Monday, November 28, 2005

talking doesn't cook the rice

this from a Chinese proverb...

There's been a lot of talking going on, namely from those who assume they represent queer communities of color. Mostly because of the No Nonsense in November campaign's response to the KKK's recent visit here and to the recently passed Proposition 2, which formally defines marriage as one man and one woman.

I am enjoying my time away from allgo now that I'm not working there. It's cleared my head. Maybe people didn't say anything before because I was working there. Maybe I just didn't hear them. Still, so many have come around to me with words of understanding - understanding in that allgo has developed much like most dysfunctional families do - some how still surviving.

When I began as a board member for allgo, then working there, I connected with the philosophy of liberation for queer people of color. I soon realized, however, that philosophy doesn't feed anyone. As working class people know, who has time for rhetoric when you are working paycheck to paycheck and sickness could mean you can't pay the bills.

Spread by local email was the last response to an apparent dialogue the NNN campaign had with one of the former executive directors of allgo. Of course I got it in my mailbox too. Nothing that was in this response was inappropriate or an outright lie. Lying also means, though, that you don't reveal all your truth.

It's so good to be away from an organization which belittles those who founded the organization as well as paying members (predominantly Latino) all the while continuing its bilingual "look" in media and programming. Tell me, how do you maintain a bilingual look and feel but push a people of color theory? Easy : hire other ethnicities for appearances, say that those who are currently supporting don't truly support, and claim the membership is lax. Yes, blame it on the people.

The response to the campaign's tactics fell short - from day one FUNDING was the most important thing to this nonprofit, dictating who would receive HIV/AIDS information by determining what spaces were chosen for outreach. Likewise, it was funding which dictated the organization's inability to actively take a side in any issue. For just $5,000 we closed our mouths to saying Prop. 2 would make it harder to gain services for domestic violence in our families, or make already hard-to-access protections potentially meaningless. Heaven forbid a queer people of color organization look political, say what it really needs.

On the plus side, we didn't have to commit membership involvement because that meant activating our membership. We also then, as an organization, got to sit down and talk, endlessly sometimes, about how all the other HIV, queer or cultural organizations were doing it all wrong.

There have always been two camps to bringing in people of color to issues like Prop. 2. One would say they have to be there from the beginning in the planning, development and leadership of every aspect.

The other proposes that mainstream groups will never understand people of color and so why help them in a struggle is we'll be dealing with their homogenized viewpoint?

Beyond these, people of color need to look at an issue for themselves and say "fuck these white people if they can't get us - this issue affects us more than it ever will them."

Too often, we choose to sit around instead. Talking is easy. Pointing fingers is easy. Apparently running an organization is easy too if the board is weak, the staff is not supported and those who talk more than work are paid plenty to kick back and create more theory.

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