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  BLACKLINES

Freedom to Choose
by Earnest Edward Hite
2003-01-03

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My return to Chicago comes after seven wonderful years in northern California and most of that time was spent in the city of Oakland just 15 miles from the beautiful coastal City of San Francisco. I have relocated to Chicago to continue the work of activism and being an advocate. The myriad problems Black gay and lesbian people face are compounded by silence and undirected voices, coupled with a vision that is largely hedonistic.

The drama of social justice for our people indeed all must be addressed. The saying 'none are free unless all are free' rings true with crystal clarity. We may trade places with folks in power but it is important to not play the game, but rather change the game so that every life is enriched.

Today more than ever our community is faced with a deficit of character, caring and confrontation of the evils that exist in our own lives and communities. The world has become more ethically unbalanced and morally challenged by the uncertainty of life, and has the finger-pointing exercise in full swing.

My work is that of the heart and spirit here in the city of Chicago. A good portion of that is telling my story and putting it into viable words for others to see and experience. Now my experience is not everyone's, nor will it be, but it is a view and a voice, so I will bring my many positive memories of the people encountered from the government to the streets, the places visited and the things experienced. We are living in times that challenge our very soul power either lifting us to heights of glory or into the depths of perdition.

The history of Black people in the context of American history continues to be ignored. The Black LGBT community remains largely invisible politically, socially, economically and spiritually. The abuse of women and men in relationships … yes, brothers do get their butts kicked in relationships ... the massive use and abuse of drugs, the consistent march of HIV/AIDS in the young minority population, the attacks of human lives based on the mere supposition that they are gay and a threat to heterosexist tradition.

The need of our spiritual lives and the assault by clergy who clearly do not understand the message of 'God loves.' Our lack of involvement in politics from voting to visiting our elected officials, no matter what party they represent. There is much to do.

The march of time has left the Black LGBT people without voices. The failure to prepare for freedom and our civil rights will be our undoing. Now the real need is for each of us to prepare on an individual level every day. Why not leave an infrastructure and capital to the next generation to build upon? Remember the battle is given to those who endure to the end and it still takes money and equity and vision to accomplish goals. In 1963, Bayard Rustin, an advocate, activist and a gay man worked with the leadership of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). Bayard Rustin, a man of considerable skill, largely mapped out the strategy for one of this country's largest civil-rights marches in the latter half of the 20th Century.

Bayard Rustin just happened to be gay. He changed America. He changed the lives of Americans by his act of selflessness and commitment to community. He stepped down from his visible position at the request of SCLC leadership not because of shame but because he knew the whole was more important than the piece of his pie. He saw the bigger picture. Bayard's great paradigm was how we can and must work to change the heart and soul of our own lives first and then turn to transform our streets, churches, civic organizations and communities. Today our lives must reflect the future we want. What is your contribution? What are you going to do to effect change?

I welcome your comments; please send correspondence to Ehite10496@aol.com .


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