It’s obvious to me now, more than ever, that certain people in our community need special attention and special handling, i.e. Cleo “I can’t let anything go, even when I am wrong” Manago.

Now let’s get some things straight from the beginning.  What I say does not represent the feelings of NBJC, it represents my feelings as Jasmyne Cannick.  I don’t represent Phill Wilson, heck; I haven’t even worked at the Institute for almost a year, which goes to show you how much Cleo really knows about me.

I have sat back over the past month and watched Cleo carefully and deliberately try to split our community in half on the issue of the Million More Movement March and I have said virtually nothing.  Not because I didn’t care, but because when you’re busy with work, i.e. a job that pays you, you don’t always have the luxury of responding to each and every email that comes to your in box, no matter how crazy or absurd it is.

But here it is Veteran’s Day, nearly one month to the day of the October 15th March and some of us are still hell bent on creating distractions and attention for ourselves.

So be it.

Let’s not fool ourselves.  No one in our community came out as “big” winners in the fight to represent our community at the March.  Not NBJC and not Cleo Manago.

It doesn’t matter how many ill-timed and badly written press releases you send out, it’s not going to garner you the attention that you desire.  First of all, it’s no longer the big story.  News moves on.  As one who works in the media both as a reporter and a press deputy, I can tell you, almost no one takes these types of vicious press releases and statements seriously.  If they did, there wouldn’t be a need to continue to send them out, stories would be popping up everywhere.  Right?

While it is true that Ray Daniels, our Communications Director, was quoted as calling BMX a “separatist group,” that did not nor does it currently represent the feelings of NBJC.  In fact, we publicly apologized for the incident.  More than a few of the board members of NBJC actually consider themselves SGL and do support the work of BMX, so that was completely unacceptable to us as an organization.

However, that does not give one man the right to go on a tyrannical rage spewing innuendo and lies about NBJC.

It’s great that we have so many organizations working to make sure that our voices are heard and that we are represented everywhere, that’s the way it should be.  But I draw the line when we resort to publicly bashing the work that each other is doing.

So let’s address these issues one by one.

Cleo Manago referring to NBJC as stooges

It is not that hard to believe that Cleo Manago referred to the NBJC as stooges.  Looking back over the last few weeks at all of his many many many emails detailing his thoughts on NBJC, it’s clear that he has a great hatred for this organization.  Did he really say it? My guess would be yes.

But even if he did say this, NBJC did not use the occasion to bash BMX.  That’s important to remember.  All of the bashing has come from one end. Similar to the bashing of Phill Wilson and Keith Boykin that Cleo continues to do, it comes from one end.

Orchestrated by Boykin (and probably Jasmine Cannick and Phil Wilson -Cannick works for both), just days before the MMM march, they would publicize a claim that Boykin had been invited to speak by Farrakhan (The MMM national executive committee was in charge of speakers, not Farrakhan).

First things first.  If you’re going to drag me into this, spell my name correctly.  Just like how uptight you get when people spell AmASSI incorrectly, it’s Jasmyne Cannick.  And no, I do not work for Keith or Phill.  Now I did work for Phill, but have since moved on and work exclusively in politics and media so please get your facts straight or at least checked.

Nothing was orchestrated Cleo.  Members of NBJC did meet with Farrakhan and Wilson.  No one was forced into the meeting.  We all know, Farrakhan doesn’t do anything he doesn’t want to do.  And at the end of the day, the MMM national executive committee may have been in charge of the speakers, but make no mistake that Farrakhan is the leader of the MMM and Wilson, the executive director was in this meeting as well when Keith was asked to speak.

Clearly Boykin was eager to be involved and seen on the MMM stage. But, evidently he didn't realize or respect that he never had a chance!

Keith didn’t want to speak.  He never did.  You’ll probably never believe that but then why would you. 

After all of Boykin’s attempts at NOI coercion (which was impossible) with no success, his ego got the best of him.  He declared self-serving war (unsolicited) on BMX and the NOI, and strategically used institutionalized racism in the gay and mainstream press to
spread his deception. 

The only person’s ego that has gotten the best of him is Cleo Manago.  I don’t see Keith or NBJC sending out emails 2 months after the MMM still harping on what did or did not happen, just you Cleo.  So I think it’s your ego that is in need of deflation.

The beautiful and powerful side of this saga is Same-Gender-Loving (SGL) Sisters and Brothers were embraced in front of the nation on October 15th 2005.  I don't know if any of you saw the C-SPAN footage. BMX received enthusiastic applause, more than all other speakers in that section of the day.  Afterwards we were warmly embraced with affirmations and congratulations by NOI members and notable folks
highly respected in the Black "celebrity" canon.  It was a day to be celebrated, and many did.

Now if that isn’t ego, then what is?

I agree with those who have stated that an apology needs to come from Boykin.  But Boykin's illusion of being particularly important and an[artificial] celebrity is way more valuable to him and his followers than integrity, respecting the Black community, and the truth.  This is the impact of divisive gay-consciousness on Black minds.

The only person being divisive is Cleo.  It’s clearly evident that you have focused in on NBJC with intent to try and divide our community.  Why else would you waste our time with these hateful messages?

At the end of the day, as far as the March is concerned no one came out on top.  I don’t care whom and that means Cleo or NBJC, tries to spin it.  No one stood on that stage and said I am here to represent the millions of Black SGL, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people that are a part of the Black community.  You can send out as many emails as you want saying you were right and they were wrong but in the end, you are still in the same place as you were before the March struggling for equity and rights from people you claim to not care about.

You can call yourself SGL, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or queer, but to them, it all means the same thing.  You sleep with the same sex.  And because you do you will never be embraced by the Nation of Islam wholly and fully. Don’t fool yourself. 

I am sure that you will definitely use this occasion to bash me around as well online, but so be it.  The difference between you and me is that I am not defined by the many many many emails that I send out.  My character and my work in this movement define me, which is how we should all be judged.  And the things that I have done may not be in total agreement with what you have done or would have wanted me to do, but that’s the wonderful thing about being your own person and marching to your own beat.

You’ve done some wonderful things Cleo.  I’ve told you that before.  Remember?  Before I went to work for Phill you would still talk to me.  After I went to work for Phill you refused to talk to me because I sold out.  Sold out?  Imagine that.

I used to have a lot of respect for you because on the issue of the white gay community, we are not that far apart.  But you alienated me and other people when you decided to go on this vicious attack of Keith and NBJC.  Sure I am bias.  I am a friend of Keith’s and I am a board member of NBJC but I do understand the difference between right and wrong.

So remember, when you start your Jasmyne bashing campaign and I don’t respond back to you, it’s because I won’t be going tit-for-tat with you over something that I have already spoken my peace on and quite frankly, I have a family and a job that keeps me quite busy.

And Cleo, how is all of this bashing of Keith, NBJC, and myself assisting our people, the people you care so much about, with jobs, healthcare, decent housing and educating us on HIV/AIDS?  It’s not and that’s where your brilliance and energy would best be served.

Jasmyne A. Cannick