Monday, July 12, 2010

30 Years of Advocacy: Black & White Men Together Celebrate DIVERSITY

[part 1 of 2]

...commitment to a kaleidoscope of social justice issues rather than pandering to stereotypes or promoting a racist module of creating a group for people who prefer dating others based on their race or ethnicity. 

by Cornelius Mabin

The National Association Black and White Men Together (NA) is a nationwide collective network of affiliated and developing chapters in over 20 cities that identify themselves as Black and White Men Together (BWMT), Men of All Colors Together (MACT), or People of All Colors Together (PACT) in keeping with the cultural dynamics of their respective areas.

Conceived conceptually by Michael Smith in 1980 in San Francisco, the organization offered an outlet for individuals and couples sharing their lives inter-racially amidst racial challenges within gay male culture.

Two fundamental objectives guided the group and its many local chapters. First, was to explore our own attractions to men of different colors and ethnic backgrounds as well as it's impact in  a racially segregated society. And secondly, to began seeking answers about overt racism that were witnessed as a part of the gay construct.

With the success of it's initial beginning from posted ads in The Advocate and other news sources, BWMT's unique appeal and message grew additional chapters incrementally. Ultimately creating a national entity known as the "NA" to centralize it's leadership while designating support for local endeavors.

Continued development of the organization’s mission required additional structure and direction resulting in adopting it's Statement of Purpose citing NABWMT as “a gay, multiracial, multicultural organization committed to fostering supportive environments wherein racial and cultural barriers can be overcome and the goal of human equality realized. To these ends, we engage in educational, political, cultural and social activities as a means of dealing with the racism, sexism, homophobia, HIV/AIDS discrimination and other inequities in our communities and in our lives.”

During it's 30 year odyssey, the organization has pursued the course of addressing systemic oppression and cultural indifference with numerous coordinated projects such as a 1983 Discrimination Response System in reference to local bars with excessive carding  practices resulting in discrimination complaints with the Washington, D.C. Office of Human Rights. During the 1988 Boston convention, the group formed the National Task Force on AIDS Prevention funded in part by the first million dollar Centers for Disease Control and Prevention grant.

Continuing to confront racism and homophobia, NABWMT established the Bush-Mallon Institute, offering workshops with trained facilitators to it's network of chapters, community organizations and Fortune 500 companies across the nation as well as published a supportive reference manual utilized for the program.

Throughout the nation, local chapters have participated in pantry drives, health fairs, Pride activities, eco activities and social interaction agendas determined by individual chapter members and leadership.

By it's nature and namesake, the organization over the decades has had it's detractors and espoused misconceptions concerning it's goals and motivations. As a revolutionary concept from it's inception, NABWMT has affirmed and demonstrated through it's enduring work, its commitment to a kaleidoscope of social justice issues rather than pandering to stereotypes or promoting a racist module of creating a group for people who prefer dating others based on their race or ethnicity.

The iconic legacy has set the tone for the future of the organization, while mandating that human rights messages continue to resonate in the 21st century.  

Part 2 in LifeLube tomorrow will detail information about the NA’s upcoming 30th Anniversary Convention called DIVERSE 2010, in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, July 26th - August 1st.  Click for more information about Chicago’s excellent chapter, Men of All Colors Together.

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