My cause is not yours. I cannot lay it to the wayside and focus on other elements such as who is dating who in the celebrity world and gossip because I am bored. My cause is not yours! I am Black, I am a woman, I am a part of the LGBTQ community, I am the face of the working poor. You can only attempt to understand the complexities of that. But my cause is not one I could put down; it is the very fabric of who I am. I am the blend of my mother who picked cotton and my father who drove long distance trucks dream blended with my own. My cause is not yours.
- My own words after attending the National Black Justice Coalition’s OUT on the Hill
Upon the 22nd of September, I embarked on a road trip that I’ll never forget. A friend and I decided that we would go to National Black Justice Coalition’s (NBJC) OUT on the Hill 2012. She had registered and wanted to be there for the entire week of events. I, on the other hand, contemplated taking the trip since it was a bit out of my price range at the time. I had bills to take care (who knew?). But opportunity knocked when she decided that she wanted to drive instead and I could go along with her. Hello, Opportunity! I hadn’t embarked to D.C. since the Summer of 2011 during which I enjoyed two days of a hell of a lot of walking and sightseeing. Not to mention I’d spent some time enjoying the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, Transgendered, Queer) nightlife in the “Chocolate City”. This time, however, was not so enjoyable.
I had a hellish eight-hour train ride from West Palm Beach to Deland and had to wake up the next morning for a thirteen hour car ride to D.C. What transpired that weekend had me contemplating my place within the Black LGBTQ community and had me contemplating my place among my own people.
There was a discussion of sorts, which occurred during a luncheon, that sent my mind reeling. I was chowing down on some good eats, surrounded by the beautiful, Black and intelligent members of the LGBTQ community, as one of the keynote speakers was up at the podium. It was quite the speech. That is, until I almost choked on my coffee at one of his statements: “I don’t want my grand-daughter to marry someone poor, so I have to make you all rich.”
That one little sentence lingered with me long after his speech ended. I was shocked by the applause that was given to him for his elitist attitude. Then I was reminded that I was surrounded by a good portion of the Black elite. Such applause should not have come as a surprise. I enjoyed several panel discussions that occurred thereafter, but I couldn’t shake the speaker's words. My friend and I walked around D.C. a bit enjoying the sights and even got invited to a party. Yet, somewhere deep down, I felt as if I didn’t belong with these people. I felt that my life was a far different reality from theirs.
The next morning on the trip back I was thinking about if I would ever visit D.C. again. It had been ruined for me. Then I remembered words a wise family member had told me right before I started my first week of undergraduate classes back in 2006. They said, “Socioeconomic status does not equal success. You deserve to go anywhere you want to go, you deserve to be anything you want to be. Yes, you’ll have to work twice as hard at it, but you have insight that not many will keep once degrees are obtained. Stay yourself.”
I realized then that the world is full of elitists. The United States is full of them and they come in all shades. Their realities are different from mine. I’d rather spend a day feeding the homeless than to criticize them. I’d rather devote my life to helping others than helping myself. I find no joy in capitalism; I find no joy in the need to elevate myself over other human beings (regardless of any degrees that I've obtained). I can’t possibly fathom why anyone who has ever experienced oppression would chose to be classist, racist, or bigoted. As a member of the Black LBTQ community I can’t understand why anyone would want to purposely set up a class hierarchy. It annoys the absolute hell out of me. I hope to never be one of those people. This article is a reflection of such reflections.