Seeing pro-Black hashtags in Twitter bios is one thing guaranteed to make my day. Whether it’s simply ‘#BlackPeopleAreMagic’ or something more political like ‘#BlackLivesMatter,’ it almost always warrants an immediate follow from me. Almost always. Because sometimes, people will have these empowering hashtags in their bio, as their header or as a Twibbon on their profile picture, and still demean LGBTQIA+ people and/or women. It doesn’t make sense- how do you tweet stuff like this and still claim to be pro-Black?
Like, how does that make sense? If your pro-Blackness isn’t for every Black person and you only support cishet Black men, you are not pro-Black, plain and simple. It isn’t that hard to understand. It’s actually hilarious to me how people like this exist, though. Do they not realize that LGBT people and women have been at the head of civil right movements since they started?
There’s Dorothy Height, deemed the “godmother of the Civil Rights Movement” by Barack Obama in 2010. She was a true pioneer- from being the president of the National Council of Negro Women to receiving thirteen civil rights and social justice awards, she’s done a lot to help the advancement of Black people.
Then there’s other women like Diane Nash (who organized most of the successful sit-ins staged in Greensboro and the 1961 Freedom Rides across the country), Amelia Boynton (who was one of the main people that convinced MLK to go to Selma in the first place, and the first Black woman to run as a Democratic congressional candidate in Alabama) and Claudette Colvin, the teenager who did what Rosa Parks did nine months before, making her the first person arrested for refusing to give up her bus seat. Colvin and four other women arrested for not giving up their seats took the bus company to court in a case that ended Alabama bus segregation, Browder v. Gayle.
Then, there are the extraordinary LGBT people who have been at the forefront of civil rights, like James Baldwin, an openly gay Black man whose book Giovanni’s Room and essays The Fire Next Time and The Devil Finds Work illustrated the social and psychological roadblocks all Black people (including Black LGBT people) faced on the road to integration. He was even placed on the front of TIME magazine in 1963 for his incredible literature, with TIME saying “There is not another writer who expresses with such poignancy and abrasiveness the dark realities of the racial ferment in North and South.” Needless to say, James Baldwin, who was also a socialist, paved the way for other LGBT civil right’s activists.
Other prominent LGBT civil rights leaders include Bayard Rustin (the gay man behind the 1963 March on Washington, who history often erases) and Audre Lorde, a lesbian womanist whose poetry collection Coal made her one of the most powerful and influential voices in the Black Arts Movement (the artistic branch of the Black Power Movement). She described herself as a “lesbian, mother, warrior, poet,” and she lived up to all four of those things.
The point is, cishet Black women and Black LGBT people have been fighting our rights to exist while Black since an organized movement started. They fought for our lives, and for our safety. If you can’t appreciate their sacrifices, if you don’t believe that they died with the lives of future generations of Black people in mind, you are not pro-Black. So stop pretending.