Finding Common Ground in Marginalized Spaces

By Ryan Kekela

As we were all clinking our champagne bottles at midnight, would anybody have predicted where this year would take us? Six months later, I’m sitting in my condo, looking into the future and feeling more inexpressible emotions and pressure than I could have ever fathomed. A world pandemic brought us to our knees and caused a shutdown. Amid the confusion of COVID-19, bold communities reacted to horrendous crime, igniting Black Lives Matter as a social decree.  The social conversation reached a fever pitch, as June kicked off with Pride.

Last spring, the LGBTQIA+ community would have been preparing for a summer full of Pride events around the nation. It’s a huge understatement to say that this year, Pride was celebrated a bit differently. Members of the community continued on with some Pride events as planned, but instead of a music host or flashy parade, they found themselves marching alongside those protesting for Black Lives Matter. As this community is uniquely aware, “different” can be a good thing and change often brings new opportunities.

Finding Strength in Shared History

“The Pride Movement began with the Stonewall riots against police brutality and oppression in 1969, which were largely led by LGBTQ+ people of color (namely Stormé DeLarverie, Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera), making Pride, at its core, a voice for intersectionality since its inception.”

During the month of June, I came across an image that describes this point of intersectionality and showcases how we should all be thinking when it comes to the Black Lives Matter movement.

It is important that during this time we remember that we are all one community. It is our job to make sure that we are helping to promote inclusion, diversity, and overall love – love for every single one of the people we work and interact with daily. We need to be sure that when others are feeling beaten down, we are there to pick them up.

We are almost two months out since the BLM movement really regained momentum. As I have started to educate myself on the history and reasons for these social injustices and movements, it has become very apparent to me that it’s all about finding a focus that can help improve our situation.

As we participate in the Black Lives Matter movement and continue to recognize Pride, it’s important to support an intersection of these two communities who are currently growing up in a world of uncertainty. They are not sure how to truly embrace the person that they are. They need a leader, a mentor, a community and love in order to grow and prosper. The Black Trans community, particularly the Female Black Trans population, has endured and continues to endure marginalization and terrible injustice.

These statistics display a very bleak future for the Black Trans population. We must all commit to a better future for trans youth. It’s absolutely vital for these young, beautiful future innovators to be celebrated for who they are.

One non-profit that plans to help do that is the Okra Project. This effort focuses on the Black Trans community and provides them with meals prepared by Black Trans chefs. This effort is exactly the type of support that needs to be provided to the Trans community. They deserve to see that someone who was once in their same position, now living happily, supporting people just like them.

There is a glimmer of hope for the future of this community in organizations like this one. They help marginalized individuals to feel empowered and to know their unique importance and value they add to our community.

It’s important to not forget the continuing education of how we can contribute to the overall Black Lives Matter movement. Where do we start? You can learn exactly where by visiting a recent post written by Kyndra Countryman, MarTech Operations Manager and Senior Advisor of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.