The United States Social Forum, with its ocean of workshops, panels and People’s Movement Assemblies is in full swing. Detroit is currently hosting some 20,000 people here with a strong will to make the United States a better country. Underneath many signs that say “USSF 2010”, there’s a phrase declaring, “Another World is Possible, Another U.S. is Necessary.” The vibe in the opening downtown march on Tuesday afternoon was one of people unified–reflecting the kind of inclusive world they want, where many worlds can fit. It was powerful for me to have the opportunity to march down the streets of Detroit feeling connected to so many amazing and committed activists.
The overall mood at the Forum is exciting and the level of positive energy is invigorating. As a first time Social Forum attendee, I’m thrilled with the way ideas and solutions to eliminate injustices in the U.S. are getting shared and learned. People have poured in from all over the country, and in some cases all over the world, with a will to engage in meaningful conversations about the current health of our country in this critical moment in history.
Some of those conversations I delved into today had to do with culture, human rights, and the queer justice movement. For many queer people of color, like myself, trying to identify and stay connected with the gay mainstream movement is hard. An agenda that doesn’t look at–or at best sidelines racial, economic, and immigrant justice issues–is an agenda that can marginalize non-white queer people and works to benefit one group of people, often at the expense of another. The assembly I attended on Wednesday, connected all of these issues and it was great to be in a space where people recognize the many realities queer people are facing as people of color, immigrants, low income, single parents, and urban and rural youth, just to name a few.
The Queer People’s Movement Assembly (QPMA) helped facilitate a series of group and one-on-one discussions in which we were able to share and connect what we felt were some of the most urgent issues affecting our specific communities with the rest of the group. It began with a one-on-one round. I was able to partner randomly with Siria, a young immigrant organizer from Miami. With a small window of time we wrote down our three top issues on sticky notes, shared them and explained how they were affecting our local region. We were then able to post them up on the walls under themes such as: Housing, Policing, Public Services, Immigration, Violence, Health, and Labor/Employment. In this session, Siria and I expressed many things that we could see connected between her in Miami, and me in New Mexico including: anti-immigrant legislation, criminalization of youth of color, and health disparities.
There are many realities that intersect and for a lot of queer organizers its up to us to engage in the struggles in ways that are not divisive. The QPMA was a very inclusive space that recognized that we come from many different backgrounds but that that does not mean we are alone, trying to hide one oppressed side of us from another. The QPMA was a strong snapshot of the nation-wide queer movement and showed that collaboration with all type of folks in the various movements is necessary to achieve real change that gets at the root of the issues that affect everybody, including queer people of color.
Candelario Vazquez, Media Justice Organizer, Media Literacy Project