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Owning Yourself

“The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.” Friedrich Nietzsche


“The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.”   Friedrich Nietzsche

Dear Black People,

I am assuming my target audience will self-identify as they read this letter.  If I had to single out a group within my target audience, it would be black men who claim that “God” has called them to shepherd ‘the souls of black folk’. As not all these ‘black men’ are shepherds, I refer to them generally as ‘black men’ in deference to those who truly minister.

Many of you think that civil and human rights for persons who are gay do not occupy the same ‘place’ and ‘space’ in our social discourse and consciousness of discrimination as that of the struggle for civil rights on behalf of black Americans.

We are not intruding on the legacy of an exclusive monolithic black civil rights movement. We extend a welcome to a struggle for civil and human rights that we have engaged since our species gathered in numbers large enough to lay claim to civilization.

We have suffered alongside suffering since man’s inhumanity to humankind.

The cells in gay bodies were denied oxygen by the same gas used to deny life to millions of Jews and other minorities during the holocaust. Your blindness to centuries of homosexual experiences in conflicts of difference makes us wonder to what degree calling yourselves civilized is an exaggeration.

Gay necks snapped the same at the end of ropes because of the color of our skin regardless of who we loved and how we made love to them. Worse, we have suffered hate, ignorance, discrimination and intolerance in solidarity with heterosexual black men and women in the forced silence of your self-hatred.

Not only were we shackled together under the weight of chattel slavery, we bore with you the heat of the day in Jim Crow Era prison work camps where you denied us the comforts of yet another shared space.

We stood for love and by black men when it was illegal and ‘against the laws of nature and “God” for them to have carnal relations with white women. As black women gave birth to civil rights leaders and movements, lesbian women and gay men outlined the silhouettes of masculine shadows that were often cast over their efforts.

Even now as the number of black men and women in the criminal justice system rivals that of slaves during slavery, we pass time with you behind bars suffering both your hate and your stunted ‘love’ making in the absence of an opposite sex for your desires.

While you bemoan Sunday morning being the most segregated time in and among communities of faith, you take to the pulpit and deliver sermons that are the evidence of things that you do not see in our struggle yet the substance of the civil and human rights for which we share your hope.

You teach that the only way to “the Father” is through “His Son” while standing outside your churches and the ‘civil rights movement’ like bouncers at a night club. Matthew (18:12-14) and Luke (15:3-7) Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego found more comfort in a fiery furnace than black gays find in your “houses of God”. (Daniel 3:26)

You parrot the hype of white ‘Christian conservatives’ about the so-called ‘gay agenda’. How can eyes that are on ‘the Prize’ focus on ‘gay’ as something foreign to their agenda for civil and human rights?

The state of the black community today has as much to do with your lack of understanding what ‘community’ means, as it does with all of the oppression and repression that our people have suffered in this country. No one or thing can destroy us. But we can destroy ourselves.

The future of the black community is being conquered by the past because we are divided in the present.

Check yourselves!

Gays are not ‘sinners in the hand of an angry “God”’, just because you practice your faith as an expression of “His” anger rather than of “His” love. If your “God” as you remind us, is an angry “God”, let “Him” be mad at us. “Judge not, and you shall not be judged: condemn not, and you shall not be condemned: forgive, and you shall be forgiven.” Luke (6:37)

If you can not find peace on earth with those you deem the least of “His” creations, by what grace is your path in this life an example of ‘Jesus Christ’?

Yours In Struggle,
Tom L. States


Curriculum Vitae

Tom L. States PhD Candidate

Fields of Interest: Political Theory, International Relations, Marxist Political Economy

Research Topic: eRacism - Conflicts of Difference

Education History: Williams College, BA Political Science; New York University, MA Politics; York University PhD Candidate

Languages: English, German

Hometown: Greenwood, Mississippi

Words of Wisdom: “IT” is what you are when you are young. Your youth mistakes certainty of the few things that you think you know for knowledge of things that it takes a life time to understand. With time and a few life experiences “IT” becomes the thing you pursue to give your life meaning. Somewhere along the way of having or getting “IT” you ask yourself, ‘Is this “IT”? Panic sets in when you realize that “IT” is your life. Fear and insecurity is that feeling you get when “IT” has not been worth a life time.


Harvey, David. Justice, Nature, and the Geography of Difference. New York: Longman, 1996.

Fanon, Frantz. Black Skin White Masks. Trans. Charles Lam Markmann. New York: Grove Press. 1967.

Cancian, Francesca M. Gender Politics: Love and Power in the Private and Public Spheres. Gender and the Life Course. Ed. Alice S. Rossi. New York: Aldine, 1985.

Sand, Shlomo. The Invention of the Jewish People. New York: Verso, 2009.

Lay, Shawn. The Invisible Empire In The West: Toward a New Historical Appraisal of the Ku Klux Klan of the 1920's. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2004.


Carothers, Thomas. Think Again: Civil Society. Foreign Policy Date, (Winter: 1999-2000).

Ober, Josiah. The original meaning of "democracy": Capacity to do things, not majority rule. Princeton/Stanford Working Papers in Classics. American Political Science Association meetings, Philadelphia, (2006).