About MichelleMichelle Brown is an author, activist & public speaker who believes in common ground for all people.
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Monthly Archives: December 2012
As we count down the last days of 2012 time to think about how we should allocate our time, talent and tithes in our fight for equality. My latest post in Cherry Grrl
POV: Now’s the Time to Find the Band For Your Different Drummer
In our politically correct world of diversity and inclusion, everyone says, “But that’s ok. We need a different viewpoint. We need that energy.” And, having also taken a sip of that same Kool-Aid laced with a bit of ego and the honest belief that we can make a difference, we avoid all the warning signs and dive head on into the fray.
Sometimes it works out but more often than many of us care to admit, it doesn’t, and the experience taints our opinion about the effectiveness of our movement.
Time and time again when sitting around the diversity campfire I hear the same story. “We try to be inclusive and have reached out to (youth, people of color, transgender, southerners, mid-westerners, tall people, red heads – fill in the group of your choice) but it just hasn’t worked out. They come to a few meetings then just drop out.”
On the flip side, I hear from the other folks (youth, people of color, transgender, southerners, mid-westerners, tall people, red heads – fill in the group of your choice) that although a seat was offered at the table the menu remained unchanged.
Decisions, strategies, new initiatives and governance remain the same – as one Latina sister told me “Adding Habanero sauce to the condiment tray but still serving peas and white rice ain’t inclusion!”
So what do we do to be really diverse and inclusive in the LGBT community facing some homogeneous attacks against our families, our right to work, our lives but consists of individuals/communities as diverse as the rainbow flag we wave?
Let’s face it, if we can’t get it together in our LGBT house our work will continue to be an uphill battle in the state and federal legislative houses.
I have experienced different paths to this dilemma and quite frankly am still looking for a solution.
One path, which is truly not for the faint of heart and is tinged with varying doses of passive/aggressiveness and masochism, is the road of “being the first.”
You know the one. He or she takes that first seat at the table, bringing their own habanero sauce and keeps pouring it liberally over that rubber chicken until one day fried chicken shows up on the menu.
They are the standard bearer for their community (youth, people of color, transgender, southerners, mid-westerners, tall people, red heads – fill in the group of your choice) always called upon to explain every action of every member of their unique community.
If those of us who have walked this walk had a dollar for every time we had to explain that all African Americans aren’t Baptist, every Trans-person isn’t a drag queen/king and every lesbian doesn’t have a collection of Birkenstocks and flannel shirts at home in lieu of lingerie there’d be a whole lot of happy activists sitting on a sunny Caribbean beach working on our novels.
Another path requiring thick skin, unflappable determination and commitment, often involves working solely within our own communities to organize, educate and mobilize without access to the resources that seem to be designated for the more mainstream, big organizations where our community (youth, people of color, transgender, southerners, mid-westerners, tall people, red heads – fill in the group of your choice) is underrepresented.
Those taking this path are “Trail Blazers” but their trail is not the tedious, aggravating and frustrating road of explanation. They come to the trail blazing not asking to be included in the conversation or accepting crumbs but demanding there place at the table even if it means bringing a bag lunch.
You know us as the angry (fill in the blank – black woman, lesbian, trans-activist etc.) ever vigilant to avoid being marginalized or thrown under the bus for the sake of political expediency.
I still remember ENDA when the LG was willing to leave the T waiting at the train station just to keep the equality train rolling.
If those of us who have walked this walk had a dollar for every time we had railed against the power organizations, the political machine, Washington insiders and other establishment types, we could buy a damn cruise ship to take us to that island and party with those happy activists sitting on that sunny beach.
There’s a whole lot of gray area in between and finding a way to fight for our common goals while respecting the unique strengths and cultures our diverse communities will always be a tight rope we will have to walk. And sadly our internal LGBT squabbles have left many in our community holding on to the dollars needed to continue our fight for full equality.
It’s year-end and if you’re like me you’ve received tons of requests asking for not only year-end donations but continued support in the New Year.
I have thought long and hard on where I am going to give and commit my time, talent and tithes and found inspiration from a post by the Women’s Rights Network.
It said “Respect yourself enough to walk away from anything that no longer serves you, grows you or makes you happy.” I respect myself enough to walk away from the status quo and what will make me happy is nothing less than full EQUALITY.
To borrow from Robert Frost, we have promises to keep – to our families, to our youth and to the lives of the LGBT community worldwide – and miles to go before any of us can sleep.
So as you look over those year-end requests and where you will commit your time, especially over the next four years (hate to say it but we still have two elections to be working on now) reinvest in our community. Maybe it’s time to switch your support from organization A to organization B, from locally to nationally, from established to emerging but don’t say no say yes to equality
Because we have promises to keep, and miles to go before we sleep.
It’s safe to open the blinds now
The sun has gone down
I’ve had a vampire kind of day
The sun’s rays could not disperse the fog
Surrounding my thoughts
So it was banished.
I see that you have called
Messages saying you understand
Feel my pain, my sadness
You send me healing energy, love
A shoulder to rest on
You are a faithful friend.
But I need a Vampire rock star
I need to be loved fiercely
I’ll take that healing, that love
I may even rest briefly on that shoulder
But I need a fucking warrior princess
Yes I’ve been through a lot
But I didn’t do it crawling on my knees
Whimpering, looking for pity, asking for handouts
I scratched, I clawed, I survived.
Yes, I am tired now
And some days the fog hides my path
But right now I need a vampire rock star, a warrior princess
Because I need to bring it
With a god damn vengeance
This time it’s a battle for my life
And I need a Warrior princess,
Vampire rock star
Cuz I’m ready to feed.