When does an injustice rise to the level that it matters to more than the people immediately affected?
How many people have to die before the level of outrage goes from vigil on a street corner to cancellation of multimillion dollar events?
When will we stop being surprised, and start getting organized?
Two nights ago, a woman and a man, Shante Thompson and Willie Sims, were murdered in Houston:
The details surrounding this double killing are nothing short of brutal.
Witnesses say a group of up eight people armed with several weapons swarmed a transgender woman and a man out in the street.
Then both of their lives came to an end after gunfire erupted.
Shante, a transwoman, was a member of a community that is too often targeted, attacked, belittled, and left alone. While the transgender community is often targeted specifically because of being trans, laws almost never protect the community for being trans.
The federal Office for Victims of Crimes reports:
In the NCAVP 2009 report on hate violence, 50 percent of people who died in violent hate crimes against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people were transgender women; the other half were male, many of whom were gender non-conforming. Sexual assault and/or genital mutilation before or after their murders was a frequent occurrence.
We know this happens. We know it is a problem.
So where’s the boycott?
More power to Bruce Springsteen for using his star power by boycotting his concert in Greensboro, thereby calling attention to North Carolina’s scurrilous and shameful HB 2, a GOP-authored law which denies equal rights and human dignity to the GLBT community, and essentially bans transpeople from using public bathrooms. Other artists and similar threats may be what prompted Georgia’s GOP governor from signing an equally harmful law.
But if we give more power to Bruce, when do we give more power to Shante? To Ty? To Shade? When do we give them any power at all? Why can’t we give them that power while they are living, instead of settling for hoping that they can at least rest in power?
When it comes down to it, if we’re talking power, aren’t we really talking money?
If the way we stop these laws is through economic boycotts, then Texans of conscious, Texans who believe all people have value, need to ask and answer a critical question: where’s the Houston boycott?
Why did we pull back and let the Final Four weekend go by without leveraging the attention it brought to shine a light on the shameful failure of our city to pass even a basic ordinance protecting civil rights at a minimal level?
Will any Super Bowl-worthy musicians feel strongly enough to make a stand and turn down the gig, citing Houston’s inability to offer all of its citizens a civil remedy for discrimination?
And, beyond a Houston boycott, what are we doing to prepare for the 2017 Texas legislative session?
Last session, after all, Greg Abbott, Dan Patrick, and their ilk demonstrated that local control only means local control that controls what they want it to control.
We better not be caught off-guard by a 2017 bill similar to the North Carolina and Mississippi and Georgia hate-filled bathroom bills designed to legalize discrimination. We better have a plan to shut that down.
The trans community cannot and should not have to do this alone. They’re already left alone too often, and that’s proven to be not just a losing strategy, but a deadly one.