THROW AWAY ANY TABLE THAT DOESN’T INCLUDE THE BLACK LGBTQI+ COMMUNITY
June 26, 2019
Tyler Perry’s impassioned sermon during his BET acceptance speech for Ultimate Icon Award felt, at the time, like the highlight of the night in the sense that it mimicked everything the ceremony and BET in general was supposed to encapsulate in our current climate: a haven of Blackness in a toxic sea of white supremacy. When he exclaimed that he was “building his own table down in Atlanta,” it was a declaration of independence from a Hollywood that is still so very white. Now, there’s an entire article to be written about the complexities of Perry’s Black job creation versus his troublesome depiction of Black women. Right, we turn our sights to BET, which is supposed to represent the “build our own table” ethos as the “Black Entertainment Television.” For the most part, it was exactly that space, except for the fact there were and still are Black demographics left out of the commemoration of Black Entertainment.
The BET Awards took place on Sunday, June 24th, right near the end of International PRIDE Month and Black Music Month. The cream of the crop of Black media and entertainment were in attendance and being honored and somehow, one of the most groundbreaking Black shows on the planet managed to be left out of the celebrations. Pose is a Black queer cultural phenomenon and even the rampant homophobia, biphobia and transmisia in the Black community cannot overshadow that fact. Season two dropped practically yesterday and it’s already been picked up for a third season. It is a masterpiece with Black trans women in the forefront and Black trans activist Janet Mock behind the scenes. Not only that, Mock just received a first look deal with Netflix. Oh, and let’s not forgot Leyna Bloom who became the first Black trans woman to star in a film premiering at Cannes. All this history-making and none scored BET invites? Really?
What exactly is the point of building a new table for the Black community if it does not include the whole Black community? Black trans women are dying at pandemic levels and Black men are mostly responsible for that violence. Is that the table we are trying to build? Where cis Black men amass the power to inflict absolute terror on the most vulnerable groups inside the Black community, just like white men do to the world? Is that equality? Does that look or feel like freedom? You don’t have to watch Game Of Thrones to catch the reference but, let me tell you, this is not breaking the wheel. The only way we (all) instill the freedom we so desire is not forget that it isn’t real if it places some of us in gilded cages. The view is nice up there until you find the courage to look around and really try to fly.
I am pressed(t) anytime that Pose gets snubbed because I am enraged that the world will deprive itself of some of the most meaningful art to play on a screen right now. The BETs showed themselves with this exclusion and we can’t even blame it on the fact that it is owned by a very white Viacom. This is on the Black community and its failed accountability to its Black LGTBQ+ siblings. How are we, a purposefully abandoned race, so comfortable at leaving our own behind, like we don’t understand what it’s like to carry around the burden of someone else’s fear? We do not have to agree on everything but this is wrong and that goes for the entire African diaspora. Our cultural impact as a race is immeasurable but I won’t even deign to list the contributions from the Black queer community because they don’t have to qualify for something already are — Black.
Believe what you want but if it comes with the condition of hate against each other than it isn’t a belief system that serves Black liberation. Also, watch Pose goddammit! That show is glorious.