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Organizing in DC for Racial & Economic Justice

May 12, 2017

peoples budget1.jpgMany people across the country believe a stereotype that the LGBTQ community is wealthy, white and male. In reality millions of LGBTQ people and their families live below the poverty line according to the Poverty and Economic Injustice research released by the National LGBTQ Task Force. That is why the Task Force is working tirelessly to advocate for racial and economic justice. Occasionally, we’re blessed with the opportunity to put this important core value into action in local communities. Such was the case last month when we participated in the “People’s Budget Forum” in Washington, D.C.’s Ward 8, a historically marginalized community with high rates of people living below the poverty line.

The forum was set up to inform community members about D.C. Mayor Bowser’s proposed budget and the areas where the budget is inadequate. City Councilmember Trayvon White attended the forum, along with staff from other councilmembers’ offices, to listen to constituents and answer questions. Leading up to the event, the Task Force partnered with Working Families, the host organization, to help with canvassing in ward’s 7 and 8 to recruit community member’s to the forum.

The organizing team canvassed throughout the two wards metro stations and grocery stores. We talked with community members about economic justice issues, like affordable housing, more good jobs with a living wage and public schools. We described what the People’s Budget Forum was about and then invited them to the event.

The purpose of the People’s Budget Forum was for community members to learn more about the fair budget priorities for fiscal year 2018: housing security, civil rights, economic justice, health, education, food access, fair taxes and public deals. These issues are all directly intersecting issues that affect the LGBTQ community. Acts of discrimination and lack of proper resources lead to LGBTQ people in housing, education and employment having negative outcomes in stability and security.

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At the event, people were welcomed in and leaders started describing the injustices affecting the community and how the budget was playing into continuing the cycle of oppression. Then community members were asked to go to table’s labeled with different issue topics to learn more specifics about that issue in the budget. People were then able to ask questions that were put on flip chart paper. After a while all the tables were called back together and each table chose a representative to describe what the group talked about and listed the group’s grievances and asked question to the council member and staff.

The organizing efforts leading up to the event was truly transformational. I was inspired by the community’s engagement, by how well it was attended and received. The event was filled with passion, a sense of community, urgency, a call for justice, and the brilliance of community organizing. I am genuinely proud of our work to advance racial and economic justice for all, including LGBTQ people.

thumbnail_fileBy Camden Hargrove, Field Organizer, National LGBTQ Task Force

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