Wednesday, November 4, 2015

#HERO: Open Letter to Carlos Maza, RE: Beyonce

Carlos,

It might have killed you to write this post, but it would behoove you to stay the hell out of Houston politics. Beyonce did not ignore the LGBT Community in Houston because she didn't respond to your Whitewashed entitlement that she was supposed to respond to your ridiculous request. Her not responding to you has nothing to do with a refusal of "the opportunity to speak out against the legalization of discrimination against LGBT people in her hometown. And as hard as it is to say this, her refusal should raise serious questions about her support for her gay, bisexual and transgender fans." Newsflash, she does not have to respond to you because you are dead wrong. The group of people you are speaking of,  when you said,"I thought about my friends in Houston -- activists I had worked with on HERO for months, people who had dedicated their work, their free time, and their emotional energy to ending discrimination in their hometown."



Some of the people you are referring to went on to form or work for Houston Unites, "which was made of various organizations, and heavily run by the diversity issue laden Human Rights Campaign (Houston and National). Note many of the screen shots to the last article in this series had comments from HRC people and not just any people, these are folks who are on diversity committees, the board of governors, and even the National Director of Outreach. If you look at the shot to your left, the response to a Black person asking about the lack of outreach to the Black community at large is "we do this, we do that, you should be happy, our way is better." The thing is that the White, gay way is not the right way to pass an ordinance that is being attacked by folks who are even in the LGBT community. There were block walks (to areas that were for sure supporters), phone banks (to call folks on lists that are friendly and not to people who signed petitions or people outside of that bubble), Television and radio appearances (seen by very few and on stations that have very little reach). Finally, there were ads and celebrity appearances that came far little and far too late. There were people, myself included who have a notable presence in more than just the LGBT community that could have been tapped. They said that we "did not volunteer," we did offer to volunteer, volunteer at doing outreach in the areas they were not touching."

http://ashtonpwoods.strengthinnumbershouston.com/2015/11/hero-why-we-lost-battle-to-protect.html

Houston Unites did not address the issues that the opponents were making up out of thin air to attack the local Trans community. Nor did they make any efforts to reach out to Black Beyonce fans that you refer to. I found it problematic that you wrote a blog this past August "asking BeyoncĂ© to make a single Instagram post in support of HERO." This is what I had to say when you and your friends tried to get Beyonce involved:

"One of my biggest issues about HERO is the media coverage, where they only show specs of minorities and has been very Whitewash and Cisgender in nature. We don't see very many Trans persons, let alone Trans People of Color in recent and overall news coverage. The lack of Persons of Color being represented in this fight to protect an ordinance that is supposed to protect ALL Houstonians is a fatal flaw. We witnessed Council Member Boykins say that the LGBT community is not involved in issues pertaining to the Black community. That was a statement of erasure, erasure that I have always talked about at length. It is a big problem to be a Black man out here fighting for rights of groups that are representative of one's intersections, only to be told by both sides that "you do great work," and then be erased in the same breath. It is not a serious surprise to me that this is happening, because it always has and I for one am tired of it!

This issue has taken on national attention and with national attention comes national media coverage of various forms. One of the biggest issues that I see is that when Black and Brown people are shown at length and often, it is usually the opposition and that feeds into the idea that the Black community is inherently homophobic. The funny thing is that this isn't the first time that I had to address the issue." I would add that it does not look good to be trying to get Beyonce Knowles - Carter to do a #HERO campaign when Black people, MYSELF included that run in the circles or are proximate to those who create the messaging about #HERO are not doing a great job of reaching out to much of the proximate and at large Black community or other minorities for that matter.

We should not be reaching out to Black role models if we are not 100% inclusive of the opinions and thoughts of people who ACTUALLY reside in the Black community. This is not to say that this is not a great idea, but it seems like local talent and activists have not been reached out to. The people that we in the Black community see on a regular basis on the grass roots level. Monica Roberts, Dee Dee Watters, Myself, and a host of others who have reach that our White counterparts just do not have. I simply fear a White washing of the message to get this much needed ordnance some support from the Black vote and front facing with Beyonce is so damn problematic.
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Why write this article blaming Beyonce as she could have saved HERO, with hope that her fans would head to the polls? You did say that this wasn't random due to her support of the LGBT community and her rare moments when she takes on social issues. You use all of this anecdotal information to support your flawed theory that a "single post from her would have motivated young voters to the polls, focused national attention on the fight over HERO, and dramatically reframed the narrative away from the talking points of HERO’s opponents, who ended up saturating media coverage of the ordinance." This would not have happened, you neglect to account for the mass opposition in the Black and Latino communities that signed petitions and voted HERO down yesterday. Also, you should note that the group of young Houston activists who "turned the post into a fully-fledged online campaign" nothing to do with HERO and I have never seen them before.

Now keep in mind that the hashtag #BeyBeAHERO was really only being used by the White folks in Houston while the Black LGBT community watched in annoyance. If I were Beyonce I would not respond to a group of people who committed all kinds of erasure of the Black community. Regardless of what campaign or organization made calls and asks for Beyonce to join the battle for HERO, she did not and does not have to do a damn thing for an effort that really amounted to a massive system failure. So when you say that "Watching HERO lose is probably one of hardest things I’ve had to experience in my work as an activist. My colleagues, my friends in Houston had fought tooth and nail to protect their non-discrimination ordinance. I remembered how excited they had been when the #BeyBeAHERO campaign launched, how energized they were by the prospect that BeyoncĂ© might lend them a helping hand..." imagine how I and many others who worked from the beginning and were shutout to work from the fringes are feeling. 

All of these feelings and assertions in light of the defeat of HERO that you are expressing means nothing! I don't recall you putting in the work, educating, speaking and at times with threats to life, defending HERO. HERO may be gone now, but you are committing slander and also you are blaming it on the Black woman. Like Prop 8 in California, and HERO here, they will try to blame its defeat on Black people when you and your White friends created this atmosphere by letting the haters feed communities of color lies and only focusing on your friends with money. This is not our problem, our as in Beyonce and Black Houston. I would encourage you to think before you speak on issues that don't affect you and stay out of politics if you ain't gonna put in the work. STAY IN YOUR LANE.

Ashton.