Home » Black LGBTQ+ resilience should not be a necessary part of survival

Black LGBTQ+ resilience should not be a necessary part of survival

by The Grio

Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.  

In February, we often hear “resilient” used to describe the courage and strength that Black communities demonstrate in the face of adversity. And rightly so; we are undoubtedly resilient. Even a basic understanding of history and the adversity experienced by our ancestors confirms that simple, yet profound fact.

Black LGBTQ+ people have a particularly storied history of overcoming adversity and thriving in spite of it. However, when in conversations about solving the very real challenges that Black LGBTQ+ people face, I have noticed a tendency to always talk about resilience. I often wonder, “What does it mean?” when others acknowledge the systemic oppression experienced by Black LGBTQ+ people, but then choose to focus their attention on the efforts that Black LGBTQ+ people themselves are already employing to survive.

I empathize with the desire to focus on the positive, especially when, for so long, any discussion of Black LGBTQ+ people was only defined by negative and usually pathologizing narratives. In practice, this focus frequently derails the work of addressing the structures that put Black LGBTQ+ people in jeopardy to begin with. As well-meaning as that focus may be, I suspect many don’t realize how continually highlighting my resilience ignores the power and privilege that comes with never needing to be resilient in the first place.

There are, of course, productive ways to discuss resilience. Often the best solutions to the issues facing Black LGBTQ+ communities are already known but require additional support and resources. Discussing the intersectional discrimination Black LGBTQ+ people face is challenging, difficult and even, at times, traumatizing. Yet we must navigate racism, queerphobia and other forms of oppression that threaten our communities. The value of celebrating resiliency among…

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