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  • Writer's pictureDarian

WATCH: Trans Activist Toni-Michelle Williams, Darian Aaron Discuss Their Role in The BLM Movement

Over the last month, Atlanta based NBC affiliate 11 Alive asked people from across the nation one question as Americans grappled with the realities of systemic racism, white supremacy and additional killings of unarmed Black people by police: "What is your role?"

Members of the investigative Atticus team, 11Alive's Matt Pearl, and LaPorsche Thomas gathered the perspectives of 23 people from across the world, two of which were Toni-Michelle Williams, trans activist and Executive Director of Solutions Not Punishment, and Darian Aaron, LGBTQ journalist and creator of Living Out Loud 2.0.

Williams' Self-defined Role: Williams' role in this movement is to continue to be an organizer, agitator, a facilitator of change, a facilitator of brilliance, and a healer again of hearts and minds of Black people and Black babies. 

Quote: "To people who say to Black minority groups like trans people and LGBTQ people, when they say to us, wait your turn... How long have you been waiting? To be seen and heard and affirmed in what you need in order to survive ... it is going to take all of us to tear the door down."

Bio: Toni Michelle Williams is the executive director of the Solutions Not Punishment Collaborative in Atlanta, Georgia, a Black trans-led organization that focuses on leadership development of Black, trans, and queer people and transformative campaigns. 

Aaron's Self-defined Role: "My role in this movement is to be visible. To be vocal, to refuse to be silent, to refuse to be silenced and to amplify stories from LGBTQ people of color."

Quote: "We're asking for equality across the board. Because I'm Black, too. At the end of the day, my gayness does not negate my Blackness. I'm a Black gay man." 

Bio: Darian Aaron is a journalist specializing in stories impacting the Black LGBTQ community and communities of color. He is originally from Montgomery, Alabama. 

In addition to Williams and Aaron, the interview series includes voices from 21 other Americans, ranging from media personalities, educators, soldiers, parents, to those actively participating in anti-racist work to those who are complicit.

According to research conducted by 11 Alive:

  • 74 percent of Americans said George Floyd's death is part of a broader problem, according to an Ipsos poll.

  • 62 percent of Americans believe White people benefit from societal advantages that Black people do not have, according to a recent CNBC poll.

  • 76 percent of Americans feel racial and ethnic discrimination is a big problem in America.

  • 23 percent say it is a lesser problem or "not a problem," according to a Monmouth University poll.

  • 42 percent of Americans think race relations in the U.S are getting worse.

  • Just 17 percent believe they're getting better, according to a CBS News poll. 

Living Out Loud 2.0 would like to publicly thank 11 Alive and LaPorsche Thomas for being intentionally inclusive and providing an opportunity for the Black LGBT perspective to be included in this series. So often, the intersectional experiences of Black LGBTQ people are ignored if not outright silenced and viewed as a necessary sacrifice in order to achieve liberation for Black cishet folks. None of us are free until we're all free.

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