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Stop Only Punishing Ignorant Black Women

After Kim Burrell’s homophobic sermon, the famous gospel singer’s scheduled appearance on The Ellen Degeneres Show was cancelled. Many people applauded Ellen and her team for not giving the homophobe another platform, especially after she refused to apologize. While I support Ellen and everyone who spoke out against Burrell’s homophobic comments, it’s hard for me to not acknowledge how there’s a double standard when it comes to bigotry.

Burrell had her Ellen appearance cancelled and her radio show shut down because of her homophobia, but Mike Pence was elected Vice President for his homophobia. Similarly, the breaking point for Azealia Banks’ controversial Twitter account was when she made islamophobic remarks towards Zayn Malik. Later in the year, however, Donald Trump was elected President due, in part, to his islamophobic comments and policies. Black women seem to be the only group of people American society has the capacity of punishing.

In no way do I mean to say that Kim Burrell and Azealia Banks were wrongfully denounced for their comments. No one should be discriminated against simply for their religion or sexual orientation, and punishment for people who do discriminate is appreciated. Unfortunately, it seems that people don’t truly care about the actual discrimination, and instead see a target in a Black woman and lash out at that target.

Donald Trump was objectively racist, sexist, homophobic, islamophobic, transphobic, etc. throughout his entire campaign. While there were many people who spoke out against his hate speech, there were just as many people who excused it as “political beliefs”. When Banks or Burrell, for example, echo the same sentiments that Donald Trump does people can suddenly see the harm in those “political beliefs”.

There is absolutely no consistency in this disapproval of bigotry; people are just eager to vilify Black women and it’s easier when Black women are being ignorant.

To say this is a “Black vs White Issue” would be not only an oversimplification, but also factually incorrect. In November, when Kanye West was admitted into a mental health facility following controversial comments, people flocked to his defense and wished for him to recover quickly. This was before Kanye was even diagnosed with any mental illness, and people immediately excused his actions because they suspected he had issues to work out. Meanwhile, Azealia Banks is diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and nobody every gave her forgiveness like they gave Kanye. It’s difficult to compare these two specific situations because they have many differences, but the part to focus on is how people reacted to the comments.

It has always been, currently is, and always will be important to speak out against ignorant people and bigots. That is why I’m glad that both Azealia Banks and Kim Burrell were punished for the horrible things that they said. But if we’re going to punish those two women, then we should also be punishing everyone else who says what they say and worse. Instead we’re letting Nazis run free and even electing some of them as President of the United States. We should be consistent in our denouncing of bigotry instead of continuing the trend of just targeting Black women.

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Etienne Rodriguez
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I'm an 18 year old social justice/culture journalist currently studying at Rutgers. I want to expose how injustice is ingrained in our culture and how people can use culture as a platform for change.

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