David Johns Addresses the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe
Executive Director, NBJC
Esteemed moderator, delegates and colleagues, my name is David Johns and it is a true honor for me to be here today.
I would like to thank the OSCE for providing me with this opportunity to talk about the work of the National Black Justice Coalition and our efforts to combat racism, homophobia and hate crimes. The National Black Justice Coalition is the ONLY civil society in the United States intentionally and unapologetically dedicated to both racial/ethnic equity and LGBTQIA (and Same Gender Loving, a term I use to describe myself) equality.
The National Black Justice Coalition is an important organization because there are some of us who have intersectional identities—that is we face bias, discrimination and sometimes are victims of hate crimes because of our multiple, overlapping socially constructed identities. The work we do is important because too often people assume that all African descendants—all African Americans to be specific—are the same—that we’re heterosexual, able bodied, and Christian, for example, but as long as there have been Black people there have been Black LGBTQ/SGL people and it’s important for us to highlight this fact to ensure that we can meet the needs of members of our community who too often are neglected and ignored.
There are three recommendations, really requests, that I have of the United States and every other country represented here at OSCE to strengthen responses to hate crimes. My recommendations are designed to ensure that we protect the human rights of all people—especially African descendants who are united, globally, in the challenge of overcoming the vestiges of colonialism, transatlantic enslavement and white supremacy.
First, I have a question: have you heard about the murders of 22 Black women, Black transgender women in the United States? No. Have you heard about the seven unsolved murders in Jackson, Florida alone? No. The fact that you may not have heard about these alarming statistics is because we need more robust and disaggregated hate crime reporting, reporting that acknowledges intersectionality. Every year in the United States Black transgender women are murdered at an alarming rate; however, they are not always counted (or considered). Such data collection and reporting is essential to ensure we’re protecting the members of our community who are most vulnerable and are least likely to report being a victim of racism, homophobia and hate crimes.
Second, we need culturally appropriate and inclusive training and professional development for first responders, including police officers as well as educators, to improve their ability to ensure the safety and equal protection of all people—especially individuals from racial/ethnic and sexual minority communities.
Finally, the government of the United States should invest in civil societies, what we call non-profit organizations like the National Black Justice Coalition, organizations that do the work of providing victims of racism, homophobia and hate crimes with necessary services including counseling, legal and social support.
I hope you all consider the National Black Justice Coalition a resource, really a partner in this critically important work. Remember that Fannie Lou Hamer taught us that none of us are free until all of us are free. Let’s get free together.
I thank you very much for the gift of your time and attention. I look forward to additional action.