Columbus is one of many cities across Ohio and across the country trying to resolve its ambitions of character with the behavior of its police––on Friday, June 6 2020, Black LGBTQ community leaders in the region sent this letter to the community.
But first, below are the names of 155 siblings, children, parents, workers, and neighbors that have been killed by police in Ohio since the Washington Post began tracking in 2015. Please read them, and then read the letter from Queer Partnership for Black Liberation to the Columbus LGBTQ Leadership Roundtable and the entire LGBTQ Community.
Hashim Hanif Ibn Abdul-Rasheed, Jermonte Fletcher, Theodore Johnson, Brandon Jones, Jason Smith, Robert Rooker, David Parker, Jonathan Colley, Jeremy Linhart, QuanDavier Hicks, Trepierre Hummons, Charles Crandall, Samuel DuBose, Dontae L. Martin, Reginald Marshall, Tyler Gerken, Charles Robert Shaw, William Lemmon, Omar Ali, Kaleb Alexander, Michael J. Brennan, Arthur West, Deaunte Lamar Bell, Barry Kirk, Justin D. McHenry, Carlumandarlo Zaramo, Derek Stokes, Douglas Yon, Erica Lauro, Robert Tenbrink, Thomas Hirko, Marese V. Collins, Mohamed Barry, Paul Gaston, Rouven Loch, Marvin Cremeans, Kisha Arrone, Henry Green, John Anderson, Kawme Dejuan Patrick, Jawari Porter, Ronald Smith, Michael S. Martin, Kelley Brandon Forte, Ed Holup, Tyre King, Philip Hasan, Jacquarius M. Robinson, Devan Desnoyers, Frank J. Sandor, Jun Wang, Ashley Sides, Evan Cox, Abdul Razak Ali Artan, Saif Nasser Mubarek Alameri, John McLaughlin, William Brigham, Shelly Porter, Richard Latimer, Vincent Palma, Michael Lee Morris, Christopher Carter, Jimmie Patton, Roy Dale Evans, Luke O. Stewart, Christopher Wade, Benjamin Ailstock, Jeffrey Findlay, Frederick H. Hall, Michael Wilson-Salzl, Jason Thomas Christian, Scott N. Bloomfield, Hayden J. Stutz, Jacob Faulkner, Dana Dubose, Kareem Ali Nadir Jones, Ryan A. Probst, Edward Taylor, Kesharn K. Burney, Keith Burkholder, Timmy Wilson, Nathaniel Richmond, Jason Hoops, William Porubsky, Shane Marsh, Jamarco McShann, Jason Marble, Antonio Levison, Robert Edwards, Ledarren D. Mixon, Amanuel Dagebo, Joseph Edward Haynes, James M. Burks, Steven Tyler Reed, Aaron Clifford Fike, Kaitlin Marie Demeo, Abadi Gebregziber, Vigil Wolford, Mitchell Simmons, Dwight Dearth, Darrell J. Bruffy, Kevin Nickle, Corey Cordova, Brett Luengo, Brian Puskas, David Arthur, Jonathan Legg, Logan Williamson, Dale Slocum, Lamar C. Richardson, Montae Shackleford, TK TK, Donna Castleberry, James Clay, Randall McKenzie, Eric Jamar Lupain Stromer, Hustes Davila, Billy G. Heeter, Julius Ervin Tate, Rodney J. Geiser, Damon Barstad, Matthew Burroughs, Charles L. Cook, Alex Johnson, Brandon Schmitt, Kenneth Cherry, Dewayne Tackett, Michael Spencer, Elijah Collins III, Isaiah Robinson, Shawn Toney, Robert Schneider, Connor Betts, Michael Tuck, Terry Pierce, Tasjon Tyreek Osbourne, Joseph Bernhard-Williams Kisar, Maurice Brown, Guy Thomas Barnard, Christopher Mills, Mark Sheppard, Robert Sikon, Micduff Lamarco Robinson, Mohammad Jamal Isaifan, Troy Kirk, Joshua Franklin Roberts, Joshua James Brown, Chad Nicolia, Abdirahman Salad, Joseph Jewell, William Resto, Tyler M. Jones, Gary Brown, Robert Tincher and John Vik.
A few years ago, the #BlackPride4 staged an action at the Pride Celebration in Columbus, and it shook the state. Its echoes continue to direct a conversation that has been recently reinvigorated with the protest response to George Floyd’s murder.
Queer Partnership for Black Liberation in Columbus sought to meet this moment with a challenge not just to Colmbus leaders, but to the entire LGBTQ community. Equality Ohio will continue to reference this letter and provide resources around the 10 topic areas.
For now, we invite you to read, reflect, and most importantly, act.
LETTER FROM QUEER PARTNERSHIP FOR BLACK LIBERATION
June 5, 2020
Dear LGBTQ Roundtable and Community:
We write this letter to you today with heavy, tired hearts.
We recognize that the conversation is not starting with this letter. The conversation about racism in the LGBTQ+ community (as a reflection of racism in American society) was started decades ago by Black Queer folks that we both know and don’t. Some of you reading this letter today shut down those conversations out of ignorance, naivete, fear, or lack of care.
We recognize that three years ago, the Black Pride 4 reignited the conversation in earnest by putting their bodies, safety, and freedom on the line. Some of you reading this letter today shut down those conversations out of ignorance, naivete, fear, or lack of care.
We recognize that two years ago, the Black, Queer and Intersectional Collective (BQIC) continued the conversation by establishing Community Pride, and calling for an end to police involvement at Pride. Some of you reading this letter strongly criticized those efforts out of ignorance, naivete, fear, or lack of care.
Today, we continue the conversation, and hope that you will join us in recognizing our collective roles in coming to this place, and our collective responsibility for reaching a more equitable and just way of existing in community together. We hope that all reading this letter have made the choice to let go of the ignorance, naivete, fear or lack of care that held you back from committing to the liberation of Black folks.
We hear your calls for direction. We offer:
- Use your privilege.
-If you have not yet, it is beyond time for you to do a personal privilege inventory.
-But do not stop there. Determine, in concrete terms, which privileges you are prepared to put to use in support of Black lives.
- There will be consequences to using your privilege in support of Black lives. Accept them with grace.
- Recognize the habits of White Supremacy. Stop using them. Do the work of figuring out what that means.
-The habits of White Supremacy look and feel “normal”. That’s because the dominant culture has trained us all to accept them. Not using them will feel uncomfortable.
-Speak up/disrupt when you observe others engaging in those habits.
- Get comfortable being uncomfortable.
- Listen to and believe Black folks. Seek guidance and input.
-Implement the recommendations that will come from the team of folks and organizations that have been working on transformative justice.
- Look outside of LGBTQ+ spaces for Black-led organizations and movements to follow.
- Disinvest from the police.
-Encourage every festival or parade with which you are associated to re-think and re-design their events such that a police presence is not required.
-Refuse to attend, participate with, be a vendor at, sponsor, or otherwise support any festival or parade with police presence.
-Educate yourselves and consider Community Safety practices, such as the ones being used at Community Pride.
- Invest in Black folks and Black initiatives.
-You don’t have to be a millionaire to do this. Analyze where you and your organizations spend your money/do business/donate and make a conscious choice to utilize Black people and services in significant and meaningful ways.
-Adjust your language. It’s ok to say Black. Please use this instead of lumping us together as People of Color (POC).
-Do not pit us against each other with ideas about respectability and being too radical.
- Celebrate the Black leaders and members of our community.
-Without expectation of a pat on the back.
- Do the work.
-You’ll notice that this letter comes without a list of websites, podcasts, or books about being anti-racist. That is intentional. Find them. Ask for them. Create them. Implement them. Teach them.
In service of Black lives,
Queer Partnership for Black Liberation
Erin Upchurch, MSSA, LISW-S
Executive Director, Kaleidoscope Youth Center
Board President, Black, Out & Proud
J. Averi Frost
Director of Prevention, Equitas Health
C. Raphael Davis-Williams
Director of Equity and Inclusion
ACLU of Ohio
Social Science Researcher
Member, Black, Out & Proud
J. Love Benton
Board Vice President, Black, Out & Proud
Director of Development & External Relations, Equality Ohio
Board Secretary, Black, Out & Proud