If It’s Not Intersectional, It’s Not Equality

The success of our future should never mirror the mistakes of our past.

By Alicia Smith

Within our country’s current racial climate (even more so due to the recent election) it’s almost painfully obvious how difficult it is to be Black in America. Despite the seemingly never-ending adversities, I speak for most in saying that there isn’t a thing I would think to change about my brown skin. Although a proud person of color, when it comes to the rights of others I often find myself checking my heterosexual cisgender privilege at the door.

In his award-winning short film, Counter Act, Steven Gottlieb showcases the underrepresented community of LGBTQ people of color and the inequalities they consistently face. Filmed in black and white, and set within the frame of a Jim Crow-era lunch counter, Gottlieb portrays how it feels — even in 2016 — to be treated like a social pariah for characteristics that simply can’t be altered.

Given the grim reality of gay nightclub massacres and white nationalist advisors in the White House, it’s unfortunately unsurprising that hate crimes have spiked post-election, even more severely than was recorded post-9/11. In the wake of so many recent injustices facing communities of color and other disadvantaged communities across the nation, and given the complex relationship between black culture and queer identity, the plight of our queer brothers and sisters are often placed on the back-burner and forgotten. Counter Act effortlessly illustrates the frequent lack of intersectional representation within historical and media portrayals of the LGBTQ narrative. Gottlieb’s artistic interweaving of civil and human rights subtly reminds viewers of the endless tiered injustices faced by those who openly sit at the intersection of multiple oppressed identities.

If the violent pattern of public terrorization of communities of color weren’t evidence enough that history often repeats itself (especially within a broken system), Counter Act does the job in less than four minutes. Check out and share this incredibly woke short film as a reminder that the success of our future should never mirror the mistakes of our past.

Alicia Smith is the communications assistant at The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.