Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, 11, Commits Suicide Over Anti-Gay Bullying
Today, hours after I watched the teabagging “party” over at the Wisconsin Capitol Building, I was watching the news when Wanda Sykes’ PSA popped up about teens curbing their anti-gay slurs: “When you say, ‘That’s so gay,’ do you realize what you say? Knock it off,” she says. It’s been appearing pretty regularly on Madison channels. Too bad it wasn’t playing in Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover’s Springfield, Massachusetts neighborhood.
The youngsterwas found hanging by an extension cord on the second floor of his home by his mother, Sirdeaner Walker, just before she served dinner. Carl was a Boy Scout, a devout Christian who went to church every Sunday and prayed before going to school, a wiry football and baseball player, and a studious pupil who got good grades, but he was repeatedly, daily, bullied by both male and female classmates for being ‘gay.’
Now I have heard of some accounts of girls and boys who knew that they were somehow ‘different’ from everyone else, but no one always knows what their sexuality is, even by age eleven. The fact that Carl, slight for his age, was happy, engaged, mild-mannered, and not thuggish, aggressive, or show-offish as some of the other students seemed to threaten their idea of what a boy should be. In other words, the boy was just as much a victim of hypermasculinity and anti-intellectualism in the black community as bullying.
His mother was calling the school weekly and more than once a month went to the school to get them to stop the bullying. The results were always the same; school officials refused to get involved, said it was a phase; or forced Carl and his adversaries to sit together and work it out. To the end, however, Carl refused to name his tormentors, saying that he would be branded a ‘snitch’ or a ‘tattletale.’ No doubt, he was afraid of further retaliation.
My feeling is this: I think school principals and other officials refuse to get involved because they are afraid or they are plain lazy. I will say, these new generations coming up are hard to peg or to discipline, because their parents don’t discipline them. They’re afraid that the children might get physical with them. They might sneak a gat to school to equalize the situation between adults and children. Or worse, it will bring belligerent parents into the mix. It all points to a lot of paperwork, and a lot of fear and recriminations, and possibly lawsuits and job loss. It’s really a chickenshit situation, because nothing gets resolved and everything builds up, with one result being the death of this child. Ms. Walker believes that it was the bullying of one of the girls, who taunted and threatened to beat him up that finally broke Carl.
That girls as well as boys bully usually surprises people. I was bullied in the first, second and third grades until I was pushed into fighting with a much taller and older girl. It was all about my being studious and diligent about school, being ‘four-eyed,’ and being new to the neighborhood, which happened several times. I struck out at her until my glasses flew off. Thereafter, I wasn’t ‘messed with’ any more, but I was in terror for about three years. At one school, I would stay in the room drawing and coloring until recess was over. My teacher had to hold students at their desks until I reached home unhurt.
A boy that I grew up with in my New Orleans neighborhood had it both at home and at Catholic school. Meemsy (who I am calling by the name I gave him as a child) was a sensitive boy, perhaps too sensitive for his father, who began punishing him for every small deed, good or bad. When the father brushed off his mother’s fears, my grandmother, an acknowledged neighborhood elder and their landlady, intervened. Thereafter, the father did none of that any more. Later, Meemsy was bullied and pointedly beat up at Catholic school by a young boy, Porter (not his real name), who my mother later said would probably grow up to be in jail. There was weeks of tension until Meemsy was roughed up for the last time. School officials finally expelled Porter; parochial schools countenance no disruptions of order. However, Meemsy did grow up to be gay.
There’s none of this kind of adult intervention in homes and in schools nowaday. As a result, even girls can also form into separate gangs in elementary school; and since they mature earlier, they can also become taller and heavier than some boys. I can well imagine that Carl did not want to fight, wasn’t the kind to fight, didn’t feel that he wanted to fight a girl who was probably capable of beating him up to a pulp, and also getting help from other boys in the process. These days, young girls can swear and curse as humiliatingly as an ex-convict.
What gets me is that these same young girls and women are later complaining bitterly about the lack of ‘good’ men who are Christian and comfortable in themselves, have more than a high school degree, and are good providers. They are stuck with baby daddies who refuse to marry them or take responsibility for their children. What they don’t know is that ‘hard’ guys don’t necessarily make good men. They make convicts, gangsters and girlfriend beaters and wife killers. Chris Brown and O.J., anyone?
I keep hoping that black men will take black boys in hand and teach them a new kind of masculinity that isn’t based on prison ethos, the street, and even certain societal and ethnic expectations. A new kind of masculinity that takes in all sexualities at the ground floor. It still ain’t happening, and it didn’t happen in time for Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover.
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~ by blksista on April 16, 2009.
Posted in Black People, Commercials, Race, Sexuality, Television
Tags: Anti-Intellectualism, Bullying, Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, Enforced Heterosexism, Gay, Hypermasculinity, Sirdeaner Walker, Springfield MA, Suicide, Wanda Sykes
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