Morocco. Marrakech. 1998
Homophobia in Africa represents a set of complex and intersecting issues – deeply routed in the continent’s colonial past. Violent inscriptions of race, sexuality, ethnicity and gender took place under colonialism and are linked to present-day norms around sexuality. These historical continuities, and how sexuality is racialised, are mostly entirely absent in discussions on homophobia.
Drawing on the ‘savages-victims-saviours’ construct of law professor Makau Mutua (pdf), the west has a keen interest in homophobia that is often framed within these sets of relations. Lurking within much of the public discourse on homophobia in Africa is the notion of the civilising mission of Eurocentric culture (and its human rights frameworks) that will save African culture, and the victims thereof, from its barbarism and its savagery.
One example of this is a recently launched online fundraising effort initiated in the US.
It is a “Rescue fund to help LGBT people escape Africa” and is aimed at “Gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender people persecuted and trapped in African countries that criminalise their sexuality”. The campaign states that “by contributing to this Rescue Fund you will help me [the initiator of the fund] to save more gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex people from Africa escape terrifying persecution.” An online counter shows the money is flowing in. If one donates to “save” an LGBTI person in Africa one is granted a status recognition originally titled as “ultimate saviour”. There are also prizes for donors such as “Nelson Mandela coins” for “passport providers”.
The forced flight of LGBTI from persecutory regimes will require interventions to provide places of refuge and safety. However, promoting an “escape” from Africa to “greener” US pastures, without simultaneously addressing the underlying conditions that force this migration, is dangerous and opportunistic. Dislocated from Africa-based struggles for social justice these feel-good interventions offer no long-term solution to the systemic issues that drive homophobia. At best they are palliative and patronising, at worst they reinforce the victimhood of Africans and the saviour status of westerners.
This is part of the logic that keeps the “homosexuality is un-African” discourse in play.
❝And then, you ask me whether I approve of violence. I mean, that just doesn’t make any sense at all… whether I approve of guns.
I grew up in Birmingham, Alabama!
Some very, very good friends of mine were killed by bombs! Bombs that were planted by racists. I remember from the time - I was very small - I remember the sound of bombs exploding across the street, our house shaking! I remember my father having to have guns at his disposal at all times because of that fact that any moment - someone - we might expect to be attacked.
The man who was in that time, in complete control of the city government, his name was Bill Connor. He would often get on the radio and make statements like - “Niggers have moved into an all white neighborhood, we better expect some bloodshed tonight,” and sure enough there would be blood shed.
After the four girls - one of them lived next door to me - I was very good friends of a sister of another one… My sister was very good friends with all three of them. My mother taught one of them in her class.
In fact, when the bombing occurred, one of the mothers of the young girl called my mother and said - “Can you take me down to the church and pick up Carol? We heard about the bombing and I don’t have my car.”
And they went down and what did they find? They found limbs and heads strewn all over the place.
And then after that, in my neighborhood, all the men organized themselves into an armed patrol. They had to take their guns and patrol our community every night because they did not want that to happen again. ❞ Angela Davis on Violence [x]
Frida Kahlo a los cuatro años. Mexico, 1911.
Unlike the beautiful 6-year old Jonbenett Ramsey who received coverage all over the media - every tabloid, newspaper, news channel, talk show, 7-year old Aiyana Stanley was killed by a police officer during a raid while she was sleep and her murder received very little coverage.
Police, searching for a murder suspect, threw a flash grenade through the window of her family’s apartment around midnight. According to Aiyana’s father, it landed on the couch, setting Aiyana on fire. A police officer’s gun then went off, and shot Aiyana in the neck.
Aiyana was asleep on the living room sofa in her family’s apartment when Detroit police, searching for a homicide suspect, burst in and an officer’s gun went off, fatally striking the girl in the neck, family members said.
Her father, 25-year-old Charles Jones, told The Detroit News he had just gone to bed early Sunday after covering his daughter with her favorite blanket when he heard a flash grenade followed by a gunshot. When he rushed into the living room, he said, police forced him to lie on the ground, with his face in his daughter’s blood.
“I’ll never be the same. That’s my only daughter,” Jones told.
We haven’t forgotten about you baby. R.I.P.
when gas gets too expensive