I never really weighed in on the whole Grey’s Anatomy(an American television show)/T.R. Knight/Isaiah Washington(Hollywood actors in the show) faggot-slinging debacle on ATBW or elsewhere. In my real life, I engaged in many debates about which word, nigger or faggot, was worse, if Washington deserved it, and which is more prevalent…black homophobia or gay (non-black) racism.
In my rational mind there really is no difference between being called a nigger or a faggot. Both are stinging insults with deep roots in oppression and domination. However, I tend to lean more to my black side, than my queer side on the politics of insults on a gut level, and I believe that nigger edges out faggot just a bit in the which-is-worse race. Faggot feels more like bitch to me when it’s hurled at me or around me.
I am going thru a situation at work that could be parallel to the Grey’s Anatomy situation. Last Thursday, I was called a “dyke bitch” by one of the workers I was charged with supervising. Over the entire campaign, I worked in a hostile and homophobic environment. Of the 30 workers I supervised, all but three were black. I often had the debate, in my head and outside of it, of which was worse, non-black gay racism or black homophobia. Everyday, I went into work, black homophobia won out.
I am also experiencing the situation of nothing being done about the homophobic slur slung at me by the worker. The entire program management only wants to give this person a written warning, but the organizer has already been written up and according to agreed upon policy, the next step would be firing. This write-up by management seems to be nothing more than a glossing over of the issue and a slap on the wrist and an insincere attempt to address institution-wide homophobia.
So, what I’m getting at with this post is that it all depends on who your boss is if an incident of racism/homophobia is treated with the seriousness it deserves.
Isaiah Washington’s bosses were white industry execs and the target of his homophobia was white, and Isaiah is not white. In my situation, my verbal-victimizer is black and heterosexual and my boss is black and heterosexual, and I am outside of both of those categories. I believe there is community allegiance stuff going on in both situations. However, I do believe Washington deserved to be fired, even in spite of his homophobia-therapy and his PSA. Unfortunately, some people deserve to be made examples of.
Isaiah Washington was recently interviewed by Newsweek about being fired from Grey’s Anatomy and stated that he believed race had much to do with his being fired. I have to say, Washington had some brilliant and hysterical quotes about his experience as a Black man, and I agree with them 100 percent.
–“My mistake was believing that I would get the support from my network and all of my cast mates across the board. My mistake was believing I could correct a wrong with honesty and sincerity,” he said in the interview posted online Thursday.
–“My mistake was thinking black people get second chances. I was wrong on all fronts,” he said.
–His unwillingness to act like a submissive black at work was part of the problem, Washington said.
–“Well, it didn’t help me on the set that I was a black man who wasn’t a mush-mouth Negro walking around with his head in his hands all the time. I didn’t speak like I’d just left the plantation and that can be a problem for people sometime,” he said.
–“I had a person in human resources tell me after this thing played out that ‘some people’ were afraid of me around the studio. I asked her why, because I’m a 6-foot-1, black man with dark skin and who doesn’t go around saying ‘Yessah, massa sir’ and ‘No sir, massa’ to everyone?
–“It’s nuts when your presence alone can just scare people, and that made me a prime candidate to take the heat in a dysfunctional family,” he said.
And in my case, I really believe my boss would rather have me “‘Yessah, massa sir’ and ‘No sir, massa’ to everyone?” as well, and just take this “dyke bitch” indignity lying down. But, I’m afraid I am no submissive, mush-mouth, Black lesbian!