Islamophobia and Chechnya’s concentration camps

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, Chechnya has been kidnapping gay and bisexual men and detaining them in concentration camps. Approximately 100 men have been detained, and an estimated 3 have been murdered.

When discussing this, several news sites (the Guardian, Daily Mail, Times, and yes, Breitbart) as well as people mention that it is a predominantly Muslim country.

However, several people have been using this fact as a way to criticise Islam – a lazy way of getting a couple Islamophobic digs in while also caping as a supporter of the LGBT+ community.

Such articles subtly conflate Islam with homophobia, a shallow analysis that harms the Muslim LGBT+ community.

Religious texts are above all else interpretive – even scholars using a similar method, such as Biblical literalism, can end up with a broad span of answers depending upon what they focus upon.

Faith doesn’t need to exist in opposition to the LGBT+ community – just as organized religion can be a tool to oppress, it can also be a tool to uplift and empower. Religion is, above all else, run by the powerful who impress their views upon the greater community, whether these are of tolerance, or of homophobia and sexism.

Blaming Islam for the violent homophobia orchestrated in its name does the LGBT+ community a disservice, just as with blaming any kind of religion.

Understandably, many  of us LGBT+ folks are wary of religions, due to the overwhelming prevalence of homophobia disguised as gospel that threatens our lives. We certainly can be critical, and feel hatred towards people that use religion as a weapon against us, but religion can be reinterpreted in far more tolerant, and accepting ways.

A further issue with linking homophobia with Islam is in the ways it allows (mostly white) people to distance themselves from their own homophobia. It’s far easier to feed into the image of the racialised, dark-skinned Muslim that is ignorant, violent, and backwards, than to look at yourself and how your own communities perpetuate homophobia. Perpetuating this view of Islam justifies the violence against Muslims, particularly Muslim women, that continues to this day.

***

If you still have trouble squaring Islam with the existence of LGBT+ Muslims, you can take a look at the work of these people and get some insight into their experiences with religion.

Here, LGBT+ Muslims, Christians and Jews describe their relationship between their sexuality and faith.

Dr. Scott Siraj al-Haqq Kugle’s demonstrates that homophobia has little basis in the Quran.

Imam Daayiee Abdullah has created a lecture series on the LGBT+ community and Islam.

The Advocate showcases over 20 LGBT+ Muslim activists.

 

 

Imaam is a UK-based advocacy group for LGBT+ Muslims.

LGBT Muslims “discusses the issues surrounding Islam and sexual, as well as gender, diversity. We are offering diverse and positive perspectives from varies individuals, organizations, and will do our best to give historical background to these modern issues.”

If you want to make a concrete impact upon the lives of the gay Chechen men that have been targeted by these homophobic crimes, or receive current information about this crisis, you can donate to and visit the Russian LGBT+ Network.

Illustrator and filmmaker Maeril created a webcomic that explains how bystanders can respond to Islamophobic acts.

Additionally, you can contact your political representatives and demand that they push for these gay and bisexual men seeking refuge to be given visas.

Cover image from Imaamlondon.wordpress.com

 

Advertisements

People of colour on Youtube you need to watch

Gamers

Check out Geeks of Color for more.

Social justice

  • Kat Blaque is a children’s illustrator, activist, and queen of true tea. She makes incredibly topical, informative, well-researched videos as well as more informal advice, and vlogs. Looking to jump in? I recommend her video on Lady Gaga’s superbowl performance.
  • Franchesca Leigh is an activist, podcaster, and co-host of MTV’s decoded.
  • Morgan Howard is a documentarian that specialises in Native American cultures and histories.
  • Sensei Aishitemasu (aka Seren), previously mentioned in my Lemonade reader makes free-form vlogs, reviews, and opinion pieces.
  • Marinashutup is a bisexual woman of colour that covers a wide range of topics, including the LGBT+ community, menstruation, and her love for Kristen Stewart.
  • Angryhijabi is a young Muslim woman with a healthy hatred for Trump. She was interviewed by PogieJoe to discuss misconceptions about Muslims. She’s also on Facebook!
  • Philogynoir is dedicated to uplifting fellow black women.

Beauty

Comedy, vlogs and life

  • Sitting pretty Lolo is a black physically disabled woman that documents her life. Also – need a wheelchair review? She’s got you.
  • TheThirdPew is an Ethiopian-American vlogger and comic.
  • Akilah, Obviously! features great sketches, and regularly reminds us of the hellscape that is Trump’s America.
  • Ari Fitz is a black lesbian model, and uploads vlogs every single day.
  • Rian Phin does relaxed vlogs, GRWMs, and occasional review.
  • Black Netizen does “pop culture discussions, including k-pop, wellness, and internet culture, from a black perspective.”
  • Domo and Chrissy are a lesbian couple with a newborn son (congratulations!!!) that document their lives on Youtube.
  • Miles Jai vlogs, does comedy sketches, and unboxings, and videos on K-pop.

DIY

  • April Bee does tutorials on natural hair, and also does the most amazing furniture makeovers!
  • treshaja regularly uploads affordable furniture DIYs.

A final special thank you to these blogs that put me onto some of these youtubers!

Native News

Feministing

Edit 25/05/17: I’ve decided I’ll intermittently add Youtubers of colour whose content I enjoy so this article can remain current! 

Beyoncé’s Lemonade: A Black American Women’s Reader

A lot of people have already written about Lemonade, Beyoncé’s groundbreaking work that highlighted the unique struggles that Black women face.

I’m not going to be one of them.

As a white woman, I am not the intended audience and will never experience the misogynoir  that Black American women content with on a daily basis. In light of this, why would my voice add anything to the conversation?

Therefore, I’ve compiled a list of articles, essays, videos, and podcasts of African American women sharing their thoughts, critiques, and reactions to Lemonade. 

Articles

Zandria F. Robinson analyses Lemonade‘s Southern gothic, historical and cultural context, as well as noting that the album

concerns itself with legitimating and creating space for a range of black women’s emotions, pushing back against the generational curse of hurt patriarchs and unrelenting state actors who refuse to stop hurting the women and girls who sacrifice the most and love them best.

Brittany Spanos shines a light on Beyoncé’s connection to rock, and the black women in its history.

Tiffanie Drayton criticizes explicit, and implicit colourism in the “Formation” music video and Beyoncés Superbowl performance, while also recognising that one woman alone “cannot represent the full complexity of the black experience. Nor should she be expected to.”

Expanding on the above, scholar Yaba Blay writes about her experiences as a New Orleanian, dark-skinned black woman, and how Beyoncé’s celebration of her creole heritage harkens to antiblackness and colourism.

Essays

bell hook’s Moving Beyond Pain takes a more critical view, stating that

No matter how hard women in relationships with patriarchal men work for change, forgive, and reconcile, men must do the work of inner and outer transformation if emotional violence against black females is to end. We see no hint of this in Lemonade. If change is not mutual then black female emotional hurt can be voiced, but the reality of men inflicting emotional pain will still continue (can we really trust the caring images of Jay Z which conclude this narrative).

DrMyrtleMean’s essay on Therecipeforecstacy.com sees Lemonade in terms of death, and mourning – but also a rebuilding and consolidation of community and family.

It is time to wake up and open your eyes to the reality ofloss. She is not just talking about her personal losses but the losses of the  African American community.  She introduces the injustices perpetrated against young Black men and references the devastation of a Black community with images of the Stadium where people sought refuge after Hurricane Katrina. (pain, images of death)

DrMyrtleMean’s note about the importance of men in Beyoncé’s healing is reminiscent of bell hook’s The Will to Change.

She also speaks to his (the Black man and Jay Z’s)  ability to facilitate her growth. He is magical again. He has the ability to heal her instead of deceive her. He can make her insecurities invisible.  They will love openly for the world to see. But the world will be absent to them. They will again make sweet love All Night long.

Videos

Seren’s (aka Sensei Aishitemasu) free-form vlog discusses her emotional response to the Lemonade film, its imagery, and reminds her audience of Beyoncé’s humanity and life portrayed through her art.

ceedotceeTV’s review sees Lemonade in terms of a cheating partner, and breaks it down by each section, and song.

Ashley Miller’s album review looks at Beyoncé’s musical development, and possible connections between Lemonade and her personal life.

Podcasts

The Unfriendly Black Hotties’ episode LemonSLAYED is an hour-long discussion of their favourite looks, what impacted them the most, and cultural conversations about Lemonade.

Black Girls Talking’s bonus episode on Lemonade declares a state of Beymergency.