Dwight Allen O’Neal, edited by Mikkel Hyldebrandt
Photo by Mike Ruiz
Podcaster and author Dwight Allen O’Neal used an episode of his usually cheerful Wednesday podcast Shoulda! Coulda! Woulda! to highlight the Black Lives Matter movement and the injustices of how Black queer people are treated. This is an edited transcript of that episode.
Today is not a happy Wednesday. There is so much happening in the world, and to be honest, I’m lost, I’m sad, I’m angry, I’m disappointed not only in the world but also in myself.
Why am I disappointed? Because I have taken on the role of the token Black man. What does that mean? It means that I am the one who is less threatening. I am the one that it is safe to turn to. I am the one who one who should have been louder sooner. I am that one.
And I wasn’t. I wasn’t louder, I didn’t speak up as loud as I should have. I thought I was using my platform in a positive way, and I did. I convinced myself that I was doing that. But in actuality, clearly I was not.
Because as I see the entire world step forward now, I ask: where were you before? Where were you for Trayvvon (Martin, ed.)? For Sandra (Bland, ed.)? Daily I learn people don’t even know who Emmett Till was, and that breaks my heart. It saddens me. Why is that? Why is it now we care? I have heard ‘oh, it’s because we are all at home and everyone is seeing what’s on TV.’ This very well could be true. This is possibly why everyone is stepping forward now for George (Floyd, ed.), and for those of you that are stepping forward, I do greatly appreciate it, but also I recognize that some of you don’t give damn.
I am speaking of brands. I’ve gotten more emails from brands that say they support this cause, support this effort. I actually saw a post by former police saying, you know, they are supportive of these efforts. Where was that support when this Black, gay man was working for you? Where was it then? I didn’t feel it, I didn’t sense it. You could give a damn about George then, but now, all of a sudden, you care. Now, all of a sudden, you care about Black Lives Matter. No! You care about the green that won’t hitting your account if you don’t stand up, step up, and say something.
What I have to say today is; it’s not just criticizing those that are not Black that I finally feel like are stepping up to the plate. This is also to criticize those that are Black that have not supported queer lives. That’s right! Queer lives as well. Just recently, there was a transgender woman, who was brutally attacked, brutally hurt. By who? Cis-gendered Black men. I’m gonna say her name: Iyanna Dior.
Iyanna Dior, you matter. Let’s not forget Tony McDade, who was shot down by police as well. I have not seen that said anywhere. I have not heard anyone talk about this! Is it Black Lives Matter unless you’re queer? Is that what I’m hearing? Because that’s not fair either.
I have been so hesitant, honestly, and resistant to get behind the Black Lives Matter movement, because I felt as a Black man, my life does not matter. When I am faced with adversity in life, when I am faced with things that harm me, when I am racially profiled, discriminated against, where are my heterosexual, cis-gender, Black brothers and sisters there to support me?
I am not saying that it is all people, because Lord know, I have an incredible system around me of cisgender male and female individuals who have my back and support me. However, there are so many, when I am on the train by myself, I see the snickers, I hear the laughter. There was a moment once, when I was on the train reading a book minding my own business, and I had three young men of color come by and bash me over the head with a piece of glass. Because I was gay.
My Black life did not matter then. It didn’t matter to my own people. So, how do I step forward to someone white, and I challenge them for not supporting us, when we don’t support ourselves? I need everyone to do better. I need all of us to do better. Myself included.
How am I going to do better? I am going to even further elevate my platform and stand above the rest, because clearly I am the Black man that many people turn to for wisdom, guidance, and respect because I have had so many white reach out to me asking me ‘Dwight, how can we help, how can we support?,’ and although I am excited that you want to help me, I really am, also on the flipside, it is: where were you before? Where were you? Where you afraid to approach me?
Where were you? I also ask the same thing too when I post about my transgender brothers and sisters that have been affected by things like this. When gay sisters and brothers that have been affected by things like this. Where are my cisgender heterosexual-identifying family members and loved ones reaching out to me and finally going ‘how can I help your community?’, ‘what can I do to support?’
This is a short episode of Shoulda! Coulda! Would! Because all of us shoulda, coulda, woulda stood up a lot sooner. It’s not too late. If you want to see change in the world, be the change in the world.
God bless you.