In a time when cross community solidarity is far too rare, I am encouraged that LGBTQ groups across the country chose to take a stand with Trayvon Martin. In the letter signed by more than 20 of the most active LGBTQ organizations, they declared that the killing of Trayvon Martin not only requires a call to action, but also is a moment for society to demand justice and answers. I believe this is the exact type of mobilization that needs to take place more between communities who are mutually disenfranchised by larger society. Unfortunately, more often than not, there is more distrust than trust, between the black community, queer community of color, and LGBTQ community as a whole.
In 2000 a black pride survey was conducted by the Policy Institute of National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce, several University researchers, community organizations and Black Gay Pride organizations across the country. With the combined effort of these individuals and institutions they were able offer a foundation of knowledge about the lives and experiences of queer youth of color. In their data LGBTQ people of color voiced their perception about the racism they experience in White LGBTQ communities. Overall, the study finds that more than half of the 2, 645 respondents thought that racism was a problem with white LGBTQ communities. The study states:
Individuals’ and communities’ lived experiences, especially under conditions of oppression and marginalization, structure and shape their attitudes, beliefs, and worldviews. The BPS 2000 asked respondents to rate, on a scale of 1 to 7 (where 1 was “strongly disagree,” 4 was “neutral,” and 7 was “strongly agree”) whether or not racism was a problem within White GLBT communities. Overall, 48 percent of respondents agreed that the racism of Whites was a problem for Black GLBT individuals in their relations with White GLBT people. Among transgender respondents, this percentage was even higher. Over one-half of transgender respondents (57 percent) agreed that the racism of Whites was a problem for Black GLBT people when dealing with the White GLBT community. Respondents who had negative experiences with White GLBT people at GLBT community events, in White GLBT organizations, and in bars and clubs were more likely to agree that the racism of Whites was a problem for Black GLBT people when dealing with White GLBT communities.
I think if we had more interactions like the letter written below, there is more potential for mobilizing individuals to change the multiple ills of this world. I think we can draw on moments of the civil rights movement to find instances in which cross-cultural, racial, and generational alliances were built for the common good and complete justice for all. Please read below to be encouraged by what is titled:
An Open Letter: Standing Alongside Trayvon Martin’s Family and Friends
“The tragic killing of Trayvon Martin is a national call to action. Our hearts go out to Trayvon’s family and friends for the loss they have experienced. We stand in solidarity with them as they demand answers and justice. We represent organizations with diverse lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender constituencies.
Many in our community have been targets of bigotry and bias. We have a great deal of experience grappling with the role bias plays in violent crimes against our communities. We well know the stories of young people targeted for violence just because of who they are: Rashawn Brazell, Lawrence King, Ali Forney, Deoni Jones, Brandon White, Matthew Shepard, Angie Zapata, Sean Kennedy and countless others.
Trayvon’s killing is a wakeup call to the enduring cancer of racism and racial profiling. The pain his family continues to endure transcends communities and unites us all. Every person, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity, must be able to walk the streets without fear for their safety.
Trayvon’s killing is tragic and the stark reality that racial bias played a role in his death has alarmed our nation. Questions must be asked. Answers must be sought. And justice must be served. We join our voices to the chorus of so many others to demand that local and federal authorities find those answers. We stand in solidarity with Trayvon’s family and friends as they seek justice for his killing. In the timeless words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers
Family Equality Council
Freedom to Marry
Human Rights Campaign
International Federation of Black Prides
LGBT Progress at the Center for American Progress
National Black Justice Coalition
National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR)
National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE)
National Coalition for LGBT Health
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
National Stonewall Democrats
Out & Equal Workplace Advocates
Pride at Work
Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE)
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN)
The Trevor Project