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.