Yesterday, the NAACP’s board of directors voted to endorse marriage equality unequivocally. This bold and courageous move is an unexpected, powerful, and significant step forward for the LGBTQ movement, without question. The right wing has made thinly veiled attempts to regain black voters specifically by attempting to cast the LGBTQ population as a- entirely separate from the African American population, and b- at odds with the values of black voters. The NAACP has instead asserted that they will not be made the political football of the GOP, and that they stand with the LGBTQ community in the fight for full civil rights for all Americans.
More importantly, this reminds us that our movement, the LGBTQ movement, is about social justice, and as such, it is inextricably linked to and embedded in the legacy the NAACP. Urvashi Vaid recently published a piece describing a schism in the framing of the LGBTQ movement as being either for social justice, or for equal rights. COLAGE is a social justice organization. COLAGE believes that civil rights are part of our path to social justice, but that social justice is a longer road, and it’s one we’re walking on with our allies in all oppressed and minority communities. We are not just walking this road with them, we are also standing on their shoulders, walking paths they’ve paved ahead of us.
The NAACP’s platform is for broad and sweeping change toward social justice, not just equal rights, and we commend that long-sighted vision. COLAGE stands with the NAACP in the fight for an end to legalized and institutionalized racial profiling, we stand with the NAACP in the fight for better access to healthcare and nutrition for all Americans, we stand with the NAACP in fighting for access to high quality schools that are not re-segregated thanks to white flight, we stand with the NAACP in fighting for reproductive rights, we stand with the NAACP in the fight for voter rights, and we stand with the NAACP in the belief that the civil right to marriage should be afforded to all Americans.
Our movement and our work will not end with marriage equality, and that is because it is only the most privileged among the LGBTQ community who will then have full access to what they need to thrive. Social justice is more abstract, more intangible, and yes, harder to campaign and fundraise for, but it is what we are working towards. We, as people of color and as white people, as the children of LGBTQ parents, as people who are straight, queer, trans, gender-variant, and gender conforming, as people with and without economic, social, and racial privilege have always stood together as COLAGErs for social justice for all as a higher (and harder) goal than equal rights, and we stand with the NAACP in the pursuit of equal rights as an important step toward our other shared goals of social justice.
We thank and congratulate Ben Jealous and the NAACP for their work for all of us, and we are committed to continuing our work with them and countless other social justice and civil rights organizations.