From all of us at Equality North Carolina, Happy Pride Month! After what seems like an eternity, many members of our community are finally able to gather once again and share space, celebrate our resilience and reflect on the challenges we’ve all been through together.
Earlier this year, our communities faced a direct threat from elected officials in the form of several anti-trans bills introduced at the General Assembly. While we were victorious in tabling these bills in North Carolina, our community members across the rest of the nation have not been so lucky. And here in North Carolina, we are still dealing with a number of bad bills that directly target and impact the most vulnerable among us.
Currently, there are several cruel bills standing before the General Assembly. These include:
- HB 324, which would ban the teaching of critical race theory and prevent teachers from accurately portraying the U.S. history of racism and sexism.
- SB 100 and SB 101, which would take away funds from cities that redirect police funding to social programs and which would force North Carolina sheriffs to cooperate with ICE.
- HB 805, which imposes harsh penalties on peaceful protesters who participate in what is deemed a “riot”— even when they haven’t violated any laws.
- And SB 405 and HB 453, which impose increasing restrictions on abortions.
As marginalized folks, it’s crucial that we stop thinking about these bills as individual, piecemeal attacks on our communities. Rather, they are tools of a broader campaign against vulnerable Americans by those in positions of power. These attacks are ultimately about maintaining power and control and are rooted in the foundation of white supremacy.
Here in North Carolina that culture is, unfortunately, deeply embodied in the legislature’s current majority.
House Bill 324 is a good example of the ways in which these bills seek to erase our communities while also pitting them against each other through attempts to enshrine a revisionist history of racist oppression in the United States. The language of the law is broad and vague, designed to intimidate teachers and discourage them from accurately covering the depth and breadth of U.S. history. HB324 intends to prevent students from understanding and wrestling with the full history of anti-Black racism in this country and, in doing so, creates an educational environment that acts as a tool to maintain power and control.
We can also look to HB453, or the so-called “Human Life Non-Discrimination Act,” which bans abortions undertaken because of “race, sex or genetic abnormality.” In the name of preventing eugenics, HB453 restricts the right to choose, attempting to pit the racial justice movement, feminist advocates and the disability rights movement against the fight for reproductive justice. It’s revealing that the General Assembly, rather than taking steps to advance racial justice or disability rights, instead chooses to regulate access to abortion. Their motivation isn’t nondiscrimination, it’s making reproductive choices less accessible. Disability Rights NC, one of the state’s foremost nonprofits working in the disability rights space, spoke out against this by saying: “Instead of limiting people’s rights, we would ask that you all consider ways to support people with disabilities.”
The fight to limit the rights of all of these groups is ultimately at the heart of the ongoing project to maintain white supremacist power and control in this country. The General Assembly is trying to protect that power through erasing and dividing those people and groups who could challenge their long-held grip over the people of our state.
These legislators who think they can divide our communities, however, are missing the point. To quote Audre Lorde: “There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.”
Attempts to pit communities against each other fail to recognize that people live at the intersections of multiple identities. There are plenty of people with disabilities who want access to abortions. The right to protest is crucial for everyone. And all of these issues are LGBTQ rights issues because queer and trans people are members of every single community.
That’s why social justice organizations, serving many different communities, have all come together against these bills. And that’s why so many people from all across North Carolina have spoken out against these attempts to erase us.
This Pride month, let’s use our voices and platforms to acknowledge the ways that these issues and attacks are interconnected. Pride came out of honoring the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, an uprising against police oppression of LGBTQ people led by Black and brown trans women. There is no pride without the powerful leadership of people who live at the intersection of multiple identities, people who say “we will not be erased.”
Let’s follow their lead. Tell your legislators to vote against these bills infringing on civil rights. And tell your local elected officials to support effective nondiscrimination ordinances, protecting LGBTQ people and so many more from unfair treatment in the workplace, public accommodations and so much more.
This Pride month, let’s come together to fight for a better world.
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