Karamo Brown (#OWNshow, Dr. Drew On Call, Real World: Philadelphia) sat down with Rob Smith (I Want To Work For Diddy) for the January 2015 cover interview of The Fight Magazine. Inside the issue he discusses his life, fatherhood, race in the GLBT community, and so much more. Below is an excerpt of him addressing white privilege and some blacks acting like tokens.
Brown is equally as outspoken about the thorny racial issues at play within the LGBT community, starting with the relative lack of response by many mainstream LGBT organizations in regards to Ferguson or the #blacklivesmatter movement.
“As a community we should be more empathetic towards what those of us who are African-American men are going through. We need to see more LGBT organizations take a stand and show support for the black community during this difficult time,” he says.
Brown definitely sees a connection between the silence from mainstream LGBT organizations and the lack of more diverse faces in LGBT media.
As an openly gay black man being profiled for a mainstream LGBT magazine, Brown realizes he is in rarefied company. Ten years after he broke barriers for black gay men in media, representations are still few and far between.
Some of the blame—says Brown—must be laid at the hands of those who control the media. “White men who are disenfranchised in American society come into the gay community and claim themselves as what is perfection,” he states. “I mean look at that ‘Out100’ list. How many people of color are on there? 10 out of 100? You’re telling me that you couldn’t find at least 50% of color and doing something positive in our community?”
Those in positions of power within the media, says Brown, are missing the point when they don’t realize that their struggles are very similar to those who are disenfranchised.
“How do you get to those white men and say check your white privilege at the door and understand that the struggles you’re going through—I have similar struggles—and that we should be supporting each other?” he asks. “How do we get editors and producers to see as much value in bringing in an LGBT black man as they do in a white man? That’s where the change is going to happen.”
Brown doesn’t let black gays off the hook either. To him, diversity is about more than just being a token or being comfortable with being the only black guy in the room. “A lot of us have accepted being the token. It’s played out. It’s done. It’s 2015. Stop allowing yourself to be fetishized,” he says.