We Cannot Be Silenton June 30th, 2017 at 12:48 pm
From Pride Foundation’s inception, we have been called to speak out when we witness injustice, and once again we are challenged to respond to a grave tragedy.
From our vantage point, the LGBTQ movement has been about seeing one another and recognizing the humanity we all share and deserve. Fundamentally, it has been about showing up every day to protect one another when people and institutions have devalued and targeted us.
Nearly 50 years ago, Stonewall was one tipping point in that movement, where transgender women and drag queens, most of whom were people of color, took to the streets to demand that we all be treated like human beings—especially by the institutions that were supposed to protect us. It was a protest against the violence and discrimination our community was facing every day, and a stand for our right to live our lives without that terror, danger, and pain.
Early Pride marches commemorated the incredible bravery of these individuals. Today, parades and festivals across the country continue to celebrate everyone who has come after them, who have worked so hard to create a world where LGBTQ people are able to be who we are and love who we love without fear or repercussions.
Even after all these years, we are not there yet, though we are closer.
But as movements and as people, we will not be safe until every single person’s humanity is protected and valued. Fundamentally, this is an all-or-nothing situation.
We are living in a time of both incredible progress and incredible backlash. We must recognize the patterns in both that are emerging across our country and our movements if we are going to move closer to achieving that world.
One devastating example: People of color and transgender people are disproportionately the targets of violence—and incidences of violence are going up, not down. The statistics to prove this are readily available, but what we cannot lose sight of is the actual lived experiences of people in our communities.
Peoples’ lives are ending far too early, and in horrific and tragic ways. People are living every day in immense fear of very real danger. Peoples’ humanity is being actively devalued by the institutions that should be protecting us. And this is truer for certain people based on who they are.
Just this month, Charleena Lyles, a black woman, was killed by Seattle police after she called for help. Josie Berrios, a transgender woman of color, was horrifically murdered in New York City. The police officer who killed Philando Castile during a routine traffic stop in Minnesota was found not guilty. The details of these stories vary, but they all share this: each of these people should still be alive. We cannot lose sight of that. Our hearts are with the family and friends of each of these people as they grieve the loss of their loved one. We will remember each of them as we work to unravel the systemic problems that caused their deaths.
These lives were not lost coincidentally. There is an undeniable pattern. People of color, especially black people and transgender people, are more often targets of violence because of the bigotry and prejudice—fueled by racism, homophobia, transphobia, and sexism—deeply embedded in many aspects of our culture and institutions. And this will keep happening the longer we remain silent.
Our movement is, and has been, about recognizing the humanity of every single person, and our goal is to change the culture and institutions that do not value all of our lives. We must remember that in a very real way, it’s either all of us or none of us. And we will need to continue speaking out and keep showing up whenever we are witness to injustice if we are going to get any closer to that world where we can all be who we are.
Pride Foundation is committed to continue speaking out and acting up, as we have since the 1980s—because it is vital to our core mission and values, because we know all too well how “silence = death”. In the coming months, we will continue to elevate with you the ways in which we are thinking about and responding to the critical issues impacting people across all of our communities, from immigration to police violence to reproductive health access.
We hope you will join us in ensuring that we are prioritizing every single person in our community, as we have since our founding—and especially those most impacted by injustices.