“The incidents that have happened during the past few days in the United States have tragically shown the whole world how deeply racism is consuming our societies. No one should tolerate it any longer, nor assume they are allowed to look elsewhere,” said Kimberly Frost and Stephen Seaborn, co-Chairs of the regional branch of The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, representing dozens of LGBTI organisations from across the United States, Canada and the Caribbean.
“The violence that has erupted over the past few days in the United States is a consequence of centuries of institutionalised racism,” Frost and Seaborn continue. “If the whole world has been moulded to mirror and benefit only one part of the population, how can our society be just? With studies showing that a black man in the U.S. has an estimated 1 in 1,000 chance of being killed by police during his lifetime - 2.5 times the odds for a non-Hispanic white man – how can we continue to ignore that inequalities have broken our societies to the core?”.
This epidemic of injustice goes well beyond the United States. Worldwide, there is repeated evidence of police violently trampling the rights of people in marginalised communities. Racism and, in essence, hostility towards minorities are entrenched in societies globally: the world would have realised, had it cared to listen to the voices which keep being pushed to the margins.
This is something that LGBTI communities know all too well: laws criminalising our loves, limiting our gender expressions or policing our bodies are vastly a remnant of centuries-old white colonial rules. The discrimination we face for being who we are intersects with other aspects of our identities –be them race, gender, economic status, immigration status, religion, age, and many more - often with deadly consequences.
Over the past few days alone, a Black trans man was killed by the police in the United States: his name was Tony McDade. A gay Black man, Christian Cooper, had to defend himself from a woman who threatened to call the police on him – all he was doing, in fact, was birdwatching. Every week we mourn the death of trans women across the globe – one violent incident after another. Similar crimes keep happening too frequently, and often without the public outcry that our cisgender and/or heteronormative siblings receive.
As we start celebrating Pride Month, we should remind ourselves where Pride came from: a reaction to police brutality. It was an uprising, a moment when a whole community gathered collective strength and refused to keep living in fear.
There has always been widespread racism as well in the queer movement: LGBTI communities and organisations, much like everybody else, have the duty to educate themselves, unlearn racist patterns and speak up. Embracing anti-racism, and committing to end white supremacy, must be an integral part of our path towards full equality.