An open letter to the Black community at Tech

This is an open letter to the Black community at Tech. 

It is Black History Month and I want us to take a critical look at which stories we choose not to tell. Does anybody know who Bayard Rustin is? 

He organized the March on Washington and mentored Martin Luther King Jr. in nonviolent activism. How come we don’t hear about him? Civil rights leaders wanted him out of the spotlight due to one fact: he was gay.

I am Black, I am queer. I am both of those things at the same time. Being Black significantly impacts how I navigate the queer community, and being queer significantly impacts how I navigate Black spaces. 

I refuse to ignore one part of me in favor of another, and I reject any demands that I must pick a side. 

I love being Black, but it feels like the love I have for my community is unreciprocated.

Let’s put it bluntly: queer black folks face extreme prejudice. We are more likely to have police interactions, face discrimination in the workplace, healthcare and our personal lives, as well as experience negative mental and physical consequences from this discrimination. 

On top of that, queer people in the Caribbean and Africa are being slaughtered and imprisoned every day. 

Two things can be true at once: yes, Black people face racism, but we often turn the same spirit of bigotry onto our queer counterparts. 

I personally am starting to decrease my social media usage. 

Not because I’m addicted, but everytime I go on YouTube, Tiktok, Instagram or that bird app and see Black queer people anywhere, the comments are
filled with hatred and bigotry. Worse, it’s from other Black people. I know what it’s like to be Black in this country, in the South, in this Predominantly White Institution, so why would I willingly make life harder for another Black person because of their sexuality or gender identity? 

Queerphobia is one thing, but queerphobia from another Black person hurts me on a level I can’t describe.

In the words of Audre Lorde, “…the master’s tool will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change.” 

If we truly want to eradicate anti-Blackness, we must address all forms of oppression, such as classism, sexism, religious bigotry and queerphobia. 

Otherwise, we are just slapping a Black face on top of White supremacy.

I am using this platform to call  Tech’s Black community to action. 

Even if you don’t engage in discriminatory behavior yourself, your silence
speaks loud enough. 

We criticize the Institute’s administration for the same behavior, but whenever the topic of LGBTQ+ rights comes up: look around, everybody’s on mute. I challenge you to at least start a conversation in your social circle about it. 

If you are not knowledgeable about the barriers queer Black people face, it’s time to educate yourself. Google is free. 

Attend the training and events hosted through the whole  year by the LGBTQIA+ Resource Center, which is supported by the hard work of its Black Assistant Director. 

Talk to your queer friends. If you don’t have any (that you know of), come and talk to me, or just walk into the Resource Center in the Flag Building.

Lastly, I want to directly call out the Black Student Organizations on campus. 

Have you ever made any sort of attempt on campus to engage with queer, Black students? 

You don’t have to become rainbow warriors, but at least state explicitly that you support us and will actively try to welcome us. 

I challenge every Black organization (including fraternities and sororities) to participate in student trainings hosted by the LGBTQIA+ Resource Center. I want to see Black orgs partner with the LGBTQIA+ Resource Center and Pride Alliance. They are more than willing to work with us, but we at least have to be willing and ready to meet them halfway. 

If you’d need help in accomplishing this, or are not sure where to start, talk to me. 

A number of you are probably not pleased with what I’ve said, and to be honest, I don’t care. 

Queer, Black people have been here since the beginning of time, and we are not going anywhere. Get used to it. 

Here’s another banger from Audre Lorde: “There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.” 

All lives will never matter unless Black Lives Matter. However, your Black life will not matter until all Black lives matter, including the Black people that don’t go to a fancy school or have a fancy degree or the ones you plain don’t like. 

Black life cannot matter until queer, Black lives matter too.

If you would like to help me make a difference, please contact me at [email protected].