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There is racism in the Gayborhood: Sims

State Rep. Brian Sims calls for an end to "toxic and obvious" racism in Philadelphia and its Gayborhood.

Pennsylvania state Rep. Brian Sims, speaking at a rally in LOVE Park in 2014.

<Charles Mostoller

There is racism in the Gayborhood.

I know this because black and brown people who live in, shop in, work in and otherwise come to the Gayborhood like I do, have been saying so for years.

That this fact has been so difficult for some of the communities of Philadelphia, and for the city's LGBTQ communities in particular, to recognize is more than just disheartening, it's dangerous.

Racism means more than just a police force that targets black and brown menand women,a dress code intended to exclude racial and ethnic communities, or an immigration officer checking the "papers" of a Spanish-speaker they think looks like an "illegal."

Racism also means limiting the ability for black and brown employees to climb the ranks in their jobs. It means having to use their "cultural competency" like it's part of their job description.

Black and brown LGBTQ people are too often recruited to be the face of service organizations or businesses because doing so helps promote those companies’ image.

When it comes to the Gayborhood, businesses and organizations that serve the LGBTQ communities aren't absolved from responsibility for discrimination. In fact, many deserve to be held to the higher standard that they themselves have promoted.

And for all the national discussion about understanding the transgender community – and which bathrooms people use – there seems to be a serious lack of understanding and empathy for the day-to-day hardships many in that community face.

Philadelphians show the nation every day that we are a city that does righteous indignation well. We have rallied, marched and risen up in the wake of a divisive presidential election.

Despite our collective opposition to hateful policies and rhetoric, there is still racism in the Gayborhood and it is incumbent upon us to stop it.

During a recent meeting with the Black & Brown Workers Collective, I was asked to get louder, show my support and be a better ally.

From promoting collaboration and lifting voices of equality to admonishing discrimination, I owe it to the people who elected me — and the communities I can reach — to set the best example of a genuine ally.

There is racism in Philadelphia and in its Gayborhood. It is toxic and obvious. We must end it. I have faith in us and in our resiliency. Our community has never met a challenge it could not overcome if we all work together.

Brian Sims represents Philadelphia’s182nd District including the area known as the Gayborhood in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

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