Pamela Ramsey Taylor, who runs a local non-profit group in Clay County, referred to the first lady as an "ape"."It will be refreshing to have a classy, beautiful, dignified first lady in the White House. I'm tired of seeing a Ape in heels," she said.Local mayor Beverly Whaling responded with "just made my day Pam".Matter of fact, my day was spoilt.
In a way, I shouldnt be suprised at all. The world we live in, the people that are our neighbours, friends; they all may harbor the worst prejudices.
Come on..., I am a Ugandan. A gay Ugandan. Just a few months ago, fellow Ugandans were up in arms about a law that they wanted on the books...., a law that would literally have me in prison for life, just because I love another man. Not hate, not rape, not force..., but love another man. And yesterday, I saw an internet post from a 'christian', a Nigerian man whose depth of 'loving' hatred for the gay human being, gay African was breath taking.
But, beautiful, lovely Michelle Obama, the 'ape in the White House'?
Why am I shocked? Because Michelle is beautiful.
Because Michelle is lovely. Because Michelle has done her best to stay above the bitter politics that have embroiled her husband's presidency. Because Michelle has fiercely protected her beautiful children above everything else. Because lovely Michelle, a Ivy League graduate, a lawyer, saw fit to be a 'normal human being' in spite of her husband's call to leadership. She tried her best to play a role she didnt find confortable, with grace.
But, someone else, because of the difference in skin colour, saw 'a ape in the white house'.
It is cliche, there will always be haters. Always.
Some people will always see me as Black. Homosexual. African. a member of a certain tribe'. Some people will always see the darkness of my skin, the broadness of my nose, hear my thick accent, see me as different, a foreigner, only think of what I do in my bed, in my house, with the men that I love.
And, that is why it is so important that I know myself. That I love myself.
That is why it is so important that you, and I, know who we are. And we self-affirm, and stand up to be counted.
That's why we need the fire in the belly to advocate for ours.
We are minorities. Always will be.
We will always be, in the hearts and minds of 'well meaning others' who dont believe themselves racists or homophobes or xenophobes as 'others'.
Because of that, because of that, we MUST affirm our humanity. We must not stop to speak out for ourselves. We must remember that we ARE. (And guard against ourselves holding similar sentiments against others)
Because we can easily forget and buy in into the hate that, consciously or unconsciously, flows from the minds and actions of others. We can believe that we actually are the 'apes' others think we are.
Ours is the duty to like, love, and affirm ourselves.
And, yes, WE CAN.
Michelle, and Barack, thanks for being such an inspiration for us. And, thanks for teaching us those -valuable lessons that self-love and self-affirmation matter, in this time and age.
Yes, We Can. And yes, we will love and affirm ourselves, and our humanity.
Yes, We Can.