Activists to Protest “Racism in the Gayborhood” at City Hall
The Black and Brown Workers Collective (BBWC), an intersectional LGBTQ/racial justice organization, is planning a direct action at City Hall on Friday, September 23rd, at 3 p.m.
In a formal statement released to G Philly, BBWC organizers Shani Akilah and Abdul-Aliy Muhammad said that “this action is in response to the lack of attention given to addressing anti-blackness in Philadelphia’s ‘Gayborhood’ by the office of LGBT Affairs and the director of that office, Nellie Fitzpatrick.” The organizers further remarked in the statement that the rationale behind the demonstration is “directly responding to the countless anti-black incidents, policies and culture that permeates a supposed safer space for Black LGBTQIA communities” and that the Office of LGBT Affairs “needs to address intersectionality.”
The organization included the following list of demands in the statement:
• We declare and agree that the office of LGBTQ Affairs must compensate Black and Brown LGBTQIA community members who are advising the office on issues of racism in the gayborhood.
• We declare and agree that there needs to be other stakeholders at the table to discuss racism in the gayborhood other than Philly Black Pride as they are not a reflection of the entire Black & Brown LGBTQIA community’s interests.
• We declare and agree that there needs to be Black and Brown LGBTQIA housing insecure youth, youth who engage in sex work and youth who are not represented in major organizations at the discussion table as they are disproportionately impacted by a racist gayborhood.
• We declare and agree that the office of LGBTQ Affairs needs to formally name intersectionality as it pertains to Black and Brown LGBTQIA identities and that this makes us more vulnerable in LGBTQIA spaces.
Earlier this week, Office of LGBT Affairs director Nellie Fizpatrick spoke with G Philly about her next steps on addressing incidents of racism in the Gayborhood. One of those steps was attending an upcoming meeting with Philly Black Pride (PBP) and other Gayborhood stakeholders on implementing a four-point strategy by PBP that was introduced last year.
“We will be discussing how to support Philly Black Pride’s four-point strategy, which is the product of last year’s town hall meetings,” Fitzpatrick said. “The Office of LGBT Affairs will be there to support Philly Black Pride and the community’s efforts to move this dialogue forward and into practice in our LGBT businesses.”
But members of the BBWC say that the group does not support Philly Black Pride’s four-point strategy, explaining:
We declare and agree that Philly Black Pride’s 4 point all-inclusive plan is problematic on the following basis:
• Putting the burden on those targeted and most marginalized to “report incidences of racial bias or systemic bullying” places the responsibility of ending racism on those targeted by this system. This simply maintains systemic racism as those in power (and with privilege) do not have to do the heavy lifting.
• Dismantling anti-blackness will not be won with a live campaign and training. It will be won by naming the violence directly and then working to dismantle those systems. In order for this to be efficacious those most marginalized should be leading this struggle.
• Without putting the above pieces in place “Pledging to operate according to principles of equity” will be ineffective at best and could cause more harm at worse.
• Speaking to Black and Brown LGBTQIA community members about “slow and steady change” dismisses our lived reality. We are getting murdered every 28 hours. Slow and steady change has not and will not work for us. We are the experts of our own experience. To assume that people in power know better for us then we know for ourselves is yet another blow to Black and Brown people. We demand that you stop this immediately and issue a public apology.