Metro Weekly

Society's Integrated Steps

An iconic anniversary prompts a look at what has changed and what has not

In the political sphere, the guardians of privilege grow increasingly desperate as they deal in homophobia, xenophobia and misogyny to hold back the tide of diversity. When the National Organization for Marriage tries to drive a wedge between gays and people of color, it is met by new alliances of progressive faith leaders and pro-gay initiatives from the NAACP. A coalition of LGBT groups issues a joint statement demanding justice for Trayvon Martin.

Black voices are increasingly indispensable in the mainstream media, and the power of new media for grassroots organizing is vividly seen in the Martin case. These new voices are not being deflected by diversionary references to old Al Sharpton controversies or the latest provocation by former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry.

White supremacists are whistling past the graveyard. Already, as The National Journal reported in 2011, four states – Hawaii, New Mexico, California and Texas – are majority minority.

New generations of advocates, entrepreneurs and artists have stepped up. Black gay filmmakers such as Dee Rees with Pariah and Patrik-Ian Polk with The Skinny are “taking America back,” to use a racially loaded tea party slogan, by telling stories of their own.

As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of an iconic American film, it is perhaps time to point out to the last-ditch defenders of racial privilege that the colored folk have left the balcony – unless we are talking about the Truman Balcony. That’s the one in the White House.

Richard J. Rosendall is a writer and activist. He can be reached at