Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I am disappointed by NAACP gay/lesbian town hall meeting

Earlier this week, the NAACP held its first ever town hall meeting on gay issues in the African-American community. The town hall meeting had a panel with included comedian Wanda Sykes and civil rights legend Julian Bond. CNN Don Lemon also served as moderator.

It sounded like a good idea and it was. I am sure that a lot of things were said which needed to be said. And a lot of things were learned.

But as for right now, I don't know what was said nor do I know what was learned because very few entities covered the event.

The black media, of course didn't touch it. And the gay media - and I am highly disappointed by this fact - also didn't touch it.

Oh sure, everyone announced that it was going to happen in highly patronizing tones - "the NAACP is going to have their first town hall meeting" "oh that's awesome" "it's about time."

However when it actually comes to covering the event, so many seemed to have forgotten that it was taking place.

That's not to say that there was no coverage at all.

MSNBC gave it sloppy coverage, centering around the issue of marriage equality and how many African-Americans opposed it. The article didn't talk about anything specifically said at the town hall meeting.

And this was sad because a transgender activist also attended the town hall meeting and she made a very good point about the unfortunate omission of the African-American transgender community.

The omission of members of the transgender community, and the bisexual community for that matter, should have been the most covered angle.

Marriage equality is a very hot issue right now, but to many lgbtqs of color, it's not the prevailing issue in our community. We do worry about other things, such as health, self-esteem, the ability to come out, and how to function with a dual identity in communities which do not address who we are because they are so busy trying to whittle us down to what they want us to be.

Or being made invisible, as in the case of the transgender and bisexual community.

I was hoping that the NAACP's town hall meeting would be a step in a direction which finally saw lgbtqs of color being seen as people not being forced to choose between both identities but embracing both with pride.

But unfortunately, the entire situation revealed that while we are exactly that - people embracing both of our identities with pride - it also demonstrated just how quickly folks want us to be invisible.

Or even worse, tokens.

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Anonymous said...

Well, I guess small steps are always better than no steps at all.

Sage said...

Hi Alvin, great post!

You probably already know this. Still, most of not all of the information from the NAACP conference should eventually end up here: I for one am anxiously awaiting the arrival of the Town Hall meeting to show up there, hoping it was not as egregious as I fear it was.

Also, Monica Roberts has been posting quite abit about the omission of transfolk on the panel. Her blog is here:

And here is Ashley Love's blog, the woman who confronted (is that the correct word?) Don Lemon about some of the things he said:

BJ Jackson Lincoln said...

Is there a transcript of the notes taken? Sounds like a great meeting. It's a shame that mainstream news did not pick this up.

Jay said...

With such wonderful participants, the Town Hall should have been lively and interesting--i.e., it should have made very interesting reading in both mainstream and gay media. I am sorry that it was not covered better.

Karen Ocamb said...

Hi -
Karen Ocamb here. I heavily promoted and covered the whole town hall, as well as the AIDS luncheon on Saturday. I INTENDED to spend Tuesday transcribing and writing and working with my video crew on cutting sound bites, etc, since I interviewed Ben Jealous and Julian Bond and Don Lemon and a number of other people. However, as you may know, the Religious Right got the OK to start a signature-gathering petition to place a referendum on the June 2012 ballot to overturn the California FAIR Education Act - and that and related-stories took over the day. I still intend to cut and post video - and have an extended piece in the magazine for which I am the news editor - Frontiers In LA. So while I understand your impatience, please know that coverage of the town hall WILL be posted on my blog LGBT POV and

Earnest Winborne said...

NoMoreDownLow.TV, was there and we shot the entire discussion. We're in the process of editing a small piece to go up quickly and a larger piece in our August show. There are more than 3-hours of tape that we're working through and we're trying to get something up as soon as we can. Stay tuned!

Monica Roberts said...

Those small steps are NOT always better when you deliberately leave people behind in doing so.

Sage said...

At some point we have to stop making excuses for people even allies and/or otherwise good people who have generally been supportive. One of the things the NAACP Town Hall brought into bold relief is the third class citizen designation the NAACP places trans and bisexual people in. You can't tell me an over 100 year old organization with many resources of every kind could not find some trans and bisexual people for that panel. Please!