Thursday, May 15, 2008

Ramona Africa Called Out On MOVE's Homophobia

(Ramona Africa Homophobe)

(Earlier, I posted an article discussing my efforts to get my message about MOVE out at the Portland IMC. One of the issues I raised was MOVE's homophobia and I was censored for it. Although, I view it as probably one of the group's more benign contradictions, for many people it is an issue of great importance. Perhaps, if I knew less of MOVE, it would be to me also. Today, I was surprised to see an article that was critical of Ramona Africa's dodgy response to MOVE's position of homophobia and the admission of the author of the article that they probably won't again be giving MOVE money. Although nobody will credit me for pushing this issue amongst others so persistently, I think it obvious that it is something that I have raised ever since starting this site.

This article, which many people will find fault with, I think represents a growing awareness of what MOVE is. In all of my years of attending MOVE speeches, I cannot recall any instance of someone from MOVE being confronted in such a persistent and articulate manner. I find it a promising indicator of things to come as this article was not written from the point of view of a former MOVE supporter, or a Philadelphian, or a Police Officer, but from the very kind of person that MOVE depends on for money and support. Read and rejoice and have no doubt that the
efforts of this website are not done in vain.)

Good And Bad At Ramona Africa Lecture
by A.

Just got back from the Ramona Africa and Craig Rosebraugh lecture. It was really quite powerful in a lot of ways, but disappointing in others.

I went to the event hoping to hear more about the MOVE organization, their repression, and what they had learned from their experience. I was also interested in Craig's take on the Green Scare and diversity of tactics, though I've heard him speak before. When Craig spoke, he had a lot to say regarding the government reprisals and toward acceptance of a diversity of tactics. I agreed with a lot of what he said, not everything, though I felt it was very strongly preaching to the choir. He didn't need to spend so long defending the ALF/ELF when most everyone in the room (I think) supports the ALF/ELF. I also disagreed when he said if you're not being persecuted for what you're doing it's not effective. Education can be a great tool that can be very effective that often slips below the radar of the system. Likewise, Craig himself was persecuted quite strongly though not preforming an ALF/ELF action himself.

Then Ramona spoke. She gave a very powerful speech as well... relied a little heavily on truisms and maxims of empowerment... but overall was good. She spoke only briefly on the events surrounding her imprisonment and the bombing of her house.

Then it was question time. Question time didn't go so well. Someone heckled with their question from the back, implying that the MOVE house had brought upon themselves the bombing that killed the children of their house. He seemed to claim they brought it on themselves by having loudspeakers at their house.

The question after that I asked. I needed to get confirmation one way or the other about MOVE's ideological connection to homophobia. People mention it whenever MOVE is mentioned, but then those people get called COINTELPRO, much to my chagrin. I asked it not to heckle like the person before me, but to get an answer. The answer didn't surprise me. A lot of hemming and hawing and excuse-making all failed to cover up the cold bare truth. MOVE is anti-gay. They don't think it's natural, they don't think it's right, they simply "don't believe in it" (whatever that means). A lot of the people on or near the stage (not craig... I'm curious where he stands).

So I thought here would be a good place to cut through that fucking bullshit and talk about the facts of homophobia and the mental imperialism a lot of so-called radicals still walk around with.

She said that she couldn't be called homophobic, because she works with gay people, and even once stayed with a gay person when travelling:

This hardly has to be debunked, but to be safe let's do it anyway. Just because you work with someone, know someone, talk to someone doesn't mean you don't bear prejudice against that people. It rings sadly familiar of family-friends from my childhood who would make racist jokes and comments but try to avoid accountability by saying "I have plenty of black friends" or talking about a time they had polite conversation or even dinner with a black person. Ramona in the same way was trying to obscure the issue.

She called homosexuality a choice, even likening it to members of Islam choosing not to eat pork:

On this I take strong offense, first that the argument is even raised, and second that a person who isn't queer wants to tell queer people where their desires came from.

See, I'm making an exception here, but generally I don't even like to get into this debate whatsoever, because of the subtle undertones. The unstated assumption is that if you can prove that homosexuality is a choice, then it's OK to persecute them. Well, it's not. Under the harm principle, you have no excuse for persecuting someone for a choice that doesn't affect you. Choice hardly plays into it. It's a choice to blow your nose, for instance, but would I have any ethical credence in considering them lesser or unnatural? Absolutely not. It's an absurd thought but it's the same in terms of impact on the judging 'other'. It has nothing to do with her, and shouldn't be any of her concern. It's just a result of religious conditioning... brainwashing even, that people have a hard time getting past in order to accept queer people into their community. It just really disappoints me to think that there are these people who have gotten past so much internalized racism, sexism, classism, ageism, ableism and so on but still hold on to that last one.

She said she isn't homophobic because she doesn't believe in queer-bashing, and if people are flyering and see a gay person, they would flyer him/her as with any other:

And that's just ridiculous. Not every form of patriarchy looks like a battered wife and not every form of homophobia looks like a queer-bashing. When we queer-bash with our words, we put a small mark on the map that becomes our entire culture. A culture which ultimately doesn't do enough to stop the violent queer-bashing. A culture that accepts it passively and ultimately finds it funny, or cool, or masculine, or whatever.

Anyway, I thought I should put that out there. I don't think I would give money to MOVE again. While I absolutely support prison abolition, I know there are prisoners, particularly political prisoners who would support my right to exist... but ultimately it's your call to make and I'm not going to hate on anyone who does.

Also, will someone please tell me Mumia (who is an honorary 9th member of MOVE) isn't homophobic? I think I remember reading something of his that was rad and pro-gay, but this worries me.

Against Capitalism, Racism, Sexism, Homophobia, Ageism, Ableism, Sizeism, Transphobia, and others.

Ultimately... against pathetic excuses.

10 Comments:

At 6:38 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

how can you be so against something when you were just a supporter. is it because your wife screwed a 15 year old and because of your cancer. only if you lead a righteous path would you be in good health. your nothing but the systems rat. also , try and and justify why the system dropped that bomb, or explain all that baby killing the system did to MOVE babies. please indulge me RAT

 
At 10:13 PM , Blogger Tony Allen said...

The veracity of this comment deserves no respone, however the fact that the above is an example of MOVE's style of ad-hominem attacks instead of challengine me or anyone else on the facts and merits of my posting.

The cancer has gone away, so I must be leading that path of righteouse after all. But what of Merle Africa who died from cancer? What of Beverly Africa who also died from cancer? I guess they weren't being "righteous" enough themselves.

I am not the "system's rat" and I am not MOVE's either. I need no authoritarian regime to validate what I do.

I don't justify the use of the "bomb" any more than I justify the use of children by MOVE members as human sheilds during their conflcits with the "system".

At least one former MOVE member, who was there from almost the beggining places the blame of the chidren's death upon "natural causes", which were in turn used by the cult in their war against the system and blamed the deaths on their enemies.

 
At 3:44 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why doesn,t anon post his name...what does he/she have to hide? Me thinks no Ba**s

Jon Di Zio, Stakeout Unit retired
johnnypeppers@hotmail.com

 
At 4:11 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

you must be a fucking pig too. all you pigs should fucking die

 
At 4:03 AM , Anonymous Markvike said...

uh, doofus, are you for real? I didn't think anyone used the term "pig" anymore. are you stuck in a time warp someplace?

When ou have something meaningful to add to the conversation, please get back to me.

Now go take your med's and crawl back into your hole.

 
At 11:52 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

everyone but pigs use that word. tony just all pissed because he cant get off his mind how his wife fucked at 15 yeard old boy. i guess he cant satisfy her

 
At 2:59 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is so unfortunate that this Move member/supporter finds it necessary to help make the point for Tony. It appears he has hit a hot button with Move members.

I hope they keep posting on this blog so Tony does not have to try to make his point, they do it for him.

 
At 12:23 PM , Blogger Nas Dawud said...

it has always been my understanding that MOVE actually discourages using the term "pig" for cops and the like, as they see it as an insult to the animal.

But this only serves to show the reactionary and myopic stand point from which the so-called MOVE supporter is working from.

 
At 3:53 PM , Blogger Joe ahern said...

It's great to see someone finally questioning a group like MOVE. These people are quite clearly hypocrites who are often supported by people who know nothing about them.
Keep up the good work.

 
At 11:16 AM , Blogger saffo said...

I get so sick of people only giving a shit about forms of oppression that oppress them personally. Whether it's homophobic straight radicals of color or racist white queers, often times people who rise up against their own oppression are just as hypocritical as the rest of the world.

My view has always been, if you don't give a fuck about other people's struggles, you can't expect them to give a fuck about yours. If people from MOVE don't give a fuck about the struggles of queer people, then they are being selfish and self-defeating. How can you, on one hand, raise your fist against the forces of racism, capitalism, and the prison-industrial complex and yet refuse to stand in solidarity with other oppressed people.

At the same time, I want to point out that we have the same problem in white-dominated queer communities. I recently spoke to a gay man who seemed to be pretty cool, until I got onto the topic of immigration. He said that "illegal immigrants" were breaking the law, and the law was the law therefore it's wrong. I reminded him that not too long ago it was illegal to be gay.

If you really want to build an effective movement then you've got to be able to see the oppressor within you. If white queers expect straight allies to stand in solidarity with their struggle and to recognize their own internalized heterosexism and transphobia, then they have to be willing to do the same with their internalized racism. The same goes for radical straights of color.

Much Love,
~Saffo.

 

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