Letters: Reclaiming Pride — A response from FTW+ LiberationEditorial, Online Only, Section 4A, Top Highlights Thursday, July 13th, 2017
Reclaiming Pride: A response from FTW+ Liberation
Anyone who grew up under the tyranny of sodomy laws should remember the fear the police could instill in queers and gays. So when the San Diego Human Rights Commissioner or “Mayor of Hillcrest” Nicole Murray Ramirez earlier this week threatened “Black Lives Matter and trans activists” by saying “don’t even try because this time you will be arrested and taken to jail” the hypocrisy was glaring; so glaring, in fact, that even our white, cisgender, heterosexual friends picked up on it on social media. But social media is not the same as bringing your body and your voice to stand with us as the parade goes by – a fitting metaphor, perhaps, for how rainbow capitalism has left behind the very people who were the original Spirit of Stonewall.
We, FTW+ Liberation, are Femme, Trans, and Women of Color + , a collective of brown, black, indigenous, trans, disabled, gender non-conforming, two-spirit+ people, and allies who recognize that there is no pride for some without liberation for all. We are educating and asserting a call to action for Pride 2017 in the name of the national movement, No Justice No Pride. Together we fight for justice for all our communities: the queer, trans, disabled, black, brown, indigenous, two-spirit, and low-income people who have been left behind by Corporate Pride.
For us, “rainbow capitalism” is the same as ordinary capitalism. It is the intentional pursuit of individual accumulation of goods and wealth, but with a rainbow flag. It is the wholesale buying into the idea of “every man for himself,” of “he who dies with the most toys wins,” and perhaps most importantly, of “I know it’s wrong, but it’s easier than fighting.” It means ignoring collusion with companies or other entities who profit from prison labor, the seizure of native lands and the assault and murder of the people on them, from the war on drugs, the legacy of redlining and blockbusting and carpetbagging, and from outright slavery, whether for sex, agricultural, domestic, or other labor.
Perhaps for some, rainbow capitalism was the goal all along. Perhaps for some, the goal was always to assimilate into the patriarchal mainstream, and distance themselves from the “radicals,” to get queerness to a place where they didn’t have to be “Othered” anymore. But for many of us, this is simply not ever going to be a possibility. A report cited in this very magazine says that “Race is the primary barrier to the career advancement of LGBTQ people of color.” Perhaps those who now benefit from rainbow capitalism forget – perhaps they WANT to forget – that once, just being queer could cost you everything. For some of us, it still does – and since being a person of color, indigenous, or trans also regularly costs us everything – our lives included – many of us are in double, triple, or higher jeopardy. Bearing all this in mind, the fact that Pride exists at all (a testament to trans women of color and their advocacy and “radicalism”) is indeed a source of pride for many. But when members of the local LGBT community strive so visibly to demonize us and demand that we march shoulder to shoulder with the state forces who kill us, we must conclude that they have, indeed, turned their backs on us.
For years, San Diego Pride has ignored concerns of queer, trans and two spirit communities in San Diego County, especially people of color. Specifically, they have been unwilling to break ties with entities who harm LGBTQ2S people. Time and time again, we have been dismissed. Even in the current political moment, San Diego Pride insists on continuing business as usual, ignoring the most marginalized members of our community. We must bring pride back to it’s roots.
We operate in the name of No Justice No Pride who protested Pride parades in other cities such as Washington, D.C., Milwaukee, New York, and others. We endorse their list of demands as equally relevant to our San Diego community, including:
1) San Diego Pride will honor the legacy of Pride and the trans women of color who inspired it by ensuring that trans women of color play a central role in decision-making processes.
a) San Diego Pride’s executive board will include a paid position for a trans woman of color with deep connections to San Diego’s trans community. A San Diego Native is preferred.
b) San Diego Pride will consult and listen to the needs of trans women of color to ensure that Pride is safe and accessible to trans women of color and that it does not erase their historic role in the birth of pride.
2) San Diego Pride will take a strong position against state violence and end its endorsement of the police and other law enforcement agencies by:
a) No longer allowing SDPD or any other law enforcement agency in uniform to march in the Pride parade,
b) committing to scale back police presence at all San Diego Pride events,
c) and barring from participation in its festivities recruiters from any local, state, and federal law enforcement department or agency.
3) San Diego Pride will address its neglect of native, indigenous and two-spirit communities, by:
a) Creating a paid managerial position within San Diego Pride reserved for a native or indigenous leader (Preferably of the Kumeyaay nation)
b) officially and publicly recognize that San Diego Pride takes place on Kumeyaay land and make a formal commitment to work with indigenous and two spirit communities.
4) San Diego Pride will commit to restructuring, replacing and expanding its board of directors to represent and center the leadership of historically marginalized communities, by:
a) Replacing the executive board with people who are open to feedback, accountable to the community, and representative of marginalized communities.
- The executive board will include trans people of color (binary and non-binary inclusive), queer and trans San Diego natives, queer and trans youth, bisexuals, individuals with disabilities and indigenous and two spirit individuals.
- San Diego Pride will immediately begin the process of creating a transparent and democratic process for selecting board members.
- San Diego Pride will create an outreach committee that regularly meets with local trans and queer people of other intersecting marginalized identities
5) San Diego Pride will bar corporate entities that inflict harm on historically marginalized LGBTQ2S people from participation in Pride events by:
a) Barring all industries that profit from war, detention and incarceration, environmental destruction, evictions, community displacement and Israel’s oppression of Palestinians from participation in San Diego Pride events.
- Restricting all corporate branding and signage in future San Diego Pride events.
- Creating transparent and robust standards for screening corporations that wish to support San Diego Pride.
- Immediately cutting ties with Wells Fargo, Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems, Leidos, Northrop Grumman, and any other defense contractors. Transfer San Diego Pride funds to an account with a local credit union.
- Immediately cut ties with Wells Fargo and defense contractors and donate any and all funds from them to local community based organizations that support queer, trans, two-spirit and Muslim communities.
We must continue to do right by Marsha P Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, Storme DeLarverie and the many activists who have come after because we are far from justice, especially for queer and trans communities of color. The Stonewall Rebellion was 48 years ago, yet here we are again, demanding the same basic rights.
We have watched over the years as Queer communities in San Diego grew complacent and complicit in our systems of oppression. We have watched as Alfred Olango, Victor Ortega, Mark Atkins, Aiyana Jones, Mesha Caldwell, Ava Barrin, Jamie Wounded Arrow, Renee Davis, and many more became victims of systems that were supposed to protect them. We’ve seen community members like Edward Forman step forward to address accountability and transparency, only to be criminalized for exercising our protected rights. We are becoming perpetrators in the very systems we should be collectively resisting and actively changing.
There are those who don’t see this. We understand that rainbow capitalists have beguiled many of us into believing that their sponsorships for events like these are necessary in order to express honor, unity, and the creation of community. These events are neither accessible to our identities or to the communities that Pride has historically served.
We must address this invisibility and lack of accountability. We cannot support a corporate pride that is invested in and profits from the struggles of Queer and Trans People of Color in the name of performative allyship. These methods of exploitation and inaction, past, present, and future, must be acknowledged. The essence of community is one of unity. By stopping our practice of complacency with injustices in all our communities, we stop the marginalization of the most vulnerable, ourselves.
We were never planning a shutdown or blockade of Pride San Diego. We are instead seeking to educate the San Diego community and honor those who are no longer with us. If anyone would like to join their voices with us in song to honor the trans women of color who have been murdered so far this year (there have been 17 as of today), we will be at Sixth and Upas during the parade, with a rally and native honor song starting at 1pm.
This rally is the kick-off for our year-long No Justice No Pride campaign that will work with the community to have our demands met by Pride 2018. For updates, follow us on Facebook @FTWLiberationSD or @NoJusticeNoPrideSD and at our instagram @FTWLiberation. You can reach us by email at FTWliberation@gmail.com.
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