The brilliant Michael Eric Dyson once again rallied to the defense of black gays and lesbians in a weekend broadcast of C-SPAN's BookTV. The segment was taped in February at Eso Won, an African American bookstore in Los Angeles. Dyson was touring to discuss his latest book, Come Hell or High Water: Hurricane Katrina and the Color of Disaster, a criticism of the Bush administration's response to Hurricane Katrina. The celebrated author stood his ground when one heckler—in the aquamarine shirt—objected to his analysis of the theory that suggested New Orleans was destroyed because of gays.
Question: The levees weren't destroyed because people were gay, the neighborhoods weren't flooded because of gay people. It was because of black people and poor people. You don't hear anything about gays. Go to the internet and do a search, what will you find? Over 100,000 hits. The internet is filled with racist comments about the people who died. Right here in LA we had a homosexual talk show host who bad-mouthed the black race entirely. My question is, why in the hell would you bring this up now? When talking about Hurricane Katrina, the disaster that took place and affected our people?
Dyson: I'll tell you why. [Shouting] Hold on. Let me answer briefly but directly. The reason why, I brought this up is because in the chapter where I said that 'God caused Katrina', some people argue that God destroyed New Orleans because of gay people. I didn't just bring that up out of nowhere. I brought it up to address the fact that some people stood on tv, on many Christian networks and other pulpits, and suggested that gay people were the reason God destroyed New Orleans. They have a Decadence parade down there, where gay people organize their energies and march down the street. I didn't bring that up out of nowhere. I addressed that, because that homophobia and bigotry is the transmission of an idea that all black people should be opposed to. That is the opposite to everything that we as black people stand for.
Later, the University of Pennsylvania professor took issue with comments that suggested that since gay people are not as readily identifiable as persons of color, they cannot be true victims of overt discrimination in "our country."
Dyson: We don't discriminate against people who are gay? There are black men and women who are and have been gay. Black gay people didn't get an exemption from going to the back of the bus. But we can flip the script. You're absolutely right. Black people show up, it's our skin, it ain't our sexuality, it ain't our sexual orientation. It's the fact that we appear black that creates an offense to the American self-image and the way in which the collective vision of our country is shattered by our pigment. There's no question about that. But you named all of that and said "our country." So you aren't even part of it.
He just brings it all home and ties a bow on it, right?
You have to love Michael Eric Dyson's branding. His unique street cred of "hip-hop intellectualism" is fused with this wonderful temperament and superman intelligence. Just last month we were raving over his appearance in Jumpin' the Broom: The New Covenant. We need to clone this guy—stat.
Michael Eric Dyson (BookTV/C-SPAN)
11 Questions for Michael Eric Dyson (AOL Black Voices)
Michael Eric Dyson (Official Site)
Previously:Jumpin' the Broom: The New Covenant (Rod 2.0)