“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names (slurs) will never hurt me…”
That may be true, but it shouldn’t be a precursor to murder.
The discussion over the beating death of Marcellus Andrews of Waterloo has brought up a litany of angles and different perspectives over whether or not Andrews was gay (his sister said he wasn’t, per the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier) to the ever-ending list of violence among youths, particularly on the east side of Waterloo.
As a native of Waterloo, I didn’t feel comfortable coming out right away and offering any opinion or comment. Stuff like needs several days to simmer before knowing what the details are and writing an opinion. This I can be sure of: something did happened between Andrews and his murderers that provoke the deadly beating. That is a fact.
Was it a hate crime? Andrews’ family sides with the Waterloo police by saying it wasn’t a hate crime. Others will beg to disagree.
But, to disagree with the family’s, and the police department’s, assertion that it was not a hate crime, would imply that others think they know more about Marcellus than Marcellus’ family does. Is it fair for me, or anyone else, to make an assertion that Andrews was gay and that his family is covering up the fact or are in denial of that notion?
That’s about as reckless of an assertion to make, and a terrible one at that. His family knows Marcellus more than Des Moines Human Rights commissioner Rudy Simms, One Iowa, and I combined. Even if they were to ever admit that Marcellus was gay or exude behavior that would be type-casted as gay, his family isn’t going to tell you. That’s their right and their privacy.
So, what about the words that were used towards Andrews when he was confronted and then was beaten up? Were they just words, or was there an intent to say something about him prior to beating him, causing his death? Today, insensitive and derogatory words to describe an individual have become a flash-point of discussion and debate. Do these words define a person is a hate-monger, racist, misogynist? The easy answer is yes. But, is it as clear-cut as we want to make it out to be?
That depends on who you ask. The African-American clergy and their parishioners are not going to come out and support gays and lesbians in public. Some of them won’t admit in private either. Which is why individuals who have never lived in Waterloo are having a difficult time understanding why the black community have refuse to accept it was a hate crime, with respects to the LGBT community and culture.
That is what makes the Andrews beating death a conundrum: was it a hate crime or another sad case of black-on-black street crime?
The African-American community is religiously conservative when it comes to gays and lesbians. Progression has been made for the LGBT to gain acceptance, but the wall that has been constructed by the black church and black community is one that will take so much more significant time to tear down the brick facade, chip by chip.