What connects Black Lives Matter, effemiphobia, and magic wands? Talking with Brandon Mack (#67)

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Jean Latting
May 23, 2023
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Brandon discusses stereotyping, ostracism, effemiphobia -phenomenon of people not wanting to be associated with the negative parts of themselves & BLM.

Highlights from this week’s interview

This week Jean interviews Brandon Mack, an activist in Black Lives Matter-Houston and an administrator at Rice University. Below are highlights. For the full interview, read the the full transcript.

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Jean: This is Brandon Mack, Associate Director of Admission at Rice University and Coordinator of Transfer Admission. He has a Masters of Education in Higher Education, Administration, and Supervision at University of Houston – my university – currently a PhD student there. And he is Lead Organizer for the Houston Black Lives movement organization and this is why I invited him. I specifically wanted someone from BLM.

Brandon focuses on the intersections of race, gender, and sexual orientation with research on the negativity related to effeminate gay men. And you have a special word for that.

What is effemiphobia?


Brandon: The term is effemiphobia, when effeminate gay men are ostracized by other gay men within the LGBTQ+ community.


Jean: is this a form of internalized oppression?


Brandon: It is a kind of outward expression of the internalized feelings that gay men feel towards their own sense of effeminacy and their own sense of being able to freely display who they are, that kind of manifests itself into negative interactions that they may have with other gay men.


Brandon: Gay men will shun other gay men because of fear of association, to avoid being questioned about their own sexuality.

rainbow pride flags seen though blurry window


Jean: is this hurtful?


Brandon: Very much so. As an individual, you have to modulate your behavior. And where is the welcome from the gay community? As a community, it keeps marginalized people from coming together.


[Jean compares it to a prejudice about color in the Black community.]


Brandon: Very similar, lighter skin is perceived to be more positive.


Jean: tell us about your childhood.


Brandon: I grew up in Lake Jackson, near Houston, which had a Black population of 5-10%. I always had my intelligence questioned, and was discouraged from applying to good colleges. I didn’t want to stay in Texas, but Rice was the first to accept me and provided a very welcoming environment for Blacks and for gays.


[Jean asks what exactly Rice did to display support.]


Brandon: You need to demonstrate the intentionality of your support. Rainbow flags, book displays, collaborative efforts at inclusion. We sit at the intersection of Black and LGBTQ+, offering mutual support but also individual safe places.

one rock says BLM matter and another rock says pride love is love


[Jean asks why Black and gay organizations exist as distinct communities.]


Brandon: There are going to be times where we have to have conversations where certain identities need to be centered. For overall issues we can come together.


Jean: Tell me about your use of the word “accomplice.”


Brandon: I firmly believe that the time for allyship has ended. It’s a passive association. An ally goes to your protest, takes a selfie to post on facebook, and that’s where it ends. An accomplice is there to protect you and to help clean up the mess. They don’t take over and they don’t go away.


[Jean asks Brandon to talk about Black Lives Matter.]


Brandon: Black Lives Matter is fundamentally three things. It is first and foremost a declarative sentence. The United States has a problem with devaluing Black life.

Second, Black Lives Matter is an organization dedicated to addressing the devaluation of Black life. It’s very much decentralized. This is not a top-down structure, because people know best what’s needed in their area.

And third, Black Lives Matter is a movement. We're about really dismantling the systemic oppressions related to the Black community. So that means addressing education inequalities, food insecurity, and police brutality,

[Discussion of Black Lives Matter, its meaning, and its function.]


Jean: People ask, “where are the Martin Luther Kings of today?”


Brandon: It’s about all of us being activated and being a part of this movement. You don’t wait for the charismatic leader.


Jean: What would you do with a magic wand?


Brandon: I would eliminate policing. We need to reallocate those resources for food insecurity, educational inequalities, the wealth gap. Police are not a deterrent to crime: they only show up to investigate a crime after it happens.


Jean: What keeps you going through the ups and downs of this work?


Brandon: What keeps me going is the fact that every single day I seek out to do what I can do. So that inherently keeps me going because it’s always about what can I do to help dismantle the systems that I don’t want to see. What keeps me going is seeing young people becoming more and more accepting of themselves. What also keeps me going is also something that keeps me not in despair, is because, you're right, Dr. Jean, I have seen a lot in my 37 years to make me feel despair. And, the simple fact is that I don’t want anyone to ever have to go through that.

grafitti wall with neon lights with positive messages


Jean: Tell us how people can reach you.


Brandon: @TheBrandonMack on twitter and Instagram; Brandon Mack on facebook; blmhou@gmail.com, and www.blmhou.com.

Brandon Mack headshot

Brandon Mack

Associate Director of Admission at Rice University

Brandon is a doctoral student at the University of Houston, where he earned a Master of Education (M.Ed.) focused in Higher Education/Higher Education Administration. He is skilled in nonprofit organizations, coaching, academic advising, volunteer management, and public speaking.

Connect with Brandon:


The views and opinions expressed in this or other blog posts at www.leadingconsciously.com are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Leading Consciously. Any content provided by our bloggers or authors are of their opinion, and are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, organization, company, individual, or anyone or anything.

Questions to ask yourself

  1. How do you relate to people who share your identity, but embody negative stereotypes about that identity?
  2. In the realm of social and racial justice, what would you do with a magic wand?

Leading Consciously concepts and skills
covered in this blog post

  • Bridging differences
    • Learn to recognize dominant/nondominant dynamics
    • Identify and manage stereotyping tendencies and biases
    • Remain alert to exclusionary behaviors
    • Address underlying systemic biases
  • Initiating change
    • Emphasize change in systems, not just individuals
    • Set direction, not fixed outcome
    • Cultivate radical patience
    • Acknowledge small wins

#BlackLivesMatter  #BreakingthePrejudiceHabit  #InternalizedOppression  #RadicalPatience

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