Photo by Leonard Fink, Courtesy LGBT Community Center National History Archive
It is often the case that people from marginalised communities who fought the battles so many of us benefit from are erased from a history that privileges white narratives and voices. As Ericka Hart wrote today, even with a familiar name, such as Marsha P. Johnson, there has been no proper justice. This is a pattern that repeats itself with Black transgender people suffering particularly high rates of violence, poverty and death. In death, transgender people are constantly misgendered in media reports, if their deaths get reported at all. I am marking 1 June 2020 not to say 'Happy Pride' but rather as a reminder of the huge debt queer people such as myself owe to Black activists that paved the way for many of the freedoms afforded to us and to recognise the responsibility I have to identify and call out racism that pervades within and outside our LGBT communities.
I am queer but I am also white, which means I have benefited from systemic racism throughout my entire life. I have work to do to ensure my behaviours both on and offline are proactively anti-racist. Being an effective ally involves showing up and sticking around for the long-term, not just in moments of public outrage. It also involves getting uncomfortable with identifying and dismantling inbuilt prejudices and a refusal to be complicit through silence. As the Black Lives Matter website points out, "white silence about race allows racism and white supremacy to be maintained and normalized. It’s important for those of us who are white to break white silence and have honest conversations with our friends, family, and neighbors. These conversations can help us find others to build with and change the minds of people who disagree with us about racial justice." I have made mistakes and I will continue to make mistakes but as Ricardo Levin Morals says, "[i]t's not about [getting it right]. It's about putting your shoulder to the wheel of history...There are things in life we don't get to do right. But we do get to do them" (2015, Showing Up For Racial Justice).
If you're reading this as a Black person, LGBT or otherwise, I understand that I cannot ever know your experiences of racism but I hear you and stand with you in the fight against it. If you are reading this as a white person, LGBT or otherwise, and you want to know what proactive steps you can take, here are some suggestions:
- This article on how to be an effective ally gives good pointers for effective allyship and includes some recommended reading and suggestions for accounts to follow.
- Anti-Racist Resource Guide by Victoria Alexander, MEd.
- Black Lives Matter have plenty of self-education resources.
- Showing Up For Racial Justice also has plenty of materials available.
- Rachel Cargle a public academic, writer and lecturer has produced an extensive collection of material including articles, lecture series', blog posts and media publications.
- An open Google document made by perkin_amalaraj sets out ways you can support the Black Lives Matter movement in the UK.
- This list from TheShowMustBePausedUK has some excellent links to films and media with a UK focus.
- This article by Maatin Patel offers a UK perspective with a list of resources at the end.
- Google. There's a huge amount of information out there and right now it's even easier to find as so much is being collated together and shared widely on social media.
DONATE / PETITION
- Here are some Ways You Can Help financially compiled by Black Lives Matter.
- Support the work of The Black Curriculum seeking to get Black history taught in schools in the UK. You can email the Education Secretary, donate and learn more about #TBH365.
- The Loveland Foundation is just one of many organisations you could support.
- Support the work of Black activists, teachers, campaigners, creatives by compensating them for their labour through paying to access their educational materials or making donations through the channels they recommend. Many have Patreon of PayPals to tip through. Also identify Black-owned businesses and support them financially instead of placing orders through other channels.
- If you don't have the means to offer financial support you could consider ways to donate your time by volunteering, write letters to your MPs, sign petitions and so on. There is also a YouTube video by Zoe Amira that you can play letting the adverts run and the revenue made through AdSense will be donated to the associations that offer protester bail funds and towards family funerals and advocacy.
A final edit to this post to note that many of the Black activists and campaigners that have been cited as people to follow across multiple lists have seen their follower count increase exponentially. Please remember the people running these accounts are individuals who are often doing the work themselves If you appreciate the work of the activists who are mentioned in these materials, there are ways to express that through direct action.