The killing of George Floyd took place just a block away from the home of Andrea Jenkins, vice president of the Minneapolis City Council.
“I want us to think about what has happened, what has transpired,” she said Wednesday during a virtual town hall on the intersections of systemic racism and injustice against the LGBTQ community.
Organized by Equality Florida, the town hall transpired as more than 400 LGBTQ organizations from across the country have signed onto a letter condemning racial violence and committing to the fight against it.
“We are in a moment of opportunity, and certainly it’s an opportunity for multiple directions,” Jenkins added. “We have a responsibility to take this opportunity to reshape America and to have black and brown and trans and queer, the disabled, lesbians, bisexuals, and undocumented immigrants at the center of making this America better. And we can do it.”
Four police officers have been charged in Floyd’s death which has led to nationwide protests and an increased awareness of systemic racism.
“This conversation comes as people have taken to the streets. America is at a crossroads,” said moderator Nadine Smith, executive director of Equality Florida.“The LGBTQ movement has to make this central to the work. We have to reclaim the history of Pride, but also the Black Lives Matter movement which was intentionally built to include the LGBT experience.”
Smith and Jenkins were joined on the panel by Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David, National Center for Lesbian Rights Executive Director Michele Rayner, and civil rights attorney Imani Rupert-Gordon.
“We are having an existential crisis in this country,” David said. “People are hopefully being put in the position where they are seeing beyond themselves. If we are going to achieve equality, we have to see beyond ourselves.”
Rupert-Gordon said it is a common misconception that racism doesn’t exist in the LGBT movement and called for strengthened support from non-black LGBT people.
“If we aren’t working to be anti-racist, our movement will be inherently racist,” she said. “We have to look at racial justice … that’s why they talk about intersectionality.”
Rayner had this message for non-black LGBT people: “It is still your duty to help us fight for our freedom. If we aren’t free, you all aren’t free either.”