Jason Howard Green

Jason Howard Green

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Rainbow and Race

Last night we finally had the forum the Rainbow and Race at Phoenix College. This forum was a part of the Healing Racism series that has been going on for about four years now. These forums exist so that we can have an honest dialogue about racism and hopefully move beyond the boundaries that divide us.

Last night's forum was near and dear to me because it addressed race and sexual orientation. I realize that I am a citizen of two different villages. I am a citizen of a community of black folks. I'm also a citizen of the LGBT community. So as a black gay man it was terrific to have members of both of my villages come together to have this conversation.

Several people were able to address the audience and share our stories as members of the LGBT community and share how we thought race influenced us as members of this community. I really can appreciate the fact that one the people speaking was Cameron Lewis a white gay man. He was asked to speak from a position of priviledge. He spoke eloquently about his upbringing in the Pacific Northwest but then twisted the conversation of priviledge and asked those in attendence to ponder this, "Is marriage a ceremony of priviledge? Or is it something everyone should have the right to have?"

I was also on the agenda to share my story. So I talked about growing up as a gay black kid in the South. Then a great friend of mine, Donna McHenry, founder of Soul Purpose Arizona, spoke about her experiences as a black lesbian.

There were speakers on hand that addressed issues that ranged from civil rights vs. human rights, legal issues we face as a community, and mental and health concerns we need to address. Many of these speakers were dear friends of mine including Victoria Washington (self proclaimed geek and dynamic lawyer), Julie Roberts (Equality Arizona), RJ Shannon (ADHS Minority AIDS Coordinator) and Tambra Williams (LGBT liason for the Phoenix Police Department). So it was terrific to see these familiar faces in the room.

What I loved most about last nights forum (and all forums I've attended in the Healing Racism Series) is that following each section of speakers the audience was invited to turn to someone around them (preferably someone unknown) and have a conversation about the things they just heard. This is where the healing starts. It's after you're forced to address these topics and learn someone else's story that you may have a paradigm shift and be open to change. It's these turn to your neighbor conversations that are the most powerful part of the evening.

I was told that a video of the event will be available soon. If possible I will post it as soon as it is made ready.

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