Bridging The Gap…

Asa and Holly: I’ve wanted to facilitate a conversation between you two for a while because I didn’t get the discord/disconnect between you.  Early on when Holly and I were having our struggle, I agreed with most of what Asa said or implied about you, Holly.  But as we have interacted on and off the board, I have seen you grow/shift, swallow some hard to digest truths that I’ve sent your way.  I admire that very much.

Asa, you have been a wonderful brother to me, even when I have gone over the edge (see below).  I appreciate your support and your perspective very much.  But, as I’ve asked you to clear up for me (if you don’t mind), your feelings regarding white  gay/lesbian interaction with black folks generally and specific to this particular white person, Holly.

Here’s an opportunity – RIGHT HERE – if you choose to accept it, to hash out the shit.  What’s interesting to me is that I like you both very much, how you think, your warmth and generosity towards me.  So, how can we heal this rift – not between to ideologies – but between two human beings?  Can we?

11 Responses to “Bridging The Gap…”

  1. I’m willing, Max and Asa. Your offer is a generous and odd one. BTW, I like “odd.” I’m not using the adjective pejoratively. I like to be surprised and this is a sweet surprise.

    Asa, if you’re willing, is there something you need from me?

    Max, is there something you need from me?

  2. I’m an odd bird, huh, Holly? I don’t need anything from you, just your openness to hear Asa at your deepest heart level when he responds.

    I really am excited to hear what Asa has to say and I hope (hint/hint) that he’s down to open up.


  3. “Odd” in the sense that I’ve never seen a blog used in this way. Every good thing ever realized has come from difference. So, odd is brave and odd can tender wonderful things.

    I’ll do my best to hear Asa. I’ve actually been trained to do that, which isn’t to say that training always suffices.

  4. MJ… I find it ironic, (but not surprising I might add), that you offer to facilitate a conversation between Holly and I… to be a peacemaker, in light of the fact that I attempted to get you to reflect on the tone and particularly the name calling associated to your discussion with Mahndisa…(btw, I have not lost hope that you will reflect and a positive outcome will occur… I am patient). Like you are attempting now, sometimes I believe that the voice of a peacemaker is required, whether welcome or not, regardless of who may be right or wrong, especially when I don’t understand how differences of opinions leads to personal insults and/or unnecessary nastiness. I am always open to offers to express my point of view, listen to others, discuss, sincerely process and at least try to understand. I may not change my opinion, but as I stated to you many times, for me it’s not a matter of agreeing, it’s about expanding my boundaries and looking at things from a different perspective.

    First, I have no personal quarrel with Holly and didn’t think that we were involved in one. I am in no conflict with her… real or perceived. As she correctly stated I don’t know anything about her. I have only once spoken directly to her in regards to comments she directed towards me and in that discourse, I informed her that I do not get involved in blog wars with others. I then made my point and moved on. I don’t know exactly why, but I do remember that from the beginning I felt her comments towards anything I said to you, confrontational and condescending (notice I stated “her comments towards anything I said to you”… I never took it as personal attacks). For the most part I either ignored them or made a reference to them in my discussions with you MJ. I made it a point to refrain from directly discoursing with her because as I stated, I don’t get involved in blog wars, especially on someone else’s blog page. Life is too short to use time and energy to engage into and sustain conflicts. There is way too much conflict in the real world for me to want to start one, ESPECIALLY WITHIN THE CYBER WORLD!!! So her comment “Asa, some people believe that a man is measured by the magnitude of his enemy. If you want to measure up, I suggest that you find an enemy other than me.”… I find distasteful and baiting. Holly may believe that having differences of opinion make one enemies. Holly and I may have fundamental differences in our beliefs, but that does not make us enemies! Not in my world anyway as I can ONLY speak for myself. (I won’t even dignify her comment “unless, of course, you hate queer people in the course of your life…” by responding to it – however I guess in a way I think I just did…lol…). I have no enemies. I am not looking for enemies. I don’t want her as an enemy. I don’t need her as an enemy to validate my existence or to “measure up”.

    In saying all this, I do understand where she may surmise that I disliked her: 1), in expressing my opinion, (more than once) that gay white females are the “new overseers” of approved dissent, (I would argue that first it was left-wing Jewish males, then the mantle was passed to white feminists and finally to gwf); 2), that I have little trust in “their” collective sincerity when it comes to the struggles of people of African descent (since from my “limited” experience with working within certain organizations, I have observed how they attempt to hijack the focus and energies to their issues); and 3), finally I have also personally experienced how some (to be honest not all) have employed the “divide and conquer” strategy among “us”… (I believe rightly or wrongly, that Holly has tried this between you and I). It also doesn’t help that I am guilty of specifically referring to comments she has made to prove these points in previous discussions. It is interesting that you state: “Early on when Holly and I were having our struggle, I agreed with most of what Asa said or implied about you, Holly.” Even then MJ, I never saw this as an opportunity to encourage or add more fuel to enflame your “struggle” with her. I was however blunt in my views.

    So where do we go from here? What is the process for closure of this perceived conflict? (“perceived” by me as I have no “real” conflict with Holly). I am not one to take the attitude/position: “this is me”; “this is the way I am”; “this is my position/opinion so deal with it or fuck off”. Although I do have very strong beliefs/values/opinions, I do NOT have an insatiable addiction to be “right” or the desire to create a dillusion of being “strong” and therefore “unmovable”. I find this kind of attitude counterproductive as it sustains conflict and prevents growth. MJ, this is your page so please correct me if I am mistaken. Normally I will express my opinions and why I agree or disagree with a stated position. I may at times be harsh in my assessments BUT I am never disrespectful. At all times (expect once that I can remember), I direct my comments to you so as to avoid juvenile conflicts. Pride and “soft skins” are the major causes of conflicts in the blogosphere from what I have observed. I do not believe that I have ever on or off your board, disrespected you or any guest on your page. I don’t call or refer to others by derogatory names; neither do I remember ever demonizing and/or demeaning their person, opinions and beliefs. I have never expressed or implied any hate for “white” or “queer” individuals, specifically Holly. If I am mistaken, then enlighten me, for this type of ignorance is NOT bliss and I need to be made aware of it so as to take full responsibility for my actions.

    REGARDLESS, perception is at ALL times more powerful than reality. So let me directly address Holly for the second time: “I apologize… sincerely… for any real or perceived attacks that you felt I made towards you.”

    MJ… I sincerely appreciate your effort to be a peacemaker. You are indeed a child of God. We will not always get along with those whom we encounter in our life’s journey… but at the end of the day… most conflicts are insignificant but their end results can be destructive if not put aside. I strive to be one who cares more about people than being proud; about other’s feelings than being “right”.


  5. MJ… from the naive hopeful dreamer within me:

    “Remember to be gentle with yourself and others. We are all children of chance, and none can say why some fields will blossom while others lay brown beneath the August sun. Care for those around you. Look past your differences. Their dreams are no less than yours, their choices in life no more easily made. And give. Give in any way you can, of whatever you possess. To give is to love. To withhold is to wither. Care less for your harvest than for how it is shared, and your life will have meaning and your heart will have peace.”
    Kent Nerburn.

    Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly, and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant as they too have their story. Be yourself especially and do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love, for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.


  6. Asa: Believe me, the rightness of your post about my conduct with Mahndisa did not fail to hit home. That is not the way that I want to express myself; I will look at it more closely, but as I said before, I’ve just been in a space of frustration. I should have avoided the entire conversation; I truly don’t engage with folks holding certain because I don’t have the patience. But I hope to have more of it one day.

    And I appreciate your words here. I did presume certain things – that you had beef with Holly – that weren’t true. My fault.

    I do want to be more gentle with myself and other for sure, while staying responsible for my side of the street, keeping it clean and doing my part to police it.

    Thanks for continuing to challenge me and not giving up on me.


  7. This is slightly OT, but then obliquely on topic: Mandhisa’s blog. I massively disagree with her politics, but (a) it’s her blog page, and (b) as someone who teaches people with whose politics I, for the most part, also massively disagree, I have noted that if one wishes to talk to someone about their ideas, it is worth seeking common ground first. If you don’t, you just end up with a fight. If you take it slowly, they may find out that that commie homo hippie liberal isn’t all bad, and may have a point on some things.

    It really does take that long.

  8. Asa, I thank you for the generosity of your posting, both in its length and specificity. I read it three times and found it plump with compassion. As far as queer white women co-opting the African-American struggle, I believe that this is your experience, I can therefore understand why you would extrapolate from it and be wary, and through your words, I’m learning to be wary of such a tendency in my self.

    As far as my comment, “Asa, some people believe that a man is measured by the magnitude of his enemy. If you want to measure up, I suggest that you find an enemy other than me,” I tried to be self-deprecating.

    Thanks again for addressing me directly and with such precision, Asa. It means a lot to me.

  9. Z: You’re never off topic.

  10. Professor Z, there was once a woman at a university who enormously annoyed me. She talked, but I didn’t listen. I didn’t validate her words because they seemed so contrary to mine.

    Then one day, I saw her away from the school. She was with her son, whose best friend had just committed suicide. She was so skilled and gentle and wise with him and my misassumptions flip-flopped in that moment. She wasn’t the Other that I’d miscast her as. Rather, she was an ally in caring for kids.

    Of course, I was a fool, led astray by a stray word that she had once said and that I had long forgotten, but I’ve never forgotten how easily I’m led astray by my hasty assumptions.

    Asa, I want to expand on something I wrote yesterday, which is: “I can therefore understand why you would extrapolate from it and be wary, and through your words, I’m learning to be wary of such a tendency in my self.”

    I do have selfish desires to ally with black folks. When I wrote that I’m not much of an enemy, I was referring to my physicality. I’m thin and 50. I’m also gentle. So, there are places that I’ve learned to avoid, such as straight bars and certain streets, where experience has taught me that peril might await. Most queer women have been physically threatened. Physical attacks aren’t uncommon. Most queer women long for the liberty of walking safely down a street or into a bar, without wearing the concealing mask of heteronormality. So, I do desire safety and in a world where one is always, always outnumbered, such safety can only come through allies. So, I admit that I want to be safe and I want allies and I further admit that wanting to ally with black folks is partly to pursue that purpose. It’s not my only reason. I am also concerned with justice and compelled by the Christ, but I am selfish, to some degree, all the time.

  11. MJ… it is understandable that you were of the opinion that I had a personal beef with Holly and you moved to rectify this. No harm, no foul. You were coming from a “good” place.

    As far as your discourse(s) with Mahndisa… I cannot say that you should have avoided the entire conversation. I think that one should expect to be engaged and challenged, if one decides to put their beliefs and opinions out into the blogosphere to be heard. As I stated previously, I believe your points and assessments in the discussion to be sound and correct. You even made an attempt to offer her other sources to validate your points and expand her knowledge… which she rejected outright… but as I stated before: that’s HER loss. I do understand your frustration and anger with her attitude, and with her. No one enjoys rejection… expecially when one is trying to be helpful… and Prof. Z is right on point!

    keep on keepin’ on mah Bruh!


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