Fellow Atheists: Quit Bragging About Our Prison Underrepresentation

Dan Arel’s piece on atheists and the prison population has been making the rounds, along with the seemingly inevitable assertion that the statistics prove that atheists are no less (and perhaps) more moral than theists.

I understand the impulse. Truly, I do. But that doesn’t make it any less problematic.

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Fellow Atheists: Quit Bragging About Our Prison Underrepresentation

A Shout-Out to LGBT & Pro-LGBT Rappers

There are many people of color in hip-hop who have come out in favor of LGBT people: A$AP RockySnoop LionBeyonceT-PainT.I., as well as Mr. Beyonce, Russell Simmons, Will Smith, and 50 Cent (I am aware that some of them might be problematic). I consider B. Dolan to be an honorable mention because he rapped in favor of a black trans woman, which is, arguably, less career-friendly than rapping in favor of same-sex marriage.

Bow down.
Bow down.

Why do so many people think that Macklemore was the first pro-LGBT rapper, then? Sadly, it is a truth universally acknowledged that a white rapper who spends the first verse of his song asserting his heterosexuality before speaking out in favor of same-sex marriage is more likely to get attention than a pro-LGBT person of color. Indeed, there have been openly LGBT-identified rappers, white and of color, for years now. To be clear, the problem here isn’t Macklemore’s message (and he seems to be at least a little aware of what’s up), it’s that we aren’t hearing the voices of the very marginalized people allies like him claim to support. Record labels flock to promote straight white allies (yes, your favorite pro-LGBT straight white rapper isn’t actually indie) while mostly ignoring LGBT rappers of color.

I suppose one could argue from practicality about the matter. A man like Macklemore can get the pro-equality message out in a way that, say, a black lesbian rapper can’t. That aside, this isn’t an exercise in telling you that Macklemore is bad and you should feel bad. There are many better critiques of him than I could ever write. Instead of feeling bad about liking Thrift Shop or Same Love, you can go listen to some of these artists and tell your friends about the ones you like.

Queen Latifah
Though rumors have surrounded her sexuality for years, she prefers to keep her private life private. However, many other rappers have said that she’s been with women. Also, she’s a positive figure and role model in many ways and thus warrants a mention regardless of her sexual orientation.


Frank Ocean
He’s more R&B than hip-hop or rap, but is, if I might speak so soon, historically significant. After all, his coming out was what spurred many of the aforementioned hip-hop artists to come out in favor of LGBT equality.


Adair Lion
He’s a straight man of color whose song “Ben” earned him an award from Equality Texas.

God-Des & She
I am unsure of their race. They look white to me but will always have a special place in my heart as the first hip-hop artists I listened to who I knew were queer (I discovered them the summer I came out, no less). With such songs as “Lick It” (yes, it’s about what you think it’s about), God-Des’s swagger is swoon-worthy.

Syd The Kyd
She might hate the word “lesbian,” but the Odd Future member definitely and openly loves women.


People about whom I know little other than that they’re LBGT and make hip-hop: TemperCat DaddyFeloni, DeadleeRocco Kayiatos aka Katastrophe, MC Crumbsnatcher, and Big Dipper.

Via Queerty: Le1f, Mykki Blanco, Cakes Da Killa, Zebra Katz, and JBDubs.

Via Global Grind: Y Love and Angel Haze.

Via Colorlines: Miz Korona, Mz Jonz, Thee Satisfaction, Las Krudas, Collin Clay (of Juha), Wheelchair Sports Camp, and Big Freedia.

Here’s a list that includes some repeats from above. And last, but not least, in case you’re not already overwhelmed, here’s a whopping list of over 170 LGBT hip-hop artists.

A Shout-Out to LGBT & Pro-LGBT Rappers

Why Are You an Ally, Anyway?

No, really. What’s your motivation to call yourself one, and maybe even to act like one?

This is the part where I talk about myself in an attempt to make it less about me (and you, if you’re also an ally rather than part of a marginalized group when it comes to one or more forms of oppression).

I have class privilege and was utterly blind to it for a long time. Oppression of every kind’s favorite mask (especially in America), the myth of the meritocracy, fit my class privilege pretty well. After all, had my father not come to the United States as refugee and worked his way up? Well after being granted entry into affluent North American countries, had my parents (and, later, my siblings and I) not lived frugally? I grew up watching families with much lower income than mine participating in activities my father dubbed “too expensive” and concluded that we must not be as well-off as others.


Much later, as a young adult, I discovered that such was not the case at all. My family was and is actually quite comfortable. We always lived in nice houses and my parents drove brand-new cars. My father earned enough to make such large purchases; his assessment of priciness with regards to smaller things like karate lessons or sodas at fast-food joints was a reflection of his personal preferences rather than our financial situation. My mother had both the desire and the financial freedom, thanks to my father, to be a homemaker.

I suddenly knew that I’d grown up in pretty cushy surroundings — and, privileged asshole that I was, I felt bad for myself. I couldn’t complain about my childhood anymore! Hell, who knew if the classism police would ever let me complain about anything anymore? Though that initially deep discomfort soon faded, it left behind a sticky residue of defensiveness, one that saw “you have class privilege” as an “I’m going to assume that your childhood was awesome and you got to have and do lots of stuff, you spoiled brat.” I didn’t even realize it until I had a relatively benign and silly Twitter exchange with someone whose upbringing couldn’t be more different from mine. She joked that we were “the princess and the pauper.”


Princess?! How dare she assume that my life had been charmed and that I’d gotten all that I’d wanted?! I started firing off Tweets about how much my childhood sucked. The more I typed, the more I realized that I was whining — acting like the spoiled brat that I was trying to prove that I was not. I was derailing by being the worst kind of so-called “ally:” self-centered and self-absorbed instead of open to listening to the people I was allegedly trying to back up.


I deleted some things and ended the exchange with a simple acknowledgment: “I have all the class privilege.”

I’m still working on it. This is a process, not an instant, magical transformation. If someone ribs — or even derides, is dismissive towards, or is mean to — me for my relatively cushy upbringing, I consciously work to quell the urge to go “but but but–“. I shut up and feel grateful that I only have to feel such a little bit of discomfort. On top of that, that tiny smidgen of discomfort, unlike the actual suffering of class oppression, is helpful to me: it reminds me of my position and keeps me on my classism toes.

It’s really easy to forget that “ally” is not a title that earns you free brownie points; it is, in theory, a state of being. The real me me me problem isn’t characteristic of a particular generation, it’s among those allies who really don’t help much and care more for their status as allies than about actually acting like allies. To appropriate an internet-famous quote, allyship doesn’t mean putting coins into oppressed groups in the hopes that friendship, forgiveness, or status falls out.


To quote a writer who will problematize the word “ally” for you in the most brilliant way:

Falling back on words and phrases that are intended to convey some sort of ideological purity won’t ever trump the transformation you’ll experience within yourself (and others) if you truly put yourself out there, be vulnerable, admit wrongs, take responsibility for your blind spots, hold your damn self accountable, not for show, but for real.

— Spectra on Straight Allies, White Anti-Racists, Male Feminists (and Other Politically Correct Labels That Mean Nothing to Me)

Why Are You an Ally, Anyway?