Readers Talk Eddie Long, Abuse, and Power

A round-up of some of this week's best reader-lead conversations.

By Channing Kennedy Oct 02, 2010

The Internet can’t get enough of black men this week. Whether it’s LeBron James saying that race may have affected the tone of the discussion around his change of employers (perish the thought!), or the No Wedding No Womb movement giving up on men altogether and targeting single moms. And kicking it all off at ColorLines was the Eddie Long scandal, which keeps peeling back layers of masculinity, race, religion, and community accountability. We want to cry for the young men who suffered; we want to hold someone accountable; and we want a moment to celebrate a spewer of hate finally getting his. A week in, though, and we’re done with the jokes. Commenter alicia sanchez gill, on a heartbreaking video interview with Jamal Parris, one of Long’s victims:

rape/sexual coercion/sexual abuse has NOTHING to do with sexual identity. it’s all about power, right? so, i too am tired of hearing people talk about eddie long’s "homosexuality." the fact is, we don’t know if he’s gay or not, because (it sounds to me like, so far) none of his (publicized) sexual encounters with men have been consensual. eddie long choosing to be a predator towards, and manipulating men doesn’t say anything about his sexuality or the sexuality of those young men. i’d personally like the words "gay" and "homosexuality" to be completely left out of the discussion. sexual abuse isn’t about sexual desire or attraction. plus, it’s not like queer folks don’t have enough pathology floating around about our sexually deviant behavior as it is. next thing you know, folks’ll be blaming his abusive behavior on homosexuality.

on another note, that video breaks my heart.

borderlandbrother asks what we’re doing to break the cycle that put Long into power in the first place:

… African Americans desperately want leaders who will not fail us, who will help us see the best in ourselves and help us work to end the oppressions that have hounded us like the slave-catcher dogs ever since we were forced to come here to labor to make others’ lives beautiful, while we have sojourned through neglect, pains and premature death. Yet our search for justice continues to be a precarious one, it seems, as long as we put all our faith in those who want to be leaders instead of (as Sister Ella Baker used to say) wanting to help bring forth the leadership of others.

I cannot comprehend, at this point, the full extent of the damage Bishop Long may have wrought in the lives of the young men who have charged him. And if he has abused these young men, I cannot comprehend the pains out of which he has acted in apparent attempts to validate himself. Yet I hope that as we rally to insure the healing of these young men, we will also be mindful that we all must heal. We must somehow begin to disabuse ourselves of the need for "leaders" in whom we invest all our love and adoration and even our capacities for critical thought. When we look for movement leaders like that, we insure that at some point, they will begin to see themselves as infallible and unquestionable. When we invest our everything–our minds and hearts as well as our money–we insure that they will one day become unaccountable, even as we will no longer be able to hold them accountable. We all have apparently lost in this mess. And to tell the righteous truth, so has Bishop Long. In the end, I am very afraid that we will look past justice and soon be looking for another leader in all the wrong places.

On a different news story, the unauthorized-by-Antoine-Dodson "Bed Intruder" Halloween costume hitting shelves near you, Facebook commenter Ebony M.-R. brings our expectations for Black men to light:

Gross what people find funny. You know, he’s the only man I saw defending a black woman on tv all summer.

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