I did not intend to write anything about the recent news of Roland Martin being sacked by CNN over pressure from GLAAD, but after learning more about the facts, and more importantly, the level of opinions from various outlets, I think that it is time to speak up in support of Roland Martin, free speech, and dialogue as a important ingredient in our process of learning.
Roland was temporarily removed from the network after gay advocacy group GLAAD deemed that two tweets he made during the Super Bowl XLVI were a form of "gay bashing."
Martin is a syndicated newspaper columnist, a political analyst for CNN, and host of “Washington Watch with Roland Martin” on TV One. Martin is also a husband and a father. He shares strong opinions, and is known to be overbearing at times, but he does it with style - occasionally with an ascot.
On February 5th during last Sunday’s Super Bowl, he tweeted:
Are these tweets cool? Not at all. But does this paint Martin as a supporter of anti-gay violence? Not at all, especially if you know him, which is not hard to do if you follow him on Twitter.
While I may not always agree with Martin's viewpoints as a political analyst, I do respect Martin as a man, a Father, and as a leading voice in American politics and the Black community, as do countless other Americans, fellow writers and thought leaders. I can relate to Martin's attempt to embue a little banter, as most men do during sporting events. Occasionally I may chime in on Martin's "mancave" rants, which often comes alive across Twitter and Facebook during basketball and (Houston Texans) football season, as well as when Tiger Woods golfs; I am drawn into the barbershop style of "ish" talking as it is a regular part of socializing when Black brothers do get together.
Forgive my redundancy, but let me clearly share that while I may not always agree with Martin's viewpoints as a political analyst, this did not prevent me from getting to know and respect Martin the man.
So while I do not personally know Martin, I do know that Martin is not a supporter of anti-gay violence. Award winning author and columnist Sophia Nelson agrees - and she knows the Martin family. She shares:
The problem with what GLAAD has done here, is that they have been able to tell the world what Martin meant, when he himself was very clear on Twitter on SuperBowl Sunday that he was talking about soccer (which he considers a lesser sport as a avid football fan), and he was poking fun at men who would wear H&M underoos (as Martin called them). Folks, if you know Roland, you know he pokes fun at everyone, regardless of race, class, gender. That is his brand.
On the same day Martin tweeted, GLAAD immediately jumped on the opportunity by calling for Martin's ouster, while also encouraging its group of supporters to take its message out to social media outlets and to Martins employer, CNN. GLAAD immediately took (and encouraged others to take) a retaliatory position in publishing the following:
Martin's tweets today advocating violence against gay people weren't an accident -- they are a part of a larger pattern for Martin.
Anti-gay violence in America is a serious problem facing millions of Americans. It's no joke. CNN should fire Roland Martin.
Really? Fire him?
I don’t think Roland should be fired for his Tweets. If there ever is an opportunity to grow from this, it should be formed by educating to learn how even implied messages are not acceptable and do more harm than good. We all stand to benefit from learning how discrimination is wrong, whether forced or implied. But to encourage his firing solves nothing.
In this situation, GLAAD should be willing to do more to promote equality by encouraging positive dialogue with Martin. After all, if GLAAD has their way and Martin is fired, this would in effect contradict its own decree of working to:
"... promote understanding, increase acceptance, and advance equality"
Should Martin be reprimanded? I say yes, but I will leave that between him and his employer. But a larger question looms: is there a double standard here where a CNN conservative commentator can say she would piss on dead Afghanis and she isn’t suspended, but Rick Sanchez is fired for making insensitive remarks about Jews and Martin is suspended for offending gays?
Martin later apologized, saying he did not advocate violence against gays or bullying. He also said he himself had been bullied.
To signal that he took the issue seriously, Martin also reported on Wednesday about Brandon White, a 20-year-old gay man who was viciously beaten by a gang of men shouting anti-gay slurs in Atlanta.
The takeaway? More questions.
Is CNN playing fair in suspending Roland?
Should GLAAD be glad? Can the oft outspoken, offended party also be considered a credible source as they turn into the (ad hoc) prosecutor?
and from the blog of Jeff Winbush:
The takeaway from this is other oppressed groups have learned well the tactics of Blacks during the Civil Rights era of protest and how to seize, hold the moral high ground and slap down the oppressor. They have learned it so well they have turned the tables on the once oppressed whom they consider are now oppressing them.
Does GLAAD hold Black people to a different standard? (read this)