‘The New Black’: Documentary looks at queer black lives in America

the new blackBY EBONI RAFUS

The title of Yoruba Richen’s award-winning documentary documenting the fight for marriage equality in Maryland, “The New Black,” has a double meaning. On the one hand, the title speaks to the idea that some believe that gay rights, and in particular, marriage equality is the civil rights issue of our time, ergo that being queer today is like being black in the 1960s. The idea that gay is the new black is offensive to many black people as it suggests that the struggles that black people face due to race are in the past (i.e. we live in a post-racial world) or that the fight racial justice can somehow be usurped or replaced by the fight for LGBTQ rights. On the other hand, Sharon Lettman-Hicks, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), a civil rights organization dedicated to empowering Black lesbian, gay, bisexual,and transgender (LGBT) people, offers another meaning. Lettman-Hicks speaks passionately, striving to create a more inclusive black community. She believes sexuality is a taboo topic in the black community and would like to change that. She says, “With the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t tell for the military, we’re ready to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in the black community.”

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