This is one of many initiatives The Center has developed to support the Black LGBTQ community.
In a year wrought with heartache and loss, tomorrow, Tuesday, May 25, 2021 stands out, as it marks one year since the murder of George Floyd at the hands of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. With just weeks until Chauvin faces sentencing, it is important to remember that this time last year, while America was grappling with the early stages of the Coronavirus, our Black community was facing two pandemics - COVID-19 and anti-Black racism. And while George Floyd’s murder was the flashpoint that sparked global protests and an ongoing racial reckoning in our country, he was neither the first nor last Black person to die at the hands of law enforcement- Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade and 240 other Black people were killed by law enforcement in 2020 alone.
We know that San Diego is not immune to anti-Black racism, it’s embedded in our history, practices and institutions, including our law enforcement agencies. Well-documented data from the San Diego Police Department (SDPD) shows clear disparities in the number of times SDPD stops members of the Black, Latino/a/x, LGBTQ, and disabled communities- all of whom are stopped in far greater numbers than the white community, with the intersection of anti-LGBTQ bias and racial bias resulting in the highest search rates for Black and Latino/a/x community members who police perceive to be LGBTQ. It is not enough to say Black Lives Matter, we all have to put those powerful words into action. As a founding member of the Coalition for Police Accountability and Transparency (CPAT), The Center fiercely advocates for an equitable San Diego for all, with a focus on eliminating biased policing in our region.
The Center’s Black LGBTQ Community Advisory Committee (BLCAC), founded after our 2019 Black LGBTQ Townhall, has met monthly over the last 18 months to advise The Center on initiatives to combat anti-Black racism at The Center. Their dedication, leadership, and insight has been instrumental in launching and improving several Center initiatives, including but not limited to: programming (Brave Space, Health Thy Soul, Let’s Talk Tuesdays), support (acting as a fiscal sponsor for the San Diego Black LGBTQ Coalition - now their own 501c3 organization), and a series of anti-Black racism training for Center staff, board, and volunteers. We know that the steps we’ve taken so far are part of ongoing efforts towards healing and we are grateful to all of our BLCAC leaders that have worked together with The Center to dream up, map out, and move forward with creative and sustainable ways to better serve our Black community. Our work with our BLCAC has steadily grown and strengthened over the last 18 months and we are proud to share three important announcements:
- We heard loud and clear from our community that The Center needs new leadership to better support our Black LGBTQ community and a Human Resources Department to better support staff and volunteers, and oversee agency equity strategies. To that end, The Center has hired a new member of our Senior Leadership Team, Bridgette Austin (she/her), who will serve as The Center’s Senior Director of People and Culture.
- We heard critical feedback from our Black community that The Center needs a dedicated Black Services Program with full-time staff. To that end, The Center is launching a Black Services Program in 2021 within the next few months, after we hire a Black Services Program Coordinator. If you, or someone you know, is interested in learning more about the position, please review our job posting here.
- Additionally, we listened to our community that The Center needs dedicated communication to our Black LGBTQ community. To that end, The Center has hired a Communication Consultant who is a member of the San Diego Black LGBTQ community, to create and launch a quarterly newsletter dedicated to the Black LGBTQ community in San Diego that will be released in 2021.
The Center is prioritizing combatting anti-Black racism and manifesting Black Lives Matter - it is critical to our mission, values, and community to ensure our Black LGBTQ community is welcomed and valued at The Center. And while we await tomorrow with grief, we also move forward with hope and renewed commitment to do this work in partnership with our Black community. As always, we invite you to join us in this fight because if there’s one thing our LGBTQ community knows, it’s that we’re better together. To learn more about ways to engage, give, and learn, please visit: https://thecentersd.org/programs/black-resources/.