Working at the Intersections: ARC’s Better Together Report

By Kyla Bender-Baird

This afternoon I joined a webinar discussion on the Applied Research Center’s report, Better Together: Research Findings on the Relationship between Racial Justice and LGBT Communities. This report details the work being done at the intersection of sexuality, gender identity, and racial justice. Make no mistake—this work is happening, even if it is not discussed in mainstream media or non-profit discourse. ARC surveyed 41 racial justice groups and 40 LGBT organizations of color. They found four elements of success in working at the intersections of LGBT and racial justice:

  1. Organizations must utilize an intersectional analysis and approach in their work that creates a strategic imperative. In other words, intersectional analysis leads to inclusion not because it’s “the right thing to do” but because an organization realizes that it bolsters their current political priorities. To learn more about intersectionality, download this primer the webinar presenters shared. 
  2. The presence of LGBT leaders of color is imperative to supporting this work.
  3. Organizations wishing to work at the intersections and build strong collaborations must engage in formal sharing of power and resources by sharing contacts, sitting on each other’s boards, and inviting each other to advisory committees, etc.
  4. Organizations must engage in long-term community education processes.

Download ARC’s report to learn more about the barriers to LGBT inclusion and racial justice work they discovered as well as their recommendations. 

Rickke Mananzala shared FIERCE’s successful involvement in a campaign to resist the privatization and gentrification of the Christopher Street piers as a successful example of racial justice and LGBT coalition work. Rickke also shared barriers to advancing such intersectional projects.

  • Racial justice issues are not always seen as authentically prioritized by mainstream LGBT organizations that focus more on federal policymaking than local grassroots action.
  • Racial justice organizations have not always effectively addressed homophobia and transphobia. They may distance themselves from these difficult conversations out of a fear of losing members.
  • Both racial justice and LGBT organizations often lack internal education and diversity training that is strong and consistent enough to turn words into action.

Despite these challenges, amazing work is being done across the United States. For instance, the Western States Center has recently launched a project, Uniting Communities, to bring together LGBT communities and communities of color to address racial justice and LGBT equality. You can also click here to download a directory of LGBT people of color organizations and programs. 

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