Dave Chappelle joked about us all being “too damn sensitive” in his New Years Eve comedy special (The Bird Revelation) on Netflix and I agree to a certain extent. Over the past week I’ve encountered 3 stories that made my mind spin with their framing of subjects. These include reports which involved an unfortunate murder, sexual assault and homophobia.
Kerrice Lewis is a lesbian who was murdered in DC last week. She was burned alive for being a lesbian of color, per the Huffington Post. When I properly researched the story I made other discoveries. Kerrice was one of three individuals murdered that evening. And they all knew each other. Her death was different from the other two as they passed from gunshot wounds whereas she was shot and burned alive. Nevertheless, this poor framing of the story by the Huffington Post has led to hashtags for Kerrice Lewis and gas-lighted social media.
Kerrice’s death is a tragedy. It probably wasn’t a hate crime. When you center her death and ignore the other victims, you minimize the deaths of the other two individuals.
Yesterday, we all bore witness to a segment of the population attacking R&B singer and Celebrity Big Brother UK participant Ginuwine for being transphobic. The story goes that Ginuwine denied a trans woman’s advances on CBB and became persecuted for saying he would not date a trans woman. I believe that is his prerogative and as a trans woman of color, I understand that not everyone wants to date me. I find it absurd that this trans woman would feel like forcing herself onto Ginuwine was okay. And it’s revolting to think that type of sexual assault went unchecked and she was framed as the victim.
Last night my twitter timeline was on fire with a debate between rapper Nipsey Hussle and the blue vest crusader Deray McKesson. Nipsey had posted a photo on his instagram highlighting a group of “heterosexual black men” that the media “doesn’t want you to see”. That phrasing is Nipsey’s and more outrageous than all of his claims was the photo in which sexual orientations were not etched onto anyone’s skin or attire. Nipsey then tried to correlate that an increase in homosexual visibilty with that of thug images of black men that Hollywood perpetrates.
In all three of these instances, headlines were made that suggested a victim that never existed. Yes, black queer women do often go unreported when they are murdered. Yes, trans-phobia is prevalent in the urban culture. And yes, more positive black images of black men wouldn’t hurt anyone.
But none of those things were at play here. And as a member of the LGBTQ community, I one hundred percent believe that stories like the first two make the third story possible. So if any agenda needs to be checked, its our collective victim mentality.
Morgan Sherm is the Executive Producer of The Fam In The Morning And A Transgender Woman.