A Seattle LGBT Pride event, Taking B(l)ack Pride, is seeking to charge white attendees a “$10 to $50 reparations fee” in order to “keep [the] event free of cost for Black and brown trans and queer community.” When two Capitol Hill Pride organizers complained, the Seattle Human Rights Commission blasted them on social media in a tweet that included their unredacted phone number, and the pair were forced to apologize.
The two organizers, Charlette LeFevre and Philip Lipson of Capitol Hill Pride sent a complaint to the Seattle Human Rights Commission after noticing that a local Pride event, Taking B(l)ack Pride, had announced it was charging the “reparations fee” on its Facebook page.
“BLACK AND BROWN QUEER TRANS CENTERED, PRIORITIZED, VALUED, EVENT,” the group’s organizers, the Trans Women of Color Solidarity Network, wrote on social media. “White allies and accomplices are welcome to attend but will be charged a $10 to $50 reparations fee that will be used to keep this event free of cost for BLACK AND BROWN Trans and Queer COMMUNITY.”
The Trans Women of Color Solidarity Network is not affiliated with the official Pride organization, but LeFevre and Lipson had concerns about the event, namely, that it presented an occasion of “reverse racism.” In a letter to the Seattle Human Rights Commission, the pair, who are LGBT themselves, wrote that “[i]t has come to our attention that an event called “Take B(l)ack Pride at the Jimi Hendrix public park June 26th is charging whites only admission as reparations,” and said that they have been attacked for objecting to the fee.
“We consider this reverse discrimination in its worse (sic) form and we feel we are being attacked for not supporting due to disparaging and hostile e-mails. Please review this event’s stated admission policy as we feel this event is violating Seattle, King County, State, and Federal equality laws,” the pair said. “We will never charge admission over the color of a person’s skin and we resent being attacked for standing in those values.”
“The organizers also asked city officials to investigate Take B(l)ack Pride ‘as a possible ethics and elections violation.’ Lipson and LeFevre explained that the reparations event was being hosted by Nikki Etienne, who worked as campaign manager [for] Nikkita Oliver, a former Capitol Hill Pride worker who quit that organization over its refusal to support Take B(l)ack Pride,” the Daily Mail added.
The Seattle Human Rights Commission, which claimed that it operates not under the United States Constitution but the “U.N. Declaration of Human Rights,” not only did not accept the pair’s requests, they publicly rebuked LeFevre and Lipson, telling the two Capitol Pride organizers to “educate yourself.”
In a series of Twitter posts that featured unredacted contact information for LeFevre and Lipson — despite the pair’s claims of being harassed — the Seattle Human Rights Commission suggested the pair was racist, noting that “the unique nature of your situation does not in fact violate any of your human rights as stated in the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights, which is the charter by which our Commission operates.”
It did not make reference to the city, state, or federal provisions barring race-based discrimination.
Capitol Hill Pride sent us this note 1/2 pic.twitter.com/te62OaQPOY
— Seattle HumanRights (@SeattleHRC) June 18, 2021
Our response to Capitol Hill Pride 2/2 pic.twitter.com/R7gcNNnvNb
— Seattle HumanRights (@SeattleHRC) June 18, 2021
“Black trans and queer peoples are among the most marginalized and persecuted peoples within the LGBTQIA2S+ community. They often face shame not only from the cis-heteronormative community but within the queer community at large as well,” the Commission said. “In making the event free for the Black Queer community, the organizers of this event are extending a courtesy so rarely extended; by providing a free and safe space to express joy, share story, and be in community.”
“We would like to recommend, if possible, that you educate yourself on the harm it may cause Seattle’s BIPOC community in your pursuit of a free ticket to an event that is not expressly meant for you and your entertainment,” the Commission concluded.
LeFevre and Lipson may have directed their complaint to the wrong organization. Given that the “Taking B(l)ack Pride” event would likely have to apply for a permit to hold its rally in a Seattle public park, it is possible the event is within the jurisdiction of the city’s Office for Civil Rights which handles concerns about discrimination in in “public accommodations,” according to its website.
Regardless, it now appears that LeFevre and Lipson have now been forced to apologize.
“We apologize for the inquiry to the City of Seattle regarding Take B(l)ack Pride, it was not meant to be an attack or divide but to ensure equality for all,” the two organizers said in their own Facebook post. “Capitol Hill Pride encourages community events and our mission is to recognize the LGBTQ+ community and all spectrums.”
“We sincerely want to elevate the segment of the LGBTQ community especially of black transgender women, recognize the important history and contributions and support this segment of the hidden rainbow,” they added, per Fox News. “At this time we have requested an invitation of a meeting of hosting parties to resolve any issues and find common ground.”
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