From Opposition to Interdependence

So, last night while I was watching Rachel Maddow’s show, I posted the following status update to Facebook. It caught on like wildfire, so I thought that maybe it would help if I put it in blog form. Here you go.

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Rachel Maddow just made an excellent connection tonight: What we saw via SCOTUS this week is the flip of what happened on election night 2008 – once again civil rights for racial and ethnic minorities, particularly Black and Latino, are being juxtaposed against civil rights for sexual minorities. She also reminded her viewers that the SCOTUS decision puts states in control of both and that the states where the fight to preserve voting rights for racial and ethnic minorities will also likely be the same states where marriage equality and other civil rights for sexual minorities will face the strongest challenges. 

Now, here’s what I take from all that: People, we better pay attention and recognize that NOW is the time to work collaboratively, in solidarity with each other across lines of race, ethnicity, and sexuality (as well as gender identity, social class, and religion that deeply converge with the first trio). We had better figure out what it means to be an ally, what it means to work in solidarity, what it means to see how oppressive systems intersect to reinforce and support each other. We had better learn how to work for each other’s interests with the understanding and acceptance that “their” interests should be/must be/are OUR interests. 

Want to know who’s best positioned to lead in these conversations? Queer people of color who live the reality of the mutuality of these convergences and intersections. Listen up people, listen to the wisdom of the Bayard Rustins and Audre Lordes of our times. Follow the lead of organizations like the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) who are working always at the intersections and convergence of queer sexuality and black ethnicities. We’re in this canoe together, people, we had better learn how to paddle in concert.

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I credit my good friend Joy Boggs with naming the paradigm shift I describe here: Moving from an us-them (oppositional) to an us-others (interdependent) stance. 

I also want to share what Tobias Spears, another good friend and work colleague here at Bowling Green State University commented on my Facebook post because it adds another important dimension to my comments above:

“…[I] was just telling one of our students about the need for polyvocal and multi-issue activism. We can no longer afford to inhabit a space of either/or discourse– we need multiplicity and nuance within our organizing frameworks. And the LGBT mainstream must realize (like yesterday) that the same folks who can potentially be disenfranchised due to the SCOTUS VRA decision are the same folks who would likely vote for progressive candidates to overturn state bans on marriage. So, the oversight provided through the VRA, in many ways, is directly tied to marriage equality. And to those who live at the intersections, unfortunately we must continue to smile forward while also looking over our shoulder, I’m just glad that bell [hooks] told us there would be days like this.” 

Amen, my brother, amen. 

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