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  • Sasha Goodfriend

RESPONSE TO BOSTON PRIDE'S FAUX TRANSFORMATION

Issued by Pride 4 the People and Trans Resistance MA

In early June 2020, 80% of Boston Pride’s Volunteer Workforce resigned after the Pride Board removed “#blacklivesmatter” and rewrote a statement, written by the Communications Team, condemning unjust, racist police violence, and posted it without consulting the Chair of Black Pride or the Communications Team. The statement was met with public outrage over Boston Pride’s persistent and ongoing neglect of issues of racism and white-centeredness. Community leaders of color responded by organizing the Trans Resistance March and Vigil. Thousands convened at Franklin Park on what would have been the 50th anniversary of Boston Pride to bring Pride back to it’s roots and to protest police violence against the trans and gender nonconforming community.


The resigned Volunteer Workforce, along with LGBTQ community leaders of color, demanded the current Pride Board step down, and proposed a transition plan to diversify the board and rewrite the bylaws to include power sharing, checks and balances, and transparency. The Board refused.


After six months of silence, the Boston Pride Board has released a transformation plan decorated with bells and whistles that attempts to divert attention away from the lack of structural transformation that is being proposed. This proposed “transformation” process is merely a fancy performance designed to protect the absolute and exclusive power of the current board. It includes no structural change: no change to the bylaws, to the distribution of power within the organization, nor to the majority vote of the current Board. (https://www.bostonpride.org/transforming-boston-pride/)


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BOSTON PRIDE BOARD SAYS

“For the past six months Boston Pride has been working with a consulting team, Dorrington & Saunders, LLC, to institute transformational change within our organization regarding diversity, access, inclusion, equity and equality.”

YET… the Boston Pride Board refuses to work in collaboration with its own community

None of this work has been done in partnership with community organizations or voices, nor with its almost entire Volunteer Workforce who was forced to resign because ethically they could no longer work with the current board. This proposed “transformation” process has been developed in isolation, without transparency, outreach, or participation of the community.

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BOSTON PRIDE BOARD SAYS

“Boston Pride uses its platform and resources to reduce the negative impact of oppression and racism on LGBTQIA+ communities of color, with deliberate focus on marginalized and intersectional people.”

YET… the Boston Pride Board is spending significant resources on themselves, not the community

During these challenging times the Boston Pride Board has spent thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars, paying a consulting firm to help them maintain their power and to finally teach them about structural racism. It should go without saying that if someone still needs to be educated about the basics of structural racism, they are not qualified to hold a leadership role in a major social justice organization, and certainly should not be paying for that education with funds that should instead be serving the most disadvantaged in our community.

(It should also be noted that the Boston Pride Board is still struggling to use respectful social justice language. There is no such thing as “intersectional people”. There are people who experience intersecting forms of oppression).

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BOSTON PRIDE BOARD SAYS

“Boston Pride is dismantling the systemic oppression and individual, interpersonal, institutional and structural racism within its own organization.”

YET… no dismantling is taking place

  1. The Boston Pride board has neither reached out to, nor made amends with former volunteers of color who resigned over Pride’s persistent white-centeredness and structural racism.

  2. The Boston Pride Board has neither reached out to, nor collaborated with BITQPOC organizations in the Greater Boston LGBTQ community to develop this “transformation” process.

  3. The Boston Pride board has not reached out to the Greater Boston LGBTQ community to ask what kind of transformation members of the community would like to see.

  4. There are no structural changes being proposed:

  • No change to bylaws which give the Board exclusive power

  • No formalized power sharing with the Volunteer Workforce which does most of the work

  • No formalized power sharing with community voices

  • Current board still maintains the majority vote

  • No plans for the resignation of Board members who have been on the Board for more than ten years.

If the board does not make amends and engage in interactive dialogue with Pride volunteers of color who resigned due to the board’s ongoing failure to address structural racism within the organization, this statement is meaningless. With 80% of its Volunteer Workforce resigned and no interactive dialogue with the community, especially the BITQPOC community, this “dismantling” amounts to diversity training for the current Board and no more. And we must ask, what has been learned during this diversity training?

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BOSTON PRIDE BOARD SAYS…

They want a transformation of Pride that raises the voices of the unheard


YET… the proposed structure not only fails to center the needs and voices of BITQPOC community members, but also further marginalizes them

Instead of a plan to populate the board with BITQPOC leaders, representation of queer Black, Indigenous, POC, and trans communities is relegated to powerless Community Advisory Councils. “The purpose of the councils shall be to provide advice to the Board on topics related to the communities served by the councils.” Hmmm. Shouldn’t the Pride Board be serving these communities? 80% of Pride’s Volunteer Workforce resigned because of ongoing structural racism, powerlessness within the organization, and failure to center the voices of BITQPOC community members by diversifying Pride’s leadership. This proposed structure perpetuates the problem.

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BOSTON PRIDE BOARD SAYS…

“We are seeking new members to join the Boston Pride Board of Directors.”


YET… qualification for these positions is significantly restricted

Three out of four new positions are restricted to people qualified to serve as: 1) Director of Diversity, Access, Inclusion, Equity (DAIE); 2) Director of Human Resources; and 3) Director of Technology. First, these are more appropriately staff positions, not board positions. Second, the mission of a social justice organization is diversity, access, inclusion, and equity. Everyone on the board should be doing this work, not just one person. Third, the vast majority of people who do social justice work are not HR or tech specialists. Fourth, this call for board members drastically limits potential applicants to those with specific educational and professional privilege. It is in itself an example of an institutional hurdle that prevents access to those who experience multiple forms of oppression.

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THE TRANSFORMATION PROCESS PROTECTS THE BOARD’S POWER

  • The bylaws of Boston Pride continue to give the board absolute and exclusive power. The volunteer workforce that does the work that is necessary for Pride to happen has no power whatsoever. This current board makes all the decisions by itself. It is not accountable to anyone – not its volunteer workforce, not its communications team, not the voices of community leaders and members. The proposed transformation process includes no power-sharing plan, no plan for checks and balances, and no plan to broadly include members of the community in the “transformation”.

  • The Transformation Advisory Committee will be selected by the current board who still holds absolute and exclusive power over Boston Pride. The three new proposed board members are to be selected by the Transformation Advisory Committee who will be appointed by the current board.

  • None of the six current board members is resigning. That means the current board will maintain majority power if three new members join the board. There will be no critical mass of new Board Members to override the power of the current Board. Some of the current board members have been on the board for over ten years, and some for nearly twenty years. In 2015, Black Lives Matter stated, “We demand that the board represent our community by recruiting people of color, trans people and working-class people. We demand a Pride board as diverse as our community, and not solely comprised of wealthy white capitalist gays and lesbians.” This demand remains ignored.

  • There is no plan for making the transformation process transparent. The only strategy for including community voices is a “Transformation Advisory Committee” populated by members selected by the current board. To date, the “transformation” process has been developed internally by the board in isolation. There is no reason to believe that the current Board will not hand-select simpatico members of the Transformation Advisory Committee and steer all processes and procedures in a direction that helps them maintain their power.

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BOYCOTT BOSTON PRIDE 2021

Do not...

  • apply to these powerless positions

  • register to march with Boston Pride; demand a refund if you registered to participate in 2020

  • sponsor or donate money to Boston Pride

Until ...

  • a transition plan developed in collaboration with community organizations and the resigned Volunteer Workforce is put into place

  • the bylaws are revised to include power sharing with the Volunteer Workforce, with checks and balances

  • a sufficient number of board members resign so that new board members have a majority vote

Pride for the People is asking all individuals, organizations, and businesses to not support the continued structural white-centeredness and racism maintained by the current Board of Boston Pride. Instead, join Trans Resistance at the 2nd annual March & Vigil, June 12th 2021 at Franklin Park. www.facebook.com/events/713486435946930


#boycottbostonpride #blacktranslivesmatter #pride4thepeople #blacklivesmatter


“It’s time for black trans excellence to lead for ourselves” - Athena Vaughn


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