EDITOR’S COLUMN: Youth Dishonor the Elders as Senseless Violence Mars ‘Black Pride’ Weekend

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The Black community often blames every and anyone else for our misfortune and with valid reason. But after hundreds of Black gay youth turned this year’s “Black Pride” celebration, held annually in D.C. during Memorial Day Weekend, into a violent free-for-all at various clubs, hotels and public parks, they did nothing more than support the notion that we Blacks are our own worst enemies. Even more, whether by design or inadvertently, they dishonored the untold sacrifices made by our elders in their efforts to secure equal rights for America’s LGBT communities of color. They should be ashamed. We should be ashamed. And it’s time for those who have survived the maelstrom to put their foot down and to grab those youth by their collars who lack any concept of history and take them on a walk down Memory Lane.

We must recount our tales of horror, fear, frustration, pain and death. We must, because more and more young folk today have bought into the fantasy that it’s all about “me” instead of “us,” embracing European individualism over that which has long been the foundation of our DNA — the essential African prime directive of protecting the “community” over anything else.

I remember when Wendy Williams joined me in Chicago during one Black Pride weekend in the early ’90s to raise both dollars and awareness in the support of young Black gay men, dying painfully day after day from AIDS-related complications while white health officials and politicians turned a blind eye. I can still see the bloated, unrecognizable remains of a beloved friend who went looking for “love” in all the wrong places, who we found three days after his demise, hanging by an electric chord in his home — naked, burned and as we would later discover, sodomized in ways I cannot mention. I hear the voices of brothers who learned, in the early days of the AIDS epidemic, that they had been infected — once vibrant, muscular, energetic young men who quickly became walking skeletons, begging for death to come. Others would be harassed, chased down, beaten and left as vegetables — their heads split open by bat-wielding assailants.

They are the reasons why elders in 1999 decided to form a network connecting Black LGBT communities across the U.S., hoping to increase their chances of visibility, outreach to prevent and educate their own on AIDS and funding opportunities. Marriage was NOT on the agenda — staying alive and living with a modicum of respect was all that mattered.

That’s what Black pride was about — not unbridled sexual encounters, not endless parties, not violent outbursts perpetuated by youth who have no respect for their own names, their own futures or their own people who paid the “ultimate price.” In the words of Doughboy (“Boyz in the Hood”), “Either they don’t know, don’t show or don’t care about what’s going on in the hood.”

We don’t need white racists or self-professed white evangelicals and conservatives to eradicate the Black race from the planet — by refusing to rein in our youth, by keeping our heads in the sand and by allowing, as the Bible forewarns, “sons to turn against fathers and daughters to turn against mothers,” we’re doing a great job all by ourselves.

About D. Kevin McNeir – Washington Informer Editor 158 Articles

Award-winning journalist, book editor, voice-over specialist and author with 17 years in the industry. Currently an education and religion beat reporter for The Washington Informer. But I also tackle local (D.C. and Maryland) politics, entertainment, business and health articles to maintain my edge.

Born and raised in Motown and a staunch Wolverine – that is a graduate of the University of Michigan, I left corporate America (IBM) to pursue my passion for writing, accepting a beat reporter’s gig under the tutelage of the late Sam Logan, founding publisher of the Michigan Chronicle. I continued to hone my craft at N’DIGO Magapaper, Windy City Times and The Wednesday Journal, all in Chicagoland; the Atlanta Voice and The Miami Times. I’ve been fortunate to be chosen twice as the Feature Writer of the Year by the Chicago Association of Black Journalists. Later, as the senior editor of one of the country’s oldest Black-owned newspapers, The Miami Times, I helped my staff bring home the NNPA’s highest honor – Publication of the Year, 2001. That same year I picked up first and second place awards for news and feature writing, respectively, also from the NNPA.

Today I’m based in the nation’s capital where I’m honored to serve as the editor for The Washington Informer. Recognizing the importance of education, I’ve earned two master’s degrees from Emory University, Summa Cum Laude and Princeton Theological Seminary, majoring in theology and philosophy.

If I can slow down, I may actually complete and publish a collection of essays I’ve been working on for many years, “Growing up Motown,” sharing childhood memories of experiences with musical legends like Marvin Gaye, Kim Weston, the Four Tops, the Miracles, Gladys Knight and Take Six. My favorite foods: spinach, lasagna, pancakes and Oysters Rockefeller. My mom, 86, always my “best friend” and “cheerleader,” now lives with me and she brings me great joy. I’m a fiercely protective yet encouraging father and grandfather always down for traveling, shopping or celebrating the natural beauty of God’s world. I live by the following words: “Less is more” and “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

You can reach me on Twitter (@dkevinmcneir), Facebook (Kevin McNeir) or via e-mail, mcneirdk@washingtoninformer.com