CNN has suspended commentator Roland Martin, after the political pundit sent several messages on social media which seemed to support violence against people perceived to be gay. Martin wrote that a man wearing pink should be visited by "teamwhipdatass," then told his followers to “smack the ish” out of any man excited about the new H&M ad.
Martin attempted to clarify his remarks, saying that the latter was aimed at "soccer fans."
In a longer statement Monday night, Martin said "While public debate over social issues is healthy, no matter which side someone takes, there is no room for debate as to whether we need to be respectful of others." (For more information please visit www.glaad.org/rolandsmartin.)
Today, CNN released the following statement regarding its decision to suspend Martin:
“Roland Martin’s tweets were regrettable and offensive. Language that demeans is inconsistent with the values and culture of our organization, and is not tolerated. We have been giving careful consideration to this matter, and Roland will not be appearing on our air for the time being.”
The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs has found that violence against LGBT people was up 23 percent last year. 70 percent of the victims murdered were people of color, and 44 percent were transgender women. Roland Martin and CNN have both now made statements telling their audiences that there is never a reason to advocate violence against people who are (or are perceived to be) gay, no matter what the intent.
“CNN today took a strong stand against anti-LGBT violence and language that demeans any community,” said GLAAD spokesperson Rich Ferraro. “Yesterday, Martin also spoke out against anti-LGBT violence. We look forward to hearing from CNN and Roland Martin to discuss how we can work together as allies and achieve our common goal of reducing anti-LGBT violence as well as the language that contributes to it.”
Since the controversy began, some have insulted Martin’s personal character and race when discussing this issue. GLAAD strongly condemns these attacks. There is no excuse for race based attacks or hate speech.
Bloggers, advocates and thousands of supporters joined GLAAD in calling on the network to take action and stand up against statements of violence towards people perceived to be LGBT. Earlier this week, Sharon Lettman-Hicks, Executive Director of the National Black Justice Coalition, the nation’s largest black LGBT civil rights organization, also spoke out:
“Even if he meant it in a jovial manner, Roland Martin’s words carry a real impact on the everyday lives of Black LGBT people, especially our youth. Given the number of rash murders, attacks and violent acts involving LGBT people of color, we cannot let statements such as this go unchecked. Silence is a form of acceptance and only perpetuates the problem.”
Just one day after Martin made his comments, a video of a Black gay man in Atlanta being brutally beaten went viral. The 30-second (very graphic) clip shows a group of men kicking and punching the unsuspecting young man outside a convenience store, while repeatedly using anti-gay slurs. This is what it looks like when someone gets their "*ss whipped" or has the "ish smacked out of them" just because they're perceived to be gay.
We have reached out to both CNN and Roland Martin, and have offered to meet with both parties to discuss ways we could work together to increase awareness and further the dialogue about violence against the LGBT community.