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HRC at Jena 6 Rally: Logan Air-Traffic Controllers Puzzled by Flying Pigs

Well, I'll be damned. Joe Solmonese, Executive Director of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the conservative gay rights lobbyist group, got his behind to the Jena 6 Rally today!

I'll admit it. I'm surprised that HRC actually supported a political event that was not specifically related to gay people! Though they did raise a furor over James Byrd's brutal murder (a black man dragged to death behind a pickup truck in Texas) years ago, this is unprecedented. In fact, the HRC has been talking about this issue for the last week. What's going on here? Has hell frozen over?

As I said in my commentary on the Don Imus brouhaha, black people are getting tired of this crap. This is another explosion in less than a year that has galvanized black people. I know for me, on a personal level, after seeing my people left to drown and starve in New Orleans two years ago, my tolerance level for obliviousness about racism went down to almost nil. I have very little patience for people who refuse to critically engage the world around them when it comes to race.

No one is going to deny that some things have improved for blacks since the 1950s (note, however, that we are going backwards in some of these areas as well--see the statistics on housing and school segregation, for instance). But the Civil Rights Movement was stopped in its tracks in the late '70s, and blacks recognize now, as we did then, that we have a long way to go. I think many blacks now want to continue down that path, so courageously forged by the early Civil Rights leaders. We are ready to pick up where we left off, and the eruption caused by the Jena 6 case reflects that.

I was watching CNN's coverage of the Jena 6 earlier today (inbetween doing Attic Greek paradigms) and I heard one of the reporters say that it sounded like they were in the 1960s with cries of, "Black Power!" coming from the audience. I don't know if this was just typical media sensationalism or whether this was an accurate reflection of sentiments at the rally. If there is any truth to what she said, I'm not surprised. It shows that many of us long for a radical movement that will truly liberate black people one day.

I think this move by the HRC is a good sign and a small step in the right direction. It is a sign that people are beginning to feel more comfortable making political connections--even really conservative groups like HRC. I suspect Solmonese and his staff recognize that something important is going on in Jena, Louisiana and that this mass galvanization of blacks and their supporters has wider political implications for everyone--especially queer people. Of course the HRC's overall corporate, mainstream orientation has not changed, sadly. But something about this case caused them to do something unusual and I wouldn't sneeze at that.

No, revolution is not right around the corner. But we may be in the very, very early stages of what could turn out to be some pretty important changes in this country.

1 comment:

Mark D. Snyder said...

Great post. I really hope anti-immigrant pro-war endorsing HRC had a moment of clarity and will continue to have more, but I won't be counting on that.