Saturday, July 23, 2011

NAACP Hosting A Trans Free LGBT Town Hall Meeting

The 102nd NAACP convention starts officially in Los Angeles on July 23 and runs through July 28 at the LA Convention Center with the theme of 'Affirming America's Promise'. 

One of the things I'm heartened to see the NAACP do is finally address the undeniable fact that there are African descended LGBT people who are proud members of the African American community.

Our issues and problems as African descended TBLG people are intertwined with those of our parent African American community due to our shared cultural and historical ties.  As members of that community we have a vested interest in seeing it survive and thrive.

I was happy to hear as a former card carrying youth member of the organization that the NAACP for the first time in their 102 year history is hosting a town hall meeting to discuss the issues that face African descended TBLG people.   

"Black members of the LGBT community share a common history and continued struggle to address issues of bigotry, yet their identities, talents, and leadership are oftentimes diminished because of homophobia and fear of physical violence,” remarked Benjamin Todd Jealous, NAACP president and CEO. “It is important that we address these issues head on.”

Yeah, I would definitely agree with the sentiment President Jealous expressed, except for one problem.   The panel that was put together for this NAACP Town Hall meeting has no trans participants in it.

The July 25 panel will commence at 2 PM PDT and is moderated by CNN anchor Don Lemon.   It has as participants Wanda Sykes, civil rights icon Julian Bond, Spelman College Professor Beverly Guy-Sheftall, actor Daryl Stephens, and writer, scholar, and activist Kenyon Farrow.

So what's the problem?   The problem is that this panel is heavy on the GL part of the community and has that glaring omission.  Not sure how the bi portion of our community feels about it, but I can say with certainty that the trans part of the rainbow community is not happy about the erasure of African descended trans people from this historic panel.

NAACP, if your goal is to have a serious discussion of the issues that face African American LGBT people, then you can't erase the people who are taking the brunt of the casualties and discrimination.. 

And it damned sure ain't the GL portion of the community. 

My point is underscored by the killing on the eve of this NAACP convention of Lashai Mclean in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, an African American transwoman being beaten in broad daylight in Fredericksburg, VA back in May and Kiare Newson being sexually harassed and disrespected at a traffic stop by Memphis police.

And no, as I've said ad nauseum on this blog and elsewhere, don't want to hear the excuse that 'you couldn't find any African American transpeople' to be part of this historic panel.   I submit the people putting this panel together didn't look hard enough or let's get real, didn't try or didn't want to find any African descended trans people for this discussion.  

Let's see, just on the West Coast living in California alone are Miss Major, Sharyn Grayson, and Tracie Jada O'Brien.   In the LA metro that is hosting the convention are Valerie Spencer and Sharon Franklin Brown.  

That's before I even touch on the out of state African descended trans peeps such as Antonia D'orsay, National Black Justice Coalition board member Kylar Broadus, and Dr. Marisa Richmond who could and would have eloquently discussed the issues facing trans people of African descent.  

And yeah, if the invitation had been extended, don't think the TransGriot wouldn't have been happy and proud to be part of that discussion as an award winning blogger of trans descent. 

It is a family conversation the trans portion of the community desperately needs to and should have had a long time ago with our cis African American peeps, legislators, and legacy orgs, and the NAACP convention would have been the perfect venue to have that family conversation.

But what I'm willing to bet is that on July 25, when we see the live feed starting at 2 PM PDT courtesy of the NAACP website of this Town Hall meeting, or cable coverage of it, it will be dominated by an 'all marriage all the time' discussion once again.

It's a conversation that while it is important and historic, pales in comparison to the fact that transpeople are dying and catching hell out there and a same gender marriage heavy discussion won't do jack to alleviate the problems that African American transpeople are facing.

TransGriot Note: Been told that the African American bi community ain't happy about being erased from this town hall meeting either.

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