Queer People of Color Organization Challenges Stigma, Educates Campus

By Shelby Smith, Staff Writer

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Jodie Geddes (left) and Lea Brown (right) run QPOC on campus. Photo by Eileen Martin

Race is always a factor for an individual’s quality of life.

That is, a factor in terms of and individual’s quality of life.

Guilford is now seeking to accommodate the needs of these individuals with the creation of the Queer People of Color group. QPOC is now a part of the many student organizations contained within the Multicultural Education Department.

There are already established LGBTQA organizations on campus like Pride and Trans-Acton. With this in mind, some may wonder why QPOC would be  necessary.

The need for this organization stems from the unique struggles queer people of color face as members of multiple minority (and oppressed) groups. This cannot be ignored.

“The collision of intersecting oppressions results in disproportionate negative health and educational outcomes,” said LGBTQA coordinator Parker T. Hurley. “They experience higher rates of poverty and unemployment, violence and harassment.”

The statistics do not lie.

According to Colorlines.com, over 70 percent of murder victims who are killed in anti-LGBT hate crimes are people of color.

According to a National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs report posted by GLAAD, queer people of color faced continued high rates of violence in 2012 in the U.S.

In a report compiled by the National Coalition for LGBT Health, LGBT people of color continue to be vulnerable to cumulative health conditions because of the stress brought on by persistent racism and homophobia.

With this in mind, QPOC wishes not only to combat the negative environment faced by queer people of color, but also to change it all together.

QPOC’s founder and president Lea Brown wanted to create a safe space for queer, heterosexual, and allied identified students to share their feelings, anxieties, concerns, and triumphs.

“I started QPOC because I felt my needs as a queer black/brown person on campus were not being met,” said Brown. “After speaking with several other students with similar experiences, it became clear to me that this safe space needed to be created.”

The club’s creation proved to be a struggle at times.

“I found it most troublesome that most of the resistance came from faculty members,” said Brown. “Many people didn’t understand why I created QPOC.”

However, this did not deter Brown from seeking high aspirations for the group.

“I really want QPOC to have a greater presence on campus,” said Brown. “I want to create a safe space where tough, important issues can be discussed, while still maintaining a balance of fun and honesty.”

Educating the campus is also major factor for the club.

“I function as my title, treasurer, and leader organizer while Jodie Geddes takes on the responsibility of overseeing the curriculum,” said Brown.

The staff involved in the group also takes the education the group provides very seriously.

When asked if the general public was truly aware of the unique issues faced by queer people of color, Hurley replied:

“Not at all. I would also say that it is not anyone’s fault that they are not taught the difference. If we are unable to see ourselves in history as change agents capable of inciting revolution, then we won’t.”

QPOC is taking the initiative to be those change agents. They are not alone.

The environment of the Multicultural Education Department has been very supportive.

“I couldn’t have made this possible without the help of Parker T. Hurley, Beatrice Franklin, and Jodie Geddes,” said Brown.

Other student leaders support QPOC’s creation.

“I feel like QPOC is a wonderful space for people who need to talk about what it means to be a person of color as well as being part of queer culture in a society that doesn’t value those identities,” said Pride Secretary Cara Messina. “The BRC (Bayard Rustin Center) has become better and stronger because of QPOC.”

With so much progress made in such a small period of time, Guilford students are encouraged to take part in the organization in order to create a stronger and more accepting campus.

“I encourage anyone with interest to attend,” said Brown. “There are always snacks, great people, and a message.”

QPOC meets every other Thursday from 8-10 p.m. in the BRC located at King 127. For more information, please contact Lea Brown at brownlr@guilford.edu.

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One thought on “Queer People of Color Organization Challenges Stigma, Educates Campus

  1. We really don’t need another organization that separates us even more. Assimilation is not always a bad thing. Let’s just be people rather than labels. I am not a “Q—-” and find it offensive to be called one. Don’t stand out-Stand in and count.

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