Saturday, June 28, 2008
This is a picture of the participants in Thursday's historic subcommittee hearing on transgender unemployment issues on Capitol Hill. Can you detect what's wrong with it?
What's wrong with this picture is that with the exception of Diego Sanchez, (second from the top) every other participant in it is white. There are no African-American transgender people testifying at this hearing.
Now, would you be happy if a historic hearing for transgender people happened on The Hill and your people weren't represented?
It is mind boggling for me to see that once again, a community that claims that we are one diverse bunch and that we're all in this together, puts together a historic hearing on unemployment discrimination, an issue that we African descended transgender people are intimately familar with and not one of us is at the table giving testimony about it.
This Congress now has 44 members of the Congressional Black Caucus who are wielding historic levels of power. It added another member earlier this month in Maryland's Donna Edwards. The majority whip is CBC member James Clyburn. Others have high seniority on various committees, or chair various committees and subcommittees. Oh yeah, there's some Illinois senator and CBC member who's the Democratic nominee for president.
Now I've read happy-happy joy-joy comments about how great this hearing was, what great work the Equal Sign org and Rep. Frank did in putting this together, how eloquent various people were, et cetera. I note these comments are all coming from peeps whose ethnic group was overwhelmingly represented at the hearing.
For those of us of African ancestry, all we experienced was a congressional blackout. There needed to be someone of African descent telling our stories, and no, Diego being the Latino transman at that table doesn't count.
While we all hope and pray for that day when we are all One America, the reality is that we aren't. Race permeates everything we do in this country. It's why the CBC, the CHC (Congressional Hispanic Caucus) and the Congressional Asian Pacific Islander Caucus exist. It's why I write and speak about race issues as part of my GLBT activist work.
I'm sure I'm going to hear the defensive spin over the next few weeks that 'the committee/Frank's office chose the speakers', 'we had a long, diverse list of speakers', 'HRC, NCTE and NGLTF didn't intentionally freeze out the African-American transgender community.'
If you were so concerned about having African-American representation on that panel, then why didn't y'all give the peeps at the National Black Justice Coalition a call? I do believe their headquarters is in Washington DC. You also had Earline Budd sitting there in DC as well. I think that transteen Rochelle Evans would have been happy to be flown in from Fort Worth to DC and tell her story about how hard its been for her to find employment and the blatant discrimination she's run into trying to find a job.
The point is that in the United States, no civil rights legislation passes without the CBC being on board with it. We have ten wavering members of the CBC getting tremendous pressure put on them by Hi Impact Leadership Coalition ministers in their districts (the negroid sellouts bankrolled by the Traditional Values Coalition).
An opportunity was lost in putting an African-American face to this problem. This also plays once again into the GLBT movement's ongoing PR problem in the African-American community that is exploited by the Hi Impact ministers and their like-minded friends. They are actively trying to split the coalition of African-Americans and the GLBT community, and trust me, this omission of our community will not only be exploited by them, but it has been noted by your African-American GLBT and non-GLBT allies(?).
While I'm happy the long rumored hearing happened and hope something positive comes out of this such as an inclusive ENDA, I'm not holding my breath based on the peeps who were behind it.
I'm also not happy about my people being dissed and ignored by the GLBT community once again.
Crossposted to The Bilerico Project