May this heinous hate crime against a famous Black and gay man be a wake-up call to America. The Civil Rights Movement and the election of Barack Obama did not deliver us a post-racial society. Nor did Obergefell v. Hodges or Caitlyn Jenner deliver us an LGBTQ inclusive society. What happened to Jussie Smollett happens to queer people of color every day. It has never come to that level of aggression for me, but it sure has come close in the supposed progressive beacons of New York and Washington, DC.
See, America has been lying to itself regarding how far it has come and that became very clear when it elected the current presidential administration. A presidential administration that gives racists and homophobes the green light to commit crimes like ones committed against Jussie. How can I claim this administration is responsible? The culprits were even wearing MAGA hats – bigotry’s new uniform.
Considering all the people who are still marginalized and attacked in our society, I would say we have only set the groundwork for change. It is time to actually start building and the ones holding the megaphones should be people who look more like Jussie. Because the issues LGBTQ people of color face are consistently placed on the back burner. Often, we are too queer to be represented in causes made for people of color and we are often too dark to be represented causes made for LGBTQ people.
I am still fired up from the Creating Change Conference (http://www.thetaskforce.org) I attended last week. We discussed intersectional issues, resources, and organizing tactics. I want to highlight some of those now that everyone is paying attention as Jussie’s story unfolds:
• It is legal in 48 states to kill an LGBTQ person in self-defense if you believe they were hitting on you. It’s called gay/trans panic.
• 42% of elderly LGBTQ individuals are without family to care for them.
• Trans individuals and sex workers are overpoliced and often unlawfully killed by law enforcement.
• Gay neighborhoods are being erased in favor of privatization and mass development.
• 16% of Black and Brown LGBTQ people experience homelessness.
• LGBTQ migrants are struggling to find supportive communities.
• LGBTQ people living in rural areas are severely cut off from mental and sexual health resources tailored to their needs.
These are only a few of dozens of issues. Feel free to add more in the comments. Don’t let your activism stop on this post or at a retweet about how unfortunate what happened to Jussie is. If you really feel bad – do something. I know I am speaking to a predominately college-aged, urban crowd. You have access to so many resources in your local communities. These resources can pinpoint you in the right direction if you want to get involved.
And here’s to a speedy recovery for Jussie. 💙