In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be antiracist
– Angela Davis
Dear white LGBTQ+ Ohioans:
A few weeks ago things were on fire. Every news outlet had it as front page news. And due to short attention span, those things have disappeared from the front page. Many of you have already taken down your woke Black Lives Matter Facebook banners. But things are still burning.
To be clear, last week wasn’t a cool Spirit Week at adult high school. There is a need for work to be done: work that is long, but work that is worth it in the long run. To quote a tweet by Saeed Jones:
Y’all are doing everything EXCEPT getting the cops to stop killing bLACK people. I love murals, voice actors, and capital letters as much as anyone else, but I can’t enjoy it if cops are still killing bLACK people. A nice dinner in a burning house is not a meal I want to eat.
— Saeed Jones (@theferocity) June 30, 2020
This is about Justice and Equality deferred. Here are some ways we can get there.
It can start with calling out those who are closest to you that watch Fox News or OAN. It can start with questioning why relatives say “I don’t see color” or “I have a Black friend.” Inquire why making a joke that includes “those people” are still in their brain.
And, most importantly, it can start by educating yourself on the history of this struggle. Don’t ask Black people for help; that’s how the power of a Google search can come through clutch for you. Black people are indeed magical people but they aren’t your Bagger Vance or Aibileen Clark. I mention the latter because at one point during the unrest, Netflix’s most watched movie was The Help. This tells me that some people have not quite got that this isn’t the time for you to be a white savior. You need to help but never take the lead to be direct.
You need to understand your privilege and how it can be used. In social settings, if you bring up the topic of white gay men having privilege, there is usually some pushback. There is the response of, “I was harmed for who I am!” or “I was called slurs too!” Both of these things are awful, but this isn’t a “Who has suffered more?” competition.
Cis gay white males are specifically mentioned here due to their being one of the few members of the LGBTQ+ community that has an upward-trending economic outlook. The routine response to highlighting that reality somehow is heard as “Having money is terrible!” No. In actuality, it’s how the money is used that is the real issue.
An example of this financial impact is gayborhoods. A simple definition of a “gayborhood” is a neighborhood with a high concentration of gay people. But the reality again is more complex than that. A gayborhood more often than not kills previously Black and/or people-of-color-established neighborhoods by raising the cost of living, destroying important cultural buildings/landmarks, and even calling the police on the Black and/or people of color residents who established the neighborhood. Often cities are complicit in this activity by only providing resources (better public transportation, better general infrastructure, etc.) long overdue to neighborhoods after they have pushed out Black people, people of color, and people who were experiencing homelessness. Basically it’s colonization, but in a designer $600 t shirt.
Here are a ton more ways white LGBTQ+ Ohioans can be part of the solution:
- The presence of “no spice, no rice, and no chocolate” on dating profiles are ugly racist remarks. If your preference for a hookup or life partner is tied to the color of their skin, you are either supremacist or fetishist. Possibly both. To quote local writer Harmony Cee, “If you notice that you’ve only dated white people and those phrases don’t seem to apply to you but you don’t know where it’s coming from, you need to do some internal work to figure it out.”
- If you work for a non-profit LGBTQ+ organization and your meetings look devoid of color, comment on that. And after commenting, make a direct action to change it. Far too often there are small groups and group discussions on this exact topic but no change ever comes.
- Be careful using your Black co-workers for Black and/or of-color references for others to hire. Get to know the community you are located in and attempting to serve.
- Instead of shrugging about the complaints about police being at Pride, work toward getting rid of police from that event. That could be making a statement saying they aren’t invited or working to change the city law that requires them to be there. And to be frank, Black LGBTQ+ persons have far more negative interactions than most white rainbow persons when it comes to police interactions.
This has possibly sounded like a long diatribe to those who don’t like their privilege to be challenged. If you are uncomfortable reading through these bullets, maybe it’s time to look at those who are closest to you. And maybe it’s time to look at yourself. It isn’t pretty or glamorous process, but you can come out as a decent human being on the other side. If you are white LGBTQ+ person, this is a chance to exceed your LGBTQ+ ancestors’ wildest dreams.
And it is a chance to join this thunderous demand for FREEDOM.