On Monday afternoon, Twitter user Transadvocate borrowed a quote from First Lady Michelle Obama in what would best be described as a half-baked attempt at convincing members of the LGBTQIA community to put their differences with homophobic conservatives aside in order to “forgive” them for their history of bigotry.
Riffing on Obama’s insistence that “when they go low, we go high,” Transadvocate included an image of a rainbow-colored person embracing a smaller person styled like a Confederate flag above the words “Forgiveness 2016.”
The image is itself a spin on a popular bumper sticker showing the Confederate figure kicking the queer one in the groin and in a different world, you can see how the remixed image might have encouraged some people to consider reaching out to less-progressive counterparts. But we don’t live in that world. We live in the real world, where queer folks who have been historically marginalized by bigoted conservatives remember these sorts of things and will gladly remind anyone who’s forgotten.
Almost immediately, responses to Transadvocate’s call to action came pouring in from queer people of various ethnic backgrounds, gender identities, and sexualities. As diverse a group of people as they were, their thoughts about the tweet were all pretty much the same: “Not today, Satan.”
Zoé Samudzi, a PhD Student at University of California, San Francisco took the time to explain how the idea being expressed by Transadvocate was contingent upon a person’s ability to look past the many ways in which the Confederate flag and those for whom the flag is a symbol of their political beliefs have harmed not just queer people, but people of color, as well. Simply forgetting the historical and contemporary significances of the flag, Samudzi elaborated, is the sort of luxury only afforded to a very specific segment of the queer population.
“Who is so invested in this power structure of whiteness that you’d shove the idea of oppressor-coddling down our throats,” Samudzi said. “Who’s so entrenched in whiteness that you’re STILL looking for redeeming qualities in the people actively trying to disenfranchise you?”
BlackGirlNerds’ Tora Shae put it even more simply: