Thursday, February 9, 2012

Why GLAAD is RIGHT and Roland Martin is WRONG

GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) has succeeded in drawing attention to the offensive comments posted on Twitter by CNN Political Analyst, Roland Martin. A media firestorm erupted on Sunday when Martin posted comments that subliminally called for violence against Gay men. When confronted on his comments, Martin was unapologetic, outraged at the expressed concerns, and directed those who disagreed with his comments or took offense to simple unfollow him.

I am not surprised that this is the route that Roland choose to take. Maybe if Roland Martin would have taken a moment to think about his words or the feelings of others he could have brought himself to immediately apologize. Instead, he foolishly went on the offensive and now he may have cost himself his job with CNN. The network announced on Wednesday that they were suspending Martin indefinitely.

It's no secret how I feel on this issue.  If you've read my bio, read my posts, or engaged in any sort of dialogue with me on this blog, then you know that I staunchly support equal rights for all Americans; this includes Gay Americans. Before you rush to judgement, I asked that you hear me out and attempt to rationally understand the purpose of GLAAD, their advocacy to end defamation against Gay people, and why they are correct in their assessment of Roland Martin's tweets.

The tides are changing in our country and we are slowly becoming a nation that understands that people are not alike and we are learning to embrace the diversity of one another. We've made some progress, but still have a long way to go. Understanding the progress we've made as a nation, I hope you could understand why it's so unfortunate that we still have to deal with situations like this. I also hope you understand why it's so important for organizations like GLAAD to step in and work against situations like this. There are many voiceless Gay Americans who are subjected to bullying and ultimately the worst forms of violence, simply because of who they are.

As with most hot button issues and topics the Urban Politico team has engaged in a spirited discussion surrounding this controversy and it all started with a simple email that referenced these tweets.....

We began our discussion examining this tweet -  


"If a dude at your Super Bowl party is hyped about David Beckham's H&M underwear ad, smack the ish out of him! #superbowl"
The question asked if this tweet above was offensive and was GLAAD correct for going after Roland Martin for this tweet. My immediate reaction to the team via email was - not only was this NOT offensive, for GLAAD to even attempt to make something out of this, was an “EPIC FAILURE.” Those were my exact words. However, I didn’t have the full story and I rushed to the wrong conclusion. After reviewing all of Roland’s tweets and hearing GLAAD’s initial response, along with the tweets of the many people who attempted to tell Roland that his comments were offensive, I had to change my position.

This is the tweet that sealed the deal for Roland Martin. Put all three tweets together with Roland's arrogance and decision to ignore what some followers attempted to tell him - that his tweets were offensive and it appears that Roland was subliminally making homophobic slurs.

A man (straight or gay) should be defined by his character and not some litmus test to determine or measure his masculinity. There are some people out there who think that Roland has done nothing wrong because he didn't outright say his tweets were directed at gay people or because he didn't outright use offensive and explicit gay slurs like "homo" or "faggot," he is in the clear. These same people also think that GLAAD is being too sensitive and has overstepped their boundaries. I am here to tell you that those people are outright wrong and are failing to see how the subliminal messaging can be just as harmful and often times worse and potentially dangerous. Roland Martin's tweets played into negative stereotypes often associated with Gay people. The work and advocacy of GLAAD is to stop people from perpetuating these stereotypes and help people understand that the stereotypes are offensive and just plain mean.

"Who the hell was that New England Patriot they just showed in a head to toe pink suit? Oh, he needs a visit from #teamwhipdatass"

The second part to this story that is being overlooked in my opinion, is Roland's perpetuating a negative stereotype associated with African-Americans – “African-Americans are homophobic.”

In November 2008, California voted on Proposition 8 – the ballot measure “Eliminates Rights of Same-Sex Couples to Marry. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.The measure passed by 52% of the vote. Of that 52%, more than 50% came from African – American voters. Polling showed that 70% of African-American voters supported the measure. Much of the campaigning surrounding “Yes on Prop 8” focused on the religious community and this included the African-American community in California. The African-American vote served as a swing vote in this situation and I can safely say that Prop 8 passed in California because of them.

So what we have here is one group of people who shed blood, sweats, tears and lives in pursuit of their own freedom and civil rights, going to the ballot box and overwhelmingly voting to deny the civil rights of another group of people. Does this make any sense? I’m noticing that there is also a strong attempt to separate the struggles of African-Americans and Gay Americans for civil rights. Why is that? I believe the two to be very comparable and I think that African-Americans should have more compassion for the Gay community.

If this were Glenn Beck posting subliminal racial messages about African-American football players playing in the Super Bowl, on his Twitter account, African-Americans would be outraged. Roland Martin should not get a free pass. His remarks inflicted a level of pain towards a group of people just as Glenn Beck’s words would have inflicted pain towards African-Americans.

GLAAD was correct in their assessment and they didn’t overact here. They did what they are supposed to do – monitor the words of media figures and hold them accountable when their words are inflammatory against Gay Americans. I sincerely hope that Roland learns from this and I hope that this incident begins to open up a dialogue amongst African-Americans and Gay Americans. Words and Images do matter!

Read more on GLAAD and the latest developments in this story -

Sound Off........

Where Roland Martin's tweet's offensive to the Gay Community?
Is GLAAD justified in it's pursuit to have Roland Martin fired from CNN?
Are subliminal messages regarding racial or homophobic slurs just as offensive, more offensive or less offensive than the outright use of the slur itself? 
Where Roland Martin's tweet's appropriate in their nature, considering Roland is a public figure?
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