On November 24, a grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri, decided not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the killing of Michael Brown.
Believe Out Loud laments this decision and the continued devaluation of black lives in the United States of America.
Unfortunately, our community’s response to two posts we shared about the verdict in Ferguson was both divided and disheartening. Many in the Believe Out Loud community labeled Michael Brown a “thug” and “bully” as if that would justify his death. Just one week later, a grand jury in Staten Island, New York, chose not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo for the choking death of Eric Garner.
Several details may separate these two stories from each other, but one detail remains the same and cannot go ignored—an unarmed black man was killed by a white police officer, and no one is being held responsible for either of these deaths.
Believe Out Loud honors our diverse community.
We affirm that all lives are sacred, and all deserve equal protection under the law. However, we do not subscribe to the racially insensitive term “all lives matter.” Terms such as these only work as pervasive ways of glossing over the disproportionate rate in which people of color (in particular black people) are victims of state-sanctioned violence.
When we refer to “violence” we are not only referring to police brutality but also poverty, reduced access to healthcare, reduced access to proper education, reduced access to nutritious food, reduced access to living wages, all of these atrocities are sanctioned by the state as well.
For these reasons, we are compelled to voice our outrage at the racial injustices that still permeate this country.
We must realize that an unarmed black man can be gunned down in this country; straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, genderqueer, etc. For us to believe that issues such as racism and police brutality are somehow separate from us is to whitewash our community’s struggles.
We do not believe that strategies such as color blindness are helpful to ending systemic oppression. Instead, these strategies result in the erasure of individuals’ lived experiences. We believe that effective dialogue begins with allowing all parties within the conversation to be fully seen, heard, and respected.
As a result, issues such as racism, homophobia, transphobia, and misogyny cannot be discredited as “taboo,” but rather used as a lens in which we navigate our interpersonal interactions.
This is why we work intentionally to share stories that reflect the full diversity and experiences of the LGBTQ community.
Unfortunately, as we gain momentum in our work toward LGBTQ equality, our goals, our victories, and even our conversations continue to both reflect and perpetuate the biases and prejudices that permeate American society.
As content curators, we know first hand how difficult it is to find the representation of LGBTQ people of color in the media. For example, we are much more likely to see a viral news story about the love shared between two white men than two black women. This erasure of entire communities is a level of violence that we cannot ignore, and we are committed to overcoming this injustice in our work.
We are deeply grateful for the work of organizations such as Many Voices and the National Black Justice Coalition, as well as publications like Elixher and Black Girl Dangerous, which are all upholding people of color as we work toward justice for the LGBTQ community.
Within the lives of LGBTQ people, we hold intersecting identities that must be acknowledged in our work.
We lift up our intentions in this statement so our community can hold us accountable as we move forward together.
Photo by Alison Amyx