PRIDE: Standing Up and Speaking Out To End White Supremacy

PRIDE: Standing Up and Speaking Out To End White Supremacy

“What are you doing for Pride this weekend?” has been the question of the week. The annual LGBTQ Pride celebrations will be held in many cities this week, including in New York, where I live. I’m pretty sure they are asking who I’ll be marching with, what dance I’ll be going to, etc. But, I’m grappling with this question in a big way. I’m wondering as a white queer woman how I will use pride to amplify the voices of the Black, Brown, Refugee, Immigrant, and Muslim communities under attack. This year’s National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) Report on LGBTQ and HIV-Affected Hate violence, found 2016 was the deadliest year on record for the LGBTQ community in the US. Is that chilling? Yes. Does it scare me? Absolutely. But as a white queer woman I know that my whiteness offers protection, not afforded people of color. The NCAVP report goes on to say that LGBTQ people of color were among the most impacted with 79% of the 28 reported cases (not related to the Pulse shooting) involving people who identified as Black or Latinx. The Pulse shooting itself stands as an attack on black and brown communities.

In New York, this year’s Pride theme is “We Are Proud,” paying homage to our community’s unwavering ability to rise and be proud, even while under attack by a hostile political environment.”  I AM proud to be a lesbian.  And, while I will celebrate, I also want to challenge my white LGBTQ family to raise the volume of our outrage about racism and Islamophobia facing Black, Brown, Refugee, Immigrant, and Muslim communities. I challenge my white LGBT family to see our liberation tied to the freedom, the true freedom, of all.

When we march down the middle of Fifth Avenue with our rainbow flags held high, will our signs bear the names of Philando Castile, Sandra Bland, Rekia Boyd, Charleena Lyles, and so many others who have fallen to state violence? When we reach our hands out for the corporate swag will we remember Marissa Alexander, a Black woman, who faced 60 years in prison for defending herself against an abusive ex –partner who was in her home to kill her? Will we think about how sexism, patriarchy, and racism intersect to fuel violence against women and girls? Or, how that deadly trio disproportionately impacts Black women, meaning they are three times more likely to die at the hands of a current or former partner than their white counterparts. As we whistle and cheer will our signs send love and hope to Breesha Meadows, a 14 year old Black girl arrested for protecting her family against the man that been beating her mother and terrorizing the family for years? As the floats go by, will any of them pay homage to Nabra Hassanen, the 17-year-old Muslim girl kidnapped while leaving a Mosque during Ramadan and then brutalized and killed?

PRIDE Sign Prep

Some of my friends say, “Ease up, this is a celebration, stop being political for once.” Until the personal stops being political, my answer is no, I won’t ease up.  And, I hope my white LGBTQ, won’t ease up either. The LGBTQ community knows how to hold joy and reality at the same time. I want our reality as white queers to include speaking out and stepping up to end white supremacy.

Heidi Lehmann
Heidi Lehmann
Director, Gender and Gender Based Violence
HIAS

Heidi has over fifteen years experience in Africa, Asia and the US as an advocate, case worker, and facilitator on programs working to end violence against women and girls. She is currently the Director of Gender Based Violence at HIAS. Learn More

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