THE BLOG

Gay People Should Celebrate NAACP's Centennial

08/09/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

2008-07-28-bnet_logo_white.gifGay people and their allies should take the occasion of the NAACP's centennial to celebrate the NAACP's century of accomplishments and recommit to supporting the organization and its objectives of ending racism in America.

Why?

I'll give you three reasons.

1) The NAACP provides an example of endurance against horrible odds to create equal rights for African American citizens. Thinking back 100 years to 1909, slavery had been abolished for only 60 years, the rights of Black Americans were negligible, lynchings were rampant, and Jim Crow segregation was the law. Much has been accomplished in 100 years and the NAACP has been the pioneering civil rights group that is, in NAACP's president Benjamin Jealous' own words, still radical after all this time. The Gay movement is relatively young and while gay people do endure humiliation, it is important to remember that others have endured similar types of dehumanization -- often much worse. We need to take from the example of the NAACP's courage and longevity.

2) NAACP leaders have been some of the gay community's best allies. Case in point is Julian Bond who eloquently expressed his support of gay people and gay marriage at the Human Rights Campaign dinner this year saying: "Black people, of all people, should not oppose equality, and that is what gay marriage is...at the NAACP, we pledge to do our part." Not bad for an organization that will certainly take some heat among its constituency for taking such as stance. Gay people should make sure that the NAACP knows that when they stick out their necks we have their backs.

3) This is the most important reason that we should support the NAACP: because African Americans still live in a racist society that requires the advocacy and voice of the NAACP. Benjamin Jealous lays out the reality well in this commentary:

African-Americans are disproportionately represented on death row. Of the 3,500 people on death row, about 42 percent are black, and virtually all are poor. Studies underscore that it is race and class, more than guilt, that determines whether a defendant, once convicted, is sentenced to death.

The statistics paint an ongoing portrait of inequality. Unemployment for African-Americans remains twice that of whites and studies show there is no scientific rationale -- neither education nor experience -- that explains the gap. In some American cities, 50 percent of school-aged black men drop out of school and as much as 50 percent of young black men are unemployed.

It seems obvious but sometimes it is worth reminding people that some black people are gay! We need to make sure that everyone in our community enjoys equal rights in America what ever race, religion or nationality. Racism is a gay issue.

Gay people and their allies should take a moment today and go to the website of the NAACP and make a donation in thanks for the 100 years of the advancement of the rights of African Americans, and in doing so advancing the dignity and integrity of all Americans, and the promise of the American Dream.