Monday, September 1, 2014
Ferguson Missouri, Poppets. I’ve struggled with this article for days now – to the point of being late turning it into Betty. There’s just so much that could be said, that needs to be said. Finding the words has been…hard. How does one discuss the death of a young black man walking down the street? Especially when that death has been caused by someone who was supposed to be a symbol of safety and trust?
Too many of us in the LGBTQ community know the fear of not being safe in our own neighborhoods. Know what it’s like to wonder if the person behind you is a friend, or foe. And yet, make no mistake, Poppets: gay is not the new black. Each community has issues that are particular to that specific group. There are many that overlap. And yet gay is not the new black.
So why is it important that we, among ourselves, talk about Michael Brown’s killing? First and foremost, because marginalized peoples should stick together. That’s a trite way of putting it, but until we all rise, any of us can be brought down.
Secondly, regardless of how it may feel here in Bellingham, or how the national community leaders may make it seem, not all LGBTQ people are white. When people of color are threatened, people within our community are threatened. LGBTQs of color get to deal with everything white LGBTQs deal with because of orientation and identity and everything straight people of color deal with because of their race. It’s the double-whammy of violence, bigotry, fear, and prejudice.
Third, while this is absolutely, and without question, a race – and racist – issue, we must also make it a human one. We don’t get to claim to be decent human beings if we don’t act decently. If we don’t call out bigotry in all its forms. There was no misunderstanding in Ferguson. There was no difference of opinion. An unarmed black man was shot dead by a white cop. If those of us who are white choose to sit quietly on the sidelines because this is “a black issue” then we don’t get to feel smug when we vote a specific way, or change our Facebook icon, or stop eating at Chick Fil’A.
Fourth, the black community shouldn’t have to do all the heavy lifting. Just as we appreciate our straight friends when they speak out, march, donate, protest, listen, and vote, the LGBTQ community owes it to other marginalized groups to do the same.
But most importantly, and to reiterate, the LGBTQ community includes lesbians, gays, bi’s, trans men and women, and queers of color. It includes pansexuals of color and bigendered people of color. It includes those of us who fit no label, but aren’t straight, of color. To think about the black community as “them” does a disservice to a huge part of our own community. We must talk about Michael Brown’s killing because his murder is a reflection of all of us and our silence would speak far louder than our words.
It’s hard to find the words, Poppets. I know. But find them we must. His name was Michael Brown, and he deserves a voice.
Until next month, Poppets, take care of you – and each other.