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One Imagination empowers the current and next generation of leaders through written and oral expression. As a collective based in the Long Beach/South Bay area, we believe that through conscious artistic programming, community education and outreach, and leadership development, we can cultivate a world free of hatred, ignorance, injustice, inequality, and oppression.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

One Struggle?

As progressive individuals, and as a community, we struggle to bring equal rights across all barriers: to transcend gender, race, ethnicity, religion, age, and sexual preference and see ourselves as one people with one fight. As we saw with Tuesdays election though when both a majority of blacks and Latinos voted for Yes on proposition 8, -to eliminate same sex marriage- oppressed groups don't always see eye to eye, nor have a full understanding of each others struggles.

Jasmyne Cannick
, a Los Angeles based black queer writer, talks about such differences between the LGBT community and black community in the Los Angeles Time's article No-On-8's white bias. She writes:
The white gay community never successfully communicated to blacks why it should matter to us above everything else -- not just to me as a lesbian but to blacks generally. The way I see it, the white gay community is banging its head against the glass ceiling of a room called equality, believing that a breakthrough on marriage will bestow on it parity with heterosexuals. But the right to marry does nothing to address the problems faced by both black gays and black straights. Does someone who is homeless or suffering from HIV but has no healthcare, or newly out of prison and unemployed, really benefit from the right to marry someone of the same sex?

I wrote an email to Jasmyne to thank her for words that spoke to my own inner struggles as a bisexual Latino. Here is my email:
I just finished reading your article "No-on-8's white bias" in the Los Angeles Times, and I want to express my gratitude. As a bisexual latino, I find myself in a similar situation within my community as I struggle to create my identity, and as a student community organizer at Cal State Long Beach, fight to free my community from the chains of institutionalized oppression.

Though I marched last night in Long Beach, and will march tonight in Silverlake, even as a bi male, marriage is not on the top of my list of priorities and neither was prop 8. I am more thankful (though the media focused very little attention to this) that California said NO to proposition 6. Prop 6 (as you are probably aware) would have funneled money from education to increase police forces, and the racist prison industrial complex. Not to mention it would decrease the age of which a minor can be tried as an adult to 14. There were also provisions that would increase ice raids, and allowed police to enter peoples homes without proper permission. Of all the propositions, this one shook me up the most, for I saw it (and it was) as a direct attack on minorities in California, especially blacks and Hispanics.

Taking away money from our already ill funded schools, would have only increased drop out rates, leading to a direct increase of youth on the streets. Youth on the streets without an education, become youth in gangs, who become bait to feed the incomes of California's police departments, and the corporations who insist on building more prisons. We end up in a state that spends up to $60,000 to incarcerate us, but only $8,000 (even less with the budget cuts) to educate us.

Unfortunately, I don't think that the white mainstream sees the realities of such blatant discrimination, neither does the white LGBT community (who, i feel can be just as racist, and see Latino, Asian, and black LGBT community as no more than a porn fetish). I know this is not true for many within those communities (for which I'm grateful to live in Long Beach), but I still find it difficult to focus on issues such as marriage...when so many of our youth will drop out of school, be incarcerated, and be raised by single parent families. Single parents who struggle with 2-3 jobs, and still live below the poverty line with no access to health insurance.

Nonetheless, I'll be at the march...and hopefully the white LGBT community will make it to ours. For though, we had same sex marriage for a few months until November 5th, we still have segregated schools and neighborhoods 54 years after Brown Vs. Board of Education.

Thank you again, and hopefully your article will bring to light the bridges that still need to be built across our communities. Hope is in the air of course...and in our white house(!).

In Peace, Love, and Solidarity,

Rudy Duriez

I, of course, plan to continue the fight for equal rights across all boards, for I truly believe we are one people. My question to all those who are part of the struggle though is: do you find yourself in a limbo between the struggles of different communities, and where your priorities lie?

-Rudy Duriez