You Need to Elevate Black Voices During Pride Month

Following the death of George Floyd, national protests for justice and police reform have ensued like never before — coinciding with Pride month. I’ve heard a lot of muttering from people who are feeling unable to celebrate Pride because of the protests, which leads me to believe that many do not know how Pride even began. In fact, we wouldn’t have Pride as we do today without the Stonewall Riots of 1969, initiated by queer POC.

In the ‘60s, any actions and people deemed to be queer were not welcome in society. In New York, the police department would attempt to patrol this, and the illegality of the LGBTQ community led to secret clubs where queer folks could gather together despite police action. This is how a bar in Stonewall Inn came to be — a bar that welcomed queer people and sex workers, allowing this otherwise oppressed group full comfort and immersion within the community.

On June 28, 1969, the bar was raided by police who used violence against the people inside, resulting in violent riots against the action. Historians claim that not one person can be held accountable for the riots, as they are a collective result of a community banding together to protest excessive and unprotected police action. However Marsha P. Johnson, a Black trans woman, is cited as heavily responsible for the Stonewall Riots. As well as leading on the frontlines at the protests, she dedicated her life to helping transgender, Black, and homeless individuals, as long as sex workers. Through her hard work and dedication to activism, she served as a pioneer events for gay rights liberation, leading to the rising popularity of LGBTQ rights groups and the Pride parades.

Just like during the Stonewall riots in 1969, police are currently using tear gas, and other violent measures such as rubber bullets, batons, flash-bangs and physical violence, against crowds who are calling for the justice of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and countless other Black individuals who died at the hands of police brutality.

In order to support Pride this month, you must support Black Lives Matter. BLM is an organization that was formed after the murder of Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old boy who was perceived as a threat by officer George Zimmerman while simply walking around a neighborhood. Zimmerman shot Martin as a ‘‘self-defense’’ mechanism, and was never held accountable for the death. BLM stands to fight white supremacy and save the lives of innocent Black people, including queer and trans folks, immigrants, and disabled people. I’ve seen a common misunderstanding of the meaning of BLM, and I think it’s important to educate ourselves on where it came from and why it’s here. Its sole purpose is to protect Black people from the violence they face.

You can honor Pride month by supporting BLM, by showing you are an ally for everyone, including the Black trans women who were the backbone of the gay rights movement. Below are some ways you can use Pride support BLM this month, and always.

Donate

Even small sums can go a long way during this time. You can donate to organizations such as Black Lives Matter, The Marsha P. Johnson Institute, and The Bail Project. Donating to organizations allows us to directly help fund their actions, and donating to bail funds helps release protestors who were arrested. This list from The Strategist has a list of other organizations you can donate to.

Petitions

It’s speculated that the petition to charge Derek Chauvin, the cop who killed George Floyd, with second degree murder as opposed to third was the reason the charge moved. We as citizens have the right to petition, and we should use it. Several organizations such as Black Lives Matter and Freedom for Immigrants have spoken out on their belief that defunding the police is the only way to end police brutality, as the group was formed on a racist foundation. BLM has a petition available to sign to defund the police. This petition from Change.org aims to ban the use of rubber bullets, which police have been using at protests. These bullets have been shown to cause severe injuries and bleeding. This list from Bleu has 30 petitions that you can sign in support of BLM.

Protests

As aforementioned with the discussion of Stonewall, protesting can be incredibly effective. As we’ve seen with the charging of the cops complicit in George Floyd’s murder, protesting can truly make a difference. You can find information about protests in your area by getting involved with activism groups. The Indivisible Movement has information available on their website about upcoming events.

As helpful as these protests can be, we’ve seen countless reports on how dangerous they can be, from being tear-gassed to getting arrested. Protesting is a great thing that you can do to help support the movement, but remember that your safety is just as important as this cause and to not put yourself in deliberate danger. This guide from Amnesty discusses the ways to stay safe during protests, from what to do and what not to do, what to wear, what to bring, and how to handle teargas. Give it a look if you plan on protesting.

Spreading The Word

After becoming informed of the other events like the current BLM protests, you now hold power to educate others around you. It’s important to spread anti-Black racism as much as feasible when it is safe for you. Remember that your voice alone can be enough to change someone’s mind, and to use that power wisely. These are difficult times, and as a proud ally of the BIPOC community, I encourage everyone to do their part in helping end white supremacy and racism not just this Pride month, but until this injustice is over.

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