Before our local Pride events, a friend contacted me – she’s a journalist and was working on a piece about the intersection of queer and Black identities. She wanted to know if any of our AMPLIFY contributors might be interested in talking with her (because she gets the point of AMPLIFY – to signal boost voices that aren’t at the table.) Several did. Last night she mentioned to me the folks with whom she hasn’t yet connected. And I told her that they were probably on the Parkway East at that moment as part of the protests about the officer related shooting of 17-year-old Antwon Rose.
This video contains graphic content of the shooting of Antwon.
That was an intersection of Black and queer identity that a lot of white folks overlook, dismiss, and erase. The reporter won’t. And it isn’t my place to explain, simply to signal boost what my friends who are QTPOC are telling me. I do want to repeat one thing that Jasiri X told the attendees of a First Amendment conference yesterday – he specifically asked local journalists to support the woman who recorded and shared the shooting incident. I don’t know her name. I don’t know her identity. But Jasiri asked us to support her because her community journalism documented a terrible moment that needs to be viewed. I’m going to reach out to 1Hood to see if there are concrete things he had in mind.
I want to take a moment to lift up three people in particular who played critical roles in the actions on Thursday, June 21, 2018. Three queer Black people who have repeatedly put their lives on the line to demand justice. They require and deserve our attention and respect for reminding us that when we say #BlackLivesMatter, we are also saying the #BlackLGBTQLivesMatter.
(Links to help are at the bottom of this post)
Christian Carter is a Pittsburgh-based activist and a Black gay man. He’s a recent graduate of CAPA and has been involved in lots of organizing efforts for youth and the general community. Christian read aloud a poem written by Antwon Rose. during a rally at the City County Building on Thursday. He’s also been active in other actions, including both street actions and is now at the Allegheny County DA’s office with other protestors. Christian is 18 years old. His voice is in this clip. He spoke Antwon’s words.
A poem read to the crowd, written by Antwon Rose Jr. pic.twitter.com/RFZVf2erNR
— Paula Reed Ward (@PaulaReedWard) June 21, 2018
Ciora Thomas is a Black trans woman from Pittsburgh and the executive director of Sisters Pgh. She’s also the founder and organizer of the People’s Pride. Last night, Ciora was arrested on the Parkway East during the final moments of the protests. She’s since been released after being briefly detained at the Allegheny County Jail. Ciora contributed her story via our AMPLIFY project a few years ago. She risked going to jail, she went to jail, as a Black trans woman to speak for the voiceless. When I read that, I wasn’t surprised in the least and I was momentarily terrified for her until I saw she was released. She stopped trucks in their tracks and in the video below specifically mentions other Black queer organizers who were present.
Amber L Sloan is Homewood born and raised. She’s the founder of M.A.D.E. I.T. which works with youth in Homewood and Pittsburgh. She’s been working tirelessly all week to provide logistical support for the actions and has a powerful social media presence to keep people informed of where their energies are needed at any given time. She’s fearless and fierce. Amber is a Black lesbian. She’s reminding us that Jimmy Wopo was also murdered this week along with an as of yet unidentified 19-year-old Black woman who was shot in Homestead last night. Follow her on Facebook to stay informed on formal actions and lots of informal conversation. Amber was an early contributor to the AMPLIFY project; read her Q&A.
I spoke with Amber this morning. She asked me to ask YOU to donate bottled water and Gatorade to support the protestors at their upcoming actions. They will also need food. She did not disclose any details to me at this point so they could literally be anywhere in the region tonight or tomorrow or throughout the weekend.
So, please gather your resources and step up to support those who are stepping OUT to demand justice. If you are at the store today, pick up some bottled water and/or Gatorade and be prepared to take it to the protests tonight. I’m trying to find out if there are any drop-off spots or links to send direct funds. I’ll update this post as I find that information.
You can donate directly to Ciora via Paypal to support her work.
You can donate to a crowdfund to pay for Antwon’s funeral and memorial efforts.