Yes. It has been months since I’ve said anything here. I mentioned changes… lots have happened in life, little here. So let the writing resume. First a disclosure- I am Queer. I have been an “out” member of the central Ohio community for 20+ years. I use the pronouns she & hers and I also identify as Dyke and Lesbian… as I’ve grown into them. More about that another time.
Dear white hetero-normative (straight) readers, this is where I ask you to take it in, learn, and discuss among yourselves. Take what you learn and spread it far and wide in your own community. If you’re NOT a GLBTQ+ person or a person of color (PoC) the particulars of this is NOT your lane for commenting. In other words, take the education and don’t comment on what some call “in-fighting”. We are not “sides” as one straight-identified woman said earlier. We are a family with millions of members across the globe, and like any family, we have our difficulties and disagreements. Thanks for not swerving. And stay the hell out of my oxford commas too, I like them. 😉
For anyone who didn’t know, Philadelphia added two stripes to their pride flag this year…
At it’s worst this is merely a display of inclusion, and at it’s best it’s a promise to center black and brown folx in the QTBLG+ fight for equality. Yes, there are lots of opinions, and only time will tell. Yes, those letters are “backwards”. Because Rev. Dr. Valerie Bridgeman asks us to be as disruptive in our thinking as possible.
PoC folx in cities across the country stood up at Pride marches this year, demanding recognition and inclusion. In our town, protesters were seeking 7 minutes of silence- one for each bullet that struck Philando Castile. You might remember his name. He’s the man killed on a fb live stream by a cop during a traffic stop… in front of both girlfriend and 4 year old. This protest – this call for awareness – less than 24 hours after the shooter’s acquittal, led to four arrests, the resignation of Lori Gum, Pride Festival Coordinator and Program from Stonewall Columbus, and upheaval within our community. According to their fb page, “Stonewall Columbus is reaching out to the larger community to ask for their involvement in a critical dialogue about racism and homophobia on July 17, 6:30 – 8 p.m. at the Columbus Health Department, 240 Parsons Avenue.”
Intention is not Impact and Conversation is not Action
Okay, now that you’re up to date on what’s happening, take a moment to stretch, wiggle, check in with your body. Hydrate, put your feet on the ground, breathe in love… pee, whatever you need to do… if you need some herstory on Stonewall you know where google is. I’ll wait…
Good job. We have to remember that self care isn’t self-ish, it’s self-love. It’s a marathon not a sprint and all that jazz. The rev-o-love-tion needs us all in for the long haul.
How do we move forward? What can we do to make real, sustainable change in our community? What changes need to be made? So many more questions, so few answers. Conversations are the first step, and today, 100+ folx gathered together at Summit on 16th United Methodist Church to take that step and face some difficult conversations. The room was full of nervousness, defensiveness, confusion, and other stuff as people willingly shared their experiences, thoughts, feelings and vulnerability trying to sort out what happened at Pride and how that leaves our community. People of all skin tones were brave enough to admit their complicity in racism, to look at their own parts in the machine that is the racist system we all live under. Because that’s the thing folx, we are ALL in the same boat here.
The first step to overcoming racism is to recognize.
Let me repeat myself. The first step to overcoming racism is to recognize that we are all born into systemic racism. Here’s how racism shows up in our lives across institutions and society: wealth gap, employment, housing discrimination, government surveillance, incarceration, drug arrests, immigration arrests, infant mortality… don’t believe me? Research it yourself. Don’t want to see it? Even within the colorful alphabet soup family that we are, the shit is real. Racism exists. Not wanting to see it is a whole other and I understand… go read my post on rose-colored glasses.
Once you get step 1, really get it, unpacking racism gets much easier, I promise.
I don’t know if you’ve ever been to the ocean, but it’s one of my favorite places and favorite analogies for racism, thanks to Nedra Johnson. Now, some of you will want to hurl insults or acronyms at Nedra for some her unrelated opinions. Not here. I hold space for ALL of our complexities. White folx, my dear skin-kin, we are the snorkler in this story. Even as we are marginalized for being QTBLG+. Even when we want to be a big fish. We are still the snorkler. We still have skin privilege. And some of us have class privilege.
Check in time. How are you feeling in your body? What do you need in this moment? Do you need to stretch, to pause, or to plow on?
The next step is all about laying it down. Let Go… of the guilt. defensiveness. fear of doing and/saying the wrong thing. All of it.
One of the unpacking racism stories I share comes from the first YWCA Fireside Chat I attended. I will never forget hearing Suzanne Roberts easily say “I am a racist.” I was instantly filled with big tears, and a huge desire for the liberation that was clearly apparent with the ability to own that shit. It became my mission to let go of all the ego-related bullshit that was holding me back from the change I so wanted and needed. That the world needed. Needs.
What’s holding you back? Lay It Down
Lay it fucking down. Lay down your resistance. your guilt. your defensiveness. your fear. whatever it is that you need to let go of. Exercise your empathy muscle. Not sympathy. Empathy. Watch this for a brief refresher:
Step 2 = Listen. Keep listening.
Now that we’re working on letting go of that pesky defensiveness, step two is to listen. Actually, actively listen… to all the members of our community who feel like their voices aren’t being heard. Listen through all the emotions that come up and without all the ways that we whyte folx suppress PoC voices. It takes practice. Keep at it.
Step 3 = See. Everyone. As Human.
I know… I know that your initial reaction to that involves a scrunched up face and some side-eye. Trust me though, for most of us, this is still a thing. And as much as I love technology and texting, I own that they impact how we see and treat each other. And then there’s the layers and layers and generations of slavery and racism. We are all hurting from the trauma and hurting each other. This wound needs to be cleaned out so that the healing can truly begin. Getting out the festering infection is vital, and the steps I’ve identified here are only the beginning. And an ongoing process until racism is eradicated. Step, rest, step, rest, step.
If you’ve made it this far you’re doing great. Here’s a treat and then we’ll do a quick review and call it done for the day…
Okay, it’s been a lot of reading and absorbing I know, especially if you clicked all the links. This post isn’t going anywhere so take your time and refer to it as you need.
step 1 = understand systemic racism
step 2 = actively listen
step 3 = see human
You’ll fuck up, I promise. Be gentle with yourself and keep working on it. Like body awareness, it gets easier with practice.