Monday, August 06, 2007

When You Say POC, Y'all Ignore Me

photos-Lorrainne Sade Baskerville, the late Alexander John Goodrum

I got another reminder of why I'm starting to loathe the term POC (person of color) a few days ago. When POC gets used, the folks who are intending to be inclusive inadvertantly (or deliberately) forget the African-American part of that supposed inclusive term.

I was on a transgender activist list a few days ago when the fallout over the Advocate's lack of transgender nominees for their 40 Heroes of the GLBT Movement poll blew up. A few peeps immediately started putting together a short list of transgender heroes that met the Advocate's criteria.

Only one problem. There was not one African-American transperson on it. It took the 2006 winner of the IFGE Trinity Award to point out that glaring omission.

I'm getting more than a little fed up about the whitewashing, either unintentional or deliberate, of the African-American contribution to the transgender community's history. It's gotten so bad in the white transgender community that when I posted the initial names list of African-American transpeople I came up with it was greeted with "who are they?"

You mean, you don't know who Alexander John Goodrum, Lorrainne Sade Baskerville, or Kylar Broadus are?

You don't know (or don't wanna know) who my peeps are and their contributions to our history, but expect me to know and revere yours as heroes. Excuse me?

There haven't been as many African-Americans involved in the transgender rights fight as I would like, but the ones who have stepped out there have become major players. We've been involved in every major event and GLBT organization since the Stonewall Rebellion and our contributions need to be acknowledged and celebrated just like everyone elses. We are more than just martrys for transgender hate-crime violence or afterthoughts. We are in many cases the frontline troops or the peeps coming up with the out of the box strategies to advance the cause that you resist.

It was Dawn Wilson who stood tall for the entire community against bigotry in Louisville when the Forces of Intolerance came after our comprehensive GLBT rights Fairness law in December 2004. She uttered the definitive quote that was soundbited on the local news for the next several days.

"Bigotry cloaked in religion is bigotry none the less, and should never be allowed to stand."

Miss Major was at Stonewall (and the Attica Prison riot in 1971.) African-American transpeople helped found GenderPac and NTAC. In some cases we have been creators and innovators, as in the drag balls in Chicago and Harlem for example that have morphed into the ballroom community.

So if you're wondering why you've heard increasing calls from some African-Amerocan transgender people to put more emphasis on forming and supporting our own community, this is just one example of why we're increasingly working to make that happen.


Marti said...

It's interesting how so many white transfolk get so pissed off when the gay and lesbian community leaves them out, but they turn around and do the same thing to their brothers and sisters of color!

The list you're talking about, I've went to web view only. It was taking up way too much time of mine with no result.

J Calanthe said...

I'd add Marcelle Cook-Daniels to your excellent list. He and Alexander Goodrum both were role models for me, especially early in my transition.

Monica Roberts said...

Thanks for reminding me about Marcelle. I had the pleasure of meeting Alexander at the 1999 creating Change event in Oakland