A Statement on Racism in the LGBTQ+ Community

A Statement on Racism in the LGBTQ+ Community

This past week we were all reminded why the work we do at Affinity is vital to our community.

When I explain Affinity’s purpose which is to serve the entire LGBTQ+ community by prioritizing the perspective of Black LGBTQ+ women, people ask me why? If the goal is to serve everyone, why would we prioritize the perspective of Black women? The reason we do it is because when you center the lives of people that experience oppression at multiple levels, absolutely everyone stands to benefit from that.

The events of this week remind us of the importance of doing the work this way, and why everyone serving the LGBTQ+ community must be intersectional in mission. The unfortunate reality is that oppression exists even within marginalized communities. LGBTQ+ people still experience racism, and sexism, and all of the oppression related to identity that non-LGBTQ+ people experience.

Racism is not just about language. Racism is often most damaging when it is difficult to name, but easy to recognize. It’s coded language. It’s like a dog whistle. Not everyone can hear it, but the sound is piercing for those of us that do.

And for those that aren’t sure, please consider this. Would anyone put a ban on pop music if Justin Bieber were playing during an incident? Of course not. It would be ridiculous. Then so is too is instituting a ban on rap music. Rap music does not cause violence, and the absence of it does not make us safer.

But taking a stance to not play rap music is a dog whistle, and that is violent. That is racially motivated. And we understand the intention, and the sentiment.

The movement for justice of LGBTQ+ people is not inherently anti-racist. We have to work to be anti-racist. In our movement, there has to be room for growth, and to learn from our mistakes so that we will make better decisions tomorrow than we did today. But let us remember, the price of this education isn’t free, and too often it comes at the expense and on the backs of those that already experience oppression. Racism is racism, even if the person didn’t mean to be racist and even after they learned to do better. And having space for growth doesn’t mean that we will ignore that. We can’t.

And lastly, protests and holding people and businesses accountable for their actions is a consequence, not a punishment. Protests have historical roots that help impacted communities heal and help us all exist together in this world. They make us all better, and Affinity is proud to be a partner in making our community more inclusive to everyone.

We are all better when we are all better, and I look forward to being better with all of you.

In Solidarity,

Imani Rupert-Gordon

Executive Director, Affinity Community Services

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