Saturday, June 6, 2009

"Identify yourself, please."

In the "Two Lesbian Women of Color Beat Down by NYPD!" post that I announced earlier today, there's an acronym in that announcement that might stump you, as it did me: LGBTSTGNC. When I was in college I once saw a slogan posted on one of the bulletin boards: "DEFINE, EXPLAIN, CLARIFY." That's all it said but it stuck with me all these years. So today, I looked up LGBTSTGNC to find its meaning and here is what I found: More specifically, here's a direct quote (the links marked in this quote are not mine):

"LGBTSTGNC refers to lesbian, gay, bisexual, two spirit, transgender, and gender-nonconforming people, according to an article in Left Turn magazine’s April-May issue (original article available here)."

A teachable moment was lost in the announcement today. The larger issue was clear: "The NYPD remains out of control and we will not stand for aggression nor violence against the LGBTSTGNC community. Let's come together!" With my organizer's hat on, however, I wondered how many people would get stuck on and turned off by what seems so foreign, this new label of "LGBTSTGNC." Plenty. In fact one comment spoke to one person's willingness to attend but the "LGBTSTGNC" was off-putting. It's childish to be so shallow or narrowly-focused. That said, a teachable moment was lost, nonetheless.

Practicality is important if the goal is to ignite an at-large community into positive action. To explain to an ignorant audience what LGBTSTGNC means would go a long way. It matters not if we think that people should be knowledgeable about social justice and human rights issues. Too many people are not. And it doesn't matter about what internal struggles a group endures when they try to define and re-define themselves. Many people outside that group could care less about that struggle. It's all fodder for the laugh mill for some it: Negro vs. Black vs. African-American vs. Afro-American vs. African-In-America vs. Colored. Or be it feminist vs. womanist. Even funnier to some is "I'm not religious, I'm spiritual."

At every corner, it's important use our communications to identify and explain who we are and what we 30 seconds or less (or in under 140 characters ), lest the masses flip the channel.

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