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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Quinton E. Baker, February 23, 2002. Interview K-0838. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Divisions among those fighting for equality

Baker hoped to find acceptance within the white gay community, but he found that race continued to affect his relationships even among people of similar sexual orientation. He reflects on the way that various groups have failed to recognize the ways they propagate oppression even while fighting against hierarchies of power that limit their own lives. He continues this topic for several minutes after the end of this passage.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Quinton E. Baker, February 23, 2002. Interview K-0838. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

I have to think that there was commiseration as well on numerous levels, understanding the greater picture, from the white gay community.
QUINTON E. BAKER:
I used to hope that the white gay community would understand. But I—But the things that I have seen form the white gay community, didn't suggest to me that they—they stated—from my experience with them—they stated—the white gay community, states the similarities, states the commonality, but in their actions, they don't act the similarities and commonalities.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Actions speak louder than words.
QUINTON E. BAKER:
I mean, they still very much, protect their white privilege, okay? And you cannot protect white privilege and claim that you want to eliminate racism.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
What would be a way of claiming or protecting white privilege? Give a physical example.
QUINTON E. BAKER:
Well, I know, for instance, historically there have been a number of white clubs that did not allow African Americans—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
White gay clubs?
QUINTON E. BAKER:
White gay clubs. Or, just clubs that would set policies up so that it would minimize the number of African Americans to come in. It was the kinds of names that they use, dinge queen, for whites who like black men.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
I have never heard of that one.
QUINTON E. BAKER:
You have never heard of a dinge queen? [Laughter]
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Maybe that is a sign of progress.
QUINTON E. BAKER:
Maybe
CHRIS McGINNIS:
That did not foster a response from you at all did it.
QUINTON E. BAKER:
Or a chocolate queen or just simply.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
There were terms that would indicate—
QUINTON E. BAKER:
But, I think, more in depth, if you are going to do analysis about oppression and you are going to understand what is going on. You have to do a thorough analysis, so you don't miss the pieces that you contribute to in terms of the process. The economic, the social and political. You can't understand people's oppression and then turn around and say it is their fault or they need to do certain things to get rid of the oppression, if the certain things simply means mirror what white people are doing, okay? So, I think many white gays who may have—and I think that a number of people who join the movement, per se, came into it to help, okay. There is a problem with help.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Right, there is a difference from assistance and taking over.
QUINTON E. BAKER:
That's right. And so that, it's, it's, it's that kind of thing that happen. I have seen happen. I think that people who stay in the movement long enough, or who understood.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
You mean the black civil rights movement?
QUINTON E. BAKER:
The black civil rights movement, not the gay civil rights movement. I do not know a lot of people; I tried to make that clear to Jim Sears, that it was not a movement that I had actively engaged in.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
And a lot of white gays that were involved, like Joe Herzenberg hasn't ever really gotten involved in the gay liberation movement, he identifies more with the black civil rights movement.
QUINTON E. BAKER:
Right
CHRIS McGINNIS:
You are probably burned out after working in one movement anyway.
QUINTON E. BAKER:
No, I think that if you really do some significant analysis. If you are involved in the, "Civil Rights Movement" but if you are involved to try to create a non-racist, oppressive society, it becomes applicable to all people who are oppressed, so that sort of—
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Whether it is women or blacks, or Native Americans, or gays—
QUINTON E. BAKER:
Right, it gets diluted sometimes when we try to attach all kinds of incidents without really doing an analysis of where is the ultimate issue of oppression coming from? What does it mean for us to live in an oppressed society and what does it mean for this society to be structurally geared around oppression and racist nature, so that it. I mean, one of the things that this society is very good at, if you look at the current tendencies, if you look at what is happening with the Latino community for instance. You will notice that Latinos who come from African dissent who—discernibly come from African are separated from those who are fairer.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Okay, I don't know the community that well to discern that difference.
QUINTON E. BAKER:
Turn on your television to a latino channel and look at who has the starring roles and who has the more menial support roles. And, if you look at the census, this is terrible, but if you look at it, the category is "Latino" I forget what it is, but in some way it is an indication that one is
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Latino of African heritage—
QUINTON E. BAKER:
Latino, but not white or something of that nature, you know. There is a distinction in there that enables people, and basically—and this may be my cynicism, what is being set up in a sense, is that the country is worried about it becoming more people of color than white people in the country. So, if you can incorporate more people as white, then you can maintain the balance, okay. [Laughter]