Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Update: The Advocate posts letter, the National Black Justice Coalition responds

Online, the Advocate magazine has just posted the "open letter to the LGBT community" that I featured yesterday in response to Jasmyne Cannick's essay "Before we extend the right to illegals" (which was also featured in The Advocate online under "Gays First, then Illegals").

Naming the column "We 55 respectfully disagree," the Advocate says:

In an “open letter” to The Advocate and to LGBT people everywhere, more than four dozen prominent activists of color take issue with Jasmyne Cannick’s commentary calling for LGBT equality to take priority over rights for illegal immigrants. Quoting Audre Lorde, they remind us, “There is no hierarchy of oppression.”
Though recognizing that Ms. Cannick was writing as an individual, the statement asked both the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) and the National Stonewall Democrats "to
publicly clarify their own positions in this ongoing civil rights discussion" (Ms. Cannick serves on the board of the former and serves as Co-Chair of the Black Caucus of the later).

In a statement I just received in my mailbox, NBJC says:
NBJC has begun the process of developing a formal policy on issues of immigration. We believe these issues to be serious and complex, deserving timely but thorough consideration. As we engage this process, our core values remain the same. NBJC is dedicated to fostering equality by fighting racisim and homophobia. We envision a world where all people are fully empowered to participate safely, openly and honestly in family, faith and community, regardless of race, gender-identity or sexual orientation.
I for one thank NBJC for a prompt response and hope that they will engage some of us in the dialogue as they develop a policy statement on immigration.

In my first post on this issue last week, I spoke of the bridges that needed to be built between LGBT communities of color. I can say that the overwhelming response that I have had to the letter (as well as that received by some of the people who signed it) has been tremendously supportive and encouraging. I am sure that Ms. Cannick has also received supportive comments as well (in fact, a few have been posted as replies to her original blog entry). But if we go down the road of who gets the most props, both sides will probably end up losing [then there's even those friends of mine who think both sides are wrong]. The challenge remains how to have a meaningful discussion on what the immigration issue means to LGBT minority communities in a way that, at the very least, prevents dividing communities further.

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Anonymous said...

How did people get added to the "We 55 Respectfully Disagree" open letter list of signatories?

What made you decide to add your name? Were you approached, or did you approach "them"?

Blabbeando said...

I became aware of Jasmyne's essay through a website that picked up on it after it was posted in The Advocate. I sent it out to a listserv that I moderate expressing dismay and dissapointment that someone I consider an ally would spuse such rhetoric about immigrants. That message found its way to a few people and they reached out to me to see if I was interested in signing. I (as well as others) made some comments on the original draft and the final draft was then sent out to people we worked with specifically requesting LGBT poeple of color to sign on if they agreed with the statement. I decided to sign when I became aware that The Advocate had picked up on the essay and had posted it. I felt it was important to provide another point of view on the issue...

Anonymous said...

I wrote Ms. Cannick to disagree and to express my own disappointment. Her response to the open letter--she's entitled to her opinion--is revealing. She can't defend her opinion so she must simply assert that she has the right to have one. And yes, it's true she has the right to be completely wrong. Which she is.