An Open Letter to the HRC

July 13, 2013 February 16, 2014 December 5, 2014

Dear Human Rights Campaign,

Where is the outrage?

Do something. At the very least, say something. I started to send this letter after Zimmerman was acquitted after killing unarmed Trayvon; I started again to send this letter after a grand jury declared a mistrial in Michael Dunn's killing of unarmed Jordan Davis; and now, the non indictment after Darren Wilson's killing of unarmed Michael Brown. This whole exercise has become a sickening exposition of this country's ongoing and escalating brazen racial terrorism -- a perverse, unending mad-lib of innocent Black murders met with White impunity:

"__________________ (unarmed black man's name) was shot and killed by ________________________ (white police officer's/ or white private citizen's name) and was ____________________ (not charged, not indicted, acquitted [circle one]) and walks free. "

And that's not even mentioning Akai Gurley who was killed "accidentally" by an officer in a Brooklyn stairwell; and that's not even mentioning the killing of Tamir Rice in Cleveland with his toy gun. And that's not even mentioning Eric Garner who was choked to death in Staten Island over loose cigarettes. And that's not even mentioning all the names of the Black and Brown innocents whom we don't know. Because presumably, for every name that is publicized, there are many more names of innocents that aren't and never will be. It seems callous and blind to celebrate gains in marriage equality on one hand while in the very same moment, the civil rights of a major section of the LGBTQ community are being grossly violated. The Human Rights Campaign's visible, vocal support would be momentous in bolstering the sustained national critique and reinforcing the "in the streets" protests that are happening all around the nation. Our civil rights are under attack.

Especially given the 2012 Gallup's recent finding that non-whites are disproportionally more likely to identify as LGBTQ, I'd expect that our leading "equality" organizations would take an aggressive stance and wield the voice of its expansive membership; and lend its expansive legal networks, political cache, and financial resources to the struggle to change the "Stand Your Ground" law and other flawed legislation like it.

The HRC should be just as vocal in its dissent about racial injustice as it is in celebrating the coming out of celebrities. If we are ever going to overcome the artificial divide between the African-American community and the LGBTQ community (which have been overlapping communities with common goals and the shared dream of equal citizenship in this country from Bayard Rustin onward) now is the time to fortify and publicly announce that solidarity. Imagine the power in knowing that a hate crime committed against a Black person would necessarily incur the scrutiny and political response of the entire LGBTQ community, and conversely that a crime committed against a LGBTQ person would necessarily incur the scrutiny and political response of the entire Black community.

What does it matter if we can marry or be openly ourselves if the children raised from our unions cannot be protected? The repeated judicial and legislative failure to hold individuals and institutions accountable for the value of Black lives represents not just an attack on Black and Brown people, but is an attack on LGBTQ people. HRC should take immediate action to defend and affirm the members of its community. If it really is one struggle -- one civil rights movement -- then let it truly be ONE movement. Let's stand together on all fronts. We must speak up for each other. I'm urging HRC to please.... do something.

It is not enough to ACT UP, but we must ACT UP all the time.

Respectfully, Dee Rees