Tone policed IRL. It felt weird.

I try to help out the local BLM chapter by pulling aside clueless white people and trying to gently coax them along to stop talking for 3 hours. Failing that, I give them my contact info, offer to send them some introductory materials written by PoC–which I’m also compiling for the blag–and tell them their return will be contingent on reading those materials. I take this role because the local chapter falls under the “make shit happen” branch of activism. While the “make shit happen” branch can only grow with the help of the “educate the majority” branch, the “make shit happen” branch can’t be dragging itself down trying to clue in the clueless.

So I do it. Or, try to. Most decline to read the material. Most are there to detract. Most haven’t figured out that a minority specialty interest group needs majorities to STFU and listen. Most aren’t permabanned, but few meet our conditions for return.

I had a frankly surreal encounter which I’m still kind of wrapping my head around. Our Mayor and Premier are trying to run this social media campaign called #MakeItAwkward which calls on white people to point out instances of racist microaggression. The local BLM chapter has no consensus on this. Some feel it’s… milquetoast, that the recent spike in hate incidents needs a competent police response and not a hashtag. Some point out that it still contributes to a broader system of dismantling racism. It’s complicated.

While BLM was debating on whether to integrate it in our next plan of action, a white dude butted in with predictable white fragility: I’m not racist, so stop talking like I’m the problem. He says, at a meeting that’s supposed to be amplifying black voices.

I digress.

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I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream… for Racial Justice

I’d drink the white tears ensuing, but my doctor says that much salt is bad for my health. Ben & Jerry’s announces its support of BLM, allocating a portion of its proceeds to non-profits working to help black voters overcome voter suppression:

“We believe that saying Black lives matter is not to say that the lives of those who serve in the law enforcement community don’t. We respect and value the commitment to our communities that those in law enforcement make, and we respect the value of every one of their lives.

But we do believe that — whether Black, brown, white, or blue — our nation and our very way of life is dependent on the principle of all people being served equal justice under the law. And it’s clear, the effects of the criminal justice system are not color blind.”

Ten cool points if you can guess what happened next. Got your bingo cards ready?

Source: Faebook & US Uncut

Source: Facebook & US Uncut

Source: Facebook & US Uncut

Somebody call the whaaambulance.

I don’t know how people even have the patience to explain this shit anymore, but I’m glad there are folks out there doing good work.

As for Ben & Jerry’s, I think I’ll have some ice cream for dinner.


BLM to Marshal the Vancouver Dyke March

Black Lives Matter has been asked to marshal the upcoming Dyke March in Vancouver. This announcement has been made following the decision of BLM to not participate in this year’s Pride at Vancouver: (all emphasis original)

A Pride flag does not shield us from racism, discrimination and violence. In fact, as researchers and activists are well aware, being queer makes PoCs more vulnerable to interpersonal, institutional and structural violence. Because there are relatively few queer Indigenous and PoC folks (particularly those who identify or are read as Black) represented in Vancouver, it is imperative that Pride makes space to actively include these groups. There is a difference between “diversity” and “inclusion”. Tokenistic representation is different from intentional, self-motivated participation in an organization and an organization’s events. We encourage the Vancouver Pride Society to take action in pursuing the latter.

At our vigil on Sunday we successfully negotiated a basic police presence from the Vancouver Police Department. We acknowledge that in certain contexts police presence to perform a job of civil service may deter acts of homophobia and violence, especially at designated queer events such as Pride. However, we cannot divorce the policing institution from its historical and continued violence against Indigenous and PoC communities, racial profiling, or inaction around our missing Indigenous women. We stand with BLM-Toronto and many other BLM chapters in their discontent with police being involved in the parade itself.

BLM-Vancouver had not directly heard from the Vancouver Pride Society before the statement was released publicly online despite the Society’s stated intentions of inclusion and a desire to reach out to us.

We will not be taking part in the Pride parade, by participation or protest, and have instead chosen to focus our energy elsewhere. The Dyke March responded positively to the recent events in Toronto and, with compassion and dignity, have invited BLM-Vancouver to lead as Grand Marshall this year as part of their contribution to Pride. We have responded to that positive message of solidarity and humanity and are pleased to be involved with several other QTBIPoC-centred events as well. We do this not only because we feel that Pride no longer represents community action, resistance and revolution but also as an act of solidarity with BLM chapters across North America to whom Pride parades have been made inaccessible. We wholeheartedly support the actions of other BLM chapters such as BLM Toronto and BLM San Francisco and although we may not face the same immediate threats of police brutality, we refuse to participate in the whitewashing, armament and exclusivity of any Pride Parade unless concrete and explicit commitments to the contrary are made.

In case you’re wondering, the Vancouver Dyke March is also trans-inclusive, and recently committed in its trans-affirmation policy to including trans folk among their leadership positions. Remember my bit about BLM being better at intersectionality and trans affirmation than the mainstream cis gay movement? Thank you Vancouver Dyke March & Black Lives Matter for demonstrating my point.

I’m a little too broke to go this year… but damn, I can’t wait to go next year.


Signal boosting: BLM & Toronto Pride

Over on The Orbit, Ania covers why police force participation at Pride festivals is a betrayal of Pride’s roots:

The demands were in response to a series of moves by the PRIDE organization in Toronto that has been gradually eliminating Queer focused PoC spaces in Toronto. It was in response to the fact that there has been a lot of white washing happening in queer communities and many vulnerable groups, including people with disabilities, trans woman and specifically trans women of colour, and native people, have felt themselves being pushed out in various was from queer communities.

It is a struggle many people who belong to multiple vulnerable groups find themselves facing in spaces meant to cater to one or more of those identities. Black women faced with feminist spaces that prioritize white women’s concerns, trans women who are actively discriminated against or are forced to deal with TERFs in nominally “safe” spaces, disabled people who face meetings related to feminism, race issues, trans issues, etc. being held in inaccessible spaces or without the benefit of accessibility measures like interpreters.

The response to the protest has been mixed. While some, myself included, have been praising it not just for bringing awareness to the plight of PoC and black people in particular in both Canada and the US, but at the same time taking a moment to carve out a space as well for other vulnerable communities, many other people have condemned the protest.

One of the biggest complaints that I’ve seen so far has to do with the request that Police no longer be allowed to have a float or booth at the festival or parade and future events. Many people seem to feel that this is unfair to officers who are themselves QUILTBAG.

In order to understand the request however, there needs to be a bit more of a consideration of history on multiple levels.

The thing I love about the BLM movement is that it has always been rock solid on intersectionality. This is why I support and celebrate PoCs leading the charge–with BLM at the helm, they’ll have space in their protest for black trans women, and that’s enough for me to feel represented. On the topic of race relations, my role as a white woman is to signal boost and expand the platform of PoCs; on the topic of gender variance and the violence we face, it is important that sharing my own experiences does not occur over the voices of less privileged trans women. I know my perspective will be accessed; experience tells me this is less likely to happen when it’s white cis gays leading the group.

Ania explains how the violence doesn’t have to be brutal from police (although it sometimes still is, even in Canada), the police still antagonize and make difficult the lives of Queer PoCs. Having them officially represented at Pride means forgetting where Pride came from. White cis gays like to talk about how much progress has been made without acknowledging how much more work still needs to be done. They complain about political agendas being brought to a protest that was originally about political agendas.

If there were ever a time to point out how the L and the G have been antagonistic to the T and the B and the Q, now would be it.


Black Lives Matter protests Toronto Pride

Toronto Pride has developed a reputation for being overwhelmingly white and cis. The criticism could likely be levied against any Pride, with its shift towards cis gay men and corporations downplaying the original intent of Pride: a protest. It was never meant to be a movement towards white cisheterosexist assimilation.

Black Lives Matter reminds us of that:

Members of the Black Lives Matter Toronto group briefly halted the Pride parade today, holding up the marching for about 30 minutes.

The parade didn’t re-start until after Pride Toronto executive director Mathieu Chantelois signed a document agreeing to the group’s demands.

“It’s always the appropriate time to make sure folks know about the marginalization of black people, of black queer youth, black trans youth, of black trans people,” [Williams] said. “We are not taking any space away from any folks. When we talk about homophobia, transphobia, we go through that too … It should be a cohesive unit, not one against the other. Anti-blackness needs to be addressed and they can be addressed at the same time, in the same spaces,” she said.

In a news release, the group said Pride Toronto “has shown little honour to black queer/trans communities, and other marginalized communities. Over the years, Pride has threatened the existence of black spaces at Pride that have existed for years.”

The group released a list of demands, including a commitment to increase representation among Pride Toronto staff, and to prioritize the hiring of black transgender women and indigenous people.

One of the other demands also called for the exclusion of police floats, although not necessarily police members, from participating:

But Khan told CBC News her group is not looking to exclude officers who identify as LGBT from participating in Pride events, but it opposes floats accompanied by uniformed, armed officers — calling them a stark reminder of the history of brutality faced by the LGBT community and visible minorities.

“To be clear, we said, ‘No floats. No police floats,'” Khan said. “But we have no desire to police the police in terms of whether they should actually be there or not when they’re LGBTQ-identified.”

Khan said her group’s actions are in keeping with “histories of resistance” that have long been a part of the tradition of Pride.

“If we think about the dyke march that happened 20 years ago, gay men were saying, ‘Why should you have your own Pride?’ … Twenty years later it’s an integral part of what Pride is all over the world. We’re saying, should we wait 20 years before black lives are also considered an integral part?”

Canada has a “less bad” record of police brutality than America, sure. But it’s certainly worth reminding the overwhelmingly white Pride Parade that black folks, and black queer folks, still deal with a lot of antagonism and prejudice even if it’s not outright brutality, and that police brutality still happens even if less often.

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