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George is Tired…Of Hoteps Taking Space and Blocking Liberation

Killmonger was wrong.

A world that existed with a leader like anti-hero Killmonger would be rooted in patriarchy, often attacking women and most likely dangerous for any type of queer existence. Although Black Panther was just a movie, it was interesting seeing how so many could find Killmonger’s logic as anything but an appeal for the power that white men have to oppress your own community while conquering others.

Enter real life. We don’t have any Killmongers here, but we for sure have the Umar Johnsons and Tariq Nasheeds of the world who simply will not lead anyone to liberation. Unfortunately, these men have been allowed to take up space as “Black leaders” under the guise of surface level Black history anecdotes while displaying all the signs of being a broken clock. Poorly dressed broken clocks at that.

Although Umar Johnson has seemingly fallen off the face of the earth following the exposure of his shady lies about his credentials, being a relative of Frederick Douglass (he is not, for the record), and raising hundreds of thousands in funds for a school that has never opened, he is still seen by many as a thought leader. And even if he does fall away forever into the abyss, Hoteps are like gray hairs, in the sense that you take one out, and seven more just seem to pop up.

More relevant during this time, though, is Tariq Nasheed. Nasheed’s claim to fame is his popular documentary series Hidden Colors. Nasheed has boasted that he is pro-black and anti-white supremacy, while assimilating all the tools of whiteness to constantly attack and harass Black women and Black Queer folks. I have seen him attempt to weaponize his hundreds of thousands of followers under the theory that many of us are waging a war on straight Black men. It’s a thread that is common amongst Hoteps.

Hundreds of thousands of followers view and internalize his faulty logic and pure misstatements of fact. What if Black women or Black & Queer folk had these resources to spread important messaging around anti-Blackness, homophobia and misogynoir rather than fighting against cishets who reduce our Blackness because of our “otherness.”

But enough about them, because I am truly tired. Tired of talking them up, giving them my energy, space, platform and words (well, this is likely one last time). What I would much rather discuss is that they are taking up space where important voices need to be heard. That of Black women and especially that of Black Queer people.

Unfortunately, our community has always rested its need for a savior in the hands of a cishet Black man. The assimilation into patriarchy has truly ruined us, denying any real chance at us ever finding liberation — should we be unable to unlearn this horrible tool of white supremacy. We have NEVER even given a chance to someone other than them to be a leader. The reduction of one’s Blackness because of gender and sexuality continues to ruin us and shut out needed voices from the room.

We must start having some real conversations with cishet men that we feel “get it” to begin checking the Hotep community at large. At best, Hotep logic is comical. The memes of “Real kings don’t (insert anti-Black statement),” or my favorite: “I am not my grandparents. Sincerely, THESE HANDS.” A total disrespect to the slave rebellions, riots, and violent protests many of our grandparents took part in. This rhetoric, although widely shared, is unlearnable with a few quick statements of fact.

However, Hotep logic at its worst is very deadly. It is often rooted in misogynoir and homophobia. When the memes and statements play out in real life, the consequences can be deadly. The hateful thoughts often become violent actions against those marginalized communities. A Hotep logic that teaches a Blackness absent feminism and queerness is a recipe for disaster each time.

Black Lives Matter has not seen enough light in our community. The pro-Black-with-conditions crew continues to paint this picture of liberation that is really oppression. It’s time to cut the oxygen from their platforms — which can only be done when enough people stop FEEDING INTO THE BULLSHIT.

Let me be clear when I say: Blackness is inherently Queer. Blackness is inherently woman. Any attempt to destroy that is anti-Black as fuck. The marginalized have always been here and we aren’t going anywhere ever. The time is now for us to take up space. And get these Heathcliff Huxtable, R. Kelly apologizing, Bill Cosby saving ass folks up out of the paint.

No one is free unless we all can be free.


George M. Johnson

George M. Johnson is a black queer journalist and activist located in the Nyc area. He has written for TheRoot, ET, HIVequal, TheGrio, TeenVogue, NBC News and several other major publications.

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