This sentence spread through Black Twitter like a wildfire. These were the words uttered by black Holiday Inn employee Craig Brooks as he denied entry to a white woman who called him a “fucking nigger”. She begged and pleaded to enter the hotel. He told her that there is a Best Western next door that might accept her. She said that her mother died (interestingly, I lost many friends and family, and not once has any of their deaths caused me to throw racial epithets at random people). Not once did he raise his voice or make any intimidating gestures. He simply calmly told her that, “It’s above me now”, and refused her service, as the agent of a private entity has the right to do. Craig Brooks became the hero we needed, and his phrase is the meditative phrase every person of color deserves in the midst of a week of horrid news. And then Monday came.
As what happens when there is an open record of your random written thoughts, Craig Brooks’ old tweets surfaced. He apparently resented the existence of trans folks. It wasn’t a few anti-trans jokes. It was a screed of hate that spanned numerous months.
This discovery was a major disappointment to many people. We like our heroes pristine. #ItsAboveMeNow should be on a shirt. Why, Craig? Why? He even tweeted that he agreed with donald trump’s transgender military ban. If you find yourself agreeing with donald trump on a social subject, you should very much examine what it is you are thinking. Craig Brooks is a gay black man. What on earth would he have to gain by dumping on another group of marginalized people who just want to live their lives? He should know how this feels.
The worst is that Mr. Brooks initially doubled down on all the hate. When he was confronted with his comments, he followed the Privileged boy Playbook™. First, he doubled down with a statement to Buzzfeed: “They’re mad lol I said what I said. People are so sensitive. I’m gay and I KNOW people will not agree with me being gay. I just don’t and will never get trans. Period.”
Second step in the handbook: make an “apology”, but make it about himself: “I understand that as a gay man my comments were wrongful and my views on an isolated group of individuals is no excuse to make a blanket statement about ALL trans people. The harmful tweets were about 2 years ago, and earlier this year I went to social to attack someone else who I felt wronged me. In a moment of anger I made my tweets, and today instead of stopping and reading what the community has said, I got upset and retaliated (not the correct answer, but a force of habit). I am just a normal person who went to work yesterday to do my job, I had no idea that today I would wake up with all of this attention. Since my rude comments in the past my trans friend and my gay cousin have both spoken to me about how my words have hurt people. For that I am truly sorry…Just as I have said, “It’s above me now”, my past statements are as well. All I can do is genuinely apologize and change my behavior. I am truly sorry. With love and light.”
Craig Brooks’s “apology” had all the hits! “It Was in the Past”, “I Didn’t Mean All of Them”, “I Am Just Human”, and my favorite: “Some of My Best Friends…”. A masterpiece. We can only hope that he goes with the third step in the Privileged Boy Playbook™: Obscurity. I don’t wish him ill, or that he fails at life. I just wish that we don’t have to hear from him again. But we are keeping, “It’s Above Me Now”. That is the Community’s property now.
Keeping the phrase is fine. Heralding Brooks’s horrid statements is not. But it also sheds light on how horribly trans folks, and especially trans folks of color, are treated by this world. We are in the middle of LGBTQIA Pride Month. Here in Rochester, Pride Month turns into Pride Summer since the Out Alliance hosts their Pride festival in July, and shortly after Rochester Black Pride rounds out the season. None of these things would happen were it not for the actions of black and brown trans folks of color who were so sick of the police cracking down on their friends and family minding their damn business that they initiated an uprising in front of the Stonewall Inn.
We keep foisting up and celebrating Pride as if it is a celebration, ignoring that like every other pride or history month in America, it was born from blood and violence that descended upon those we are now celebrating. We should celebrate Pride to remember that LGBTQIA folks have been here contributing to our lives since before the term LGBTQIA existed. We have Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, and Stormé DeLarverie to thank for the establishment of this month. We cannot forget.
Specifically, to the black folks out there: WE ARE NOT IN A SUFFERING OLYMPICS COMPETITION. Horrible things have happened to black folks in this country, but horrible things have happened to queer folks, too. Remember that some queer folks are black as well. The idea that homosexuality is not “African” is a myth. Gay and trans folks are NOT tearing apart the black family. You’re thinking of the School-to-Prison pipeline, or perhaps the residual effects of years of redlining, or the Dutch and English and Spanish. Queer folks’ demand for respect is not an affront on our struggle. In fact, if we were to put the crimes committed against our ancestors side by side without labels, I doubt that we would be able to tell the difference.
Let us celebrate Pride, and the trans folks who helped Pride become what it is now. Trans people of color are STILL being killed at a higher rate than any other group in this country, despite their contributions. Next time someone tries spouts something transphobic or homophobic, cut them off. Don’t let them shade people unjustifiably. We have no time for this, in 2019. It’s above you now.
Chris Thompson is an engineer, writer, comedian, and activist who made Rochester, New York his home in 2008. In addition to his role as Contributor for 540Blog , he currently writes the Chronicles of Nonsense segment for the Almost Tuesday show on WAYO-FM 104.3, and regularly posts and writes on his own on Instagram and Twitter at @ChronsOfNon.Additionally , Chris is a Food Writer for Rochester City Newspaper. His blog is www.chroniclesofnonesense.com