A pair of LGBT pride organizers were publicly shamed by Seattle officials after complaining that an event seeking to charge white people $50 ‘reparations’ to attend was reverse racism.
Philip Lipson and Charlette LeFevre were slammed and publicly shamed by Seattle’s Human Rights Commission which shared their complaint, complete with their unobscured phone number, as well as the Commission’s response on Twitter.
The event which triggered the complaint, Taking B[l]ack Pride, is free, but organizers have told ‘white allies and accomplices’ they ‘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.’
A Seattle pride event is charging a ‘reparations fee’ for white attendees that could range anywhere from $10 to $50, even though it is being held in the city’s Jimi Hendrix Park, which is a taxpayer-funded public space.
Lipson and LeFevre, who run the city’s Capitol Hill Pride, wrote to the City of Seattle saying: ‘It 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.
‘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.’
Capitol Hill Pride organizers Philip Lipson and Charlette LeFevre told the Seattle Human Rights Commission that it viewed a separate pride event’s reparation fees for white attendees as a form of ‘reverse discrimination,’ and brought their concerns to the Seattle Human Rights Commission
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 Nikkita Oliver, a former Capitol Hill Pride worker who quit that organization over its refusal to support Take B(l)ack Pride.
Seattle Human Rights Commission shared its response on Twitter, claiming that Take B(l)ack Pride ‘does not in fact violate any of your human rights as states in the UN Declaration of Human Rights’. The letter made no mention of local, state and federal laws that the event may have breached.
It continued: ‘Furthermore, we would urge you to examine the very real social dynamics and ramifications of this issue.
‘Black trans and queer peoples are among the most marginalized and persecuted within the LGBTIA2S+ (Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, asexual, two spirit +) community.
‘They often face shame not only from the cis-heteronormative community, but within the queer community at large as well.
‘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 (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) in your pursuit of a free ticket to an event that is not expressly meant for you and your entertainment.’
The letter concludes by offering to explain the issues further through a ‘white or white passing member of the queer community,’ and concludes ‘we wish you a happy PRIDE.’
It was unsigned, although the co-chairs of the Seattle Human Rights Commission are named on its website as Tyrone Grandison, Liz Pachaud and Jackie Turner.
The Taking B(l)ack Pride event plans to charge white attendees between $10 and $50 ‘reparations’ – despite being held in a publicly-funded park
It is separate from Seattle Pride, which is having its events held virtually this year, according to Newsweek.
Announcement of the fee brought the event in conflict with organizers of a separate Seattle pride festival, which accused Taking B[l]ack Pride of ‘reverse discrimination.’
The commission posted Lipson and LeFevre’s letter to Twitter, as well as its response, in which it disagreed with the pair’s stance
LeFevre and Lipson have been the co-organizers Capitol Hill Pride since 2009, according to the event website.
They did not immediately return a request for comment.
The event which triggered the drama was co-organized by nonprofits Trans Women of Color Solidarity Network, Queer the Land and the Alphabet Alliance of Color, they said that: ‘Taking B[l]ack Pride is about lifting the voices, narratives, and contributions of black queer and trans voices. It’s about centering who we are and what we need to feel empowered, joyful, and heard.’
Pride celebrations have hit the headlines in recent months after New York banned uniformed NYPD officers from walking along its route, ending a tradition which saw LGBT cops march in their uniform.
Marchers are pictured at Seattle Pride 2020, with this year’s event causing controversy
Organizers have also hired private security to police the huge event, scheduled for June 27, and asked on-duty cops to stay at least a block back from the event.
NYPD Pride officials claim the move was made in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests.
They cited the police’s historic cruel treatment of the city’s LGBT community, which triggered the 1969 Stonewall Riots since credited as the start of the gay rights movement.
NYPD officials have since apologized for Stonewall, with liberal publications including The New York Times condemning the decision to exclude cops.