, and I’m not quite sure you’d do well there, if we’re being honest.”

I felt my heart beating fast, my mouth getting dry, and the tears welling up first in my right eye, and then my left. The man facing me was my alumni interviewer. He spent no more than one minute looking at the information College Admissions had given him about me. He spent no more than five asking about my background, the area of Dallas/Ft. Worth I lived in, and what my family situation was like.

If Black innocence never exists to the state, how can passivism and perfect victimhood save us?

[Banner photo: A headline from The Daily Kos seeming to play up the fact that Jordan Edwards was unarmed and an “honor roll student”]

By Zoé Samudzi

On May 20, Richard Collins III, a young Black soon-to-be graduate of Bowie State University, was murdered by Sean Urbanski, a member of a white supremacist Facebook group called Alt-Reich Nation, whilst waiting for an Uber. The murder will be investigated as a hate crime. In the wake of recent emboldenings of white nationalists across the country, Black Americans are increasingly caught between a state and non-state white supremacist hard place. What does it mean when our sense of freedom and liberation is tied up, in the words of Shannon Houston, in having been trained to negotiate with terrorists?

When I, a Black person, was told I didn’t know enough about another culture to have opinions on slavery

Last week, something Trumpian must have sparked a race between major publications to put out the most fucked up writings on the topic of slavery.

On Tuesday, The New York Times compared Saartje Baartman–an enslaved Black woman who, in addition to the many other horrors she suffered both before and after her death, was forced to perform in freak shows due to her curvaceousness–to Kim Kardashian. Not to be outdone, The Atlantic’s June cover story, “My Family’s Slave”, written by the late Pulitzer Prize winner Alex Tizon, ignited an even bigger controversy with the tale of an abused Filipino maid, Eudocia “Lola” Tomas Pulida, who spent 56 years taking care of Tizon and his family without pay.