Felecia King, Project Specialist
Blogging from the National Black Justice Coalition’s Out on the Hill Conference.
So day 2 was not as invigorating as Day 1. However, I am noticing a common arising theme, African-American LGBT people, as a group, feel under-served, misrepresented and mistreated. It was “Issue Advocacy Day”, a Legislative Briefing. We heard from quite a few panelist that were amazing, in their own ways. They spoke about their experiences as being “OUT on the Hill”
First there was Robert Eskridge, who works as a legal counsel for the House Ethics Committee and is a Black gay man. He talks about some of the adversities that he has experienced in such a place as DC, and why it’s so important to know everything (Not really everything but, being well versed, especially in your field).
Michele Jawando, Vice President of Legal Progress for Center for American Progress. Michele tells everyone the importance of voting and knowing what it is you’re voting for, know who you are placing into office, know what laws your voting for or against.
Twaun Samuels the Chief of Staff for Congresswoman Maxine Waters was also a panelist and spoke about his experience as a Gay Black man on the Hill, and he believes it did not have any effect on his career. He’s not alone in his thinking, Brandy Hall, HouseCall IT, Systems Administrator, felt that it didn’t negatively affect her career, but sometimes she has to prove herself to the people she works for.
I am also noticing that no matter where these people live, where they were raised, they are experiencing or having the same feelings of inequality. From the panel discussion they took their issues and questions to the Hill, speaking with representatives from California, New York, and a few others. The issues were raised to the representatives in hopes that things would change.
There wasn’t much time for questions but the advice given was empowering and simple at the same time. Advice like; being an example in your community and teaching the others around you, having a voice, knowing your voice, and using your voice.