Category Archives: Allies

Desegregation and Allyship – A Personal History

When the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka decision was handed down in 1954, most white people and school systems in the South viewed the notion of white and black students attending school together as nothing short of the apocalypse.   In 1955, when Brown II said that desegregation had to occur “with all deliberate speed,” southern school districts took that language to mean that they could use all sorts of tactics to delay compliance.  Even the use of federal marshals or the National Guard to protect black students seeking to enroll in “white schools” did not convince the majority of southern school districts to desegregate the public schools.

With the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the filing of additional school desegregation cases by the federal government, many southern school districts grudgingly began to realize that doing nothing with respect to desegregation was no longer an option. My county, Meriwether County, Georgia (the home of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Little White House) decided on a two-pronged response.

First, as was being done in so many counties in the South, the white parents decided to create a private school for their children.  In the fall of 1967, Flint River Academy opened in Woodbury, Meriwether County, Georgia.   The official dedication was done by none other than the Governor of the State of Georgia, Lester Maddox, who, prior to becoming Governor, had achieved hero status among segregationists when he and his supporters wielded ax handles as they turned away three black students who were seeking to be seated and served in his restaurant.  In fact, that episode was largely responsible for the launching of his political career.

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When Being An Ally Means Being Quiet

This piece is a guest post by Shannon Hall-Bulzone.  It was originally posted in BuzzFeed Community: 

Learning to be silent is crucial if you want marginalized groups to consider you an ally.

“I can’t wait until Trump gets rid of you fucking faggots.”

These words were hurled at a close friend as she walked into a bathroom at Disneyland in Anaheim, CA. Ten days after the election there has been no shortage of bigotry fueled attacks by those Hillary described as the “basket of deplorables.”

Well, they’re speaking up and making it known those of us who are not cis straight white men or women are unwelcome. Minorities are largely fearful, angry, and unsure if and when they’ll be on the receiving end of these attacks.

It was with these attacks in mind that I created a thread intended to be a space for people of color to heal, share their stories without intrusion, and to feel validation in a world that normalizes racism and intolerance. I shared my friend’s story and stated – “Don’t comment on this thread if you’re white. I’m sorry. I don’t want to hear your solidarity, your regret, or your apology. Too little too late, get your people and go to work – save the kind words for now because they’re empty when we are being targeted. Words and safety pins don’t fix a damn thing.

The exclusion of my white friends from this thread was inevitably ignored, and that is a problem.

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A Few Hard Truths …

As we are assigning blame for the massacre of our LGBTQIA siblings in Orlando, let us not forget to look at ourselves.

If any of us has ever done any of these things —

  1. Remained quiet when someone (including a member of our churches) made the comment that “God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve;”
  2. Laughed nervously at jokes about the LGBTQIA community because we wanted to continue to do business with or interact with the person telling the joke;
  3. Used phrases or words like “sugar in his britches,” “he/she,” “lesbo,” or “fa**ot” to describe members of the LGBTQIA community OR allowed those phrases or words to be used in our presence  —

Then we have contributed to the ignorance and “othering” of homophobia.

We need to stop. We need to speak out. We need to do better.

Transgender Awareness Week

This week is Transgender Awareness Week. I’ve collected a few resources for people who are interested in participating in events and increasing community and individual awareness of trans issues and, specifically, trans PoC issues. Trans PoC are at a disproportionate risk for violence and poverty when compared to white trans people. This year, there has been unprecedented  violence against trans people. There have been at least 21 or 22 (depending on the source) known murders of transgender women. Most of these women were trans women of color.

The video below features several trans women of color who tell their stories in honor of TDoR.

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Public Anouncement

I, Natasha Smith, publicly and unabashedly support the rights of LGBTQIA people and marriage equality.

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That is all.

Be Supportive or Be Quiet!

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I fell asleep last night in front of the television (a common occurrence with me and even more so since my recent carpal tunnel surgery).  I woke up to the sound of my cell phone vibrating and beeping and pinging with notifications from Twitter, Facebook, etc.  Hesitantly and (a little) fearfully, I began to read the notifications.

As I read, my eyes filled with tears.  The physical pain in my hand was swept away by the intense emotional pain I felt as I read how the Church I love has decided that the children of our LGBTQIA sisters and brothers cannot “receive a name and a blessing” and cannot be “baptized and confirmed, ordained, or recommended for missionary service” unless they renounce and disavow their parents and receive permission from the First Presidency.

I cannot imagine having to explain to my child why he or she cannot be baptized.  I cannot imagine as a teenager being told that I would have to disown my parents or disavow our family in order to be accepted in my church.  I cannot imagine the pain or the anguish that so many of our sisters and brothers who want to continue to be part of the LDS Church are feeling.

All I can do is open my arms and my heart and let my sisters and brothers know that they are loved and that they are wanted.  I can acknowledge that this new policy is a vile and violent act and that no part of it is worthy of being adopted by a church that includes the name of Jesus Christ in its name.  I can mourn with my brothers and sisters and I can bear their burdens.  I can let them cry, talk, scream, or all three.

What I do not need to do is to detract from their pain by drawing any sort of comparisons with any pain I am feeling or I have felt or with situations that I or others have experienced.  Their pain is not a game.  It is not a competition.  I will not make them feel better by making someone else feel worse.

I simply need to step up and be there for them and with them.

I invite each of you to do the same.  If you cannot, I invite you to be quiet.

Yes, Your Halloween Costume is Offensive. Every day. In every way.

There is an orange background with a black spooky tree on top of a hill with pumpkins hanging from the tree limbs. 3 bats are pictured flying around. The text reads HALLOWEEN

IT HAPPENS EVERY YEAR. 

Despite any preemptive posts and attempts to address the issue and to avoid the discussions, there are always questions and justifications about what constitutes an appropriate Halloween costume.

The questions and justifications range from statements such as “[m]y child is really into the culture” to “[w]e are honoring the culture” to ”[m]y child has learning, developmental, or behavioral issues and really, really wants to wear this costume” to “I have _____________ (insert appropriate oppressed group) friends and they do not think it is a problem or find it offensive” to “I/we don’t mean to be offensive.” Continue reading