Archive for the 'people of color' Category Page 3 of 6

A smart Puerto Rican

I’m sure that most everyone has already heard about Sen. Joseph Biden’s inspired description of Sen. Barack Obama as “the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.” As if we needed yet another ignorant white presidential candidate. Less reported was that the current ignorant white president made similar remarks on Fox News, describing Obama as attractive and articulate.

Much has been written about the incident and the true meaning of those words, both in the mainstream media and the blogosphere (which I’ve been too busy to keep tabs on lately, so I unfortunately won’t be linking to any of the wise words that I’m sure my favorite bloggers have written on the topic.) Today I read two good pieces on the incident; from the New York Times, ” The Racial Politics of Speaking Well,” and another spotted on the blackfolk LiveJournal Community, entitled “An Inarticulate Kickoff.”

Both articles discuss how the frequent labeling of certain Black folks as “articulate” belies racist undertones. First, it indicates a certain degree of surprise that a Black person is intelligent or well-spoken – as if this is an anomaly, rather than something as commonplace as, say, a white person possessing the same qualities. As Reginald Hudlin, president of entertainment at BET, is quoted in the NY Times article, “It’s like an educated black person is a rare sighting, like seeing a spotted egret. We’re viewed as a fluke. How many flukes simply constitute reality?” (A spotted egret! Gotta love it.)

The articles also discuss how the “articulate” label is reserved only for Black folks who are not just well-spoken, but well-spoken in a very particular way. From the Times:

… such distinctions discount as inarticulate historically black patterns of speech. “Al Sharpton is incredibly articulate,” said Tricia Rose, professor of Africana Studies at Brown University. “But because he speaks with a cadence and style that is firmly rooted in black rhetorical tradition you will rarely hear white people refer to him as articulate.”

And from the piece by Eugene Robinson:

What’s intriguing is that Jackson and Sharpton are praised as eloquent, too — both men are captivating speakers who calibrate their words with great precision. But neither is often described as, quote, articulate. Apparently, something disqualifies them.

I realize the word is intended as a compliment, but it’s being used to connote a lot more than the ability to express one’s thoughts clearly. It’s being used to say more, even, than “here’s a black person who speaks standard English without a trace of Ebonics.”

The word articulate is being used to encompass not just speech but a whole range of cultural cues — dress, bearing, education, golf handicap. It’s being used to describe a black person around whom white people can be comfortable, a black person who not only speaks white America’s language but is fluent in its body language as well.

And the word is often pronounced with an air of surprise, as if it’s an improbable and wondrous thing that a black person has somehow cracked the code. I can’t help but think of the famous quote from Samuel Johnson: “Sir, a woman preaching is like a dog’s walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all.”

I’ve had quite a few of my own experiences with being labeled exceptional or articulate in a such a way that the words “… for a Puerto Rican,” though left unsaid, came through loud and clear. The first such incident that I remember came in high school, when a white acquaintance was thoroughly surprised to hear that I was Puerto Rican, because I didn’t sound like other Puerto Ricans she’d encountered. When I asked what she meant, she said something to the effect of “you know, you sound smart.” My budding racial consciousness was offended, but I more saddened to hear almost the exact same thing from a coworker at McDonald’s a few years later – this time, another woman of color.

My mother, who was born in Puerto Rico and was poor for much of her life, likes to jokingly say that she’s a “smart Puerto Rican,” usually in response to some ignorant white jerk acting the racist fool towards her. The joke relies on “smart” and “Puerto Rican” being somehow contradictory. She’s always been extremely insistent that I learn “proper English, discouraging any slang or “street talk,” correcting me every time I said “yeah” instead of “yes” and whenever she thought she heard me leave the “be” off of “because.” It wasn’t enough that I knew the rules of English grammar and could speak and write within those rules when in an academic or work setting; it was a constant requirement, even in casual speech.

I never sounded anything like cousins my age, whose parents weren’t similarly obsessed and couldn’t afford to send them to private school, like my parents could. Language was among many things that created a cultural gulf between me and them, that made me something of a weirdo in my family. My mother was indeed raising me to be fluent in white America’s language, both the spoken language and the body language, because to her, that was the key to my success.

And was she wrong? Probably not. When it came time for college interviews and applications, and later, job interviews, none of my abundant nervousness was about my ability to speak or write; I know that I can talk the talk, and talk it well.

However, in cracking the code of white America, I think there’s also a great deal to be lost. I’m fluent in “standard” English, but when it comes to Spanish, I’m left struggling to express myself. I can understand a great deal, though with some effort, but I can’t speak very well at all, despite it being my family’s native tongue, and despite having studied it for four years in high school and a semester in college. Usually, I’m too ashamed at my lack of skill to even attempt to speak Spanish to Latino strangers. When I meet a white person who can speak Spanish better than me, that shame and frustration becomes tinged with anger. And that feeling of being the weirdo of the family never quite went away (though being a politicized, butch, raging homo might have something to do with it, too.) Class, education, and cultural differences all add up to a significant amount of privilege that most of my family – and far too many Puerto Ricans, Latinos, and people of color in general – will never be able to access.

But while that privilege affords me many an opportunity and many a comfort, it comes at a price: a distance, a disconnection, a weirdo status. I’ve got all sorts of deep down insecurities about being perceived as “too white” and “not Puerto Rican enough” by other people of color. The racism that we’ve internalized tells us that to be highly educated, upwardly mobile, and well versed in the rules of English grammar is to be white, or at least closer to white; that these are things that are not really meant for us; that, if we possess or attain these things, we have in fact lost a little of ourselves, our authenticity, our connection to our people. And mostly, that’s just racist bullshit meant to keep us down; but in another, sad way, because of a certain trade off that can exist between cracking the code and preserving your ties to your culture and your people, it’s true.

Tancredo’s platform: too many Mexicans, and Blacks who identify as Blacks

On Monday morning, I was listening to the Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC while getting ready for work. Lehrer was interviewing Tom Tancredo, a Republican representative in the House from Colorado who is planning on running for the presidency. Now, this guy is a real gem; his recent antics include singing Dixie at a Confederate-flag-displaying barbecue organized by the South Carolina League of the South, which is classified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group. The barbecue was a fundraiser for Tancredo’s non-profit coalition, “Americans Have Had Enough!” (Enough immigrants, Mexicans, or brown people, I’m guessing.)

So, his newest crusade is unsurprising: he’s calling for the abolition of the congressional Black and Hispanic caucuses. From the interview (which you can listen to in its entirety :

TANCREDO: I do not believe that there should be a Black caucus, I do not believe that there should be a caucus based on race. The Black caucus, Hispanic caucus – these are not things that the Congress of the United States ought to provide finances for, ought to have as a formal part of the House of Representatives, which these are; and, which send a horrible message I think again about how we are split up on racial lines and that’s exactly where we should not be going. What would happen, I wonder, if anyone was to suggest the creation of a white caucus. I mean, certainly they would be roundly criticized and rightly so, for being racist.

LEHRER: Well, do you think that those are moral equivalents, a white caucus and a Black caucus, given American history?

TANCREDO: I absolutely believe they are, when you have, uh… The issue is surrounding the concept of a race-based, formally organized and formally approved part of the congress of the United States. That is, I think, sending a horrible message.

Right. Because Black folks and other people of color don’t need to gather and work together as a result of racism. It’s actually the other way around: things are all messed up because they’re sending the wrong message. If they’d just stop sending the wrong message, then poof, racism and racial divides in this country would disappear! White people, of course, have nothing to do with it. Didn’t you know?

The interview continues, and at some point Lehrer asks:

LEHRER: So the two issues you’ve picked your most public fights on as a presidential candidate so far are too many Mexicans, if we can call the immigration, the illegal immigration question that –

TANCREDO: You can’t.

LEHRER: – I’ll let you respond to that; and Blacks who identify as Blacks. So should I conclude that too much Black and Latino power at the expense of whites are your two major concerns?

Bullseye, Brian. Tancredo predictably chuckles this off and delivers some manure-laden line about how of course this is not the case. But Lehrer, about whom I generally have mixed feelings, had me saying, “You go, white boy!” with that zinger.

Required Viewing: “A Girl Like Me”

A Girl Like Me

I think I’m a few months behind in blogging about this, but I hadn’t seen this film until a friend emailed me a news clip about it today. “A Girl Like Me,” by teen filmmaker Kiri Davis, explores how race and racism affect the self-esteem and self-image of young Black women and even younger Black children. (The link brings you to the film’s page on the Media That Matters Film Festival site, where you can watch the film in its entirety.) The young women who are interviewed are insightful and articulate about their experiences around what is perceived as beautiful; many talk about straight or relaxed hair, lighter skin, and body types that are more typically white than Black.

Davis goes on to replicate the doll experiments conducted by Drs. Mamie and Kenneth Clark in the 1940s, which were presented as part of the Brown vs. Board of Ed Supreme Court decision. In the experiment, Black children were asked to choose which of two nearly identical dolls, one Black and one white, they preferred. The majority of the Black children in those experiments chose the white doll.

Davis reproduced the experiment with young Black children living in NYC; after six decades, the results are much the same. At one point, Davis asks a young girl which doll is the good doll, and the girl holds up the white doll. She asks which one is the bad doll, and the girl indicates the Black doll. Then, Davis asks the girl which doll looks like her. The girl looks to the white doll first, but then turns back to the Black one and slowly pushes it forward.

So admittedly I’m an easy crier. But yes, this made me cry. It’s heartbreaking, and it’s infuriating, that young Black (and Brown, I’m sure) children continue to grow up in a world that makes them think that people who look like them are bad and people who look like their oppressors are good. Not that I didn’t know this is what our society is still about, but this film brings it home in a skilled and poignant way.

Kudos to Kiri Davis for making a powerful, brilliant film. In her bio, Kiri says that she wants to continue to be a filmmaker; I certainly hope she does so, because I can’t wait to see what more she accomplishes.

A nice little bit of football history in the making

First off: GO COLTS! What a game. That last interception by Marlin Jackson – just beautiful.

With the Indianapolis Colts and the Chicago Bears winning today, that’ll put two Black head coaches – Indianapolis’ Tony Dungy and Chicago’s Lovie Smith – in the Super Bowl. This will be the first time ever that a Black head coach goes to the Super Bowl – and there’ll be two! Yeah, not exactly a monumental anti-racist victory or anything, but still, pretty sweet.

ACTION ALERT: Entire Queens Family Arrested as Intimidation

Note from Jack: I heard about this on NPR the other morning, but unsurprisingly didn’t get the whole story, not even from them. I’ve added emphasis on some parts of this press release from DRUM (Desis Rising Up and Moving), which is an important and kick-ass organization that everyone should know about.

Also, for more information on Shahawar Matin Siraj’s case, see Democracy Now! interview with his lawyer, Martin Stolar.

January 9, 2007

Entire Queens Family Arrested as Intimidation

For questions, contact:
Fahd Ahmed, DRUM (940) 391 -2660

At 5am on the morning of January 9th, 2007, ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) raided the Queens home of and arrested three members (father, mother, and daughter) of the Siraj family, a tight-knit Pakistani family that has been caught up in the U.S. “War on Terror’s” most recent act of racial and religious profiling. Tuesday’s deplorable raid on the home of an innocent family is amongst dozens of other targeted, prejudiced sweeps across the country that are tearing Muslim, Arab and South Asian communities apart. The arrests occurred less than 12 hours after their young son, Shahawar Matin Siraj, was sentenced to 30 years in prison for alleged terrorism-related charges emerging from a clandestine NYPD-paid informant’s entrapment.

ICE officials are currently falsely reporting that the family was arrested on immigration-related charges and that the father’s appeal for an asylum case was “denied.” The reality is that the father’s appeal is still pending in the Second Circuit Court and has not been decided, and that the mother and teenage daughter do not have any immigration cases or deportation orders pending against them. Given the high-profile media attention on their son’s case, in which there were many underhanded legal irregularities and rights violations, these arrests are being seen by the community as an attempt to silence and make an example of the family through harassment. The family maintains that their son was ensnared by an NYPD informant, evidence of which the court did not properly consider, resulting in an unfair trial and sentencing. The family has filed a notice of appeal for their son’s case.

Both the father and the mother have ongoing and severe medical conditions, and the mother was only allowed to take two days of medicine at the time of the arrests. All family members are currently being held at Elizabeth Detention Center in Elizabeth, NJ, but they may be moved or separated to different facilities.

DRUM, as a community based organization that works with Muslim and South Asian immigrants and has seen the targeting of this community before and especially after 9/11, is calling on all concerned individuals and organizations to contact the ICE Field Office Director, at 973-645-3666, and demand that (a) the Siraj family be immediately released on their own recognizance or a reasonable bond, and, (b) that ICE stop targeting immigrant communities, in particular Muslims, Arabs, and South Asians. DRUM is also calling on all people of conscience to call Warden Charlotte Collins at Elizabeth Detention Center, at 908-352-3776, to demand that (a) they provide urgent medical care and medication for the mother and father, and (b) that the Siraj family be kept together, particularly the mother and daughter not be separated, and, (c) to pro-actively facilitate direct communication and visitation between the family and their son, Matin, who is being held at Metropolitan Detention Center. DRUM, alongside countless civil and human-rights organizations and concerned citizens will continue to expose the ongoing injustices of the “War on Terror” against this family and all targeted communities.

That’s so thirty years ago.

I have spent far too much time in the comments section of this post on I Blame the Patriarchy. I need to stop, and soon. But first, check out this doozy.

I wrote this, in response to something that someone else wrote to the effect of “fight the REAL enemy”:

See, slade, that’s the problem right there – it’s not only rich white hetero boys who have power and privilege. They’re also not the only ones who should be challenged and criticized. Most of us have power and privilege that needs to be acknowledged and dealt with, despite whatever oppression or lack of power we might also experience.

So a certain Ms Kate responds like so:

Teh Patriarchy sez … MMM. DIVIDE AND CONQUER. YUMMY.

And while we analyze our feminist souls for original (and not so original) sin spots, The Patriarchy is throwing yet another kegger down at the local frat – and laughing at us for being so hairy and angry.

Um… hello, what? WHAT? People, people – haven’t we gotten past this ridiculous line of thinking? No, apparently not.

My response:

Funny… this sounds so much like what white women told – hell, tell – women of color who spoke out against racism within feminist communities.

“Shut up and fight the real enemy, whilst we continue to ignore your issues and your lives and act in complicity with your oppression as women of color, or as trans people, or as genderqueer people. Because we’re all in this together, right, sisters?”

Arguments like that? SO OLD. SO TIRED. SO PLAYED OUT.

Face it, Ms Kate – you probably don’t have a monopoly on oppression. Your dismissive tone especially suggests that you’ve probably got a whole bunch of privilege and the prejudice that goes with it. Trying to cover it up by pointing at the “real” enemy doesn’t make it go away. Being a woman or a feminist doesn’t give you a “Get Out Of Examining My Own Privilege Free” card. None of us get that card. Not a one.


Mostly, I wanted to post that here as a prelude to something along these lines that has been brewing in my head for the past couple of days and will appear here shortly. But also because… WTF, right?

Also – I have no idea if I ever use the word “whilst” correctly. I hope I do, though, because I do love using it!

say it ain’t so

The only comforting thing about this and this is that it sounds like it might be temporary. Please, please let it be temporary.

It’s really fuckin’ sad and infuriating that the people who get the most heat and the most bullshit are so often the voices that we need to hear most.

We need a support group, y’all.

post-post-Pride recap

Trans March photo from Workers World

Here I am, blogging about my Pride activities from more than two weeks ago. Oops.

I frame my conversation with pictures that people took of me at the front of two very different marches. Above, a photo from Workers World of the march that occured on the Trans Day of Action (TDOA). I’m the nearly-bald one making a weird face and wearing the dorky cell phone earpiece.

As I wrote earlier, the organizers of the TDOA were denied the requested permits to march down 8th Av. When I arrived at the starting point and rally location in Chelsea Park, I was greeted by two sharply contrasting sights. First, I saw many people, trans & gender non-conforming folks and our allies, gathered together, energized, enthusiastic, strong and ready to make their voices heard. A bit off to the side of them, I saw a large group of cops, standing around with clusters of plastic handcuffs dangling from their belts.

Now, you may think that plastic handcuffs sound more mild than metal handcuffs, but let me tell you, they hurt like a motherfucker, especially when you get to wear them for hours on end as I got to when I was arrested during the Republican National Convention, and especially when they’re cruelly tightened so that they cut off circulation and cut into your skin, as was done to many of my fellow arrestees. They’re also cheap, plentiful, and quick to put onto someone’s wrists, and are therefore well suited for situations where the cops expect (or, perhaps, hope) to be arresting large groups of people. Ever since the RNC, I’ve felt more wary, nervous, and even scared than ever before whenever I’m around cops, especially when they’re in a large group. And the dangling plastic handcuffs seem like nothing so much as a threat, a message of warning to protestors: “Hey, you – stay in line, or these will go on all your wrists real quick.”

Screwing up my courage so that their presence didn’t make me veer off to the side, I walked right past those cops and joined the gathered crowd. There was a good turnout and the energy was positive and high. We started chanting to get folks focused and enthused, and then had a short program of speeches by folks from various community organizations. I was called up to speak first as a representative of the Sylvia Rivera Law Project. I was really nervous, and what with the heat, the sun, and the shouting to be heard by the crowd, I felt like all the blood was rushing to my head and I might pass out, but it also felt great to be speaking up and out and to feel SRLP’s and the TDOA’s messages being echoed and applauded by the crowd. This is part of what I said, written together with other folks from SRLP:

“The City of New York has demonstrated time and time again that it will never take meaningful action to stop the discrimination and abuse of trans people unless they are forced to do so. The fact that TransJustice was denied the permits to march down Eight Av only reaffirms the city’s disregard and disrespect for the trans community. But this demonstration, our presence here today proves that our community will not be silenced or pushed aside. We can and will make the City of NY pay us heed and pay our community the respect that we deserve. We can create the world in which we want to live, by showing our power in the streets, by building our communities, and by making our demands known loud and clear.

“We want adequate and affordable housing
We want our communities to be protected from police violence
We want equal access to health care, including trans health care and health care for trans youth
We want our community out of prisons, jails, and the juvenile prison system
We want trans people to have equal access to jobs
We want our community to have equal access to jobs and to welfare benefits when we need them
We want to be able to access services and housing in the genders we are, not genders that are forced on us
We want access to real avenues for immigration that allow people to work and live free from harassment and government surveillance

“We want true justice and true respect for all trans and gender non-conforming people, in NYC, across this country and around our world, and we will not stop struggling, we will not stop speaking out, we will not stop fighting until we get it!”

I got down, successfully not passing out, and the program continued, filled with great speakers who all drove home messages of true justice for trans and gender non-conforming people, as well as all oppressed people. One of the best things about the work of Trans Justice (the trans people of color group that organized the march) is how they tie together all forms of oppression and discrimination; they address racism, classism, poverty, sexism, and homophobia, not only as they affect trans folks but as they affect all people who are oppressed.

After the speakers finished, there was a bit of waiting and then the announcement: we would march, permit be damned. It was exciting but also scary – certainly important to stand up for our rights and be heard no matter what, but also a little worrisome, given the cops and their plastic handcuffs and the big arrest wagon that they drove alongside us as we marched down the sidewalks of 8th Av (we weren’t allowed to take the streets until we were a couple of blocks away from our ultimate destination, the LGBT Center.) But as we stepped off and started marching through Midtown, chanting all the way, my nervousness was replaced by that funny mixture of joy and controlled, focused rage that happens during a march or a protest; a sense of community strength and power, a sense of being joined together in struggle, committed to continue despite fierce opposition and repression. It was a long march, snaking uptown on 8th Av somewhere into the 40s, then turning around and coming down 7th Av and marching all the way down to the Center at 13th St. We got some crazy looks and some hostility from evening commuters as we passed Penn Station, and the cops were ever present and ever obnoxious; one cop was heard to say “You’re missing a great transgender rally. Only in New York. I got he shes and she hes.” But, all in all, it was a tremendously succesful, energizing, and empowering event.

Me at the Dyke March

The picture above, taken by kaitlyn is of me, with my sign, at the front of the Dyke March on Saturday. The side of the sign that’s visible in the picture reads, “Dyke March Committee: Am I welcome here? If I am, THEN SAY IT!” The other side has a list of check boxes next to the following words: woman, womyn, wimmin, genderqueer butch, dyke. The boxes next to woman, womyn and wimmin are X’d out; the boxes next to genderqueer butch and dyke are checked off. (If you’re confused as to the purpose of my sign, read what I wrote earlier about my thoughts on the Dyke March. The weird face I’m making is because, by this point in the march, my sign was nearly falling off the pole and was held fast primarily by chewing gum; I’m looking up at it and willing it to not embarass me by falling off during those few minutes that I spent at the front of the march. (It didn’t.)

My girlfriend and I arrived in the vicinity of the march later than we’d expected, so we didn’t go all the way up to the starting point by Bryant Park. Instead, we waited for the march to come to us, down near the Empire State Building on 5th Av. It was the first time I’d ever seen the march coming at me instead of being in it from the start, and it gave me a little thrill to see the banner coming my way. That is, until I read the banner: “Women Wimmin Womyn.” Which, in and of itself, would not be such a big deal, but when combined with the “women only” gender policing of the march itself, was something of an unpleasant sight.

As the march approached, I held my sign high, despite feeling nervous and vaguely sheepish. There were a bunch of photographers and videographers up in front, and a few of them ran over and snapped pictures or took footage of my sign when they saw it. I got interviewed by a few folks, too. I was surprised – I definitely didn’t expect that kind of attention for me and my sign.

The march began to pass by. As usual, I saw many people I knew dispersed among the crowd. As my friend and Lt. Governor candidate Alison writes, the march “has the feel of both a powerful protest march and the largest class reunion you could imagine attending.” I saw both people I knew and strangers looking my way and taking in the sign. Lots of people smiled, clapped, or gave me a thumbs up. Some people thanked me for bringing the sign and that message to the march. A few folks told me that of course I was welcome at the march, and when I explained the women-only policy and my issues with it, some of them were surprised – they probably didn’t even know about the policy. That’s the thing about it – for all the Dyke March Committee wants to create its gender policing rules, most people never even hear about them, and many of those who do just don’t give a damn.

My sign was addressed specifically to the Dyke March Organizing Committee, so I wanted to make sure that they saw it. It seemed like the best way to do that was to march right up front. I’d mostly stayed on the sidelines until then, but down around 23rd St, I rushed up to the front. It took a little while for me to screw up the courage to step off of the sidewalk and into the street, directly in front of the big banner, but eventually I did.

After a few minutes, one of the organizers – actually one of the committee members to whom I’d spoken last year about these issues – came over to me and said that I couldn’t march in front of the banner. I pointed to my sign and asked her if, since she is a member of the committee, she could answer my question to them – was I, in fact, welcome at the march? She told me that the march was for women, for dykes. I told her that I was a butch. She responded, “Well, butches are women.” I couldn’t help but laugh a bit at this disregard for my right or ability to define my gender for myself. I told her that I identified as a butch, not as a woman, and then she told me that, in that case, she supposed that the march didn’t speak to me, and that I needed to move. I told her that I was going to enter the march, and that she should ask all the dykes around me if they wanted me to leave. As I stepped behind the banner, she told me that she wouldn’t waste her time, saying, “This march is for me.

I continued to march, eventually stepping to the side again for the final triumphant entry into Washington Square Park. This year, the construction on the big arch in the park was finally cleared up, so for the first time in the years that I’ve been attending, the march came right through under the arch and into the park. It was a terrific sight. I stuck around for a little while, watched the crowd, and spoke with some friends. After some time, my girlfriend and I walked to the subway; I abandoned my ailing sign in a garbage can near W. 4th St; we went home.

And so ends my long, rambling, weeks-in-the-making entry on Pride. I now feel like I can return to my regularly scheduled blogging. Stay tuned.

not all rainbow balloons and frolicking gay boys

Not that there’s anything wrong with either of those things. But below is a press release from the Audre Lorde Project, an organization for queer people of color in NYC, that addresses a far less joyful and celebratory incident that occurred at Sunday’s Pride march. It’s a good reminder that, despite the raucous celebrations and flamboyant displays that take over Manhattan for a day or two, we queers are still targets, some of us more than others.

Pride Celebration Marred By NYPD

Youth of Color Arrested While Participating in Annual LGBT Pride Parade

New York City, NY, June 26, 2006: The annual Heritage of Pride Parade celebrating Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender communities in New York City was marred this year by the unjust arrests of two young marchers.

At approximately 2:30 in the afternoon, while marching with Manhattan Pride Parade People of Color contingent two young people of color were arrested as they sought to re-enter the parade. The two young people had left the parade briefly and when they attempted to return they were placed under arrest by the NYPD. Marshals with the People of Color contingent repeatedly informed the police that the two young people were with the contingent and asked why they were being arrested. The police refused to respond. Witnesses stated that the police used unnecessary force when arresting the two young people. Kris Hayashi, Executive Director of the Audre Lorde Project, witnessed the incident. Hayashi states, “I observed the police brutally throwing one of the young people into the police van. This incident of unnecessary, unjust arrest is part of an ongoing pattern of harassment and brutality by the NYPD towards communities of color and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two Spirit, Trans and Gender Non Conforming people of color in this city. We must hold the NYPD accountable.”

The two young people were taken to the 6th precinct where the younger of the two was released while the 19 year old was held at the 6th precinct with a charge of disorderly conduct. Despite pressure from elected officials and community leaders to release the 19 year-old the young person was held overnight at Central Booking and to date has not been released.

Concerned community members and the Audre Lorde Project called a press conference the day of the parade at 9:30 PM in front of the 6th Precinct. Representatives of the Audre Lorde Project, Maua Flowers Institute, and
FIERCE spoke at the press conference, which was attended by 50 community members. Speakers called for the young person’s immediate release, for the charges to be dropped, for the NYPD to be held accountable for harassment and brutality, and for the community to stand up against ongoing harassment and brutality towards our communities.

“In the wake of recent violence against the LGBT community, it is an outrage that the NYPD has responded with a message of more violence, sadly against a young person of color marching the annual peaceful LGBT Pride Parade, ” says Rickke Mananzala, Campaign Coordinator of FIERCE, an LGBT youth of color organizing project in New York City.

Community members packed the court the morning of Monday, June 26, calling for the young person’s immediate release and for the charges to be dropped.

The Audre Lorde Project (ALP) is a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two Spirit, Trans and Gender Non Conforimng (LGBTSTGNC) People of Color (POC) center for community organizing, focusing on the New York City area.

Since apparently my many previous clarifications weren’t enough

I’ve seen a lot of responses to my posts on gentrification, both in comments here and on other blogs, that question why I don’t want white people moving into poor neighborhoods of color. Some people wonder if I’m endorsing a kind of self-imposed segregation; some ask whether it’s not good that white people move in, since then a neighborhood finally gets paid attention by politicians and the distributors of public services, and isn’t it good that the neighborhoods are getting “better?” Some people wonder why I’d be against the diversification of a neighborhood (because, of course, the whole point of diversity is that white people are around, too…er…) Some folks wonder why I’m generalizing white folks, since some of those white people moving in might be good white folks who are anti-racist and anti-gentrification. Some people even go so far as to call me racist, since clearly, this is because I’m anti-white.

I felt like I clarified this before in “more thoughts on gentrification,”, but I’ll try again:

If white people were moving into poor neighborhoods of color and had no negative effect on the low-income people of color living there, it would not be a problem. The problem with gentrification is that the white folks who are moving in most often bring real negative effects to the low-income people of color. The primary negative effects are forced displacement – people having to move out of their homes or the neighborhood against their will – due to drastically rising rents and immoral (and often illegal) landlord methods like forced evictions and cut-off services; and the gradual erosion of the neighborhoods’ ethnic culture – businesses, restaurants, social organizations, etc – that the community has built up over time, to be replaced by more mainstream, white, middle-class culture.

Can I make it any more clear, people? I’m not just arbitrarily anti-white. I’m not just trying to preserve neighborhoods that are POC-only for the hell of it, because I don’t like the look of those white people or because their music annoys me or something. It’s because, so often in gentrifying neighborhoods, an influx of white folks is a harbinger of real, concrete, negative impacts on low-income people of color.

Something else that has come up, that is far less annoying than the questions above, is the question about low-income white folks and their involvement, culpability, and experience of gentrification. As a general response: I know less about the effect of gentrification on poor white neighborhoods, but I’m sure it happens, as gentrification is equally about class as it is about race. However, race and class are so entwined in this country, and people of color are disproportionately poor, so it’s something of an impossibility (for me at least) to talk about gentrification and not talk about race, especially since in NYC I most often see gentrification occuring in POC neighborhoods, not by any coincidence. However, I am familiar with the gentrification that has gone on in parts of Williamsburg that used to be largely working-class Polish, and that’s quickly sweeping into Greenpoint as well. There, some of the same things have happened – an immigrant, working-class community’s culture is being eroded, bit by bit, to make room for more mainstream (meaning middle-class) white culture; people are forced out of their neighborhood; the whole feel and face of the neighborhood changes. However, I’d venture to say that the effects and methods of gentrification are different in Greenpoint than they are in, say, Bushwick, or even south Williamsburg (which might still be predominantly Latino, at least for now.) For one, white people in the area can’t be seen as a sign that the neighborhood is “up and coming;” there, I think it would be the presence of certain kinds of white folks (younger, richer, not immigrants, etc).

Folks have also asked about the culpability of low-income white folks. They, too, can’t afford high rents. If they live in NYC, the only way they might be able to afford to do so is to live in neighborhoods of color.

If people are truly low-income – meaning, not just “barely out of college, damn my bills suck on my non-profit salary” like me, but really, truly, struggling – then they need to live where they need to live and do what they need to do in order to make it. I’m not going to try to assign blame to folks when they’re doing as well as they can; I’m also not about to pass judgement on any low-income folks because, frankly, that would be seriously fucked up of me. However, I do think that low-income white folks can still have a negative involvement with gentrification, because of the whole thing where having some white folks in a neighborhood makes it “safer” and more appealing to other, richer white folks, who then move in and displace the low-income white folks right along with the low-income people of color. I don’t that one’s lack of class privilege erases one’s racial privilege and the negative effects thereof.

Sigh. Why I am up at 8:30am on a Saturday writing this, I do not know. All I got up to do was check the weather to see if I’d wind up going to the Dyke March after all! (And by the way, this weekend’s weather SUCKS, especially for Pride weekend! Hmm, maybe god does hate fags. Kidding folks, kidding.) And then I wound up here, writing this! I am obsessed with this blog. Help!