Pride: By Any Means Necessary?

There has been a viral video going around of a comic talking about how “Everthing is So Great but Nobodys Happy.” In the video, comedian Louis CK shares some appealing common wisdom.

Looking through his channel on You tube, I came across the following video in which he backhandedly addresses racism, arguing that being White is way better. Here is the video:

Regardless of his intent, it’s impossible for me not to associate his comedy with “White Pride.”

I’m a Jew, which makes me white to everyone but White people. I don’t associate White Pride with my heritage, but with the people who spray painted swastikas on synagogues in my home-town. A quick search of the phrase White Pride” online got me to the White Pride Archives: News for People Who Love Their Heritage. Without even looking at the site, I have a strong sense that what’s inside is racist. I associate the term White Pride with bigotry.

I have a very different association with the term Gay Pride. I associate Gay Pride with very positive assertions of equality.

We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it!

Perhaps the positivity of pride – be it Black Pride, White Pride, Male Pride, Women Pride, Jewish Pride or Gay Pride – is directly related to the weakness of its possessor? If a group with a lot of power has a lot of “Pride”, its bad, but if a group with little power has “Pride” its good?

Amanda Hess, writing in last week’s City Paper, reported on a criminal attack in which two transgender men were beaten by a group of Lesbian women. The attack was apparently motivated by a sense of betrayal; one of the transitioning men was a former Lesbian who was now too good for that identity. It is impossible to defend the attack, but given the difficulties of Lesbian life it’s pretty simple to see how Gay Pride morphed into these criminal actions.

I’ve been thinking about slippery moral slopes recently, because I’m creating some Dance on the subject. Where are the crossing points for certain ideas – like pride. I listened to the rap song “Break the Grip of Shame” by Paris yesterday. Embedded in the song is a speech by Malcolm X which proudly declaims:

“We declare our race on this earth to be a being. To be a human being. To be respected as a human being. To be given the rights of a human being. Indivisible and binding. And we intend to bring it into existence by Any Means Necessary.”

Pride is a moral stance; an assertion of worth. The communal sense of self that Pride provides perhaps only remains positive when not divorced from other aspects of a moral life.

Author: Robert Bettmann

Founder of Day Eight, and the DC Arts Writing Fellowship.

2 thoughts on “Pride: By Any Means Necessary?”

  1. Hi, Rob. Just got a chance to think over this. I do agree that the positivity of pride is “directly related to the weakness of its possessor.” But I think the positivity is also, more simply, directly related to what activities are associated with that pride.

    “White pride” is seen as negative not only because Aryan whites hold power, but also because that movement has used that power to hurt other groups—to lynch blacks, set fire to crosses in front of their homes, and to celebrate the Holocaust. A movement like “Gay pride” is seen as positive because it’s fighting against inequity and discrimination, not for it.

    If gays were to attack other groups in the name of gay pride, well, the movement might not be seen as “positive.” My story did discuss a hate crime committed by a member of the GLBT community (a lesbian) against another (a transgender man). In this case, I think the crime was designated as a “hate crime” because it was a bigoted and discriminatory act. That does not mean, however that the act was committed in the name of any sort of “lesbian pride.” If that were true—and we don’t know the true motives of the suspects, who have not been located—I think it would be an even scarier situation than it already is.

  2. Amanda – from the description provided by the victims isn’t it exactly clear what the motivation – if not motive was? To make a former community member pay for leaving the community? It sounds in your article very much like gang violence of the 80’s and 90’s. ‘Nobody leaves the family’.

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