I Applaud City Councils' Stand On Gay Rights

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

There are so many similarities between African-American struggles and the gay rights struggle today. How can we ignore that reality? The persecution they face, even brutal assaults and murders of gays have similarities to African-American killed during the Jim Crow and Civil Rights era. That's why I find it disturbing when I see fellow African-Americans taking a stand against them. Their struggles are mirrored reflections of your own. Struggles you're still having to combat today.  

I can recall hearing the story of a cousin as a child whose name now escapes me, (his last name may have been Parks)--it's been so long ago. He died in prison after being falsely charged and convicted of raping a white woman who was actually his girlfriend. Someone spotted them together on the south side of town where there's now a shopping plaza that at one time a small mountain with red clay dirt once stood--the area had a name that's now lost to my memory too--but for sure, there were other tragic similar cases like his from the darker bellies of history that were never recorded. Like a violent wind ripping a leaf from a tree and tossing it to points unknown, his name, face, who he was, who he may have grown up to be....forever lost. 

A childhood friend who was gay was brutally murdered in or around Atlanta several years ago. My daughter and sons attended school with many gay teens they became friends with. My daughter and her male gay friend, remain best of friends to this day. They've even traveled to other countries together. They've met friends from Russia to England, Italy, and many places around the globe. His mother was a second mom to my daughter and he considered me his second mom.   

As a child, I overheard little snippets of the story of my cousin who was sent to prison on the false charge of raping his white girlfriend, but only in recent years learned he'd died in prison. When I was younger, I imagined he'd somehow been freed from prison once the truth was learned that they were in fact girlfriend and boyfriend, and an innocent young man had been wrongly convicted and sent to prison. Surely the courts wouldn't convict an innocent man, and if they did once they realized their mistake--they'd do the right thing and set him free?--I imagined he'd moved away, started a new life and that's why he wasn't much talked about in the family, and when he was it was mainly in whispers--. In my childlike rationalization I imagined he joined the military perhaps like so many in my family and other African-American males in those days to escape racial biases and intolerance. 

To my knowledge, there are no pictures of him.....and only a very vague memory of a description of what he looked like; very fair skinned, attractive young man. But that's now a blur too, and most all the people who knew him are now dead and gone. A young man, lost in history..... A life snuffed out as if it never really mattered.  

Wherever, there's persecution a people most persecuted, still persecuted have an obligation to take a stand, and if they don't, can't or fear taking a stand, they should at the least remain neutral. They should never take part in the persecution of another human individual or group. That should be the legacy and responsibility of all and any persecuted people......To take a stand on the behalf of others who are persecuted. 

Brenda Manghane-Washington


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