By Sophia Friesen
“To celebrate the cultures and diversity of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) community in Oakland and the East Bay”: this is the stated goal of Oakland Pride, celebrated on September 8th of this year. This is an admirable mission indeed, but was it achieved? Celebration of diversity is a vague goal: what it gains in breadth it loses in measurability. Who is truly included and celebrated as part of the East Bay LGBTQ community, and who is overlooked or left out?
By Micki Luckey
I admit I was distressed reading Mothers of Mass Resistance, the new book by Elizabeth Gillepsie McRae that documents how women upheld white supremacy in the US from 1920 to 1970. Not that any part of this meticulously detailed history was false. After reading and writing about the struggles for civil rights and integration, I simply did not want to recognize the power white women have wielded in opposing desegregation and civil rights. But McRae contends that the roles women played to support segregation of the races, while generally kept out of the limelight, were nonetheless effective. She states, “…when we focus too much on national legislative victories over legal segregation, we miss the endurance of white supremacist politics and practices in local institutions, in local communities.” (McRae, p.10)
This year, as part of our commitment to confronting white supremacy’s role in creating violence against trans women of color, SURJ Bay Area has continued partnering with the Transgender, Gender-Variant, and Intersex Justice Project (TGIJP). SURJ supports TGIJP in its mission to support transgender, gender variant and intersex people inside and outside of prisons, jails and detention centers. TGIJP is a Black trans woman led organization fighting for self determination, freedom of expression, and gender justice.
Essie Justice Group is an organization led by and for cisgender women, trans women, and gender non-conforming folks with incarcerated loved ones, working to transform the criminal justice system and combat mass incarceration. They bring together their members, including Black and Latinx women, formerly and currently incarcerated women, trans women and gender non-conforming folks, to heal, build power, and create structural change rooted in race and gender justice.
Essie Justice Group’s Healing to Advocacy Program unites women with incarcerated loved ones to do this work together. Each cohort is led by previous program graduates, and cohort members are nominated by their own incarcerated loved ones, one another, or themselves. This past fall they graduated their 17th cohort. Essie members facilitated cohorts in Inglewood, Los Angeles, Vacaville, San Francisco, San Jose, West Oakland, and Fruitvale.
As a part of SURJ Bay Area’s #12DaysToShowUp Fundraising Campaign — and our ongoing commitment to racial justice and reparations — 50% of all donations raised for SURJ are passed on to local POC-led organizations. The other 50% will be used to fund under-resourced rural SURJ chapters and to support our own work mobilizing white people in the Bay Area.
Donate to SURJ Bay Area before December 31 to help us reach our year-end fundraising goal of $20,000.
In addition to your donation to SURJ, we encourage you to match donations directly to POC-led organizations like those we’ve featured each of the 12 Days of this campaign.
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