A Call for Allyship
By Kavon Lee, Associate, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Advisory
June 30, 2022 · 3 min read
June holds great significance for me, as we commemorate the freedom of African Americans in this country, and we also celebrate and honor the LGBTQIA community. With everything going on in the world, from mass shootings to the unprecedented reversal of Roe v. Wade, it is more important than ever to hear the stories of our historically marginalized groups.
To me, a life of pride means standing firm in your truths and identities as you come into yourself. Black queer writer and activist James Baldwin understood the intersectionality of his identities and how they shaped him. Author of “Go Tell it on the Mountain” and “Giovanni’s Room,” Baldwin used his voice, stories, and life experience to advocate for those society discriminated against and cast away. His work even influenced Malcom X and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
I am personally inspired by Baldwin’s courageous leadership and words:
"To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time."
"The paradox of education is precisely this—that as one begins to become conscious one begins to examine the society in which he is being educated.”
"I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain."
"It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have."
"Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced."
As a Black Queer educated man raised in the church, I’d always felt that there was no community for me. However, Baldwin’s work taught me otherwise. I realized that society had conditioned me for years to check myself at the door, when in fact it’s society that needs to be checked. Because of leaders like Baldwin, I am a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion practitioner.
In 2022, we find ourselves in a country afraid to have deep conversations about its history of racism. This environment shows how much growing we as a nation must do. While Baldwin’s words and teachings date back to the 1940s-1980s, they are just as relevant today as America enters a period of regression, with the reversal of Roe v. Wade, which not only protects women’s rights but also LGBTQIA rights, and some legislators even calling for Brown v. Board of Education to be overturned.
This year, Pride is about allyship and courageous leadership. With the rights of historically marginalized groups being threatened and even taken away outright, we need community. We need our allies to educate and advocate with us. Now more than ever, the voices and stories of underrepresented groups matter and need to be heard.