Monday, July 04, 2016

Pride Parade held to ransom by Black Lives Matter

The activist group, which was a guest of honour at the huge annual Toronto Pride Parade, staged an unexpected sit-in part-way through, holding the parade up for about half an hour. Pride Toronto's Executive Director Matthieu Chantelois, caught off-guard buy the protest, hastily agreed to a series of pre-prepared BLM demands (including a pledge not to allow Toronto Police floats and booths at future parades) in order to get the parade moving again, although he is now saying that he won't actually commit to barring police from the parade, but that he is open to having conversations with the BLM about their "demands".
The black activist group tweeted, "We shut it down. We won." after the sit-in, and they have generated a lot of dissention and strife among various different factions within the GLBTQ community. If this is their idea of a victory, then they are a sorry bunch indeed.
This year's Pride Parade boasted top representatives from all levels of government, including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, and Toronto Mayor John Tory, as well as (black) Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders and a large contingent of police officers, gay and otherwise, who were there to participate in the Parade, not to police it.
Maybe this is all a bit too mainstream and "white bread" for BLM, but to disrupt a joyful celebration of this sort, coming as it does after so many years of struggle and heart-break in the GLBTQ community, seem to me to be just plain wrong. I can't help imagining the hard right rubbing their hand with glee at the unnecessary infighting this spectacle has created.
The Pride organization, out of the goodness of their hearts and a sense of shared struggle, granted BLM a high-profile opportunity to be part of a huge national event, chock full of goodwill and media attention, and they were paid back by a publicly humiliation and a political rift that wasn't there before. They will probably be more circumspect in the future.
Since the event, Black Lives Matter has been inundated with hate mail, mainly from the GLBTQ community, and mainly virulently racist in tone. While no-one condones hate mail of this kind, and while BLM are happily making hay by claiming that the hate mail is evidence of the existing anti-black racism among gays, this was all initiated and fomented by their very own cynical and heavy-handed actions. In one fell swoop, they have themselves created an anti-black dynamic that was not there before.
I have put in plenty of time in activist campaigns of various kinds over the years (albeit not for some time now), and one unspoken rule is that you do not co-opt or cannibalize other causes for your own. You just don't. BLM has crossed this line, and may have to suffer the consequences. My feeling is that it has put its cause back a couple of years by this action; they, however, are unrepentant, and clearly do not feel this way.
Everyone comes out of this diminished in stature and strength, and an opportunity for solidarity and mutual respect has been squandered. What a shame.

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