Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Racism & Erasure: An Open Letter To About Magazine

To Whom It May Concern,

I never really read Houston's local LGBT publications, due to the Whitewash nature of their published content. Last Friday morning, it was brought to my attention that About magazine had published awards categories for the Face Awards to their website and on award in particular would give me pause:


So not only did you list the "Lives Matter" Courage award" with four categories that recommended awards for HPD four times, you neglected to or chose not recommend ONE Black activist in the LGBT community that has been part of the Movement for #BlackLivesMatter. It is shameful that myself and many other Black Houston activists are more often than not honored by orgs and media outlet outside of Houston and Texas for our work. I don't hear too many folks from the White LGBT community express support for Black Lives matter let alone acknowledge their privilege.

White privilege (or white skin privilege) is a term for societal privileges that benefit white people in western countries beyond what is commonly experienced by non-white people under the same social, political, or economic circumstances.

Race is a social concept, is a group of people who share similar and distinct physical characteristics.

Racism is the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.

Note that as I contemplated writing this post over the weekend, y'all at About Mag got wind of the issue that we had with the award category and changed it to this:


The change is still not good enough especially since it does not address the lack of Black activists or Black folks in other occupations within the LGBT community that are just as deserving as the other nominees. The craziness of the "About - Face Awards" is that you even listed a nomination for an establishment well known for their issues with a LACK OF DIVERSITY. The award category is called most "MOST DIVERSE CROWD OF THE YEAR" and the first nominee is, go ahead and ask. Tony's Corner Pocket!!! Let me refresh your memory:


"On Wednesday 3/18 this was posted all over Facebook:


I was told after writing my original piece below that I was trippin by some folks and that it was an isolated incident. I CALL BULLSHIT...REGARDLESS OF YOUR RACE STEP FORWARD AND BOYCOTT TONY'S CORNER POCKET!

Background:

Friday (2/20)I went out to this bar/club named Tony's Corner Pocket just outside of downtown Houston, and it just so happened to be LUEY Weekend. Now generally I go into places like this fully aware that they are predominately White with a few Blacks here and there, and fully expect micro -aggressions to transpire. Well, not a full ten minutes in, after getting drinks with a friend, we decide to walk outside only to be encountered with "Get out of my way nigger" being shouted at one of us. Now, this speaks to a lot of THE overt and ambiguous racism from Whites towards Blacks and other People of Color. While it takes a lot to shock me, it did catch me off guard and what made it even more hideous is that the person who said it tried to hide...

I SAW YOU AND HEARD YOU...

This is the reason why the LGBT community is so divided along racial lines and hurts, I have many friends that I care about that span the racial gamut and its people like this person and establishments like this that allow situations that are damaging to our community to transpire. YES, there are knuckle heads everywhere, but when one can FREELY let something so vile roll off of his tongue in an establishment like this, there is a clear history of this occurring and condoned on a regular basis."

Truth be told, there are a lot of folks who will disagree with why I am writing you this letter. But your publication is the epitome of what is wrong with the Houston LGBT community when it comes to honoring the unsung heroes, the ones who don't and can't hide behind a checkbook, ones who get dirty and even stand face to face with police to call them on their brutal tactics. I truly believe that there are great cops out there and even establishments with TRULY diverse crowds that are deserving of your award, as for me, the fact that I had to point this out makes me want to work even harder to open the eyes of those who really want to do the work to better our community. We don't need your recognition, we do demand respect.

--Ashton