Thursday, November 25, 2021

Is Gender Fluidity a "Thing"

 

I first encountered the subject of gender fluidity at my job about a year ago. I had been elected to participate in a three-panel discussion in which I was to be the moderator. In accordance with the topic, we were asked how we as the participants would like to be identified. One young lady wanted to be identified as a “They” instead of a “She.”  She said that she identified as being “non-Binary.”

I had no idea what that meant, so I asked her, “What is the difference between non-binary and bisexuality since in her definition, the only thing that I could see was that she was a bisexual woman. Her definition of gender fluidity was that she found both sexes appealing. The actual definition is as follows:  Definition: A spectrum of gender identities that are not exclusively masculine or feminine.  Initially, I was confused because, she presented as female. Every and anyone could see that.

Gender Fluid Male

This was my introduction to gender fluidity, and while I initially did not understand it, I had to respect it as much as I would expect anyone to understand who I chose to marry and live the rest of my life with.

I understood her definition painstakingly and chose to resign from the position of moderator for a myriad of reasons which are inconsequential to the writing of this article.

I have come to understand that gender identity is a “thing.”  There are people that may choose to identify with characteristics of both sexes, and as of my initial meeting with someone that embodied that identity, I have seen examples of this in our society.

Pop Star Marilyn

Increasingly, the lines are blurred between male and female. As a man that identifies as being a gay male but still a biological man, I initially found the subject of gender fluidity confusing. In my mind, you were either male or female; straight, gay or bisexual with nothing in between. But gender fluidity is nothing new.  Those of us that are old enough to remember David Bowie, an artist that pushed the limits of gender identity during the realms of his career. At the peak of his success, I had no idea what he chose to present himself as, but that did not prevent me from enjoying his music. I respected who he was as an artist. Who he presented himself to be was not a concern of mine.

Boy George also pushed the boundaries of who he chose to present himself as being and we accepted him as well as enjoying his music. However, his predecessor did not enjoy the fame that he did at the time. Pop star Marilyn had hopes of enjoying the fame that Boy George did in the early eighties but was not as well received here in the United States. Theoretically, it appeared as if we here in the United States had already seen someone who chose to deliberately enjoy pushing the envelope of gender identity. We had no desire to see it again. It appeared as if the ideology behind gender fluidity was accepted if the artist restricted bending his gender to the stage. It was okay to identify as being gender fluid if it was not something that was carried to the streets and presented as the norm.

Examples of Gender Fluidity

Increasingly, gender fluidity is being accepted on and off stage, on the runway and off. It is a form of self-expression and identity. Or further put, it is an actual “thing.”  It is more than just boys putting on make-up without the intent of becoming female. The ideology is that the person is neither male nor female despite the body parts that they were assigned at birth.

I have learned that gender fluidity is neither right nor wrong…it simply is.

And like it or not, we must accept it as it is simply another form of self-expression as well as identity.

~ J.L. Whitehead

 









Monday, November 8, 2021

The America of today

 

I have given a lot of thought about the America that I was brought up to believe in versus the America that I live in today. I was taught at an early age to say the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag every morning before class. I am a child of the sixties, and although I cannot remember every single class that I attended, there are certain memories that jump out at me and saying the Pledge of Allegiance is one of them.

I understand fully why Colin Kaepernick took a knee rather than stand for the singing of the National Anthem. This is a land that we were brought to unwillingly, forced to work for little if any wages, then given freedom only to be arrested and persecuted under the Jim Crow laws. After that, people that looked like me were subject to mass incarceration. Put another way, we were put in jail for possessing tiny amounts of marijuana or cocaine while white males were placed in jail to serve less time for holding similar if not lesser amounts of the same substance.

We all know about slavery. We all know what it did to African American people. But what we do not know is what it did to white people. White people-maintained control over the lives of black people. We know this because of the disparity in our societal conditions although from the naked eye, it looks like things have gotten better for African American people.

We drive nicer cars, live in better neighborhoods, go to better schools, and have access to better paying jobs. So why are we upset and why can’t we stand for the singing of the National Anthem?

 Plainly put, the flag means one thing to a group of people and something else to another. Standing for the flag implies that we accept the fact that the American flag stands for equality and justice for all when we all know that in the real world, nothing could be further from the truth.

African Americans have always been told by white people to be patient and wait for changes to come regarding equality which suggest that the people in power is quite aware of the disparity. We were told that things would get better and in some realms they have. But white people have always held power that black people did not have access to and in some cases would never have.

The most powerful positions in this country are held by old white men. And those same men make decisions regarding just how much power black men can have. They decide what women can and cannot do with their bodies. They decide how far you can succeed in life. They decide where you can live and go to school. And when it seems as if we are getting our fair share of power, they put us back in our respective places by taking it away.

We (and I mean black men or men of color) have always been deemed a threat to society in ways that the average white man is not.

This is a fact.

And these same white men get upset when we remind them of the ways that they have disenfranchised people of color. Put another way, white people do not like it when we remind them of how they have lied, stolen and cheated African American people out of things that belong to them even though those very actions are true and part of our American landscape.

I have talked about this with my colleagues until I was blue in the face. But it seems like nothing can convince my non-persons of color of the havoc that they have wreaked on people of color in the name of power both socially and economically.

There is a war going on that is raging in this country but the answer to all of this is remarkably simple…give people of color their due and stop trying to repress them.

We have shown white people that people of color can unite and use our voice to force our government officials to listen to what we have to say. And in that lies the fear because the country is becoming blacker and browner. And it seems as though the Republican Party fears that we will not vote for them if for nothing more than the fact that they have nothing to campaign on.

I have thought long and hard before writing this op-ed. I know this is my opinion. But I see this as an opportunity that white people should consider taking. Black and brown people are not the people you need to fear. We have a societal enemy right in our own back yard, but we do not want to admit or even see it because it is clothed in white skin.

All our lives (and by that, I mean all the lives of people of color) I have had to live with some form of white supremacy. When I was in my junior year of high school, my English teacher sent me to summer school to teach me a lesson. He said that I would never be a writer and that my writing “sucked.”  He also said that I had an attitude problem. All because he told me that if I did not like his teaching methods, I could leave his class.

I left the class.

I had the balls at the age of sixteen to challenge his authority. I quickly learned that what was acceptable for my white counter parts was not okay for me. It cost me my summer. I was the only one that went to summer school that year from that class although I distinctly remember some of my white classmates giving him a hard time over his teaching methods.

The first problem that we have is coming to terms with our past. We cannot re-write or white-wash history to make the things that white people did to us go away. All black and brown people need is access to the same education that other races have. If we have earned any position of authority, we need to be rewarded said position. And if we kneel in protest to stop the police from legally killing us, we should be able to take the knee because what is happening to people of color is the simple god-awful truth.

We just wonder how long it will take before anyone, white or black, does something more about it.

~ J.L. Whitehead

Comments are welcome

 

 

 

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Tired

 

I recently read an op-ed by one of my constituents named John Pavlovitz.  I came across his writings on my twitter feed, and I was amazed at what he said, how he expressed himself, and his viewpoints on just exactly what is happening to our country.  After reading his work, I was able to exhale…seriously exhale.  I felt as if I had been holding my breath for years and now it was okay to release the tensions that had accumulated in my body all these years prior.

I was reading the works written by a white man that shared my viewpoints down to my core.  He talked about the systemic racism that has currently, (and at times, quietly) enveloped our country.  He expressed that he is tired of the hatred that has given way to a level of ugliness that we are currently seeing in our society.  It is a level of ugliness so pervasive that its looks have not been seen since the pre-civil rights era.

To the naked eye, it seems that we are repeating everything that we fought so hard to get past; and yet, it’s a past we are currently repeating.  We have white people using language like “civil war” and “The Storm” out in the open for all the world to see.  Our ugliness is on display like mannequins adorned with the latest fashion trends.  What was whispered in the dark and behind closed doors is now front and center. 

Our democracy, something we cherished and protected for as long as I can remember is now hanging on by a thread; because you see democracy can work only if the two parties are willing to participate in it.  Right now, we don’t have that.

What’s even worse is we have a smaller denomination of people holding the larger majority hostage.  The smaller majority don’t want to wear masks because they feel as if somehow, their freedoms are being encroached upon.  We have the Republican party holding the rest of the nation hostage because they have decided that the best way to retain power is to get behind a man that has a relatively large base, even if that base is still in the minority.

The base in question is full of anger, resentment, and hostility.  They have willingly hitched their proverbial wagon to a man who has been impeached twice, lies more than he can tell the truth and has questionable morals.  They are willing to give him a pass for all his defects of character even if those defects could seriously jeopardize national security should he get back into office.

What is exhausting is the negative rhetoric that seems to come from a bottomless pit of a rage and despair that has been simmering for years if not decades.  The preservation of whiteness seems to be part of the problem that we are facing as a nation...no matter how wrong it is.  For the 33% of our nations’ citizens that support the ex-president, at least half of them is anticipating a civil war.  It’s all so tiring…and I am literally exhausted…and frightened.

As I take a step back and look at our issue(s), it isn’t just that white people want to lay claim to a land that wasn’t theirs to begin with; it is the fact that these same people resent the black and browning of our country…and they don’t want to live with any other races but their own.  They tell immigrants to go back to their own country not realizing the hypocrisy of that ideology because they themselves probably come from a family of immigrants.

I’m tired of continually confronting ugliness—and of the increasing ugliness it brings out in me as I do.


I’m tired of walking into a room and trying to calculate inside my head, how many of
them there are—and resenting human beings I’ve never met based on my evaluation.


I’m tired of assuming the worst in people because of the bumper sticker on their car or the red hat atop their head or the channel they get their news from.


I’m tired of the impatience and irritability always sitting just below the surface of my countenance, and how often it breaks violently through and into my day in angry words in traffic or expletives spoken under my breath or easy frustration with the normal inconveniences of life.


I’m tired of regularly losing my religion as I fight both for and with my faith tradition: being anything but Christlike while advocating for the teachings of Jesus.


I’m tired of feeling a growing hopelessness when I see the people we’re becoming.” ~

John Pavlovitz

 

It seems as if the country that I belong to has become something that I don’t recognize anymore.  I used to love it, until I realized that the same country never cared about me because of the color of my skin.  That this same country was slowly and systematically thinking of ways to kill, imprison and disenfranchise me ever since I was born.  But I loved this country any way because I didn’t have a choice.  Black men were not given many choices.  That is the way the system was designed.  Now to the masses, black men have made many strides and to a degree they would be correct.  But the truth of the matter is we are still being repressed.  The 33% does not care nor do they wish to acknowledge that fact.

I no longer trust the democratic party.  I don’t trust them to follow through with the promises they made when they campaigned against Donald Trump in 2020.  It saddens me to say this, but this is how I feel.

It appeared as if we had made so much progress as a nation only to find out that we didn’t make any progress at all.

And I’m tired.

Just like John Pavlovitz…I am so tired.

~J.L. Whitehead

To read the full op-ed by John Pavlovitz, please click on the link below:

https://johnpavlovitz.com/?s=I%27m+really+tired+of+hatred

 

 

 

Is Gender Fluidity a "Thing"

  I first encountered the subject of gender fluidity at my job about a year ago. I had been elected to participate in a three-panel discus...