7/03/2008

Huey Newton on homosexuality, sexism


The Black Panther Party was known to ruffle some feathers throughout the privileged, white establishment during the turbulent 1960s. During the height of its existence, many party members, most notably Bobby Seale and Eldridge Cleaver, were accused of homophobia and misogyny.

However, it has come to my attention that Black Panther Co-Founder Huey Newton wrote an essay long before it was politically correct, explaining why black leaders should embrace LGBT and feminist activists. "A Letter from Huey Newton to the Revolutionary Brothers and Sisters about the Women’s Liberation and Gay Liberation Movements" is considered the first pro-gay, pro-woman proclamation to come out of the black civil rights movement. Thanks Nikki for emailing me this!

From Clay Cane:

During the past few years strong movements have developed among women and among homosexuals seeking their liberation. There has been some uncertainty about how to relate to these movements.

Whatever your personal opinions and your insecurities about homosexuality and the various liberation movements among homosexuals and women (and I speak of the homosexuals and women as oppressed groups), we should try to unite with them in a revolutionary fashion. I say "whatever your insecurities are" because as we very well know, sometimes our first instinct is to want to hit a homosexual in the mouth, and want a woman to be quiet. We want to hit a homosexual in the mouth because we are afraid that we might be homosexual; and we want to hit the women or shut her up because we are afraid that she might castrate us, or take the nuts that we might not have to start with.

We must gain security in ourselves and therefore have respect and feelings for all oppressed people. We must not use the racist attitude that the White racists use against our people because they are Black and poor. Many times the poorest White person is the most racist because he is afraid that he might lose something, or discover something that he does not have. So you're some kind of a threat to him. This kind of psychology is in operation when we view oppressed people and we are angry with them because of their particular kind of behavior, or their particular kind of deviation from the established norm.

Remember, we have not established a revolutionary value system; we are only in the process of establishing it. I do not remember our ever constituting any value that said that a revolutionary must say offensive things towards homosexuals, or that a revolutionary should make sure that women do not speak out about their own particular kind of oppression. As a matter of fact, it is just the opposite: we say that we recognize the women's right to be free. We have not said much about the homosexual at all, but we must relate to the homosexual movement because it is a real thing. And I know through reading, and through my life experience and observations that homosexuals are not given freedom and liberty by anyone in the society. They might be the most oppressed people in the society.

And what made them homosexual? Perhaps it's a phenomenon that I don't understand entirely. Some people say that it is the decadence of capitalism. I don't know if that is the case; I rather doubt it. But whatever the case is, we know that homosexuality is a fact that exists, and we must understand it in its purest form: that is, a person should have the freedom to use his body in whatever way he wants.

That is not endorsing things in homosexuality that we wouldn't view as revolutionary. But there is nothing to say that a homosexual cannot also be a revolutionary. And maybe I'm now injecting some of my prejudice by saying that "even a homosexual can be a revolutionary." Quite the contrary, maybe a homosexual could be the most revolutionary.

When we have revolutionary conferences, rallies, and demonstrations, there should be full participation of the gay liberation movement and the women's liberation movement. Some groups might be more revolutionary than others. We should not use the actions of a few to say that they are all reactionary or counterrevolutionary, because they are not.

We should deal with the factions just as we deal with any other group or party that claims to be revolutionary. We should try to judge, somehow, whether they are operating in a sincere revolutionary fashion and from a really oppressed situation. (And we will grant that if they are women they are probably oppressed.) If they do things that are unrevolutionary or counterrevolutionary, then criticize that action. If we feel that the group in spirit means to be revolutionary in practice, but they make mistakes in interpretation of the revolutionary philosophy, or they do not understand the dialectics of the social forces in operation, we should criticize that and not criticize them because they are women trying to be free. And the same is true for homosexuals. We should never say a whole movement is dishonest when in fact they are trying to be honest. They are just making honest mistakes. Friends are allowed to make mistakes. The enemy is not allowed to make mistakes because his whole existence is a mistake, and we suffer from it. But the women's liberation front and gay liberation front are our friends, they are our potential allies, and we need as many allies as possible.

We should be willing to discuss the insecurities that many people have about homosexuality. When I say "insecurities," I mean the fear that they are some kind of threat to our manhood. I can understand this fear. Because of the long conditioning process which builds insecurity in the American male, homosexuality might produce certain hang-ups in us. I have hang-ups myself about male homosexuality. But on the other hand, I have no hang-up about female homosexuality. And that is a phenomenon in itself. I think it is probably because male homosexuality is a threat to me and female homosexuality is not.

We should be careful about using those terms that might turn our friends off. The terms "faggot" and "punk" should be deleted from our vocabulary, and especially we should not attach names normally designed for homosexuals to men who are enemies of the people, such as Nixon or Mitchell. Homosexuals are not enemies of the people.

We should try to form a working coalition with the gay liberation and women's liberation groups. We must always handle social forces in the most appropriate manner.

Labels:

9 Comments:

At Thursday, July 10, 2008 12:33:00 AM, Blogger Adamgv said...

Women need to be empowered more in general. They need to use their looks for good rather than use them for personal selfish persuits. When you get a moment check out:

www.prettygirlssavetheworld.com .

 
At Saturday, December 06, 2008 11:46:00 PM, Blogger alicia banks said...

thank you for printing my favorite speech by huey!

see more at:
OUTLOOK
http://aliciabanks.blogspot.com/

peace
ab

 
At Wednesday, February 03, 2010 3:15:00 PM, Blogger Jordan T said...

this is awesome, thanks!

 
At Monday, November 22, 2010 6:56:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

smart young man... real man!

 
At Tuesday, December 28, 2010 2:41:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This letter is not from Huey P Newton.
Where is the time reference?
Where did he write it from?
Where is the greeting, date or salutations?
Who verified this letter with a post mark?
Also what other letter did he write? This one is so just happen to promote homo's. I dont believe it is from Huey. I need real evidence

 
At Saturday, January 01, 2011 4:39:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you serious? It comes DIRECTLY out of the "Huey P. Newton" reader edited by David Hilliard. Buy the book, it's in there. Sourced and referenced and everything.

 
At Wednesday, January 19, 2011 11:00:00 PM, Blogger Nev said...

Huey P Newton and my Homosexual Revolution

This man was a revolutionary man. Only a man that is revolutionary can make me feel like that with his words and I say this as a gay 'black' UK man, 44yrs, who has been waking up to the physical, mental and emotional realities of racism and homophobia, for the last 15 years. Tomorrow I meet with a solicitor to ‘progress’ a matter concerning a college of Social and Youth Work (informal education) in London that has a 'Christian values base' but receives state funding, along with income accrued from the book sales of senior members of teaching staff who's titles are required reading, to teach everyone regardless of faith??? So....when hypocrisy get this serious it is great to find that members of minority community students who are targeted and exploited by these people and who go on to persecute homosexuals identified within those communities, can refer to Huey's words of wisdom so that discrimination cannot be so easily be mistaken for education in establishments which practice double standards by default yet which is disguised and obscured by the most blatant and contemptuous hypocrisy. This appears to be the case when one is so sure of one's righteousness that it is projected onto and into people’s lives and minds in a way that causes an involuntary reorganisation of the mind, body and soul otherwise known destruction in relation to all those particular elements of the person receiving said 'righteousness'.

If that is the case you state and assert and it is for me as I have stated, can you not see why a person in my position or anything like it would not be inclined to believe, if not totally convinced that to be 'wrong' and particularly so for you, is indeed an experience of Being 'right' (normal)for them and those like them in absolutely any and every form where the experience and/or feelings described and associated with your 'righteousness' do not exist. As Huey points out

"If we feel that the group in spirit means to be revolutionary in practice, but they make mistakes in interpretation of the revolutionary philosophy, or they do not understand the dialectics of the social forces in operation, we should criticize that and not criticize them because they are women trying to be free. And the same is true for homosexuals. We should never say a whole movement is dishonest when in fact they are trying to be honest. They are just making honest mistakes. Friends are allowed to make mistakes. The enemy is not allowed to make mistakes because his whole existence is a mistake, and we suffer from it. But the women's liberation front and gay liberation front are our friends, they are our potential allies, and we need as many allies as possible."
Huey P Newton

The alternative choice is to choose to make enemies of other human beings because we cannot have your own way. I do that when I bully someone if I want and I can get away with it, regardless of whether or not I know I'm being experienced as a bully. So, if when we reflect upon our actions as human beings and do not take into account what other people are communicating to us, and as they would have it understood, shared and appreciated, it is the case that we are actively disrespecting that person and thereby subjecting them to an environment in which the sentiments we project are felt and experienced as an involuntary change of form, relative to the pre-existing synchrony between their thoughts and feelings. These components are thus rendered and experientially inflicted as separate, incongruent and now alien, in relation to the Human Being of which they were once an integral and otherwise healthy, and happy part. These insights about me and my world of consciousness have occurred to me in the last hour or so since reading Huey's words and describe precisely the nature of revolution as it happened and continues to happen for and around me.

This is good.

Love

Neville

 
At Tuesday, August 02, 2011 11:21:00 PM, Blogger anwar diamante said...

Could you please tell me where there is an original source for this letter. I love it because it gives validity to being black/gay/ and a man.

 
At Monday, February 27, 2012 10:25:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

mane Huey Newton didn't say this bullshit. Fuck LGBT.

 

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