Inspired by Sean “Diddy” Combs’ successful “State Of Emergency: The State of Black America & Coronavirus” town hall, “REVOLT BLACK NEWS” is a platform that is designed to report news from the perspective of black people for black people.
During last night’s (June 18) “REVOLT BLACK NEWS,” “All Black Lives Matter” panelists took a deep dive into the Black LGBTQ+ community’s fight in the Black Lives Matter movement, including the recent deaths in the transgender community that have not been highlighted in the news. Host Eboni K. Williams was joined by special guests Karamo Brown, Ben Cory Jones, David Johns, Jari Jones, Dyllon Burnside, Ryan Jamaal Swain, and Sage Dolan-Sandrino.
“While mainstream media continues to neglect and even ignore the Black LGBTQ community, here at ‘REVOLT BLACK NEWS,’ we take a close look at exactly what’s happening,” Williams assures the REVOLT audience before diving into the “Owning Our S**t” opening segment. She introduces author, TV host, father and advocate Brown to the conversation, as he tells his story of being out and proud on “The Real World: Philadelphia,” and how he’s been vocal about his sexuality since the age of mid-teenage years, which was around the conception of his first son. As Williams drafts the conversation with Brown to Black women falling into relationships with gay Black men who may be struggling with their sexuality, he assures Black women that there is no ill-will behind it. “It’s not intentional because most Black gay men, we revere Black women,” Brown says. “It’s just about that journey of growth and understanding that we have to try to create more spaces for gay Black young boys to be comfortable about who they are.”
Williams takes us back to her advocacy work with HIV and AIDS during her time at UNC-Chapel Hill, and discusses the relationship between the disproportionate rates and not being able to comfortably submit to being gay and Black in any space. As she recognizes that the white gay community has been doing a better job at this, Brown shines a lot on the gay community being racist, transphobic and sexist because it is controlled by white men, who still have the privilege of being white. “I think that there’s a misbelief that it’s all good within your community and I think you speaking on that tension is very, very important and you find a situation where our LGBTQ Black brothers and sisters could find themselves displaced in general,” Williams adds to the misconceptions.
“I want anybody in the Black community who’s listening to, first of all, know that if there is a gay agenda. When they are writing that agenda, they are not talking about my Black ass,” Brown shares. He continues to explain that as a Black gay man, pushing an agenda is the last thing on his mind, and he is just trying to survive and appreciate his Blackness, as is any other Black man. “When I get stopped by the police, the cop doesn’t say, ‘You’re that gay guy from TV, I’m giving you a pass today.’”
In last night’s headlines, Williams addressed former Atlanta police officer Garrett Rolfe’s felony murder charge in the death of Rayshard Brooks and how several Atlanta officers have walked out on the job or ignored calls in response to the charges. Williams admits to not being bothered by it. “If the response to Atlanta PD is that now they’re seeing there’s some level of accountability for some officers that insist upon infringing brute force and violence, death and even murder against Black men and women in this country is gonna be accountability,” she starts, “I say let them walk. We don’t need them. Turnover in this particular circumstance is a good thing.” She continues to report various topics including the hangings throughout the country, Kyrie Irving’s proposal for players to start their own basketball league, and the recent spike of Coronavirus cases in nearly 20 states.
Before returning to the next segment, Williams introduces a few words from powerful trans activists fighting for equality, and an opening clip from a speech delivered by Billy Porter. For “Ring The F*cking Alarm,” Jari Jones drives the conversation with “Pose” actor Ryan Jamaal Swain about the entertainer’s duty to amplify the visibility of the work being done in the streets and the true definition of allyship. “Allyship can’t just be a post. Allyship can’t just be, ‘I support you,’” Jones sparks to Swain before he further challenges viewers to do more than just be enlightened by current events. “I’m not giving you a ‘thank you.’ Welcome, [and] welcome to the movement,” says Swain. “Glad you can make the party, sweetie. Thanks.”
Jones transitions the conversation into the transformative work of “Pose” in representation for the trans people in mainstream media. “‘Pose’ is a platform that has humanized trans people on a different level more than any other show that’s out there,” he praises. Swain shines a light on how the series can be a relatable experience for men, women, gender-non conforming people because they can see themselves in the stories of love, acceptance, family and leaving your legacy. “These are things that have been affecting us from music all the way over to politics,” Swain adds before thanking REVOLT for pushing the positive and informative conversation forward about the Black LGBTQ+ community. “Enough is enough, we can have all the conversations. Now it’s just implementing action.” Jones agrees with the need for creating more spaces for these hard, but necessary discussions.
“To Our Fallen Brothers & Sisters: May You Rest In Peace” paid tribute to Dominique Fells, Yahhira Nesby, Layleen Cubilette-Palanco, Nigel Shelby, Monika Diamond, Paris Cameron, Muhlaysia Booker and many other Black and brown trans people who have been killed throughout the last few years. These are the only reported cases, so imagine how many go unreported or not spotlighted in media. Williams reappears for the “Closing The Divide” segment with David Johns, leader of the National Black Justice Coalition, and starts the conversation off with dynamics we see in children from early years of school. “What we know is that kids who are Black and kids who are LGBTQ are most likely to be victims of violence, whether that’s verbal violence or physical violence,” Johns alarms. He continues to share data that the rising suicidal ideation and completion rate amongst Black kids have doubled.
Williams and Johns shift their attention to the history of Stonewall — thanks to a Black trans woman — the glamorized corporatization, and June being an extension of Black History Month. “The world does not deserve Black women or girls. Period, full stop,” Johns says as he pays homage to Black women, their influence on cultural joy, and the incomparable weight they have to bear on their shoulders every day. “With that having been acknowledged, there would not be a pride-anything if it were not for a Black woman named Marsha P. Johnson,” he says. Furthermore, Johns segways into addressing the lack of attention and support given to those Black trans men and women who have been killed. “Few folks in our community who report to love Black people, but only really love parts of us, won’t even say the name of Tony McDade,” as he refers to the Black trans man fatally shot by police in Tallahassee, Florida.
“While we are marching for and demanding and taking up space to underscore the fact that Black Lives Matter, we have to appreciate in order for that to be true, All Black Lives Matter. We as a community have to do a better job at making space for our Black women and girls, both cis and trans,” Johns concludes.
In “A Word From Our Brothers And Sisters,” actor Dyllon Burnside addresses the “divide and conquer” tactic that has been present in the Black community for centuries, while transgender youth artist and activist Sage Dolan-Sandrindo touches on conversation censorship for Black trans and queer people, and showing up for every Black brother and sister. “None of us are liberated until all of us are free,” says the 18-year-old Afro-Latina activist. Boomerang and “Insecure” producer and writer Ben Cory Jones offers advice on how the culture can positively move forth with support for the All Black Lives Matter movement. He says, “Acknowledge the fight that the Black queer community faces.”
Before sending final shoutouts for Fathers’ Day weekend and signing off, Williams reminds REVOLT watchers that this conversation isn’t black or white — it’s all Black. “Remember we weren’t all free as Black folks until our brothers and sisters in Texas were free as well, right? Same goes here,” she affirms while referencing Juneteenth. “For all Black lives to matter, our LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters have to be a part of our liberation.”
The Black community cannot be selective when it comes to who we fight for. We’re all in this together. When a cop stops a man in the street, they’ll see color before they see sexual orientation. We can’t say Black Lives Matter when we’re picking and choosing who we want to matter. We can’t uplift the names of some and not the others, especially when they’ve all lost their lives at the hands of racial injustice, police brutality and hate crimes.
This is the time to view the bigger picture and realize that we’re humans first and as Black humans, we’re all fighting for each other. Black Lives Matter — and that means all of them.