Yoruba Richen Unites African-American, Feminist and LGBTQ Voices


For the 30th Anniversary of TED in Vancouver, Yoruba Richen broke many boundaries before she even took the stage. In her exploration of the similarities in the paths of African-American and LGBTQ equality, the documentary filmmaker took to the streets of Maryland where the voting populous is over 30% African-American and overwhelmingly anti-gay. The resulting product, The New Black, Richen seeks to find a commonality within these marginalized communities. In a very powerful segment, one of the African-American lesbian community organizers confronts a young African-American man on the street who is overtly disgusted by the thought of gay rights…and sex. The community organizer deftly reminds the young man that not so long ago, many Americans had that same feeling about his family and their rights. This simple history lesson silences the resistance and gives voice to his friends who now share their opinions…opinions in support of allowing all the right to love who they wish to love.

She breaks the struggles down to three similar milestones:

1. The 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott and the 1969 Stonewall Riots = “I’m Tired of Your Foot In My Neck”
2. The 1963 March on Washinton and The 1979 National March of Washington for Gay Rights (and 1987, and 1993) = “We Are Visible in Numbers”
3. 1967’s Loving vs Virginia and 2013’s US vs Windsor = The “Loving Strategy”

The struggle for marriage equality has definitely taken a longer span of time to find parity, but as the velocity of states supporting marriage equality increases, hopefully the struggle will be worth the wait.