Bushwick Reacts to Beating

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Ana Maria Archila, co-executive director of Make the Road New York, and Kenneth Cohen, regional director for the metropolitan council of the NAACP, examine the animosity and bias demonstrated in the beating of Jose Sucuzhanay, who was declared brain dead Tuesday.


Ana Maria Archila and Kenneth Cohen

Comments [42]

jim fouratt from greenwich village nyc

BL Producer from WNYC December 10, 2008 - 10:56
wrote in my response to my statement that a black or Latino gay man was missing from the conversation on air:

Jim in the Village, we're aware LGBT people can speak for themselves. Our guest, AnaMaria Archila, co-dir of Make the Road NY is a lesbian woman of color and Make the Road has a well established LGBT project called GLOBE about which she spoke.

Well Neither Ms. Archila or Brian identified her as a lesbian. We still assume unless someone does they are heterosexual that is how the dominate culture works.

Ms. Archila was very articulate about the intersection of race/immigration and homophobia meshed in this nightmare. I asked for a back or Latino gay male because their voices are always absence ..somehow a lesbian of color runs less risk of disruption.
So please do not closet your guests in incidents like this and do let gay men of color speak when a death takes place of a male of color who is assumed to be gay. Gmad is a great place to start to find articulate voices.

thank you jim fouratt

Dec. 24 2008 12:54 AM
Bushwick resident from Bushwick

I live in the hood here.

Surprise, surprise.
Blacks jump someone.

This isn't homophobia, racism, anything.

Blacks have the highest crime percentages of any group - in this country as well as in the world. Think about how un-newsworthy this event is.

Oh yeah, I can't say that since, "Dats Racis!"

Imagine a whole bunch of white liberals at the vigil holding up signs that read, "Stop Black Violence." Highly unlikely, yet so obviously and truly needed.

Dec. 10 2008 07:12 PM
Voter from Brooklyn

Office Worker:
The hypothesis that homophobia is a subset of misogyny is an interesting one—I’ve never thought of it that way and it could quite possibly be true—but I don’t fully agree with your explanation. I do think, however, you hit upon the correct answer when you said (paraphrasing) “homophobia equals the fear of masculinity being tainted.”
When masculinity is [one of the] the most valued aspect of a person’s or race’s personhood, the reasoning would be:
1. Effeminate men are either actively denying or betraying their masculinity (tainting it) and therefore undercutting his birthright and that of his people.
2. Men who desire other men, desire heterosexual men in the same manner heterosexual men desire women (with all of the assumptions and physical realities of activity and passivity that entails.) The heterosexual man feels feminized and tainted by the other man’s desires.
3. Women who are attracted to other women are denying either the power, value, or desirability of the man’s masculinity; masculine women are challenging it.
In short, being a man is to be active, strong, dominate, masculine, and heterosexual. Weakness is being receptive, passive, feminine, gay. It’s not just who you do and how. Look at war hawks versus diplomats... Staying the course versus being open to the opinions of others… Taking versus giving… What can you do?

Dec. 10 2008 03:13 PM
Office Worker from Brooklyn

The shortest version of my opinion is that homophobia at its core is a form of--a subcategory of mysogyny.

Homophobia against males = fear of men "becoming" women. When women aren't respected and are considered inferior, this is an intimidating prospect.

Homophobia against women = fear of women "becoming" men and thus fear of masculinity being invaded by people who are considered unworthy or inferior.

Homophobia against genderqueer/transgender/etc = fear of masculinity being "tainted."

Not at all to say that these concepts define homosexuality. Only that the homophobe at his or her core have a sense of the world that shapes up to these kind of ideals. Seeing people who don't fit into the neat categories of "masculinity" and "feminitity" terrifies the male supremist. That's why the same cultural communities that place a high premium on "masculinity" are the communities that seem to espouse greater misunderstanding of and hostility toward gays.

I know I did a bad job of explaining my point, but I hope you understand that I'm an office worker.

Dec. 10 2008 02:16 PM
Peter from Sunset Park


Thanks for writing. The Truth likes to be unclear at times, but I think you have it wrong. The Truth is pretty clearly saying, "go and see all the faces of color for yourself."

Dec. 10 2008 01:00 PM
Voter from Brooklyn

Peter, Truth:
Cultures placing a strong emphasis on masculinity more than likely are subject to greater levels of aversion to male/male affection and homosexuality. I cannot speak to homophobia in the Hispanic community, nor can I to machismo in southern Europe. I am neither. The Middle East and North Africa is a total mystery (compared to the Western world) where neither can be considered homosexual friendly; however, a clear distinction is understood between friendly same-sex affection and looking “gay”. What I can comment on is the Black community. Here’s a little timeline: Beginning with slavery… black men aren’t human or they are a sub species at best. Later on, they’re 3/5 a human, but that’s to benefit the legal representation of their masters. Eventually they are separate, but equal (and referred to as “boy”.) In the ‘60s they fight back carrying signs asserting “I am a man.” And by the ‘80s Black men are constantly telling each other to man-up. Black women have born the burden of Black men trying to recapture their personhood and assert their masculinity (physical violence, sexual dalliances…), it is not at all difficult to see how acts of homophobia also plays into this. To answer your question Peter, yes, some cultures are more homophobic than others. Truth seems to be agreeing with you by asking you to see how many Black (and I’d assume Black male) faces you see there.

Dec. 10 2008 12:58 PM
Peter from Sunset Park

Office Worker,

Why do you think it is that African Americans and black people are more homophobic? From my experience (I grew up in a part of the country where there was only white and black at the time), I heard many African Americans say things like "gays are the sheep who left the herd." When we would talk, it always seeemed to come back to, "I go to church and being gay is against the bible."

What do you think?

Dec. 10 2008 12:54 PM
Peter from Sunset Park


John McCain was shouted down numerous times by SUPPORTING illegal immigrants and speaking to the fact that illegal immigrants are not a threat and have earned the right to stay. McCain may be the ONLY Repulbican with the courage to say such things. One of the reasons McCain is so unpopular with his base is this very issue. You are just 100% wrong for blaming McCain for any immigrant bashing.

Heck, To the Point, On the Point and other NPR shows have aired episodes on this very topic of McCain being very left on issues of immigration. You simply have your facts wrong.

Dec. 10 2008 12:52 PM
Office Worker from Brooklyn

To put it simply:

I never feel safe in any area or community where ALL people aren't safe.

Dec. 10 2008 12:43 PM
Office Worker from Brooklyn

As a black man, my experience has been that blacks tend toward much deeper homophobia. So deep that it's frightening, even to a straight person. The fervor with which the black community at large dismisses the gay community is just about the saddest thing in the world to me.

Hip hop feeds this and breeds this (relating to yesterday's segment for a bit) but so does the church/religion. Those two influences run deep in the black community and for years have given permission to blacks to express views of hatred toward gays with complete impunity. There is no community outrage or community sense of shame for causing pain toward gays and that has to stop somehow. But even the biggest pop star in hip hop (Kanye West) couldn't convince people, the cultural wheel is that of a juggernaut.


Dec. 10 2008 12:42 PM
Karin Barnaby from Sea Cliff, NY

The recent murders of Ecuadorean immigrants in Brooklyn, N.Y. and Patchogue, L.I. is surely, in part, a consequence of the systematic public scapegoating of minorities by conservative politicians and media. Conservative candidates, ABC talk radio and FOX “news” hosts, CNN's Lou Dobbs, have demonized—and dehumanized—the immigrant community with fear-mongering rhetoric and “exposés” about illegal immigrants’ criminality and exploitation of the American health, educational and social service systems. They have tirelessly targeted the gay and lesbian community wielding pious slogans about “family values” and the “sanctity of marriage.” The McCain-Palin campaign’s focus on Barack Obama’s “otherness” was another shameful attempt to demonize the candidate by virtue of his race.
For years now, political and religious conservatives have deliberately sought to exploit race, homosexuality and immigration as wedge issues to consolidate power. The thinly veiled racism and prejudice of this conservative political strategy has set the tone and context for widespread intolerance and, as such, bears a good deal of the responsibility for the increase in hate crimes in our country.

Dec. 10 2008 12:27 PM
Peter from Sunset Park


That is fine, and well taken, and I see your point, but you didn't answer the question.

Do you allow for the possibility that generally speaking, some cultures may be more homophobic then others?

Do we get some truth on this one, or are you going to dodge the question again?

Dec. 10 2008 12:25 PM
The Truth from Atlanta/New York

It is my contention that you should go to the vigil.

Dec. 10 2008 12:19 PM
Peter from Sunset Park

The Truth:

Is it your contention that people of all cultures and colors are equally homophobic? Or do you allow for the possibility that generally speaking, some cultures may be more homophobic then others?

Let's hear some truth.

Dec. 10 2008 11:58 AM
PK from NYC

We do need a discussion of racism, poverty, and all the historical and contemporary structural ills that have impacted the black community, particularly poor, urban neighborhoods. That said, shouldn't we also be discussing homophobia (and racism and, given yesterday's program on WNYC, sexism) within that same community in a way that doesn't generalize and condemn all African-Americans and with a little less fear about it sounding/seeming unpalatable to WNYC listeners. Are there larger patterns to be seen here? Can we see commonalities between this horrific incident to the passage of the anti-gay marriage measure in California, which some link to large black voter turn out? How about a show on homophobia in these communities? What's it like to be black and gay (and likely marginalized economically) in Bushwick or East New York?

Dec. 10 2008 11:39 AM
The Truth from Atlanta/New York

AA community has a GREATER intolerance for the gay community? Go to the vigil and tell me who you see there Peter.

Dec. 10 2008 11:28 AM
Peter from Sunset Park

The Truth (24):

There are plenty of issues to worry about so your point is well taken. Gary just had a great point that the person who often jumps in to defend people of color against hate crimes (Sharpton of course) has been silent on the issue.

It would be nice if the NYPD could solve this one. Of course, with officers now being accused of shoving things up the butt of a citizen, with other officers being accused by the police of covering this up, I wonder aloud how interested the blue wall is with hate crimes related to gays. Excuse me for being so blunt, but does anyone really think there would be no suspects if two police officers were savagely beaten?

Dec. 10 2008 11:24 AM
Voter from Brooklyn

1. I have to agree with AWM (#13), David (#2) has mischaracterized the civil rights movement in this country. If it were not for the actions and sacrifices of Americans of African descent from the late 1800s on, we would not have the level of acceptance of brown skinned people we have now. Even if it is imperfect.
2. We really shouldn’t lose site of the fact that these men weren’t homosexual, just perceived to be. That mere perception would be enough for something like this to happen is appalling. Maybe the reason for the focus on race (and nationality) was because we could quantify that these men were Ecuadorian. And that this is being spun as a hate crime against Ecuadorians is even more confusing and appalling. Line up a Columbian, an Ecuadorian, a Peruvian, an Uruguayan, and a Venezuelan and I doubt your average black guy from Bushwick would be able to tell the difference. Get them to hold hands or lock arms and well…
3. It was interesting looking at the Regional section of the Times online yesterday evening. The NYPD subway attack, the Bushwick attack, the gang of three deal in the state senate… the top three stories and all had shades of homophobia. I’m no fan of Sharpton; however, he was there speaking out against police violence. Take it for what you will.

Dec. 10 2008 11:20 AM
The Truth from Atlanta/New York

This is not a racial issue, this is a gay rights issue. Funny you all are worried about what Rev Sharpton will do, what has NYPD done thus far?

Dec. 10 2008 11:12 AM
Peter from Sunset Park

Gary (comment 1),

What a great suggestion. Will Sharpton have the courage to defend or support people who were assumed to be gay? Or will the well known African American issues with homosexuality curb Sharpton's interest in protecting the oppressed?

And please, don’t tell me it is racist to suggest that the African American community has a greater then average intolerance of gays. Please, be real about this stuff.

Dec. 10 2008 11:09 AM
Pavel Gurvich from Norwalk, CT

I think educators and human rights defenders should read both "The God gene" by Dean Hamer and "Our inner ape" by France de Vaal. Both authors were interviewes on WNYC. I read both books and they changed my mind on the subject.

First, they convinced me that herd instincts are encoded in our genes. France de Vaal claims that it is not unusual for chimpansee to kill another chimpansee from another herd. We identify with certain herd and ready to provide help to each other within our herd as long as there is no status conflict with the recepient of the help. We can be hostile to individuals of other herd especially if we consider them to be inferior and/or hostile to our herd.

Second, I do not think segregation is always being forced from outside. When I came to this country it was perfectly natural to settle in the comunity of Russian Jews in Forest Hills where some of relatives and friends lived. We try to stick to people similar to us. This is also fed by herd instinct. We want to be in the herd we identify ourselves with

Dec. 10 2008 11:08 AM
J.T. from NYC

#6 Voter

You're comment is dead on! The media is trying make this a racial issue by attemping to tie into the bias murder that occured on LI last month. But as an Afro American male too, I'm pretty certain this was more about gay hate than racism.

#18 Robert

I think that's what Brian was eluding to; that male/male affection and physical contact differs between cultures and that many American men view such forms of contact as "gay." I think Brian got but his guest didn't.

Dec. 10 2008 10:58 AM
A Listener from Brooklyn

when's this vigil and where?

Dec. 10 2008 10:56 AM
BL Producer from WNYC

Jim in the Village, we're aware LGBT people can speak for themselves. Our guest, AnaMaria Archila, co-dir of Make the Road NY is a lesbian woman of color and Make the Road has a well established LGBT project called GLOBE about which she spoke.

Dec. 10 2008 10:56 AM
Peter from Sunset Park

Year after year, Democrats and Republicans vote against gay marriage and give stump speeches explaining their opposition to two people of the same sex getting married. Bill
Clinton declared the being gay was such an offense that if discovered, would kick you out of the army. This country is told that gay people can’t take a bullet for us and their love is worth less then that of others. It should come as no surprise that some people actually take it to heart that gays are worth less then other citizens. It should come as no surprise that hate crimes occur. It is time for our politicans to actually lead on this issue.

Dec. 10 2008 10:53 AM
zzeggae from nj

what is homophobia? that term makes entirely no sense to me.

Dec. 10 2008 10:50 AM
Robert from NYC

Wake up Brian, it's common for two friends, two brothers, whatever to hold each other arm in arm in many countires even in Europe, e.g., Italy. They often times even embrace on meeting and cheek kiss. C'mon, so provincial.

Dec. 10 2008 10:48 AM
A Listener from Brooklyn

Sad and sick. Ecuadorian people are culturally very shy and retiring.

Dec. 10 2008 10:47 AM
Bo from Brooklyn - Prospect Heights

There is a direct line between the passage of Prop 8 and the churches' involvement with politics and the murder of this young man and other LGBT people. The permission to degrade, dehumanize and despise is approved by them and they should be ashamed.

Dec. 10 2008 10:47 AM
AWM from UWS


"now it seems that as african americans achived the goals using us for our support"

Please! If it weren't for the civil rights movement and the sacrfice of countless African Americans this would be happening to Latinos WAY more often. You should better appreciate this and how it has made your life what it is today.

Dec. 10 2008 10:47 AM
jim fouratt from GREENWICH VILLAGE

The voice of a black or Latino gay man is missing from this on air conversation... your producers need to be aware that gay and lesbian people can speak for themselves. Homophobic is as powerful a hate force here as race ..Maybe even stronger.

There are progressive voice of color in the lesbian and Gay political community. GMAD is an excellent one. Try them the next time. The Anti-violence project is north only voice.

Dec. 10 2008 10:46 AM
Kathy from Glen Cove, NY

Please keep in mind that there is an organization called RightRides that drives women, transgender and gender queer people home on Saturday nights between midnight and 3am for free. They do service Bushwick, as well as many other neighborhoods in Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan. The dispatch number for service is (888) 215-7233 or (718) 964-7781. Their website is And they are always looking for volunteers to drive, navigate or dispatchh.

Dec. 10 2008 10:46 AM
Robert from NYC

Oh thank you, you think it's real. Where is the gay representative on this show anyway. Bullcrap as always.

Dec. 10 2008 10:45 AM
Robert from NYC

Not surprisingly we seem to have lost the gay train in this!!

Dec. 10 2008 10:44 AM

The thing that always annoys me about these "hate crimes" making big headlines is that the message is basically that as long as thugs stick to terrorizing their own community it's ok. Any time people get in to a fight of course they are going to insult each other with the worst words they can summon. When you're beating someone with a baseball bat are you going to use culturally sensitive language? Doubt it. If these guys had just attacked some other black people further down the street it wouldn't even be a paragraph in the Post.

Dec. 10 2008 10:43 AM
NYorker from NY

It's absolutely commendable for the guest to bring into light the current Hispanic senates trying to ride on the issue of banning gay marriages.
We have to keep reminding them of their policies and its consequences of prograting more alienation towards gay communities.
Can someone please ask these Senates what are their views on this incident??

Dec. 10 2008 10:42 AM
Voter from Brooklyn

As a black homosexual, I can say with 100% authority that black bias against homosexuals is at least 10:1 greater than that of black bias against Hispanics. Though I don’t doubt reports of racial epithets; however, beating Ecuadorians really isn’t worth getting out of the van for (in the black community); gay bashing is.
Let’s not stoke a race war where there isn’t one. I know it's "sexier" than confronting homophobia, but unlikely.
I’m frequently in Bushwick, however, I do not live there. And, at least in the part where I go, Spanish speaking people overwhelmingly outnumber black people. So this isn’t a matter of “them” overtaking “our” neighborhood.

Dec. 10 2008 10:42 AM
Sue /Long Island City

You know - It really would be something to see Al Sharpton step up to the plate on this one.

Dec. 10 2008 10:40 AM

There are many Hispanics in Bushwick, however South Americans are new to the area when compared to Puerto Ricans and Dominicans. The dynamics between Americans (white, black and Caribbean American) and South Americans have been strained due to accelerated prosecution of undocumented immigrants.

Dec. 10 2008 10:40 AM
Living 7 blocks from where this happened from Bushwick

There are so many problems in Bushwick - poverty, gentrification, race tension, dark streets - that it's really the most likely place for something like this to happen.

Dec. 10 2008 10:39 AM
david from NYC

Brian, not only in nyc but in other parts of the counrty, latinos and african americans had a common goal to fight racism and earn equal rights in this country, now it seems that as african americans achived the goals using us for our support they no longer need us for our support only when its convenient for political gains. Know it seems to be this Black and Caucasian thing against latinos.

Dec. 10 2008 10:36 AM
Gary from UWS

Hmmm... black attackers. Let's see if Al Sharpton will come to the defense of the victim's family.

Dec. 10 2008 10:33 AM

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