In a recent back and forth at Pharyngula, I was told by a commenter that despite the fact that I’m a gay, atheist, black man, that I have no reason to be concerned about facing violence for being any one or all three of those. This, despite the fact that the United States still has a problem with anti-LGBT violence and homicide:
The 2012 report documents 2,016 incidents of anti-LGBTQ violence in 2012 (a slight 4% decrease from 2011), and highlights a number of disturbing multi-year trends of severe anti-LGBTQ violence. LGBTQ people of color were 1.82 times as likely to experience physical violence compared to white LGBTQ people, and gay men were 1.56 times as likely to require medical attention compared to other survivors reporting. The report also found that transgender people were 1.67 times as likely to experience threats and intimidation compared to LGBTQ non-transgender survivors and victims. “Though the recent spate of hate violence incidents in New York City has captured the media’s attention, this report demonstrates that severe acts of violence against gay men, transgender people and LGBTQ people of color are, unfortunately, not unique to Manhattan nor to the past month, but rather part of a troubling trend in the United States,” said Chai Jindasurat, NCAVP Coordinator at the New York City Anti- Violence Project.
In 2012, NCAVP documented 25 anti-LGBTQ homicides in the United States. This continues a multi- year trend in high anti-LGBTQ homicide rates nationally (30 were reported in 2011, the highest ever) , and is the 4th highest yearly total ever recorded by NCAVP. Lisa Gilmore from Center on Halsted Anti- Violence Project in Chicago, Illinois cautions that the number of homicides may be even higher: “Over the last several years, not only have we seen consistently high rates of anti-LGBTQ homicides, but we also know there are many more homicides of LGBTQ people, especially transgender people and people of color, which go unreported. Twenty-five LGBTQ hate violence homicides is an alarming number – and we know it could just be the tip of the iceberg.”
The 2012 report found that 73.1% of all anti-LGBTQ homicide victims in 2012 were people of color. Of the 25 known homicide victims in 2012 whose race/ethnicity was disclosed, 54% were Black/African American, 15% [email protected], 12% White and 4% Native American.
The report also found that 53.8% of anti-LGBTQ homicide victims in 2012 were transgender women. This is a considerable increase from 2011 (40%) and continues a three-year trend toward disproportionate and severe violence experienced by transgender women.
“For a third year in a row, NCAVP’s findings reflect a disproportionate impact of severe and deadly violence on people of color,” said Maria Carolina Morales from Community United Against Violence in San Francisco, California. “This is also true for transgender women victims, all of whom were people of color, and continues a multi-year trend that transgender women of color are targeted for deadly violence.”
Please don’t misunderstand me: I’m not paralyzed with fear. I don’t and *won’t* own a gun (that would merely increase my chances of being shot and/or killed; if I want to decrease my chances of facing violence, owning a gun is not the way to go). I’m not going to constantly look over my shoulder and worry that everywhere I go I could be subjected to violence. I am, however, aware of the increased risk I face, compared to other, more privileged individuals (like the person I spoke about above). I also know that I live in the south: an area of the United States that’s far from tolerant of People of Color, LGBT individuals, or atheists (who are distrusted as much as rapists, despite the fact that being an atheist causes no harm to others and has no moral component).
A huge contributing factor to the increased chance of violence faced by PoC, LGBT people, and atheists-perhaps an overwhelming one-is the right wing, white supremacist rage machine in the United States. The events in Ferguson, Missouri have shown that the drum beats of the right wing rage machine continue unabated.
The defenders of Darren Wilson, the white police officer who repeatedly shot an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown at least 6 times in Ferguson, Missouri claim that “the facts” will clear their champion of any wrongdoing.
Unfortunately for Darren Wilson, the facts of what transpired on the day when he shot Michael Brown in the face and body with multiple bullets have not been kind to him.
Independent witnesses have told the press and federal investigators how Michael Brown was unarmed, had surrendered with his hands in the air, and was repeatedly shot by Darren Wilson. These witnesses are African-American.
For the white bigots who defend Darren Wilson, as well as the Right-wing hate media that stoke the flames of white racial resentment and white supremacy, black people’s truth claims about racism (regardless of the mountains of empirical evidence in support of their experiences) are de facto and a priori judged to be insufficient by the White Gaze.
This is part of a centuries-long tradition in America, where for most of the country’s existence, African-Americans were not allowed to testify in court or to have any type of legal standing.
In the post civil rights era–and especially since the election of Barack Obama–the Tea Party GOP and the White Right have demonstrated that they would like to return to an arrangement of civic and public affairs in which black people are silenced and muted. In all, the Tea Party GOP and its allies yearn for the civic erasure of black and brown people—it enrages the White Right that they cannot follow through on their wishful dreams of social and political death for black Americans.
The American Right-wing’s defense of the killer cop Darren Wilson is instinctive: it is an extension of a base hostility to the freedom, well-being, life, liberty, and happiness of black and brown Americans.
To point. The most morally rotted and ethically suspect supporters of Darren Wilson have collectively donated at least 500,000 dollars to protect him from the consequences of killing Michael Brown.
As I wrote here, donating money to Darren Wilson (and other white vigilantes and extra-judicial killers of black people such as George Zimmerman) is the new lynching photography of the 21st century. Instead of buying postcards of hung, tortured, and burned alive black bodies, those who donate to Darren Wilson enjoy the vicarious pleasures of killing a black person by proxy. Michael Brown, and by extension other black American men, are born with a bounty on their heads.
Darren Wilson is the white gunslinger who brought the black “thug” to “justice”. This is cathartic violence for the White Right and its Fox News driven propaganda machine.
My opponent at Pharyngula actually said he thinks he faces a greater chance of facing violence than I do. This despite the fact that he’s almost certainly a cisgender, white, heterosexual man. Yes, because cisgender, white, heterosexual men in the United States face sooooo much oppression, bigotry, and discrimination.