White LGBT people must not use Rep. Candice Keller's bigotry as an excuse to avoid our own failures to confront white supremacy
Republican State Rep. Candice Keller blamed me for the mass shootings that took place in Texas and Ohio last weekend.
In a now-deleted Facebook post, Keller wrote, “Why not place the blame where it belongs?” She went on to cite the breakdown of the “traditional American family,” writing, “thank you, transgender, homosexual marriage, and drag queen advocates.” Well, I am trans, queer and I love a drag queen. Forgive me if I take this personally.
Keller also called out President Obama and “professional athletes who hate our flag,” implying that she blamed black people as well. She explicitly castigated immigrants. Chances are good, dear reader, that somewhere in her scree against everything from video games to marijuana, she blamed you, too.
LGBT people, of course, have been scapegoated for tragedies before. I remember when Reverend Jerry Falwell blamed us for the 9/11 attacks. These hateful delusions are enraging, but we must treat them for what they are: a dangerous distraction.Get news and entertainment delivered to your inbox: Sign up for our daily newsletter
Keller’s grab bag of bigotry proves just how far many white people are willing to go to avoid addressing the underlying cause of many mass shootings: white supremacy.
Police said the man suspected in the mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, may have authored a statement railing against immigrants and Latinos and espousing white nationalism. This would appear to make the El Paso shooting one of a rising number of violent hate crimes.
White queer and trans people shouldn’t use Keller’s ugly words as an excuse to avoid reflecting on our own failures to confront white supremacy. While we are certainly not to blame for these mass shootings, at our best, white LGBT community members have been reluctant to confront racists in our own community or challenge structural racism in LGBT institutions. At our worst, we’ve defended racist institutions and individuals from those attempting to hold them accountable for their violence.
Many black thinkers have urged white people to prioritize addressing our own racial biases and complicities, in part for our own sake. James Baldwin wrote, “People who shut their eyes to reality simply invite their own destruction, and anyone who insists on remaining in a state of innocence long after that innocence is dead turns himself into a monster.”
One way to begin addressing our racism is to notice when we are distracting ourselves from taking responsibility for our own racism by focusing on our own victimization.
White LGBT people are no less complicit in structural racism than any other group of white people. When we are also hated by white supremacists, that doesn’t absolve us of our own racism. It simply makes the fight against white supremacy all the more personal.