In the wake of the rise and fall of Roseanne Barr people have compared her racism to MSNBC host Joy Reid’s homophobia, transphobia, and everything else. Donald Trump has also said it’s unfair that TV show host Samantha Bee gets to keep her job after calling his daughter the c-word, since Roseanne was fired.
Conservatives want their heads and they are crying “double standard!”
Meanwhile, progressives are silent or they say, “there is no double standard.”
Now, I’m not here to defend Joy Reid or Samantha Bee because they’ve both said bad things. MSNBC should fire Joy Reid; however, I disagree about Samantha Bee.
But, I want to look at anti-Black racism and homophobia.
When I look at the two, I say there is a double standard, that’s our reality.
As a Black gay man, it’s not the same for me across the board. For me, my Blackness is the factor with the most weight in society’s most perplexing problems.
Look for yourself, Black poverty isn’t the same as white poverty.
Black gay men have different and disproportionate HIV rates than white gay men.
We have double standards in the legal system, too.
And it’s my Black skin that accounts for the difference at every level.
So, I must acknowledge there is a double standard at play.
Already, there are a set of principles that treat me differently based on being Black and gay rather than being white and gay.
This doesn’t mean homophobia isn’t bad because it really is horrible.
I’m not putting one aspect of myself against another, I see my whole picture and outlook. If I get free as a gay man, hello, I’m still a Black man and vice versa.
That’s why I still believe “an injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
And that’s why I still believe we must root out all injustice. I know well, the roots of injustice are similar and they work together.
But that doesn’t mean they create the same level of harm. And, if they don’t create the same level of harm then, penalties they deserve, but not the same. The symbol of justice has scales for a reason, it doesn’t all come out the same.
Sometimes you have to prioritize when you go to the doctor. I think it’s the same with justice and in the court of public opinion. You must deal with the greatest threat to life and welfare.
Don’t you think we are in a state of triage in this country? I say, the whole state of America is in an emergency room. And so, we must handle first those who have life-threatening injuries and those who pose the greatest threat to others.
Here’s what I’m saying — please catch for me the biggest fish in the sea. The dragnet of justice will catch more fish when it seeks to catch the big fish too. By all means, let’s fry the little fish we get, but we can’t stop until we catch the bigger fish. That’s what will feed the masses.
So, we must have double standards in justice and in the court of public opinion for racism. We must be more rigorous with anti-Black racism because when that’s in the mix it matters more.
The combination of Black and A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G can be double the trouble in a world with double standards.
Depending on the issue, we may need double the help, double the concern, and double everything on the double.
But, if we deny the double standards then we deny the double effects. And then, we won’t be able to apply justice in full in all the right respects.
As a child, like many Black Americans, my mom told me about America’s double standard. We don’t all have the same “talk” with our kids, there are different conversations and double standards.
My mom said I needed to be twice as good to get half as much. That’s the double standard many of us must still live with today.
So yes, anti-Black racists must work twice as hard to prove themselves in a society that has double standards by race.
And because anti-Black racism makes almost everything twice as bad, we must meet it with twice the justice. When it comes to anti-Black racism, justice must be faster and stronger. Because, in the past and in the present, there was no justice.
Even with double standards in justice we must still have standards in justice. The standards don’t go away with the double standards. I also don’t suggest that we delay justice because “justice delayed is justice denied.”
But, we may need to draw larger lines around some issues.
And, if there’s a line, I’m just saying make sure people are in the right spots in the line and handled appropriately. I’m saying we should be clear about order and severity.
So yeah, some people may need to take a number when justice is slow. I’m not saying other people aren’t here with legitimate claims and injuries. I’m just saying I’m here and it hurts worse than others. And, look around, there are others here with far worse injuries than me.
The fact is justice must work faster and do better for many. We can all work to make the system more effective and efficient.
So, we must end racism, homophobia, and all the other societal ills. But we won’t get there if we complain about harsher justice and deny the harsher dual realities. Instead, we must deal with the double realities.
And really, I can’t take seriously any conversation about double standards and different consequences if it doesn’t include reparations for Black people.
So, those who cry about double standards think we’re all “even-steven” in life but that’s not true.
The truth is, people live under triple and quadruple standards and more.
Black women, trans people, and people with varying abilities all live under various standards. There are even different standards and different outcomes based on size and perceived attractiveness.
We have many standards to revise because the protocol in this country is all wrong. And, we must acknowledge them all by their severity.
I believe we can correct more than one standard at a time. But we can’t mix and match when the material damage hasn’t been the same. The damage is different depending on the mix, and the justice must be different depending on the mix too.
So, if we want to start at the place where it hurts the most, then it’s clear.
Let’s start with race and gender, how about that? Because, for many of us, those are the double standards that color and shape it all.