Lately, I have been asking myself IF our straight Black folks stand with the us, their Black LGBTQ+ community members when we need them.
Answer: To be honest, If I had to answer right at this very moment, the answer would be NO.
It hurts when I think about it.
Because, when I see Black folks, I see folks that I want to protect and shield from a system of oppression and white supremacy. But I feel like a shoe is on my throat. It’s the shoe of straight Black community members that I feel on my throat! It Hurts!
I write this at a time when FOURTEEN BLACK TRANS WOMEN have been murdered due to vile language rooted in fear of those are deemed different and other. Language matters and can incite violence… we have many verifiable examples of this. I see folks out here like Gerry Monroe and Demetria Smith saying really harmful things while claiming to come from a place of love. They need to stop because this isn’t love and so do you if you agree with them.
#NOTE: Sylvester Turner has not said that he identifies as a gay person, it is an incorrect assertion that we have had to gay mayors in Houston. If he is gay, It is not appropriate to out someone and they should be able to come out when and if they choose to come out. This is HOMOPHOBIA and a ploy to get attention on a very weak campaign.
While they are not the total representation of Black Houston, I feel compelled to speak out as a warning to those who agree with anti-LGBT+ sentiments, that we will speak up and not be silent. The time for your bigotry has come and gone. Just think about it, we are using definitions and measurements of ourselves given to us by white men who enslaved us. The fact is that to be Anti-LGBT+ is to be Anti-Black. Yes, I know a lot of you don't hate me or anyone like me, but it’s hard for us to see this as a factual reality because of your silence and inaction to correct those who come from a place of ignorance.
Most of the time I and many others in the Black LGBTQ+ community have to prepare our minds to be around straight folks, most likely for our own safety… from YOU. Why are we such a threat to your woman/manhood?!
Why are those of you who call yourselves our friends and allies silent when we get called fags, punks, sissies, dykes and etc? Why were you silent when your pastors came out against the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance because of LGBT+ protections without regard to the reality that Blackness and Queerness exist in the same space and time? Why is intersectionality suddenly so foreign when I bring up the fact that I am affectionate toward the same gender?
But here we are…
WE, Black LGBT folks are the first to stand when you get shot down by that blue bullet, challenge policies that criminalize us, get laws passed and etc in the name of decriminalizing Blackness and teaching ourselves that Black does not mean less than human or other.
There are many times that I speak about anti-LGBT sentiments in the Black community and folks get angry. You all turn to respectability politics, because you see calling out this issue as making the Black community look bad. But the truth is that these hateful sentiments exist and we should be able to talk about issues if we are to demand respect from other communities. We MUST acknowledge the FACT that these sentiments happen to occur very close to home and from people who look like us, it is sad.
I will always fight for the justice of those who look like me. However, we in the Black LGBT+ community are erased when we talk about discrimination, oppression and its effects on us in larger conversations.
Who I am…Who we are is NOT a choice or a lifestyle!
To say that Black LGBT+ people who live openly and freely live a “lifestyle” and that our sexual orientations and our gender identities is a “choice”, is reflective of anti-LGBT+ sentiments and willful ignorance about the facts in the Black community. Because it is seen as unnatural for someone to love the same sex or even be Transgender you cast us to the side like dirt. Like we don’t exist, but I came to remind you all that we do exist. I say this because, if you fix your mouths to say that you care about homeless folks, I demand that you stop kicking your children to the damn streets because you can’t accept us for who we are.
Of all of the risks that range from police violence to death threats from white supremacists, I feel most threatened in my own queerness. It brings me to a place of pain that I have always felt in this life of mine. We are not predators, we don't have a “gay agenda” and we just want to live our lives in peace.
The real danger is that your child could be LGBT+ and that you are more concerned about what you want and how you may look to others. The refusal to educate yourselves about the dangers that persist in the world and stop demonizing a group of people just who want to live, exist peacefully and love. There is no way to stop your child from recognizing their sexual orientation, except for the fact that you will make them hide it while they are imprisoned by your misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, gender policing, and patriarchy. If you call this love, then you have to pay closer attention yourself and not to people who mean no harm.
Love us regardless of our sexual orientation or gender identity. WE are not some new phenomenon, WE EXIST, and do I need to remind you that much of the movement for our rights have been led by LGBT+ people? The fact is you all operate as if we are asking you to agree with, approve of people being LGBT+ and that is not the case. How you feel about us is unimportant because we don’t need your permission to exist, you don’t have to like us, but you will respect us. We will no longer turn the other proverbial cheek because you are disrupted in your comfort by our existence.
The problem that we need to face squarely is that you need to learn that the world has more than religion and heterosexuality. We will never create solutions wisely with your uneducated and bigoted way of thinking.
Therese Okoumou, today's hero, has been arrested for climbing up on to the base of the Statue of Liberty during an action hosted by a group called Rise and Resist. It was the most beautiful thing that I have seen and on a today like to day, it was needed. But, my joy soon faded to anger and curiousity about ways to divert help to get Therese out of police custody. My anger is directed at white people who call themselves allies, but refuse to put themselves on the line for Black and Brown bodies. The ones who refuse to become accomplices.
This is the second time in the last 24 hours that I have witnessed a Black woman and a Brown woman being thrown under the bus by white folks (seeking elected office, white Democrats) and their white adjacent friends who call themselves "activists" that have either policed these women for expressing their pain as people DIRECTLY affected by fascist immigration policies or not standing in solidarity and sheilding them from arrest. In one interview with Daily News Jay Walker (and organizer with Rise and Resist) stated that “She’s been an active member of Rise and Resist for four or five months,” Walker said. “She’s participated in quite a few of our actions.” But when compaired with the statement that Rise and Resist posted on Medium, it is clear that they abandond Therese while attempting to show (Disingenuous at best) concern for her well being. SEE FOR YOURSELF:
"The person who climbed the Statue of Liberty was one of forty participants in our planned banner action, but her decision to climb the statue was made independently of the group, without consulting any other member of the group. We understand and share her desire to see the immediate release of children from detention and reunion with their parents. We hope that her legal representation will arrange for her release under her own recognizance."
I call bullshit, it is clear that this is a white led org that may be well intentioned, but they've neglected to meet up to their own standards... Rise and Resist DOES NOT live up to its own mission:
Rise and Resist was formed in response to the 2016 U.S. election. We are a direct action group made up of both new and experienced activists committed to opposing, disrupting, and defeating any government act that threatens democracy, equality, and our civil liberties. We work collaboratively, creatively, respectfully, and with all the joy we can muster for the health of the people and the planet.
We reject State sanctioned violence, bigotry, and systemic discrimination in all its forms, including those directed at people because of their disability, gender identity/expression, immigration status, race, religion, sex, and sexuality. We condemn all the oppressive policies that define the current government regime."
The fact that this org even spawned because of the 2016 election, is not a comforting thing.
Yes, some great activists were born from the 2016 election, BUT when white people came forward they had no understanding of the activist landscape. They came to police activist who had been on the ground fighting for our communities and their presence became disruptive. Apparently, they still are disruptive. We took time to teach and train white folks how to be accomplices, some got it and some didn't get what it really means to stand between Black and Brown bodies and law enforcement.
HOW CAN YOU SAY THAT YOU ARE ALLIES WHO STAND UP AGAINST OPPRESSION, BUT YOU DIDN'T SHIELD THERESE FROM THE PIGS?
HOW CAN YOU DO THIS WORK AND DISAVOW A COMRADE INSTEAD OF QUIETLY SEEKING QUICK RELEASE FROM CUSTODY AND LEGAL REPRESENTATION?
HOW CAN WE TRUST YOU TO TAKE DONATIONS TO HELP THERESE, WHEN YOU HAVE DISTANCED YOURSELF FROM HER?
A simple step into the right direction requires that white people STOP trying to take leadership in movements in a ways that center yourselves and your whiteness. The movements of the marginalized are not your movements, you play a support role. The Black Lives Matter movement is not yours. You don't deserve the attention, the Black and Brown people you claim to support deserve that. Do not speak for us when we can speak for ourselves, we don't need a translator so that your white cohorts can understand. Stop saying "us" and "we," when you post and speak about issues that directly affects/effects the Black or Brown communities. You don't know what it is to be part of the Black or Brown diaspora(s). You are needed in the spaces where you don't normally see Black folks or even in spaces where we are not welcome, that is when you you speak up. Then after you speak up, bring a Black person into the space so we can speak for ourselves.
Had Rise and Resist done these things, Therese may have been able to avoid arrest. Think about it white and white appearing people don't have to worry like folks with darker skin tones about the things we worry about in our daily lives. Do better white folks.
UPDATE: RISE AND RESIST HAS RESPONDED
"So don't lecture me about the border & immigrants & things that we need to do. I'm doing everything that I can right now & I will continue to do everything that I can." - Beto O'Rourke
On the surface the rec looks good, HOWEVER, all of the screeners who interviewed the candidates lacked one important ingredient.... MELANIN! There were no Black folks that took part in screening for this race and worse, the screeners could not make a real justification for why they automatically supported Thornton who recently lost earlier this year during the primaries over Brown who does (this is not to say that Thornton doesn't) great work anywhere he decides to go. He has marched with me, He has actively worked on cases to advance Transgender rights and I only see Ms./Mrs. Thornton during the moments she decides to run for office.
The reasons that they gave for recommending Thornton ranged from her experience, which really meant she was older, which is ageism.They then claimed that "we sent emails to everyone and that it was so last minute." People in the room of all races disputed the claim that emails were sent. NONE OF US were notified and this rec was a farce and clear example of the white privilege that persists in the Caucus. The truth is that many people in the Caucus don't want to admit that they have a problem with picking folks they think will best meet their requirements, be docile negroes and play the game. But every single time, they fuck up their chance to be truly "Progressive." In the end, I and Jolanda Jones had to make a special motion and Jeremy Brown won the endorsement with a majority vote. Let this be a lesson that white and white adjacent people don't get to pick Black leaders, BLACK PEOPLE DO.
As I dealt with this triggering ass Caucus meeting, Beto O'Rourke held a town hall just outside of Houston... I kept wondering why my twitter notifications kept going off, and then when I saw:
As I left the Caucus meeting that is what I saw... a live stream of a comrade challenging Beto about his stance against abolishing ICE. This comes after a couple of days of Dems, mostly white (as usual) who keep repeating those insulting statements. Speaking to us like we are putting a purity test on candidates like Beto, because they want us to be quiet about our marginalization for their comfort and because they want their candidates to look good to the voters.
As you can see, Sarahy's concerns are VALID and even if Beto did all that he said that he has done, when did it become ok to reprimand a potential voter by inserting "don't question me" into his statement that really did NOT address her concerns. To make things worse white guests and general Beto volunteers/staffers took part in trying to silence Sarahy, even reaching for her phone. OH, and let’s not forget that salty ass white man in the audience leaning on his patriarchy and white male privilege. NO, none of us wants to vote for Ted Cruz and I won't, but know that my vote for Beto in November will be BLANK, I will skip it unless he changes his stance.
We bring up the issue and you "Progressives" want us to shut up, ya'll stupid fucks say shit like:
"Beto has been fighting the fight for a long time on many issues and truly cares about the community he serves. We’ve SEEN this already. He’s one of best candidates we are going to get. Don’t take it for granted over EGO. Beto has the heart we are looking for. Appreciate that. He’s not going to give you every single thing you are looking for."
OR stupid shit like
"We shouldn’t abolish anything using politics as the basis. ICE has been ordered by the president to do the vile things they are doing. Are there rogue agents, sure. But leadership within the agency and former leaders have expressed their dissatisfaction with current conditions and are calling for change. They need to be working drug cartel and terrorists issues not the chicken shit jobs and crimes against humanity!! Common sense is all but extinct!!"
Please understand that when you say shit like that, you’re preaching to the choir... these are factors that I and many others take into account. Don't insult my intelligence, by posing obvious points as hypotheticals as if I/we haven't been doing this long enough. That is so surface and does not take into consideration that while it is critical to get the Racists out of office, it is our job as activists to get candidates elected that will work for the people. This means that we must make demands that are aimed at benefiting the most marginalized. Just because you showed up to a protest (for any of the craziness going on) or you volunteer, call yourself an ally... YOU DON'T GET to tell us when we can and can't address something that affects us as marginalized Black & Brown people in this country. If you feel a way about Sarahy or this post, consider asking yourselves if your anger at Trump is really about his racism, nationalism, xenophobia, sexism and etc.
If you find our loudness about the issues to be a problem you are no better than Trump and his goons.
YOU are the Trumps in our backyard, it is not lost on us that ya'll white and white adjacent folks have something to lose and it’s easy to support marginalized folks UNTIL. You know, UNTIL we get to a place that we can get Trump and Co. out of office... I feel that many of you will fall back into your privilege and all the issues that the marginalized face will fade into the background. Well guess what, WE WILL NOT BE SILENT!
SILENCE EQUALS DEATH
HOUSTON WE HAVE A PROBLEM: 419 Hope Partners LLC Profits Off Houston & Child Immigration Detention Center
By: Sam Oser
This is part TWO of a series investigating and illuminating what the Trump administration, government contractors, state/county/municipal governments and other entities involved have been doing.
Over the weekend Houstonians learned a child immigration detention center will be placed in their city. 419 Hope Partners LLC will be leasing (AKA profiting off) their building to Southwest Key to house the detention center. Immediate outrage sparked the city and Mayor Sylvester Turner came out against it. However, due to the mayor and city council’s entrenchment with developers, one can’t help but to wonder if this is simply PR or if real action will be taken. The city has given money to 419 Hope Partners LLC, the corporate entity leasing the building for the detention center, after all.
RELATED: Houston Corporate Tentacle Map: Mayor & City Council
419 Hope Partners has gotten money from the city for dormitory-like housing for displaced Harvey victims. While this PDF should take you to the agenda showing when they voted to make that ordinance happened (Jan 2018), the link has suddenly become forbidden. Even though the agenda has been removed from website, here’s an article from Houston Style Magazine that talks about the agenda item. Here’s a link to video of mayor and city council discussing ordinance.
Screenshot of Google search “419 hope partners llc and Houston city hall” — the link worked Sunday night and no longer works:
This link is supposed to show you how 419 Hope Partners LLC will provide college-dormitory-style housing after Hurricane Harvey, but the link does not work. Both of these links worked last night when I was doing this research. This morning as I type this, the city hall website is non-functioning. What an odd coincidence.
Screenshot for Google search “419 Hope partners and Houston agenda” — the link worked Sunday night and no longer works
RELATED: Valero Illegally Releasing Hydrogen Cyanide in Houston Neighborhood
First of all, you’re not going to find much on 419 Hope Partners LLC because according to the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts this corporation has only recently been incorporated.
Screenshot from Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
This says R. David Denenburg, and based off Corporation Wiki network map that it provides one would think Ryan David Denenburg and David Denenburg are separate people. However, Houston Chronicle says they reached out to David Denenburg, listed owner of property, and he declined to comment. Seems like Ryan David Denenburg and David Denenburg are the same person?
With that said, let’s learn more about Denenburg.Denenburg donated to Mitt Romney.
Denenburg contributed to the Texas Association of REALTORS Political Action Committee. This one is weird because he doesn’t donate a lot and he’s listed as David A. Denenburg. This is why I’m not sure if Ryan David Denenburg and David Denenburg are the same person.
Here he is at Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation’s Young Professionals Group third annual “Jungle Book Gala.”
Can’t make this up even if I tried, but in sweet sweet irony he’s a member of The Children’s Fund, Inc.
Denenburg on the board of EaDo’s management district.
Last April, Denenburg attended Preservation Houston Cornerstone Dinner, where Gerald Hines, a local developer, received an award and Turner pronounced it Gerald D. Hines Day. Hines has “steadily grown into a global powerhouse in real estate investment, development and management,” according to his firm’s website.
RELATED: Houston Corporate Tentacle Map: Mayor & City Council
RELATED: Houston Corporate Tentacle Map: County Judge & Commissioners
In part THREE of this series we will explore: THE 419 HOPE PARTNERS LLC'S RELATIONSHIP WITH THE CITY OF HOUSTON.
HOUSTON WE HAVE A PROBLEM: AN INVESTIGATION INTO THE TRUMP MANDATE TO SEPARATE REFUGEE CHILDREN FROM THEIR PARENTS
That government contractor is SOUTHWEST KEY PROGRAMS:
- Based in Austin, TX
- Houses more than 5,100 immigrant children (half of all those currently in government custody)
- Is paid more than $400 million to care for immigrant children in 27 shelters across Texas, Arizona and California.
If they are not familiar to you, they should be! Don't you remember when Sen. Jeff Merkley (Dem, Oregon) was barred from entering one of its biggest facilities? That facility is located in Brownsville, TX at a former Walmart building and houses almost 1,500 immigrant children between the ages of 10 and 17.
Before I continue...
I must clarify that the Star of Hope organization sold its facility on Emancipation in 2016 and moved bigger location on Reed Road. According to the Houston Chronicle the facility was put back into use during the aftermath of Harvey when the city leased the 53,600-square-foot facility and partnered with nonprofit NEW HOPE HOUSING to run its operations. There is a screenshot of a 2017 property tax statement showing that Star of Hope is still the owner, please stop sharing it. This is the proper information:
As you can see, the CURRENT owner of the property is 419 HOPE PARTNERS LLC and they are ultimately the ones who stand to benefit from leasing out their facility to house refugee children who have been torn away from their parents and loved ones. The Chronicle made sure to note that the "facility underwent a full occupancy inspection and a certificate of occupancy was issued last week. It also received a change-of-ownership inspection in March. She said it has a food service establishment permit allowing it to provide meals on site." Now that we have clarification on who to direct our ire towards, the Chronicle listed David Denenburg as a contact and tried to reach out to them, "with 419 Hope Partners, the listed owners of the property, declined to comment. Denenburg specializes in the restoration and re-purposing of buildings, with an emphasis on historical structures, according to his website. One purchase includes the 1938 Schlumberger building in the East End." It seems that the paperwork is in order and the only thing standing between this facility being used for an internment camp is the Texas Department of Health and Human Services Commission which is reviewing the licensing request from Southwest Key.
In part two of this series we will explore:
WHO ARE THE PLAYERS BEHIND 419 HOPE PARTNERS LLC?
.At the close of last week Huffman ISD announced that it "will implement a Guardian Plan beginning the 2018-2019 school year." The district claims that the "safety of every student is a top priority for the Huffman ISD administration and Board of Trustees." Citing a year long review of safety plans and district facilities, they claim have researched options into "making every campus in our district the safest place possible for students and staff." One of the things many parents and allies have been concerned about is how will people be screened or monitored when entering school properties. Huffman's answer is makng use "well-controlled entrances on each campus and better utilizing our security resource officers, we have been working closely with the Harris County Sherriff’s Office (HCSO) to consider resources available to us with regard to school safety." But there is a bigger solution that they are proposing and it is one that I and many others have been warning against..... ARMING TEACHERS AND STAFF.
While this school system his a majority of white students, Black and Brown students face a very real danger. The emphasis that they place on working with HCSO is not very comforting given their racist track record. As this Facebook post went viral among locals, the comments section lit up like a christmas tree. One comment in particular really stood out to me because the district representative over the account decided to reply as the district. Below are screenshots from the thread and the responses from the district are quite problematic...
These responses on behalf of Huffman ISD came from Dr. Shirley Dupree their Executive Director of Human Resources and Communications. Her stance and projection throughout the exchange screams "PROTECT THE CHILDREN," BUT it seems more personal than well thought out. Aside from the "I" statements Dr Dupree seems to be intent on moving forward and even gave the impression that the plan had already been at play. Not only is this sickening, it is deadly to make these kinds of decisions without the input of parents from the BEGINNING. It is deadly because Black and Brown students in districts like this are subjected to an institutionally racist lack of understanding and care that exists among whites and the polices they produce.
Because this lack of understanding and care exists, Black children from all backgrounds are hyper-criminalized. The evidence points to Black children who are bullied and feel the need to protect themselves before, during and after school. Often, reports of bullying go ignored, Black children are told to just deal with it, and when the bully attacks, Black children are suspended, expelled, and ultimately put into alternative schools for defending themselves. Think school-to-prison pipeline on steroids. It is a known fact that Black children, deemed violent, unteachable, problematic, and worthless, are punished much more harshly than their white and Latinx counterparts. The general public has been taught to regard Blackness in a way that blunts our humanity.
Armed teachers and staff will lead to the death of many more Black children for speaking up, defending themselves or simply because the teacher or staff are closet racists. Our kids are already over-policed, and the idea that teachers (and staff) would be deputized is untenable. Think about the reports that expose the racism of many people who choose to wear the badge and uniform, and how white supremacists infiltrated police departments nationwide. Now think about all of the teachers who secretly carry that same racist ideology locked in a classroom with Black children. What happens when the teacher claims self-defense while a little Black child is murdered for asking for a pencil? It sounds extreme, but it can and will happen if we’re not careful. Listen to us, we are not the enemy. That area of Harris County is not the safest area for non white folks, so why would I want my child around an armed teacher who probably prays to the confederate flag?!
CONTACT THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES AND LET THEM KNOW THAT THIS IS A DANGEROUS DECISION:
The next regularly scheduled Board of Trustees Meeting will be on Monday June 21 at 7 p.m. in the Board Room of the Huffman ISD Administration Building, 24302 FM 2100.