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United in Color: International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and the LGBTQIA+ Community

March 21, 2023



As we observe International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on March 21st, it's crucial to remember that race-based discrimination affects people in various ways. One vital intersection where race intertwines with sexual orientation and gender identity is within the LGBTQIA+ community. Let's Explore the significance of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination within LGBTQIA+ spaces, the challenges faced by queer people of color, and the importance of allyship in achieving an inclusive and equitable world.

The Origin and Significance of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has been commemorated annually on March 21st since 1966. It was established by the United Nations in response to their General Assembly Resolution 2142 (XXI) following a horrific massacre that took place on this day in 1960 in Sharpeville, South Africa. As people protested apartheid pass laws, the police fired into the crowd, killing 69 peaceful protesters. The United Nations chose this day to honor the lives lost and renew global efforts to combat all forms of racial discrimination and prejudice.

Intersectionality: Understanding the Double-edged Sword

The term intersectionality, as an analytical framework, was introduced in 1989 by Kimberlé Crenshaw, a legal scholar, and civil rights advocate. It shines a light on the overlapping and converging dimensions of social stratification such as race, gender, class, and sexual orientation. For queer people of color, intersectionality means experiencing bias, prejudice, and discrimination based on both their racial and LGBTQIA+ identities. This creates unique and compounded difficulties transcending various scopes of their lives.

Issues Faced by Queer People of Color

Queer people of color face numerous, complex issues as they navigate the world. One example is the disproportionately high rate of hate crimes against Black transgender individuals, particularly women, who are targeted for both their race and gender identity. Misrepresentation, or outright lack of representation, in media leads to the erasure of LGBTQIA+ people of color stories and further contributes to their isolation and marginalization.

Within LGBTQIA+ spaces, queer people of color often confront exclusion, tokenism, and cultural insensitivity. Racism has no boundaries and can permeate even the communities that understand and value diversity in terms of sexual orientation and gender identity. As a result, many queer people of color struggle to find a haven where they are entirely accepted and celebrated.

The Role of Allyship

Allyship is an essential part of alleviating the struggles faced by queer people of color. Practicing active allyship means shedding light on intersectionality, understanding the unique issues faced by queer people of color, and actively working towards an inclusive and equitable society. This involves recognizing personal privileges, calling out racism within the LGBTQIA+ community and society at large, being open to learning, and advocating for policies that uplift marginalized voices. By actively supporting one another, we can work towards fostering safe spaces for all LGBTQIA+ people, regardless of their racial background.

The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination provides us an opportunity to reflect on the complex intersection of race, sexual orientation, and gender identity, and how it shapes the experiences of queer people of color. As we commemorate this significant day, let's reaffirm our commitment to allyship, inclusivity, and equity. By joining hands and fostering understanding, we can all play a part in creating a world where every individual is embraced and celebrated in their entirety.

Written By: 

Kollyn Conrad


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March 20th 2023

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