Five Intersections – LGBTQ Pride Month and Black Lives Matter

Every year since the Stonewall Rebellion in Greenwich Village, New York City in late June, 1969, June has been traditionally observed initially as Gay Pride Month, and now LGBTQ Pride Month. But this year, all in person June celebrations and parades have been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and now everything has been overshadowed (and rightfully so) by the murder of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police. His murder combined with the additional recent unaddressed murders of Breonna Taylor (Louisville, Kentucky) and Ahmaud Arbery (South Georgia) has now led to ongoing mass demonstrations around the world against racism and police brutality.

So I do feel it is important for the LGBTQ+ communities to pause and recognize the intersections between racism and “The Black Lives” matter movement with LGBTQ Pride and ongoing battle for LGBTQ equality. Here are 5 intersections:

1) Built upon the base. Though June is LGBTQ Pride Month, we all must place the highest priority on the most recent events around the murder of George Floyd, and the need for community and national engagement with the never-ending work that must continue around addressing systemic racism (see my earlier blog on personal and systemic racism). LGBTQ+ people and allies must be involved and take action around racism, recognizing that much of LGBTQ+ equity progress has been built upon the foundations of racial equity work. Let us never forget and be always grateful of the path Black Americans and racial justice activists paved for LGBTQ+ equity.

Bayard Rustin was the main organizer of Dr. Martin Luther King’s 1963 March on Washington on leading gay rights advocate in the 1970s and 1980s.

2) Intersectionality. Everyone is comprised of a complex mix of their own unique diversity attributes, and we really cannot simply separate one attribute of our diversity and consider it in isolation of our full selves. We have to consider our own race, gender, abilities, etc. as we consider our queer identities.

3) Oppression and issues. Many of the same issues impacting communities of color also impact LGBTQ communities. These include issues of healthcare discrepancies, issues around education, economic development and employment, etc.

4) The importance of allies. Racism is an issue that the white majority must own and take strong action to fix. The issues around racism cannot be laid at the feet of black people to fix; it is the white majority in power that built and controls the mechanisms that perpetrate systemic racism. In the same way, the LGBTQ community must rely and value the work of our straight and cisgender allies who advocate for our equality. Furthermore, many Black organizations, like the NAACP, have been strong allies to the LGBTQ community and include our issues prominently in their work. Link to archive of the NAACP’s LGBTQ equality work.

5) Commons foes. Communities of color and LGBTQ communities must realize that we do face commons foes; whether it be well-intentioned people who may not know how to engage us in the best way, or mean-spirited bigots who want to hold on to their power and oppress others. Marginalized communities must unite to engage and build allies while building larger coalitions to fight discrimination and oppression.

May we all work together to build a stronger nation and stronger world where we all leverage our diversity for the common good of all.

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Blog author Stan Kimer is a diversity consultant and trainer who handles all areas of workplace diversity and with a deep expertise in LGBT diversity strategy and training,  Unconscious Bias and Employee Resource Groups.  Please explore the rest of my website and never hesitate to contact me for your diversity speaking or training needs, or pass my name onto your HR department.  [email protected]

Facing the Truth: Racism Still Persists in the USA

African Americans in the USA are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of Whites

African Americans in the USA are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of Whites

In my work as a diversity consultant, I often run into people who assert that racism no longer exists in the United States; that this is an issue we have completely addressed and that we are indeed living in a “color-blind” society where people are no longer judged based on their race. And these same people say that everyone in today’s USA has truly the same opportunity to succeed, and some even further claim that with equal opportunity laws, Blacks may even have an advantage of over the White majority.

But as a white man and a diversity consultant, I strongly disagree. Yes, there has been tremendous progress in racial civil rights over the past 50 years, but truly there is so much more hard diligent work needed to continue to address and eliminate racism.

What is racism? One simple definition I like is that racism is “the belief, often accompanied with behavior, that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.” And racism can be categorized in two ways: personal racism and institutional racism.

Personal racism is when an individual acts maliciously against another individual or groups of individuals primarily based upon their race. Two examples of personal racism:
• The very well publicized recent story (link) of fraternity members at the University of Oklahoma exuberantly singing a racist song which included the N-word and references to lynching.
• A professional black colleague of mine recently shared that earlier in the year, when stopped at a traffic light, a car of three young white men pulled up beside the car, rolled down their window and repeatedly yelled the “N-word” at her. I supposed they were obsessed that a Black professional could work hard, succeed, and drive a nicer can then they.

Institutional racism occurs specifically in institutions such as governmental bodies, corporations and universities where systemic policies and practices within the institution have the effect of disadvantaging certain racial or ethic groups. Evidence of institutional racism across the USA includes the facts that:

The poverty rate among Black Americans is nearly double the general population, and particularly impacts women and children

The poverty rate among Black Americans is nearly double the general population, and particularly impacts women and children

• The 2010 US Census showed that 15.1% of Americans live in poverty, but the rate is almost double for Blacks (28%). Over the past two decades, there are been virtual no improvement in income disparity between Blacks and Whites.
• African Americans are incarcerated at nearly six times the rates of whites, and even though Blacks and Hispanics only comprise 25% of the American population, 58% of all prisoners are Black or Hispanic. Causes of this include a racially bias justice system and the lack of economic opportunities for Blacks. (link to details from the NAACP).

Not all racist acts are as blatant or intentional as the example provided above. Many racists acts come as a result of unconscious bias or the naïve offender who may not even be aware of what they are doing. Unconscious bias and naïve offenders who are open to learning and personal growth provide opportunities for great teaching moments and constructive dialogue that enables understanding in these sensitive areas.

This short blog only briefly touches on this issue so I encourage my readers to admit that racism certainly is still present in the USA and that we all need to continue to advocate and diligently strive to build a more just and fair society that truly treats and values all equally.

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Additional Links:

Blog on “The Growing Culture of Poverty in the USA.”

A blog on how businesses can align with the community to address poverty issues.