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Sexism, Patriarchy and Homophobia

[42:39 to 1:01:32]

The conjunction of class, race, gender, and sexuality has placed wealthy, white, heterosexual men at the top of the American social hierarchy. In the face of white male privilege, many black men have demanded the same kind of power and respect. Power based only on male gender is called patriarchy, the rule of the father; discrimination against women because they are women is sexism; fear of - and discrimination against - gays and lesbians is homophobia.

  1. In the film, bell hooks recalls the confusion and anger she felt when she witnessed her father throw her mother out of their home. How did you react when you heard this story? How widespared is the notion that a man's home is his castle?
  2. Barbara Smith wonders if just because she is female was she "supposed somehow to get stupid?." If you are a woman, have you ever felt uncomfortable exhibiting intelligence or leadership around men? If a man, do you ever feel threatened by smart women?
  3. Where does sexism show itself most frequently among your peer group?
  4. Louis Farrakhan blames women for boxer Mike Tyson's rape conviction. Do men here on campus behave as if "no" means "no"? Why is Mike Tyson considered a hero by many despite his conviction?
  5. The Bible and ancient Africa are both invoked to justify sexism and patriarchy. What do you think of these explanations of the "natural" order of humankind? Can you think of other examples where "nature" or "God" has been used to justify discrimination?
  6. Riggs and Barbara Smith decry the notion that to be black is to be heterosexual. Essex Hemphill doesn't believe that "somehow my blackness is diminished because I love a man." Can you recount instances where people have been made to feel unwelcome in black institutions because of their sexual orientation? What is the greatest concern that your peer group has about gays and lesbians? What can you and your community do to end the exclusion of black gays and lesbians?
  7. Riggs is particularly pained by the black church. He acknowledges the critical role the church has played in the freedom movement over the centuries. But he wants the black church to embrace gays and lesbians and acknowledge their contributions. He shows us a gay, black congregation singing gospel music which offers a safe and loving sanctuary for all black people regardless of sexual orientation. Do you think the church can be a site for reconciliation?
  8. For several reasons, not just sexual orientation, many people feel that "I cannot go home as who I am." What does this line mean to you? Have you ever felt it awkward or difficult to "go home"?

Discussion Questions
Black Is . . . Black Ain't

Introduction: Fighting Words|Black Power = Male Power?|Black Music / Black History / Afrocentrism|Sexism, Patriarchy and Homophobia|Family|Acting White / Not Black Enough?|Multiple Identities and New Forms of Community

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