Monday, June 28, 2004

Pride and Prejudice- ANGER

I've been in atlanta for about 10 years and have been working in the Black gay community since 1997. One of the things that I've noticed about white LGBT folks in atlant is that they are both unwilling to open their institutions to black lgbt folks and unwilling to aknowledge the institutions that black folks have created for themselves to fill the gaps. I guess your probably wondering what I'm talking about.

Well I'll try to tell you. Pride weekend, Atlanta Gay Pride weekend is an event taht is touted as Atlanta's pride event. However, there is a Black Gay Pride. The reason there is a Black Gay pride is becasue while Atlanta Pride is supposed to be an empowering experience for Gay people, it is rarely that for black gay people. From the focus of the vendors,to the diversity of the speakers, to the floats in the parade, to the genre of the music stages to the disposition of the park volunteers Atlanta Pride is often an experience that is disenfranchising for Black people. Thus Black people do not participate on any large scale in Atlanta pride. We go to Black gay prideso that we can be proud of our whole selves when we enter.

Recently I was challenged for not participating in white pride (as I will call it because this is what Black gay folks call it). Someone was upset that I had decide to direct my efforts at pride toward young Black gay men. I think it's important to mention here that I am paid to direct my efforts toward young black gay men. It was stated that, because I was going to act at pride in such a way that the majority of the folks that I came into contact with would be the folks that I am paid to come into caontact with, I was being a separatist. White people brought this accusation to my supervisors at my job. What is interesting to me about the willingness of these white people to bring this issue to my supervisors is the assertion that there reasoning was taht Pride needed diversity. I was striking to me that in an attempt to appear diverse these white people would try to force me, the black guy, to participate in these events,with threats to my job. I-fucking-ronic.

This is frustrating to me because I think that people are not willing to challenge racism. Black people are scared to do it because they don't want to be placed in the angry black gurl box that whites often place black folks in when they are willing to challenge or even aknowlege racism. The white folks won't do it because they don't see it, they are not the ones experienceing it. I am also frustrated because no matter how I try it seems that I cannot get away from institutionalized racism. I have removed myself from YP and moved into an agency where all of the people who I report to Directly or indirectly are BLACK. Racism is so powerful however, and white people have so much influence that they are able to threaten my lively hood from teers below wher my supervisors stand in the organization framework. Sometimes racism poses a threat from completely outside of the organizational structure.

I was under so much pressure this weekend (Pride 2004) to be seen in the park at the festival and to stay out there doing outreach even though it was storming. Why? Because the whitefolks were threatening my job and using accusations of seperatism and black anger to do it. Having been confronted about Pride I felt required to be in a place that it made little since for me to be in because it was said that I was being racist. Isn't that CRAZY? Since when did black folks get to be racist? Since when did we become responsible for the racial devide in american? Why the fuk am I responsible for diversity? Why the fuck can't they build diversity instead of looking to a single black guy or gurl to be responsible for such?

Why don't white people do the work to really make there organizations diverse, welcoming, inclusive instead of being angry at us for building organizatons that welcome and include us?


EJ Flavors said...

That's a good way to put it. I don't rant any more. What I tell the ones who aren't melanin enriched is that if we come to theirs, then shouldn't they come to ours?

malik said...

I gotta say i understand everything you've said. I also understand where mr. flavors is coming from. The burnout in dealing with the issue of racism, compounded by people participating in it and enforcing it in ways they don't even see is treacherous. Then we -- folks of color -- are the ones called upon to walk a fine line in dealing with the issue.

Un-fucking-believable is right.

I don't have answers to this one. I still think of myself as a baby in dealing with social justice issues like all the -isms in our society. Regardless of what i believe should be (and you know i don't do that word), i keep struggling to maintain my integrity and to ensure that the work i do does not suffer.

When you find the balance that works for you, please share it. I'm sure others (like me) will benefit.