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LGBT activists take stand against racism

Published Aug 15, 2007 11:56 PM

The following open letter in support of Black self-determination was initiated in mid-July by LGBT activists and organizers LeiLani Dowell, Leslie Feinberg, Imani Henry, Teresa Gutierrez and many others. Some of the signers of the letter include The Sylvia Rivera Law Project; Bob Lederer, John Riley and Dawn Reel from Queers in Solidarity with Political Prisoners (QUISP); Bran Fenner and Rickke Mananzala, coordinators of support for the Jersey 4; Bet Power, Director, Sexual Minorities Archives, Northampton, Mass.; Kenyon Farrow, Black gay writer and activist; nationally known bisexual activist, Lani Ka'ahumanu; Shante Paradigm Smalls, executive producer of Peace Out East, New York City's annual LGBTQ hip hop festival; Yancy Mark Gandionco, National Alliance for Filipino Concerns' LGBT Desk; Vanessa Agard-Jones, managing editor, Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture, and Society; Rev. Pat Bumgardner, Metropolitan Community Church; Rutgers University Professor, Edgar Rivera Colon; and Andy Thayer and Craig Teichen, founding members of Chicago's Gay Liberation Network. Other LGBT activists in NYC and nationally can sign this important solidarity message by contacting lgbt4sonnystreet@gmail.com.

Open letter from LGBT activists to the Black Community of Bedford-Stuyvesant

We the undersigned--lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, gender-nonconforming, and other activists fighting oppression based on sexuality, gender and sex--express our support for the right of the Black community in Brooklyn to decide to rename an avenue for the late Black community activist Sonny Abubadika Carson, who some called the "Mayor of Bed-Sty" for his long-time community activism.

The white members of the New York City Council, led by Speaker Christine Quinn, do not speak for us when they try to block the right to honor Sonny Abubadika Carson by charging that he was "anti-white." That political charge that the anger in nationally-oppressed communities towards the oppressor nation is "reverse racism" is a white supremacist weapon.

Many Brooklyn streets still bear the name of slave owners. Quinn helped get a measure passed to name a Brooklyn street for Al Jolson, a white singer who performed in "blackface" as part of minstrel shows.

This racist stance flies in the face of a long history by LGBT people who worked to build solidarity between oppressed people in this city: from the four-day, multiracial Stonewall Rebellion in the West Village in 1969, to the solidarity between the Gay Liberation Front and the Black Panthers in the early 1970s, to the many AIDS activist campaigns of the past two decades demanding life-saving government action for ALL communities assaulted by this epidemic.

We as people of all nationalities express our solidarity with the Black community of Bedford-Stuyvesant. We demand that the City Council respect the right of Brooklyn’s Black community to self-determination by officially recognizing what the community has already made a reality: Sonny Abubadika Carson Boulevard.

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