Is it possible to address two social issues in one movement? This question is extremely pertinent as the Black Lives Matter movement continues to demand justice and action for Black Americans during Pride Month. Is it possible to separate the LGBTQ+ movement from the BLM movement? Or are these movements so deeply intertwined that both facets must be addressed together?
I will be honest, these questions did not cross my mind until I was reading the weekly reading Queer (In)Justice: The Criminalization of LGBTQ+ People in the United States by Joey Mogul. While I have been an avid supporter of both the LGBTQ+ movement and the BLM movement, I do not identify with the struggles either group faces, thus I naively thought of the two movements as separate entities. Obviously, an individual can be Black and also identify as a LGTBTQ+, but it was not until this reading that I realized the deeper commonalities shared between members of both identities, particularly when it comes to discrimination in the criminal justice system.
Due to the vagueness of many of the “quality of life” laws, our police have wide discretion in what laws to enforce, when, and upon whom. Unfortunately, this system has resulted in minorities and LGTBQ+ people being targeted by police brutality and experiencing disproportionate rates of incarceration. If one identifies as a person of color and LGBTQ+, the odds of discrimination become exponentially high as they are then seen as a double “threat.” How do we create a world where we protect our people from being a target due to their race, gender, or sexual orientation – particularly when those who are supposed to protect are the ones hurting?
Going into this week, I am reflecting upon how I can do better to ask these questions to ensure that my activism encompasses all members of the movement(s) that I stand for. To ensure that I am knowledgeable about all of the various identities targeted by the system that I so desperately want to change. To ensure that I empathize with, and understand to my fullest capacity, the struggles that individuals face despite me lacking the same identity markers, and why these struggles have persisted.
This week I will do better! I am excited to take this conversation to the Criminal Justice Resource Center to discuss exactly how they advocate and adequately provide for LGTBQ+ members in their substance abuse programs, especially considering their vulnerability and susceptibility to such abuse.