I’ve been proud to defend the black community in this column. I love this community with all my heart. But time and time again, I am excluded from it because I do not fit into a narrowly defined, hypermasculine, heteronormative, cisgender definition of Blackness. A wide swathe of the black community continually makes it clear that I, and people like me, do not belong.
People are confused when I tell them that I’m black. They point to my mother and say “Isn’t this white woman your mother, as much as that black man is your father?” I respond, “She is. And yet, I am black, and I am not white.”
I recently took a course of classical and medieval political thought. One of the authors we studied was St. Thomas Aquinas, a giant of the Catholic Church. While reading through his masterpiece “On Law, Morality, and Politics”, we touched on a passage that explained how homosexuality was abhorrent to God’s eternal law. After examining how the passage revealed the importance of nature to medieval political thought, we moved on. The foundation of centuries of violent homophobia was no more than an interesting case study.
On June 12, 1993, 26 years later to the day, my parents, Jill and Paul Whittaker, walked out of St. Jude’s Church a lawfully wedded couple. My mother was born and raised outside of Washington D.C., to an Italian father and Irish-German mother. My father was born in Jamaica, the descendant of former slaves. They love each other very much.
Any black person who’s ever been to a college party knows what happened next. My friend and I were dancing with a larger group―all white, and all strangers. Jamie Foxx sang the hook, Kanye jumped in, and two white men, bigger than me, older than me, and louder than me, looked me in the eye and yelled out “She ain’t messin’ with no broke NIGGAS.”