Pride for Black Lives Matter: A Celebration of Intersectionality

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An attendee to Equality Utah's 'Pride for Black Lives Matter' event holds a Black Lives Matter poster at Liberty Park, Salt Lake City, on June 14th 2020. (Mark Draper | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Ivana Martinez and Natalie Colby

 

“I’m tired,” Essie Shaw told the crowd at Liberty Park on June 14 at the Pride for the Black Lives Matters protest. “I don’t really know how to tell them how it feels to mourn. So many years of overt and systemic and oppressive racism of my people. And so I say that I’m tired.”

Shaw explained her exhaustion was not something a spa day, a good night’s rest or performative allyship could cure. The work of being a Black person in America is a tiredness she feels deep down in her bones.

The sentiment was shared by Rachel Alder, Maren Caldwell and Billy Palmer.

Equality Utah and Dance with Solidarity organized a march to support the Black community in Utah. Crowds were decked out in an assortment of rainbow flags and Black Lives Matter gear as they danced and waited to hear speakers.

As their voices were highlighted, some speakers at the protest announced they are running for office. Olivia Jaramillio of Davis County is running for office as Utah State Legislator in District 14, and Josianne Petit is running for sheriff.

Medics were on site, as well as an American Sign Language interpreter and a disability section for individuals who may need the services. Organizers asked the crowd to practice and maintain social distancing.

Lex Scott from Black Lives Matter Utah said that BLM has been working with the Salt Lake City Police Department for the last three years on de-escalation, diversity training, diversity, hiring data collection and weapons that are not lethal.

Additionally, Scott called out discrimination that LGBTQ+ people of color experience in the community.

“I get a lot of complaints that white LGBTQ members are discriminating against Black and Brown LGBTQ members,” Scott said as the crowd booed.

She continued to point out the differences that white members of the LGBTQ+ community experience in comparison to the experiences of members of color.

“They are more marginalized than you,” Scott said, “They need more help than you. You better stand up.”

Scott is working on passing a police reform bill, and has created a petition in support of it, which currently has 966,301 signatures.

Other speakers talked about the erasure of Black history in schools, experiences with racism and their exhaustion with this fight of being a Black person in America.

Speaker and real estate agent Mario Mathis spoke about his brother’s experience as a former police officer in Atlanta.

“He began to tell me some other things about police culture,” Mathis said. “He said when he was trained in the Atlanta police department, he was trained to racially profile Black people, Latin people and particularly poor people.”

Despite the consistent mentions of oppression and racism that Black people faced, speakers said they continue to rise.

“We will continue to rise because you can see Black people. We have risen and risen and risen through slavery, rose through reconstruction, we rose through Jim Crow, we rose through redlining, we rose from disenfranchisement, rose from segregation, we rose,” Billy Palmer said. “I’m tired of being the phoenix that rises from the ashes. I want to fly.”

In the Facebook event, Equality Utah and the Utah Pride Center were listed among hosts of the event, and despite their public support of the Black Lives Matter movements, across social media people have said they sing a different tune behind doors.

In a twitter thread from @moonlit_gay, they claimed the Utah Pride Center fired five activists for their support of Black Lives Matter movement and participation in protests, and have had consistent issues with racism and ignoring queer trans people of color.

Ermiya Faneian, a local activist and student at the University of Utah, shared her personal experience with starting her activism days at the Utah Pride Center, and confirmed the legitimacy of what the thread spoke about.

“I was there when over a hundred activists of color/organizations signed a letter telling the executive team they had a problem including folks of color in their organization,” Faneian said in a tweet. “They basically did nothing, even such conversations amongst the internal organization are taboo.”

Equality Utah is listed as one of 100 organizations that have endorsed Jon Huntsman, former governor of Utah and Republican candidate for 2020 Governor. Huntsman was also endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police, the largest organization of law enforcement officers in the world.

The protests came in light of recent anti-LGBTQ+ legislation from the Trump organizations that removes healthcare rights for trangender people, the murder of two trans women, Riah Milton and Dominique Fells, as well as a call to remember the original pride — the Stonewall riots, a riot led by trans women against the police.

Speaker Billy Palmer emphasized an old South African apartheid saying: “If your liberation is tied to my liberation, then we can work together.”

“LGBTQ liberation is tied to [Black] liberation. Women’s liberation is tied to our liberation. Trans liberation is tied to our liberation,” Palmer said.

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