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The All People’s Breakfast- celebrating progress in civil rights

Instead of sleeping in on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, San Diegans from all walks of life will wake up extra early to attend the 22nd Annual All People’s Breakfast. The event, now hosted by the YWCA of San Diego County, brings people together so as to celebrate the gains of the civil rights movement and the continued push for diversity, inclusion, equality, and peace. It is a morning of music, conversation, understanding, and celebration.

Having attended the event a few times in the past years, I have come to understand the importance of bringing together diverse populations. The night before last year’s event a friend asked me “Why are you going to that event, isn’t it a ‘black’ event?” My initial gut reaction was to lash out and ask him how he could be so ignorant. But I reminded myself that anger and yelling is exactly what leads to different forms of racism and injustice. I saw this to be an educational moment for him and instead took the opportunity to explain exactly why I was attending.

The All People’s Breakfast is most definitely not a “black” event. As the name implies, it is truly for All People. Oppression and discrimination occur at every level of society. We have all been oppressed or discriminated against at some point in our lives, and many of us have been perpetrators of discrimination. This lack of understanding of people who are different than we are that causes hatred, fear, discrimination, and injustice. Events like these bring together hundreds of people, all from different economic, religious, ethnic, and sexual backgrounds to celebrate being people! I love it.

The LGBT community has begun to show a bigger presence at these events, with various organizations and individuals purchasing seats and tables. In past years, San Diego LGBT Pride, The Center, and other organizations have purchased tables and sent members of their staff, Board, and volunteer force to represent the LGBT community. These organizations recognize that the LGBT community is unique in that “all people” make up the faces of our community. People of all ethnicities, religions, and other backgrounds are what make the LGBT community so special.

The diversity of the LGBT community is what I enjoy most about a being a part of it. We have so many different voices to hear and connect with. Our community celebrations are multicultural, and attempt to be inclusive of all people. Some people fear differences, our community thrives with diversity.

Is our community perfect? Absolutely not. Have we completely embraced the “All People’s” concept? Not completely. There are Boards of Directors of our LGBT serving organizations that don’t perfectly represent the broad diversity of the community. Some of our community’s publications don’t reflect the faces or voices of everyone. Sometimes our community events neglect to do things that make everyone feel at home. We have work to do. But when we attend events like the “All People’s Breakfast” we are inspired to come back to our community and celebrate the diversity within it, which only leads to building bridges with other marginalized communities. Together we are beautiful.

The All People’s Breakfast will begin at 7:30 a.m. on Monday, January 18 at Golden Hall. This year’s theme is “Living The Dream”. The program will focus on youth and include performances from The Gospel Signing Choir, Collective Purpose, and Eveoke Dance Theatre. There will also be a community space where attendees will have an opportunity to learn about local social justice and advocacy organizations. Ashley Walker, Executive Director of the San Diego Human Relations Commission, will be the featured speaker. Tickets and more information are available online.

Monday is a holiday. I could sleep in late, but I am choosing to wake up early and really reflect on the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr. His work plays a large role in the civil rights advances that LGBT people now enjoy. We should all at least think about this on that day.