Why It’s Important To Challenge The Power Of Gatekeepers

The Establishment
The Establishment
Published in
7 min readJul 7, 2016

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This past weekend, Pride Toronto saw their parade stalled by their own honored guests — Black Lives Matter Toronto. The activists, clad in black and holding up a simple purple Black Lives Matter banner, held a 30-minute sit-in to make demands, including: better inclusion of people of color in LGBT organizations and pride events, the discontinuation of police floats in the parade, and better acknowledgement and efforts on behalf of the special challenges LGBT people of color face and the disproportionate threat of violence facing LGBT black people.

Many were outraged by the actions of BLM Toronto. Many more were outraged when Pride Toronto agreed to many of their demands. Journalist Sue-Ann Levy complained on Twitter that “this parade is about gay rights not BLM” and has spent the days since explaining that if BLM wants to have their demands met, they have to ask more respectfully.

Sue-Ann Levy is a gatekeeper.

The overwhelming majority of comments made in response to an article on The Huffington Post defending BLM Toronto argued that BLM was a blight on social justice movements, that they were too loud, too demanding, too rude, too disruptive.

These commenters are gatekeepers.

I witnessed a similar phenomenon firsthand when Black Lives Matter protesters in Seattle disrupted a Bernie Sanders rally last year. The outrage I saw from many of my very liberal white friends and community members was shocking. They were appalled that such “violent” rhetoric as “white supremacist” and “racist” would be shouted at them. They were dismayed by how “disrespectful” the protesters had been and that they would disrupt a rally of those who had “done so much” for them.

They, too, are gatekeepers.

Gatekeepers rarely challenge their own position as gatekeepers. They are simply right. They are more knowledgeable, more level-headed, more experienced, and more invested in the future of whatever movements they belong to. They know what is best and will enforce it for the greater good. They find themselves saying, “That is not appropriate,” or “That is counterproductive,” or “Why do you have to make this about you when it’s about us?

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The Establishment
The Establishment

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