Can an all white jury pass objective judgment against a black man or woman? Can an all-male panel speak authoritatively for or against female contraception and/or right to abortion? Can a man ably represent the International Federation of Women Lawyers? Can an all-male parliament or cabinet (Saudi Arabia’s refers) advance the interest of both men and women in any country?
In other words, in order for fairness, justice, objectivity, and empathy to not only be established, but to be seen to be established, must any panel of leaders or opinion formers reflect every hue and facet of those it seeks to represent?
That is the issue that has pitched Gays & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) against gay bodies that should logically be its natural allies. Tthe anti defamation body that seeks to (some might say lives to) ferret out anything negative said about LGBTI issues and expose it, with the intention of ensuring that gay and lesbians are fairly represented in the media and out in the world where we homosexual men and women walk.
But African Americans, even gay African Americans, are not buying it as this recent thinly veiled sarcastic blog publication indicates.
When a black journalist called Roland Martin made what was construed to be a homophobic joke (yours truly called GLAAD out on their response to it, but for a different reason), black gay spokesmen lacerated GLAAD on the grounds that, as an all-white-led organization, they had no moral authority to call out a black man, even one who might have made a homophobic joke because “GLAAD is a white organization.” The article in Dsicreet City is still making the same point a couple of months later.
As it turned out, GLAAD forced CNN to suspend Roland Martin for a couple of days, Martin groveled to GLAAD and got his job back, but he will have been chastized by the entire experience. You will not hear or see him making gay jokes soon so one can argue that GLAAD successfully muzzled him.
The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) amplifies the voice of the LGBT community by empowering real people to share their stories, holding the media accountable for the words and images they present, and helping grassroots organizations communicate effectively. By ensuring that the stories of LGBT people are heard through the media, GLAAD promotes understanding, increases acceptance, and advances equality. GLAAD’s Mission Statement
Now, that would rate as a success given GLAAD’s avowed mission. But, no, the black gay community is most concerned that an all white jury (if you like) basically put upon a black man and brought him to his knees. The implication is that had there been some black gay representation on the GLAAD leadership, the criticism would have been more palatable. Note the implicit suggestion that a black man was the victim of a white ambush, as well as the clear suggestion that, for not having a black face in its ranks, GLAAD was not qualified to remark on comments made by a black man.
Are GLAAD doing a good job? I have no idea since I don’t know much about the organization. I sense, though, that they exist to find “haters,” that they, to quote Maslow, “have a hammer, [and so] every problem looks like a nail.” That has its own perils that are beside the point at this time. That said, they have made their mission public and can thus be judged on whether they are delivering or not by any interested parties.
Should they add black and Latino faces to their ranks in order to be representative of the entire LGBTI? What might the transvestites say then? Add one of their own, too? The list would go on and on, wouldn’t it?
In another era I would have argued … no … and I would have gone on and on about looking for the best people who can do the job. In 2012 where perceptions so often are the be all end all, it seems to me it makes sense to be more inclusive – or at least show that you have attempted to recruit the best people from the spectrum of those you represent and have just failed. I also don’t know if GLAAD has done this.
The short of it is that if a cross-section of the people you claim to be representing show their resentment on the grounds that you lack the qualifications to represent their views, it makes sense to sit up and listen – actively.
- Roland Martin Meets With GLAAD (huffingtonpost.com)
- Update: GLAAD claims CNN should fire Roland Martin over ‘anti-gay’ remarks (examiner.com)
- GLAAD Elects Herndon Graddick President (muhsadam.wordpress.com)