Two Flags – One Message
With the calendar turned to June, we have an opportunity to support and recognize two communities that are so critical to the fabric of our Commonwealth. From local town halls and corporate offices to high school and college campuses and religious institutions, the imagery of LGBQT Pride Month calls upon us to honor and respect the lives and experiences of people across the spectrums of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. June is also Immigrant Heritage Month. Activities across the Commonwealth will honor the contributions of immigrants to our society, celebrate their unique histories and traditions, and promote deeper understanding of cultural differences.
As I reflect on what it means to recognize these months simultaneously, the foundation of JDI’s work to promote social justice, equity and safety becomes doubly apparent.
These months are about pride in one’s identity and valuing diversity. They also remind us of the bigotry and harm that people endure because of ignorance, lack of empathy, hatefulness, and individual, systemic and historical oppression. Together, they compel us to think of people’s multi-layered identities and to take an intersectional approach regarding peoples’ lived experiences, the impact of oppressions, and what it means to work for justice. These months are also about honoring the humanity of the rich tapestry that makes our communities richer and more resilient.
The rights and safety of immigrants and members of the LGBQT communities are under attack in this current political climate. Mass deportation and family separations of immigrants threatens the safety and humanity of our neighbors, co-workers and friends. Hate crimes are also on the rise. That’s why JDI is proud to be among a group of organizations working to pass the Safe Communities Act in Massachusetts and to oppose state and federal policies that are based on hate and xenophobia.
The November 2018 ballot initiative in Massachusetts threatens to reverse the transgender non-discrimination law that gives trans identified people the legal right to use any public accommodations consistent with their gender identity. In the coming weeks we will share more information about the ballot initiative and hope you will join JDI and many others in ensuring a YES vote to maintain the current law.
We are not powerless in the face of these challenges. As JDI’s mantra goes: there is strength in numbers! Thank you for being such an important part of JDI’s strength.
For equity, justice and safety,
Debra J. Robbin, Ed.M.
PS Thanks again to former intern Grace Huddleston for designing this graphic to show we are united through our work for social justice!