Written by: Nolizwe Nondabula, Ola Osaze, and Rose Berry, members of the BLMP Steering Committee
On January 11, 2018 the 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump, was quoted saying: “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” while referring to Haiti, African nations and El Salvador. Since, the country has erupted in debate over whether or not the president of the most powerful nation in the world is in fact racist. The answer is undoubtedly and resoundingly yes. However, for us at the Black LGBTQIA Migrant Project and the myriad communities we represent, that is not the final conclusion that should be drawn from this current moment of high political tension. The fact is the U.S. has a fiscal, moral, and ethical responsibility to provide refuge for migrants, particularly those who are Black, Brown or poor, given the centuries of intentional harm it has done to our communities across the globe.
“Whether or not Trump is racist is not the point and is a gross understatement of what he is. His administration’s severe disregard for historical context is part of the mechanism that ensures its power. For us at BLMP, this mechanism is rooted in white supremacy, capitalism and patriarchy,” said Rose Berry, BLMP Steering Committee member.
Much like the refusal of his predecessors to take responsibility for the history of forced migration and enslavement of Black people, Trump pretends the US bears no responsibility for creating conditions that force us migrants out of our countries in the first place. For 60 years, the US refused to acknowledge Haiti’s independence, because the government feared a slave rebellion here in the states, and had an interest in appropriating the profitable agriculture. In later years, the US seized control of banks, occupied, embargoed, and installed dictators.
In Africa, America continues to deny the extent of its political influence, while its military initiative Africa Command, or AFRICOM, has nearly 50 military bases throughout the continent, with 1700 members of the Special Forces and other military personnel currently undertaking ninety-six missions in twenty-one countries. Throughout the world, the US uses institutions like the church to spread false narratives around race, gender and sexuality that criminalize as well as create volatile unlivable conditions for women and our *LGBTQIA+ kin. Consequently, many of us at BLMP and our broader communities have been forced to leave our homelands for fear of assault, prison, torture and murder. Here in the US, Trump has taken every step possible to put an end to government administered programs that aid in our survival and that of our communities, such as Temporary Protected Status (TPS), Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Family Reunification, participation in guest worker programs, and Visa Lotteries.
In light of the continuous onslaught by the current administration and the gutting of immigration relief programs that disproportionately impact the migration and status of Black and Brown migrants, many of whom are LGBTQIA, over 30 community members are coming together on Thursday, January 25 2018, at the Creating Change Conference in Washington, D.C., for the 2nd National Gathering of Black LGBTQIA+ Migrants. From Panama to South Africa, we represent many nations and cultures, and many ways of being Black, queer, and living our gender truth.
“As with the first gathering we held last September, we hope this coming together builds more cohesiveness between us and chips away at the deep isolation many of us experience, gives us space to create bolder visions together and dream ourselves into the liberated future we want to see, and collectively fashion the strategies that we think will get us there,” says Nolizwe Nondabula, BLMP SC member.
To learn more about BLMP, visit https://transgenderlawcenter.org/programs/blmp.