Black Lives Matter

by Alphonso David

We join together to say #BlackLivesMatter and commit ourselves to the action those words require.

This spring has been a stark and gut-wrenching reminder that racism, and its strategic objective, white supremacy, is as defining a characteristic of the American experience as those ideals upon which we claim to hold our democracy -- justice, equality, liberty.

In just the past few weeks, we saw footage of a Black man, George Floyd, violently killed by the police while saying he can’t breathe and calling for his mother. We saw a video of a Black gay man, Christian Cooper, threatened by a white woman in Central Park. We received reports alleging that a Black transgender man, Tony McDade, was killed by police. And, we heard the audio of the 9-1-1 call Breonna Taylor’s boyfriend made after plainclothes Louisville police kicked down the door of their home and shot her eight times as she slept in her bed.

We as a nation are continuously traumatized by horrific incidents of abuse that all too often result in the deaths of Black people. And while these incidents are horrifying, we also know that so many go unrecorded, unreported and unseen. We know that when our Black trans siblings lose their lives to an epidemic of violence, the tragedies of their deaths -- the beauty and resilience of the lives they lived -- do not make anyone’s front page. And as Black people in this country, we know that the next victim could be our children, our siblings, our parents. To put it plainly -- as a Black man in America, I live with the knowledge every single day that the next victim could be me. 

This cannot continue. We must all demand answers, we must all demand accountability and we must all demand change. That means changing the systems and structures. That means examining the ways that we, each of us -- knowingly or unintentionally -- support these systems of white supremacy through our actions, inactions, complicity, and indifference. And that means ensuring that we don’t get stuck in our own outrage, but are moved to action.  

That’s why the Human Rights Campaign, along with a growing list of more than 500 LGBTQ and civil rights organizations, released an open letter condemning racist violence and calling for change. Many of these organizations, including the Human Rights Campaign, have made progress in adopting intersectionality as a core value and have committed to be more diverse, equitable, and inclusive. But this moment requires that we go further -- that we make explicit commitments to embrace anti-racism and end white supremacy, not as necessary corollaries to our mission, but as integral to the objective of full equality for LGBTQ people.

The LGBTQ community knows about the work of resisting police brutality and violence. We celebrate June as Pride Month, because it commemorates, in part, our resisting police harassment and brutality at Stonewall in New York City, and earlier in California, when such violence was common and expected. We remember it as a breakthrough moment when we refused to accept humiliation and fear as the price of living fully, freely, and authentically. 

We understand what it means to rise up and push back against a culture that tells us we are less than, that our lives don’t matter. We join together again to say #BlackLivesMatter and commit ourselves to the action those words require.