Our Commitment to Racial Justice
Updated: Jun 5
CW: Racism, Police Violence, Murder, Homophobia, Transphobia, Discrimination
The LGBTQ+ community knows what it is like to feel targeted and vulnerable, to feel stereotyped and discriminated against for who we are, and to have to stand up against some of those with a tremendous amount of power and privilege. We have asked, begged, and screamed for our rights, and also our human dignity. We have been ignored, and seen. And ignored, and heard. We have had to do *whatever it takes* to get our oppressors to see us as people, of value, and deserving of respect and equality. While we have made tremendous progress, we have so much more work to do as a culture, country, and community.
The LGBTQ+ community has also been affected by systemic racism. Members of the LGBTQ+ community are diverse – racially, economically, geographically, spiritually, and with regards to ability, age, and any/all other factors of identity. Some members of our community are Black and they could be any other identity as well, on top of being Black & LGBTQ+. The greater number of marginalized identities one holds, the greater the risk of experiencing high rates of adversity throughout the lifespan, including health disparities such as: shorter lifespan, having a chronic illness, mental health problems, being a cigarette smoker, contracting HIV, or being victimized, assaulted or killed.
The LGBTQ+ community also has a problem: racism. For Black people, this is not news -- it has always been known and it has caused tremendous harm. Black people are often treated very differently than white people, and the harmful impact might even be amplified when taking place within queer spaces. In what should be a “safe space,” Black people often experience microaggressions, discrimination, or are even assaulted because of their race. While we should be an accepting, loving and inclusive community, because of an ability to empathize with being discriminated against due to a marginalized identity, we often fail to live within these values.
We should regard our diversity as our greatest gift, and as a symbol of our strength and power. We should empathize who anyone who has been treated differently because of who they are. We should understand that sometimes the appropriate response is whatever-it-takes. The queer community should be an ally in the fight against racism; its members should do the work, actively, to support racial justice and equality. Especially white people, this is a call to action.
Do. The. Work.
It is on us to learn about racism and white privilege, to educate other white people, and to challenge racist people and systems.
If you’re not quite sure where to start, but you are open to starting somewhere, please consider any of the ten below courses of action:
1. Read and consider Peggy McIntosh’s White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack (https://www.racialequitytools.org/resourcefiles/mcintosh.pdf).
2. Buy a book about racism by a Black author from a Black-owned Bookstore (https://lithub.com/you-can-order-today-from-these-black-owned-independent-bookstores/). If you’d like a recommendation, consider this list: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/29/books/review/antiracist-reading-list-ibram-x-kendi.html.
4. Donate money to an organization working toward racial justice, such as the American Civil Liberties Union (www.aclu.org), the NAACP (www.naacp.org), or one of these Black-Led Organizations: https://www.showingupforracialjustice.org/black-led-organizations.html.
5. Interrupt racism that occurs in the form of microaggressions, discriminatory practices or policies, or in any other overt or covert way. Speak up. Yell louder if you have to, in order to be heard. It will not always feel good, and you might be & feel alone in standing up for what is right. Recognize that this feeling is a symptom of white privilege. Do it with even more resolve because of this recognition.
6. Contact legislators to let them know what is important to you: divesting from police and investing in Black communities, implementing trauma-informed policies and programs in the criminal justice system, or providing free COVID-19 testing sites (the virus disproportionately affects Black people). These are just as a few examples of what you might want to contact your legislator(s) about. If you are not sure how to do this, or what to say when you contact them? Here is a starting place: https://www.nationalpriorities.org/take-action/contact-your-representative/
7. Vote according to your values, and look beyond the posted platform. Review previous voting records, and what the candidate has shown up for, or not. There are voting guides put out by organizations such as the ACLU, so you can compare your values to the candidates’.
8. Give money directly to Black people: support fundraising campaigns, donate to bail relief funds, and spend your money at Black-owned businesses.
9. Find out how your local school is teaching about slavery, racism, and the Civil Rights era. Advocate to the school board and administrators to make the curriculum more accurate and appropriate. While you’re at it, notice how many Black people work at the school and push for better representation as needed.
10. Join your local chapter of Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ): https://www.showingupforracialjustice.org/surj-network.html
If you want more to do, consider taking action based on this extensive list of 75 (!) things you can do to fight racism: https://medium.com/equality-includes-you/what-white-people-can-do-for-racial-justice-f2d18b0e0234.
Today, we say ENOUGH. Today, we commit to taking action, and to act as an ally by doing the work. We stand (figurately and literally) with our Black siblings against police brutality, and all other forms of racial violence and discrimination. Today we say “BlackLivesMatter and we commit ourselves to living that value.