Thursday, February 14, 2013

You Say 'Elitist' Like It's A Bad Thing

I cringe when I hear the word 'elitism' being bandied about. It's been beaten to death in the white transgender community. I'm tired of seeing somebody branded as 'elitist' just because they busted their ass to go to school and get that paper. Should we be chomping Hater Tots and playa hatin' our transsistahs because they are college educated, have high self-esteem, are spiritually grounded, have a good job, wear fly clothes, own a house or have a nice car? Hell, naw.    TransGriot  'Transgender Talented Tenth'   July 29, 2007 

And almost six years after I wrote those words, I still feel the same way except I don't cringe when I hear the word 'elitist' anymore. I just roll my eyes at you and keep stepping..

I get tired of hearing it coming out of the mouths of conservafools and people upset because they think they should have the access level and credibility of Activist A that they are 'elitist'   

Activist A may have been fearlessly out and proud as trans when it wasn't cool to be out and proud, in the activist trenches busting their behinds for years on the community's behalf and now is just getting recognized for it.   Because you were either part of the nattering trans nabob crew 'scurred' to come out, or you're a newly transitioned person who isn't cognizant of what this person has done you wanna spit 'elitist' at them .

Well, stop hating them and start emulating them by rolling up your sleeves, working on becoming the best person you can be and proving yourself worthy of recognition by doing the trans community human rights work that needs to be done.

Granted, I understand where the concerns are coming from.  Many of you don't like the Gay, Inc.  organizations and think they can and should be doing better.   Many of you are disappointed or outright disgusted with their leaders and think grassroots activism and protests are the only way to go. 

But grassroots activism is only one of the tools in the civil rights toolbox.  Voting in every election is part of it.  Lobbying is part of it.  And yes, the large organizations have their role to play in advancing our human rights agenda because they fund the conferences, meetings and conclaves that help train the grassroots activists, facilitate needed conversations amongst like minded people and allies and amplify their voices for traditional media to hear.  

Yes, I'm concerned about having a diverse number of people and views represented when we formulate policy.  That bedrock principle of mine won't change.  Better policy comes out of a situation in which you have a wide variety of opinions expressed and listened to. 

But there are times in our human rights work we will be part of invitation-only closed door events and retreats that plan the next phase of our human rights strategy that are 'the revolution will not be televised' moments.  .If you perceive those as 'elitist', sorry you feel that way but it won't keep me from going..

Bottom line is I represent an African-American trans community that has had to fight, scrap, bitch, cajole, and sometimes bumrush its way over the last six decades into getting what little attention we do get.  The trans narrative in this movement at times seems more intent on erasing and freezing POC transpeople out of the leadership ranks moreso than welcoming them to the table and seeking out their input.

We deserve our place at the table to have our voices heard and our issues addressed.  When I'm tasked with that leadership mission, my major concern is that my community is represented at that event you have whatever problem with because I'm quite aware of the fact that at times, I might be the only African descended trans person in this room helping to shape opinion and policy..

And if that makes me an 'elitist' in your eyes, I welcome that title and pass the grey poupon.  . 

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