June 19 marks the formal abolition of the enslavement of Black people in Texas in 1865, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation. Known as Juneteenth, it is a date that many Black communities have celebrated for years. This day marks the importance of honoring Black freedom and Black resistance. It is of particular importance to bring visibility to this day, as riots and protests decrying systemic racism and prejudice affecting Black Americans, have filled the streets of cities and towns across the United States. We are at an historical turning point in this country’s struggles around its deeply rooted and ever prevalent anti-Blackness. This is an opportunity to take a stand against these forces of oppression.
June 28th marks the Stonewall Riots, which sparked the modern LGBTQ Movement. Black Trans women like Marsha P. Johnson were some of the most visible and out-front protesters at Stonewall. That Black LGBTQ individuals were so central to these riots lends to particularly difficult feelings of betrayal for Black LGBTQ folx when they experience racism within the LGTBQ movement. We should be centering Black Trans women and their liberation in our work and in our commitments if we want to get to a better future together.
That Juneteenth and LGBTQ Pride fall within the same month, commonly known as LGBTQ Pride Month, means that there is a distinct opportunity for LGBTQ Black people to celebrate. It is also an opportunity for non-Black LGBTQ people to understand that representation matters and to work toward ending anti-Blackness throughout the LGBTQ movement, throughout our organizations, and within ourselves.
As voices grow louder in demand of racial justice, Center on Halsted commits to increasing our actions to address and dismantle anti-Blackness, whether in the LGBTQ movement or within our broader work in systems. We will move forward with programs that tackle anti-Blackness in our communities and do our part in lifting up Black voices. It is our responsibility to leverage our resources and our access, in service to Chicago’s Black LGBTQ+ communities and Black-led LGBTQ organizations.
Only when non-Black organizations and individuals commit to doing the work of redistributing power in ways that privilege Black LGBTQ people generally and Black Trans women specifically, will the promise of Juneteenth and Stonewall be realized.