Fact: The #CancelPinkwashing protestors and organizers came from many different faith traditions with Pagans, Christians, Muslims, Jews and atheists all present.
Fact: Many of the protestors and organizers of #CancelPinkwashing were queer, bi, ace, gay, lesbian, bi, trans, intersex and non-binary people of color. This is their statement.
Fact: I personally stand in solidarity with Jewish LGBTQIA people, and as bisexual community organizer, have found it critical to listen to all communities seeking solidarity. Read about pinkwashing and other topics from Jewish writers who inspire my hopes for a #FreePalestine here, here, and here.
Fact: Shabbat service is why the protest started at 8:30pm, as organizers from the protest were in attendance of the alternative Shabbat. See previous mention of Jews as co-organizers of #cancelpinkwashing.
Fact: Before the protestors ever began chanting, the doors to the event were barricaded, and a series of checkpoints with security was setup for any person entering. See previous mention of people of color.
Fact: In 2011, bisexual critical theorist Shiri Eisner wrote that pinkwashing “makes cynical use of both the Palestinian and Israeli queer communities” all while “demonizing Arabic Middle Eastern cultures and presenting them – and Palestine in particular – as inherently homophobic”.
Fact: The white LGBT community frequently “makes cynical use” of people of color communities, and has a history of presenting many cultures of color as inherently homophobic, despite any evidence to the contrary.
Fact: The white LGBT community has a history of demonizing LGBT people of color, Black and brown communities in particular. Prop 8, anyone? Didn’t that gay guy just blame lack of Black outreach by white LGBTQ leadership in Houston on BEYONCE? And who can forget “N word” syndrome?
Fact: When people of color mobilize in solidarity, they have no expectation of safety if their skin is anything but pink. This is no different in the LGBT community. This was no different at Creating Change 2016 (#CC16).
Fact: Many people were unaware that the #cancelpinkwashing protestors at #CC16 were multi-faith, because all they saw was their color.
Fact: The beautiful boy (he/they pronouns, and please do use they sometimes) with bright red lipstick protesting their heart out is part of the LGBTQIA community, and you’d be lucky to know his intent for peace for all people.
Fact: Someone I won’t even deign to link to called this lipstick’d queer “hateful” and another LGBT journalist referred to the protestors as “thugs”, all 200 of them.
Fact: The kneejerk response to any gathering of color? Destroy, dismantle and deconstruct it as negative and harmful.
Fact: People of color frequently face violence, both emotional, psychological and physical while attending Creating Change, and in life.
Fact: People of color, most of them young and/or undocumented, wrote an open letter to Creating Change in 2015 entitled “Creating Change, for whom?”
Fact: Creating Change is not always a safe place for the folks of any margin, whether you be of color, disabled, Jewish, undocumented, non-binary, ace, neurodiverse, intersex, bi, pan, and/or transgender.
Fact: While the Task Force works to get better (I also prefer my Creating Change without ICE too, #Not1More), we need to keep pushing back on narratives that demonize people of color and erase their participation, motivation and lived experience as one aligned with a #FreePalestine.
WATCH: Ms. Lauryn Hill, Danny Glover, Alice Walker, Angela Davis, Dr. Cornel West and more in “When I See Them I See Us”, a video poem from Black-Palestinian Solidarity:
Fact: It’s anti-Semitic to erase the Jewish identities of the #cancelpinkwashing protestors present, some wearing rainbow Israel flags and many chanting along in support.
Fact: When Jews of color and their experiences are erased from conversations about Israel and Palestine, only white supremacy wins.
Fact: The protest I witnessed was overwhelmingly peaceful, however the response to it was not.
Fact: Despite not touching anyone or doing anything physical, I watched with my own eyes Creating Change attendees of color be physically assaulted by people who were not Creating Change attendees.
Fact: Where and when I could, I personally chose to peacefully disrupt rising physical tension without touching anyone. I have a special dance for that.
Fact: The chants were many, with anyone allowed to raise their voice. I chose the chant “I Want My Movement Back” as we walked back downstairs to debrief, and then head out (because it’s Friday night at Creating Change ya’ll).
Fact: This protest was led by folks on the margin standing in solidarity with the marginalized.
Fact: Evidence of anti-Blackness inside the protest by protestors was called out and identified. As a Black queer bisexual woman I will not be silenced by anyone, and said as much TO the protest I was ALSO a part of. I was not alone in that.
Fact: Protest is not a static thing, it grows and changes according to the grief we experience with, and sometimes from, each other.
Fact: Racism runs rampant in the LGBTQIA community, and the Task Force is not alone in the need to critically analyze its work to be anti-racist and anti-Semitic, because ‘isms are all related, and all intersect.
Fact: I did witness holding tension in the face of oppression. It’s important to distinguish between that, racism and anti-Semitism, otherwise we will never dismantle racism and anti-Semitism.
Fact: All oppressions are connected.
Fact: When Black folks took down the Confederate flag last summer, racists and anti-Semites burned both Black churches and Jewish synagogues in response! White LGBT community, don’t be like those racists!
Fact: Learn about intersectionality in 60 seconds, you can do it!
Fact: Everywhere, excited queer, trans, bi, pan, ace, intersex and non-binary young people of color felt what it was like to experience double sides of hate, first in the instances of racial trauma they experienced at the protest and then secondly with inaccurate media coverage quick to dehumanize the most marginalized in our movement.
Fact: If it weren’t for the valiant efforts of Sue Hyde and the Creating Change staff, the Chicago Police Department would have been happy to take many of the people of color from the Creating Change conference.
Fact: Racism be racism. I was present for a young Black pansexual drumming their heart out before being targeted for removal by a Black Hilton security guard. Yet, none of the white folks dancing and chanting at the protest were ever approached by security. Check out my video.
Fact: As a protestor I denounce anti-Semitism and while I did not witness it in my corner of the protest, I believe that it happened elsewhere during the protest, as it frequently occurs when Jewish people gather too.
Fact: I did witness racist statements being made towards people of color, and don’t we always? Honestly, I’ve come to expect it at any major gathering of the LGBT community.
Fact: All oppressions interconnect.
Fact: For some hearing “amber waves of grain” and “from sea to shining sea” reminds them of the decimation of their ancestors, for others it’s just a patriotic song for America. Likewise, there may be information folks need to know about evolving thoughts on what’s considered harmful and hateful, let’s welcome that.
Fact: Not everyone knows everything about each other, let’s fix that. There’s this big thing called intersectionality…
Fact: Our enemies are united against us and unless we sit down with tears in our eyes, hold tension, and confront these issues together, there won’t be a center left to hold.
Please note that these are my personal views and do not reflect the perspective of my employer or any other organization.
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Faith Cheltenham is a bisexual community organizer who’s been working in the LGBTQIA community for 16 years. As a Black bisexual queer woman of color, she writes, advocates and organizes across many different intersections. Currently serving as president of BiNet USA, Faith lives in LA with her husband and kids.