There is racism in the Gayborhood. I know this because black and brown people who live in, shop in, work in, and otherwise come to the Gayborhood like I do, have been saying so for years.
That this fact has been so difficult for some of the communities of Philadelphia, and for the city's LGBTQ communities in particular, to recognize is more than just disheartening, it's dangerous.
That's the opening few phrases of an Op-Ed piece Brian Sims, Philadelphia State House Representative for the 182nd District which includes the area known as the Gayborhood. Sims goes on to define racism, mentioning the current events concerns involving racism; police forces targeting black and brown men, job discrimination, dress codes intended to exclude racial and ethnic communities, or racial profiling "terrorists" and "illegals."
When it comes specifically to the Gayborhood, businesses and organizations that serve the LGBTQ communities aren't absolved from responsibility for discrimination because of who they serve, in fact many deserve to be held to the higher standards that they themselves have promoted.
Acknowledging the epidemic of trans murders across the nation is a necessary first step, but acknowledging that in work environments trans women are often pitted against each other, hypersexualized, and tokenized is just as important to advancing rights and understanding as well.
For all the national discussion about understanding the transgender community and which bathrooms people use, there seems to be a serious lack of understanding and empathy for the day-to-day hardships faced by many trans men and women, and trans women of color in particular.
As always, Brian Sims has great pride in his city and has great hope for his community. The city has grown and prospered and has overcome many challenges to earn the nick name "City of Brotherly Love." LOVE is synonymous with Philadelphia. That needs to be remembered.
Philadelphians show the nation every day that we are a city that does righteous indignation well. We have rallied, marched, and risen up in the wake of a divisive Presidential election. Every day a new leader in the resistance takes her or his place on our street corners and in our community centers.
Despite our collective opposition to the hateful policies and rhetoric, there is still racism in the Gayborhood and it is incumbent upon us to stop it.
During a recent meeting with the Black & Brown Workers Collective, a group made up of advocates and activists that organized to combat racial and ethnic injustices and inequity in and around the region's non-profit organizations, boards of directors, and employers, I was asked to get louder, show my support, and be a better ally.
From promoting collaboration and lifting voices of equality to admonishing discrimination, I owe it to the people who elected me, and to the communities I can most impact, to be louder and set the best example of a genuine ally as I can.
There is racism in Philadelphia and in its Gayborhood. It is toxic and obvious, and there has never been a more important time for us to fully see it, and end it.
I know these last several months have been difficult and filled with turbulence and turmoil in many areas of our lives; however, I have faith in us and in our resiliency. Our community has never met a challenge it could not overcome together.
Thank you Brian for keeping the dialogue going. I am sure there are many conversations within Philadelphia that the nation does not know of. As well, we are sure other cities are having concerns and discussions about racism in the LGBT community.
Does Brian's piece resonate in your community?
See his entire Op-Ed over at Metro.us