A statement from Lesbians and Gays of African Descent for Democratic Action (LGADDA) And LGBT Black Rap: Standing for Civil Rights & Social Justice for Black LGBT & Allies, on behalf of a coalition of African American LGBT leaders and organizations.
Last week, we learned that Mayor Gavin Newsom opposes discrimination against African Americans, but that he believes it’s divisive to actually speak out for equal treatment, and that it’s important to be “objective” about racism – no "picketing and jumping up and down. " Is this the same courageous mayor who challenged the state by marrying thousands of same-sex couples at City Hall?
And then there’s the Bay Area Reporter. The publisher thinks that all of this talk about discrimination has "put us in the worst possible light. " He thinks it is "time to move on" to some of the real threats "to our very way of life… to focus on the common enemy and form a united front against the serious threats that we are sure to face."
The truth is, for African Americans and other people of color, racism and its vestiges are among the biggest threats to our very way of life. Like homophobia, racism is a common enemy that warrants a united front. Not only do African Americans experience discrimination at places like Badlands on an ongoing basis, African Americans in San Francisco — including LGBT African Americans — have among the highest murder rates, poverty rates, incarceration rates, HIV prevalence rates – as well as other health disparities, high school dropout rates, and more. So, it’s high time for the Mayor, the Board of Supervisors, the BAR’s publisher, and anyone else within earshot of this letter, to start picketing and jumping up and down about racism at Badlands and everywhere else in San Francisco.
It’s time to start picketing and jumping up and down about the fact that Badlands owner Les Natali have been actively discriminating against members of our own community, and doing so under the nose of community leaders who knew the truth but did nothing to stop it, perhaps for fear of political reprisal.
It’s time to start picketing and jumping up and down about the fact that, two months after a City Finding, the City still has imposed no penalties on Badlands and owner Les Natali, and that it took the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors almost two months to make a public statement condemning the discrimination found at Badlands. Such silence would never be tolerated if the City’s finding of discrimination involved gay, white men… which may signal an even bigger problem: maybe it’s time to start jumping up and down to make the City take seriously the civil rights, the plight, and the very lives of its African American residents.
On Pride Sunday, African American LGBT leaders did just that. In an unprecedented showing of unity, African American LGBT leaders from Lesbians and Gays of African Decent for Democratic Action (LGADDA), LGBT Black Rap, the NIA Collective, Our Live, and other groups dressed in black and jumped up and down on the parade route to make visible their frustration with the treatment African Americans have received in the City of San Francisco, the broader Bay Area, and the nation. During their unannounced Pride Parade appearance, the group periodically brought the parade to a stand-still and distributed to parade goers a statement outlining nine demands for greater "justice and righteousness" for African Americans. The statement reads:
After decades of neglect of, hostility towards, and discrimination against African Americans in this City, throughout the Bay Area, and across the nation, it is time for justice to ‘run down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.’ As African Americans, and as African American LGBT people, we demand:
-That the City of San Francisco begin to take seriously the civil rights of the African American citizens of this community. The City itself found that Castro bar owner Les Natali violated the civil rights of African Americans. Based on that Finding, Mr. Natali should no longer be allowed to do business in this City.
-That the City of San Francisco devote significant resources to support the development and sustainability of African American and LGBT African American-owned enterprises in the Castro and throughout the City.
-That organizations like the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, the Golden Gate Business Association, and the Merchants of Upper Market and Castro likewise begin to take seriously the civil rights of African Americans and other people of color by condemning discrimination,
pro-actively hiring African Americans into prominent positions in public establishments (e.g., salespersons, bartenders, managers), pro-actively reaching out to African American patrons, supporting African American business development, hosting and supporting African American cultural activities, and more.
-That, along with local funders, the City of San Francisco and other Bay Area cities launch and support ongoing programs and institutions that promote dialogue about and address individual and institutionalized racism and other forms of discrimination within the Bay Area.
-That, in order to ensure more sensible and accountable public policy towards African Americans, political clubs endorse, and city leaders recommend and appoint, a greater number of African American leaders, and LGBT African American leaders, to city and state commissions and other leadership positions.
-That LGBT and mainstream non-profit organizations recommend and appoint a greater number of African Americans to their boards of directors and to other leadership roles.
-That the City ensure that LGBT African American leaders are consulted when issues arise that affect LGBT African Americans.
-That, in order to address the disproportionate impact of social ills like crime, incarceration, HIV prevalence – as well as other health disparities, and under-education on African Americans, local, state, federal government, and other entities devote a greater share of financial and non-financial resources to African American mainstream and LGBT organizations and programs.
-That, most important, San Francisco leaders and policymakers develop a pro-active plan to stop the expulsion of African Americans from San Francisco and, instead, invite and welcome African Americans to our City.
-And finally that, after years of disregard, policymakers, business leaders, non-profit leaders, and communities across the entire United States heed this urgent call for equality, opportunity, and justice for ALL African Americans.
San Francisco: it’s time to start jumping up and down. For fairness and opportunity. For justice.
Signed: Lesbians and Gays of African Descent for Democratic Action (LGADDA) and LGBT Black Rap: Standing for Civil Rights & Social Justice for Black LGBT & Allies, on behalf of a coalition of African American LGBT leaders and organizations