By: Kirsten West Savali, Your Black World
“Politically correct” is a term that gets tossed around with more frequency than a groupie at a Hip-Hop after party.
No? That wasn’t funny?
Well someone, somewhere, thinks it’s hilarious—and true—, and therein lies the crux of the controversy surrounding political correctness.
Let’s be clear: Politically incorrect is not synonymous with being wrong; on the contrary, it is synonymous with speaking, acting or creating with raw, unfiltered subjective truth —to hell with what anyone has to say about it.
In our current socio-political zeitgeist, people are fiercely fighting for their right to individuality, while simultaneously cultivating the stance that equality is a basic liberty that each sub-group has the authority to define based on nothing more than what their personal desires reflect. This means that feminists have the authority to castigate men for lack of chivalry, while insisting that they don’t need them for anything but sperm donations. It also means that Black people have the authority to scream racism at the slightest hint of discriminatory intent by other ethnicities, while shaking a tail feather to music that features the word “nigga” at the end of every other sentence like it’s a formal punctuation. That’s right: period; question mark; exclamation point; nigga. That’s just how we roll.
In the midst of all this pseudo-acceptance and insult-ownership — which is truly nothing more than a sharply honed defense mechanism — there’s just one last frontier left to be conquered: the eradication of slander, whether in jest or judgment, towards the LGBTQ community; because they, similarly to Muslims, women, Black and Latino people in their own perpetual cycles of prejudice, are the new them.
From Michele Bachmann and Tracy Morgan, to Rick Santorum and Eddie Murphy, homophobia has become as expected as office sexism and as safe as telling a “nigg*r” joke at a Ku Klux Klan convention. When Issa Rae, of “Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl,” initially responded to criticism over her insensitive use of the slur “tranny,” in a recent episode she tweeted: “Respectfully, “Awkward Black Girl” was never meant to be politically correct. We poke fun at ignorance. Response letter coming soon.”
While I applaud her individuality and dedication to the phenomenon she fought so diligently to create, she may be slightly confused on one small detail.
With the laws and narrow-minded opinions that discriminate against the LGBTQ community lingering in our political discourse like an incurable disease, mocking the gay and lesbian community is politically correct. In the United States of America, it is politically correct to target the transgender community and make them the punchline to a joke that no one but bigots find amusing. It is politically correct to say “no homo” because homosexuality, unlike racial or gender bias, is something that every heterosexual man or woman can share a chuckle about because for once, the joke is not on them because of their disability, their skin melanin-content, their poverty, or their history.
Politically correct is the United States conveniently invading Libya after Goldmann Sachs lost 98% of Colonel Muammar Ghadafi’s 1.3 billion dollar investment, and assisting in his pre-meditated murder. Politically correct is cutting unemployment benefits for thousands of Americans, while still funding wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that we should never have been fighting in the first place. Politically correct is when conservative pundits can secure primetime slots to perpetuate Islamophobia and elitism, ignoring the plight of every-day Americans falling victim to corporate capitalism.
Politically correct is denying the LGBTQ equal rights under the law, while, due to the eradication of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” allowing “ them to go to war and fight for a country who finds suppression of their civil liberties “fair,” and insults to their character “funny.”
I mean, “no black girl,” but I think Black people, more than any other culture or ethnicity, have a responsibility to humanity, and more importantly to ourselves, not to emulate the traits of those who have historically turned their backs on us.
There is absolutely nothing “correct” about our political system.
At the end of George Orwell‘s classic novel, Animal Farm, there is a provocative moment when the animals on the farm look through the window of the farmer’s house and see the pigs sitting around the table wearing clothes and walking on two legs — transformed into the human oppressors they promised to lead the animals against. Is that where we’ve arrived, Black people? Have some of us allowed ourselves to become so assimilation-driven, so eager to have a seat at the table, that individualism and cultural creativity comes in a distant second to inclusion in cliques and YouTube clicks?
I realize that it might have been a well-kept secret until now, but to every artist who believes that they’re bucking “the system” with their brilliant, creative displays of irreverent candor:
NEWS FLASH: You are the system.
Dignity transcends art, or at least it should; so while I completely agree that strict societal norms and mores have no reserved seating in an individual’s artistic space, a basic level of respect, empathy and awareness should be present at all times, in all endeavors.
Not because it’s “politically correct” to do so — simply because it’s right.
This article originally appeared in Clutch Magazine. it is reprinted here with the author’s permission.