Why I do not forgive Tracy Morgan
I was not there to hear Tracy Morgan’s now infamous, hateful anti-gay rant in the middle of a comedy performance in Nashville, as Kevin Rogers was. Had I been in town, it’s unlikely I would have been anyway, as I’ve never found Morgan to be all that funny, going all the way back to his SNL days. But I almost wish I had been, I’m not sure I would have been able to steel myself to stay in my seat for the entire thing, but at least I’d have heard it first hand.
I figured at some point the gay jokes would fly and I’m well prepared for a good ribbing of straight gay humor. I have very thick skin when it comes to humor; I can dish and I can take. What I can’t take is when Mr. Morgan took it upon himself to mention about how he feels all this gay shit was crazy and that women are a gift from God and that “Born this Way” is bullshit, gay is a choice, and the reason he knows this is exactly because “God don’t make no mistakes” (referring to God not making someone gay cause that would be a mistake).
He said that there is no way a woman could love and have sexual desire for another woman, that’s just a woman pretending because she hates a fucking man.
He took time to visit the bullshit of this bullying stuff and informed us that the gays needed to quit being pussies and not be whining about something as insignificant as bullying. He mentioned that gay was something kids learn from the media and programming, and that bullied kids should just bust some ass and beat those other little fuckers that bully them, not whine about it.
He said if his son that was gay he better come home and talk to him like a man and not [he mimicked a gay, high pitched voice] or he would pull out a knife and stab that little N (one word I refuse to use) to death.
He mentioned that Barack Obama needed to man up and quit being all down with this just because he has a wife and two daughters.
Morgan has since issued an apology “to my fans & the gay & lesbian community” for his “choice of words” and a routine that “went too far.”
I am not a Tracy Morgan fan. But as a member of the community to which he apologized, I do not accept his apology, nor do I forgive him. I am not sure what could persuade me to do either at this point.
Apologizing for his “choice of words” is nearly as offensive as the “comedy” routine that landed him trouble in the first place. There are no words, however carefully chosen, that can make the sentiments Morgan expressed remotely defensible.
Words can be tremendously hurtful, but the issue here is not mere words. Word reflect the thoughts and beliefs that inform and inspire them. Those same thoughts and beliefs drive choices and actions that have devastating, and often deadly, consequences for real people with real lives, resulting in realities that are far from funny.
When I read that Morgan said “there is no way a woman could love and have sexual desire for another woman, that’s just a woman pretending because she hates a fucking man,” I thought of the phenomenon of “corrective rape”, that’s made headlines most recently in South Africa.
The unending cases of “corrective rape” that have plagued South Africa at alarming levels are still on the rise. Corrective rape is a criminal practice, whereby men rape lesbian women, purportedly as a means of “curing” the woman of her sexual orientation.
The latest victim is a twenty-four year old soccer player from Johannesburg who was stabbed to death minutes after dropping off her girlfriend. DA newsroom reports:
Ms Nogwaza’s murder – she was stoned, stabbed and gang-raped – is now the latest in what has become a string of violent assaults known as “corrective rapes”, which are allegedly intended to “cure” members of the gay and lesbian community of their sexual orientation. The Democratic Alliance (DA) unequivocally condemns these crimes and the contemptible motives behind them in the strongest terms. They are an affront to the constitutional values of freedom and equality which we all hold dear, and have rightly outraged progressive South Africans everywhere who recognise that gay rights are also human rights.
Noxolo was an avid LGBT campaigner and also worked at the Ekurhuleni Pride Organizing Committee. This is a continuous series of several rapes, some leading to death in South Africa; a month before another thirteen year old lesbian was also raped in Pretoria.
Tracy Morgan didn’t advocate “corrective rape.” He just gave voice to one of the thoughts or beliefs behind it: that lesbian sexuality it “disordered,” and that a woman who loves other women just “hates fucking a man”. The journey from thought/belief to words and actions isn’t a long one. It begins with beliefs like the one Morgan expressed, and only takes the idea that one has the right to “fix” such an egregious wrong.
How many lesbians have been told by heterosexual men that they are lesbians, “because you just haven’t had a real man yet”, who then decide to “cure” them? It’s impossible to tell, but the practice of “corrective rape” isn’t just a South African phenomenon.
- December 22, 2008: A lesbian woman in the San Francisco Area was jumped by four men, taunted for being a lesbian, repeatedly raped, and left naked outside an abandoned apartment building.
- March, 2009: A teenage lesbian in the United Kingdom was raped by a man after she rejected his advances, and he refused to accept that she was gay.
When I read that Morgan said that “the gays needed to quit being pussies and not be whining about something as insignificant as bullying,” I thought of Tyler Clementi,Asher Brown, Billy Lucas, Seth Walsh, Zach Harrington, Ty Smalley, Raymond Chase, Eric Mohat, Brandon Bitner, Corey Jackson, Justin Aaberg, Jeheem Herrera, Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover and other kids who were bullied to the point of suicide because they were or were perceived to be gay.
I thought of how close I came to being one of them.
I wonder if Morgan could face their families and tell them that “bullied kids should just bust some ass and beat those other little fuckers that bully them”. I wonder if he couldface them. If he wants to apologize to someone, let him face them and apologize in person after he hears their stories.
When I read that Morgan said that if his son was gay, he’d better “come home and talk to him like a man,” or he’d “stab the little n***** to death,” I thought of Ronnie Paris.
I decided to start with the story of Ronnie Paris.
Ronnie Antonio Paris (2001 – January 28, 2005) was a three-year-old African American boy who lived with his parents in Tampa, Florida. He died on January 28, 2005, due to brain injuries stemming from severe abuse at the hands of his father, who forced the child would turn out to be gay, and forced the boy to box with him in an effort to keep him from growing up “soft” or becoming a “sissy.”
In May 2002, the Florida Department of Children and Family Services removed Ronnie from his home and placed him in protective custody, after he was admitted to the hospital for repeated vomiting, and doctors determined he was undernourished and had a broken arm.
On December 14, 2004, five days after his third birthday, Ronnie was returned to his parents. On January 22, Ronnie slipped into a coma after falling asleep on a couch at a family friend’s house, where his parents were attending a Bible study. Upon realizing he was unconscious, his parents rushed in to the hospital. Ronnie died six days later, when he was removed from life support.
During an investigation of the child’s death, his mother — Nysheera Paris — told detectives that her husband — Ronnie Paris, Jr. — had repeatedly abused the child, slapping him in the back of the head, slamming him into walls, and forcing the child to participate in father-son boxing matches until the boy began to shake, cry, and wet himself.
The child’s father was charged with murder and aggravated child abuse. His mother was charged with child neglect and failing to get medical attention for her son.
In July 2005 Ronnie Paris Jr. went on trial for his son’s murder.
During the trial, Nysheera Parish testified that her husband thought their son might be gay, and that he would smack the boy in the back of the head and slam him into walls because he didn’t want his son to grow up “soft.” Her testimony was corroborated by her sister, Shanita Powell, who said “He was trying to teach him how to fight,” and told the court “He was afraid the child might be gay.
Family friend Sheldon Bostick, who attended Bible study with the Paris family, testified that Ronnie Paris, Jr., “slap-boxed” with his son because “He didn’t want him to be a sissy.”
Forensic pathologist Dr. Sam Gulino noted the child’s scarred face and bruised head, and told the court that the lethargy and vomiting spells, the coma and eventual death were due to head trauma that was not accidental but deliberately inflicted.
The child’s foster mother testified that during the two years he lived with her, Ronnie never vomited, and had a healthy appetite.
In July 2005, after three hours of deliberation, a jury convicted Ronnie Paris, Jr. of second degree manslaughter and aggravated child abuse in the death of his son , Ronnie Antonio Paris. On August 19, 2004, he was sentenced to 30 years imprisonment.  Nysheera Paris was later sentenced to 5 years probation for culpable negligence in the death of her son
I thought of Steen Fenrich.
Next was Steen Fenrich (And, no, I didn’t realize the similarity between the stories until after I’d finished with both.)
Steen Fenrich (1981 – September 9, 1999) was a 19-year-old African American gay man who lived in Bayside, Queens New York. In March 2001 his dismembered remains were discovered. Police believe his stepfather, John Fenrich, killed his stepson in a homophobic rage.
Steen Fenrich entered the Army in July 1997, and served 9 months before he was discharged. In September 1999 he left his parent’s home in Dix Hills, and went missing. However, no one filed a missing person’s report on Fenrich.
On March 21, 2000 the remains of Steen Fenrich were found by a man walking through Alley Pond Park, in Bayside, Queens, stored in a plastic blue tub. The tub contained a skull that had been burned by acid, a foot with some flesh still on it, and other body parts.
The remains were identified as those of Steen Fenrich by his Social Security Number, which had been written on the skull, along with racial and homophobic slurs. 
Shortly after being told that his stepson’s remains had been found, John Fenrich called News 12 in Long Island and suggested a motive. Along with suggesting that his stepson had been killed “because he was gay.” The station later reported that Steen Fenrich had posed for gay pornographic photographs and had a contentious relationship with his stepfather.
Police said they had not yet told family members that Steen Fenrich’s remains had been dismembered. John Fenrich’s knowledge of the dismemberment led police to believe he killed his stepson.
Police reported to Newsday that they believed John Fenrich killed Steen on September 9, after an argument stemming from his stepson’s desire to move back home after an argument with his partner. Fenrich disapproved of his son’s homosexuality and was angered by his request to return home.
Steen Fenrich’s partner told police that John Fenrich had always treated him with contempt, and had called him a few days after the argument to say that Steen was “going away for a couple of weeks.”
On May 22, 2000, after talking to News 12, John Fenrich suddenly bolted from an interview with police in his home, climbed on the roof, fired guns and begged police to shoot him after declaring “I’m a failure as a father.”
After an eight-hour standoff, John Fenrich committed suicide by shooting himself in the head.
Michael “Mikey” Vallejo-Seiber (August 12, 2002 – August 29, 2005) was a three year old boy who lived in Riverside, CA. On August 27, 2005, he was kicked, beaten, stomped, burned, sodomized, and forced to eat dog food and his own excrement by his mother’s boyfriend – Alex Kermith Mendoza. Mendoza critical of Vallejo-Seiber’s upbringing, calling the child a “sissy” and saying he wanted to make him a “soldier.”
Pamela Sieber, 23, met aspiring rapper Alex Kermith Mendoza, 27, in July 2005, at the nightclub where she worked as a dancer. In early August, she and her son – Mikey Vallejo-Seiber – began spending time at Mendoza’s home in Rubidoux. On August.1) Mendoza had spent time in prison for drug dealing and domestic violence.2) He also faced charges of elder abuse in the mistreatment of his now-deceased 87-year-old father.3)
Francisco Vallejo, Seiber-Vallejo’s father, was in prison before the child was born.4)
On August 15, 2006, Riverside Child Protective Services received a call from a pediatrician’s office concerning possible abuse. An investigator was dispatched to the address given for Vallejo-Seiber’s mother. On the following day, a CPS investigator was made contact with Sieber and interviewed her at the Riverside apartment. The investigator submitted the case for closure on August 22, saying the abuse allegations were unfounded.5)
The investigator determined that a bruise on Vallejo-Seiber’s face, that had been reported by his pediatrician, was not the result of abuse. The boy first told his pediatrician, “Mom hit me.” When the doctor asked if he had fallen and hit his eye, Vallejo-Seiber said “I fell.” Sieber told social workers that the child ran into a table or counter when Medoza’s dog came into the house. Later she said she was not at home when the abuse took place.6)
On August 23, 2005, Sieber witnessed Mendoza slapping her son on the back of he head, and broke up with him. She reconciled with Mendoza and returned to his home when he promised to be more affectionate with her son. Sieber left Vallejo-Seiber at Mendoza’s house on at least six occasions, including August 27, 2005.7)
Sieber later told investigators that she left her son with Mendoza, whom she’d known for three weeks, because she trouble finding someone to watch him while she worked as a dancer at a local nightclub. On August 27, 2006, she left the child in the care of Mendoza and Mendoza’s roommate, Richard Daniel Cox, 19, who.
On Augut 27, 2006, according to the CPS investigation narrative and trial testimony, Vallejo-Seiber was slapped, kicked, stomped, dropped on his head, burned, punched and sodomized by Mendoza on the night of August 27, 2006.8) He was hung by his arms, and forced to eat dog food and his own excrement.
An autopsy determined that Vallejo-Seiber suffered a lacerated liver and pancreas, a hemorrhaged diaphragm and kidneys, a fractured skull, broken ribs, and burns to his genitals and anus. 9)
Mendoza and Cox then left the injured boy on the floor, and went to a video store where they rented Coach Carter and a video game.10)
On August 28, 2005, Sieber and Mendoza brought Vallejo-Seiber to Riverside Community hospital. The child was not breathing. After he was necessitated, Vallejo-Seiber was transfered to Lorna Linda University Medical Center.11)
Vallejo-Seiber died while in surgery at Lorna Linda University Medical Center.12) Court documents show that he died as a result of a massive blow to the stomach, which lacerated his liver and caused internal bleeding.13)
At the preliminary trial for Mendoza and Cox, Sieber said that Mendoza was critical of her parenting, and called her son a “sissy.” Mendoza said he wanted to make a “soldier” of the boy, and at one point urged him to beat up his Elmo doll.14) Mendoza’s defense lawyer said, “He loved the child. He wanted to turn him into a little soldier.15)
Mendoza was arrested on August 28, after he and Sieber brought the child to Riverside Community hospital.16)
Sieber was arrested for endangering her son by leaving him in Mendoza’s care.
During questioning Cox first called Mendoza a “caring person” who was “there for” Vallejo-Seiber. Then he admitted having seen both Mendoza and Sieber disciplining the boy. Later, Cox admitted that “maybe” he disciplined the boy five or six times, including purposely tripping the child once.17)
Mendoza & the Death Penalty
On April 12 2006 Sieber, Cox and Mendoza entered not guilty pleas regarding the charges against them. Sieber pleaded not guilty to charges of child engangerment in connection with her son’s death. She was released after posting $15,000 bail. Cox was charged with murder, along with Mendoza, and both faced special circumstances of torture, making them eligible for the death penalty.18)
In August 2006, Judge Elisabeth Sichel ruled that there was sufficient evidence to try Mendoza for first degree murder in Vallejo-Seiber’s death.19)
In January 2007, the Riverside district attorney’s office announced that it would seek the death penalty in the case against Mendoza.20)
Mendoza is being held at the Robert Pressley Detention Center since August 28, 2005, the day he and Sieber brought Mikey Vallejo-Seiber to Riverside Community Hospital.21) He is scheduled to appear in Riverside County Superior Court on January 1, 2008.22)
Sieber Trial & Sentencing
On August 14, 2006 – two day after what would have been her son’s fourth birthday, was sentenced to six years in prison for failing to protect her him from Mendoza and Cox. She was four month’s pregnant at the time of her sentencing.23)
Cox: Trial & Sentencing
In February 2007, Judge Robert Spitzer granted a motion that Medoza and Cox be tried separately. At trial in February, Cox’s defense team said he failed to call police to report Mendoza’s abuse and torture of Vallejo-Seiber, and took refuge in his room24), because he was afraid of Mendoza. Forensic pathologist, Dr. Stephen Trinkle, also testified about the injuries he noted on Vallejo-Seiber’s head, face, arm, thigh, penis and anus during his posthumous examination of the victim.25) Trauma to the rectum indicated that Vallejo-Seiber had been sodomized.26)
On March 7, 2007, Cox was sentenced to 25 years to life in state prison for his role in Vallejo-Seiber’s death.27)
In May 2007, the director of Riverside County’s Department of Public Social Services resigned. Cynthia Hinkley’s resignation came after an April 2007 letter from county social workers and union representatives saying that managers ignored suggested improvements in Child Protective Services, thus making Vallejo-Seiber’s death “inevitable.” In the wake of the letter, supervisors ordered a review of the department in response to complaints about the high turnover of social workers and managers.28)
I thought of the little boy in this video, and the response it got.
It’s not “too much Beyonce” any more than it was “too much Diana Ross” when I was growing up, or “too much Lena Horne,” or “too much Dorothy Dandridge,” before my time. It’s not that he doesn’t have a father in the home or a male role model in the home, or that there’s an ineffective male role model in the home. I had my dad at home, and a more traditional male role model I can’t imagine.
The reality is, more than likely the boy can’t help it. I couldn’t. I knew it. And though my parents tried to encourage me towards more acceptably masculine behavior, it didn’t work and it left me more hurt and frustrated than I might have been otherwise. Instead, it reinforced what I was experiencing elsewhere, and the result was that there wasn’t anywhere I was accepted just as I was. Not even at home. I couldn’t count on anyone to be on my side. The loved me, and did the best they could, but what happened happened.
Nothing will break this boy’s spirit more than requiring him to compete in an arena he’ll never be equipped for, judging him by a standard he’ll never measure up to, and then ridiculing him when he inevitably fails. Teach him shame, and he will be ashamed. Teach him that he deserves ridicule and somewhere deep down he’ll accept it.
Love him, and he will love himself. Respect him, and he will respect himself. Appreciate him, and he will appreciate himself. What’s more, teach him that who he is and the gifts he possesses have value, and he will not be convinced otherwise no matter what anyone may say or do to him later. He will know who he is and know that it is good. He will have a foundation. Thus his family will have helped him to stand up to almost anything.
Will he have a hard life? Unfortunately, it’s possible he will. But it will be even harder if he has to go it alone, even when he’s surrounded by his family and community. He’s too young to be abandoned. He’s too young to go it alone, and asking him to do so — to be someone other than who he is, or risk losing support — is asking too much.
Believe it or not, “I love you, now change,” is not unconditional love. However young he is, he’s old enough to know that.
Long story short, I survived. It took a lot of pain and loneliness, and more years after that to heal from it all. Time and energy that might have gone to something else if I’d had support and acceptance from the beginning.
I remember when I was older and we were visiting relatives in southern Georgia, a younger cousin of mine made a show of parading around in his mother’s high heels. He thought it was funny, and got a few laughs, but mingled among those laughs were admonitions to his mother to put a stop to his behavior, up to an including “whipping his ass.” I heard echos in the comments on this video.
It’s not right to judge this child or anyone for that matter but if I was this son’s father I would not be proud or impressed. I’d say he needs some prayer or therapy, whichever you believe in!
hahahaaaaaaa yall are right … he is going to be a homo…
This lil boy is going to grow up to be a homo. Yall are right he needs a FATHER in his life. To much goddamn time on his hands. And his moms thinks this shit is cute. I would of smaked the piss out the kid and tell him to go put some goddamn 2 Pac.
I thought the LGBT youth who don’t get the vital family support they need and deserve, and who suffer as a result. I thought of two college acquaintances of mine who were rejected by their families and committed suicide. I thought of the countlessLGBT youth who are homeless because they were rejected by their families or faced violence and abuse at home because of their orientation or gender identity.
I wondered if Morgan would find any of these stories funny, after hearing them. His audience certainly did.
All of this being followed by thunderous cheer and “You go Tracys”. Tracy then said he didn’t fucking care if he pissed off some gays, because if they can take a fucking dick up their ass… they can take a fucking joke.
Or at least they got a big kick out of, and affirmed with their laughter, the thoughts and beliefs Morgan’s words reflected, and of which these stories are the all-too-real, and unfunny consequences.
To tell the truth, I was not surprised by Morgan’s rant any more than I was surprised by the same from D.L. Hughley. I’ve heard it all before. You can go into too many black churches and hear the same any day from ministers like Wellington Boone, Willie Wilson, Alfred Owens, Eddie Long, TD Jakes and others. You can go to any beauty parlor, barber shop, bust stop or historically black college and hear the same thing from their congregants. In a sense, Morgan wasn’t any different from the ministers who preached hatred from the pulpit, and the audience members who cheered him on no different from the folks nodding their heads in the pews and saying amen.
After all, the results are the same. And maybe that’s why I’m not in a forgiving mood. I’m sure Tracey Morgan is sorry that someone posted news of his rant to Facebook. I’m sure he’s sorry the days long gone when that kind of news spread slowly if at all. I’m even willing to believe that he’s sorry for his “choice of words,” though I don’t believe it’s possible to choose better words to express what he did. There are no words to make it better, let alone defensible.
And it’s that which suggests to me that Morgan isn’t truly sorry, because his “choice of words” apology shows he doesn’t get it. Tina Fey’s comment about Morgan’s rant was funnier than Morgan has probably been for most of his career.
“30 Rock” creator and star Tina Fey said in a statement that she was disturbed by “the violent imagery” Morgan used, adding that it “doesn’t line up with the Tracy Morgan I know, who is not a hateful man and is generally much too sleepy and self-centered to ever hurt another person.”
“I hope for his sake that Tracy’s apology will be accepted as sincere by his gay and lesbian co-workers at ‘30 Rock,’ without whom Tracy would not have lines to say, clothes to wear, sets to stand on, scene partners to act with, or a printed-out paycheck from accounting to put in his pocket,” Fey said.
Whether Morgan knows it or not most of the coworkers Fey mentioned probably know that he was talking about them too. They’ll also know how much he meant it when he apologized for his “choice of words.” Morgan may genuinely feel he was not talking about them, much in the same way some whites have followed up a racist comment by saying to the black acquaintance who existence and presence they may have forgotten, “Oh, I didn’t me you! You’re great! I didn’t mean you. I meant all those other n******. You know what I mean?”
Yeah. We know what you mean. And unless Tracy Morgan does more than apologize for his choice of words — unless he willing to take a hard look at the consequences for the “choice of words” he and so many others make, invests time and energy to do something about it, and does some time on the front lines fighting it — we’ll know what he meant too.
This post originally appeared at the Republic of T.
Terrance Heath blogs at the Campaign for America's Future and The Republic of T.