Journalism Impoverished, Queerness Denigrated

Michael Amico ’07 wanted the D to print his op-ed. They didn’t, and now, by gum, they’ll have to suffer in the hot, unrelenting fricassee that is the marketplace of ideas.

Of particular interest is his explication of Jewelle Gomez’s views. Here it is, rhetorical spittle and all:

>From: GLBT.Programming@Dartmouth.EDU (GLBT Programming)
>Subject: WHAT THE “D” DIDN’T WANT YOU TO READ
>Date: 15 Feb 2005 13:05:18 -0500
>Bulletin Topic: Gay/Lesbian/Bi Programming
>Expires: 28 Feb 2005 13:03:40 -0500

From Michael Amico ’07 fyi and to share….
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Below is an op-ed piece I submitted to The “D” on January 26, 2005, that they refused to print. Not only am I disappointed that the piece was withheld from the Dartmouth community, I am roundly discouraged that The “D” failed to take my comments seriously as they concern the very journalistic integrity of the paper and address the concerns of many students.

In a recent series of stories and editorials on diversity at Dartmouth, queer issues on campus were never taken into consideration nor even remarked upon. Instead, The “D” has racialized queer issues by pitting black students against queer students in ineptly reported, shoddily written, and blatantly false articles, denigrating the queer community at Dartmouth. All students-not just queer students-should be concerned.

I-and the board of the GSA-have called for a meeting with the editors of The “D” to address these issues. It is time to demand an answer. Will they choose to take queer issues seriously or will they blatantly disregard the concerns of queer Dartmouth students again?

If The “D” is not for every student, then who is it for?

JANUARY 26, 2005-Once again, The Dartmouth has misleadingly portrayed queer politics on campus. The deception began in last Tuesday’s article, “MLK speaker choice sparks debate.” The choice of Dorothy Allison, a white lesbian, to give the keynote address honoring the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was falsely exaggerated by The Dartmouth as a “perversion” of the holiday. But according to the author of the piece when I contacted him last Tuesday, Stuart A. Reid said it was tough to find anyone to openly disagree with the choice of Allison as speaker. Reid had to ask quite a few people before controversy gratefully materialized for him.

While writing my own piece on Allison’s speech for Bay Windows, New England’s Gay and Lesbian Newspaper (www.baywindows.com), I wondered why The Dartmouth went out of its way to “spark” its own “debate.” Students were even contacted simply because they are gay and African-American. Apparently, The Dartmouth was unfoundedly hoping these students would have something contentious to provide. They did not, so The Dartmouth went ahead and generated the fuss out of heretofore invisible dissent anyway. In preparation for my piece, I decided to contact the managing editor of The Dartmouth who declined to comment on what exactly constituted the front-page Allison controversy in the first place.

This Tuesday’s Dartmouth has faired just as well in prolonging an otherwise nonexistent controversy. In the article, “Leading gay rights activist bashes men, praises ’60s rock,” Alex Lentz blatantly misrepresents the annual Stonewall Lecture delivered by Jewelle Gomez on Monday. Gomez did not bash men. In fact, she praised men such as Mick Jagger and Elvis Presley who understood the revolutionary and liberatory potential of sexual expression in 60s rock. She also praised African-American gay men such as writer James Baldwin for their commitment to radical politics. Gomez did, however, attack the overriding patriarchal constructs of both western and eastern culture robbing women of the right to sexual expression by either hiding them in burkas or selling them as scantily clad consumer goods. And apparently, gay men-at least according to Lentz’s definition of the “men” in the title of the article-must not count as men since Gomez stated numerously her love for and care of gay men throughout her life.

The Dartmouth had no problem attacking Dorothy Allison for being white, but in the article on Gomez’s speech, there is no mention of the fact that she is proudly African-American and Native American, even when Lenz snidely mentions that the Stonewall Lecture is being promoted as part of Dartmouth’s Martin Luther King, Jr., Celebration. And who better to give such a speech than a woman who has done African-American and gay civil rights work for nearly four decades?

Why then during an MLK celebration of equal rights for all is Gomez’s blackness, which was a central theme of her talk, made invisible while Allison’s whiteness is highlighted as problematic? There are only a handful of prominent queer activists of color. Shouldn’t this be mentioned if Gomez’s lecture is referred to as an MLK Celebration event instead of merely classifying it as a “gay rights” event?

Strangely, Lentz maintains that this year’s Celebration events are “largely focused on gay rights.” To say that two out of the nearly twenty-five scheduled events this year constitute a “large focus” is simply false. It is however an effective, if underhanded and journalistically dishonest, method to remind students that The Dartmouth was ‘correct’ when it reported on the Allison controversy last week.

Lenz shockingly claims that some students-whom he never names or even gives an indication of who they are-felt that Allison’s speech was a “perversion” of MLK celebrations. Are there any senior editors reading his copy before it is printed? Did anyone not think that using the word “perversion” in reference to two of America’s most distinguished lesbian activists *might* be seen as homophobic? Did they care? The word pervert has historical implications in the queer movement. Its use is a fearsome and oppressive rhetorical device. Misreporting aside, both the Allison and Gomez pieces are acting in tandem to depict the line between African-American and queer politics on campus as overtly antagonistic. The offices of The Dartmouth have instituted a fabricated rift between these two communities through the use of homophobic sentiment. They owe us all an answer.

-Michael Amico ’07