Why, Yes Black People

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Image of purple haired Faith Cheltenham wearing a Black hat in front of a wall with wind flying. Image also says, “It’s critical to create new spaces where Black people can be safe from harm, educate each other, find resources or the best barbershop, and be able to raise help, support, and visibility for the wealth of beauty that is our Blackness.” - Faith Cheltenham

As a Black kid growing up in a predominantly white family, in the very white town of San Luis Obispo, CA, I dreamed of safer spaces, both online and off, than my own home and town. As a bi+ advocate, I’m proud to have helped BiNet USA create a stronger national network of support for bi+ people across the US. Prior to that, I was honored to work with Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, creating new digital spaces for women and moms around the world. Now, I’m taking much of what I’ve learned in my varied career to create a new safe space for Black people online.

I read Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy as a kid and showed my grandfather, a Black Teamster who drove for a grocery company, my guide to the galaxy. He smiled and asked me if he could show me his own. Grandpa Victor went and got out this small green book, called The Green Book, and told me about back in the day, before AAA, this was the book that he and my grandmother (and countless Black Americans) used to travel the country, to find safe food and lodging for their families, stores or gas stations that would serve black customers, or places to avoid after the sun went down. Read more about The Green Book and the upcoming documentary here: thegreenbookchronicles.com.

Image of The Green Book 

The book was discontinued in the 1960’s, but given the rise in hate crimes following the election of the latest president, I got to wondering about what tools might help Black people. I continued my longtime support for the global network of Black Lives Matter, the Movement for Black Lives, and countless Black men, women, and non binary individuals devoted to liberating Black America. There are hundreds of organizers mobilizing Black communities intent on the same goal –– ending the war on Black people. 

Where, I wondered, would a white-raised Black chick, who found her way back to Blackness through the LGBT community fit in? 

Then I saw “Get Out”, a science fiction film about Black people getting caught up by white people co-starring my perennial fav Bradley Whitford (pictured with me at the White House in Nov 2016 below).

Image of Bradley Whitford kissing Faith Cheltenham on cheek at the Obama White House in Nov 2015

Directed by Jordan Peele, the Black biracial comedian/director/producer from Key and Peele, “Get Out” was a critical success that I hoped would stay a fiction. Unfortunately the news kept getting worse. And each time I’d try to help, I’d run into the same anti-Blackness online. 

Anti-blackness, in the words of Black racial studies scholar Michael P. Jeffries, is “the debasement of black humanity, utter indifference to black suffering, and the denial of black people’s right to exist,” and it is more than alive and well in online communities. 

I’ve been banned on social media for insisting Harambe memes naming dead Black boys are attacks on Black people. I’ve had my ads disapproved on on social media for insisting “all lives matter” is anti-Black. I am harassed on Twitter, and usually my harassers are allowed to stay on Twitter (because, Twitter). Earlier this year, I personally tried to start a GoFundMe for a Black woman who saved a kid from a car crash, but #GoFundMeHatesBlackPeople, so I couldn’t easily raise money for this heroic Black woman, when I never faced similar hurdles raising money for white people –– not a one. 

Everywhere I go, it’s the same thing, Black people do not have places we are listened to, believed, can enjoy solace, or find safety, online or off. Visit a Black-oriented group online and you will find white people. Well meaning white people there to learn, or like my own white husband with a Black spouse or biracial kids, or less well-meaning and just there to harass Black people because they can.

YesBlackPeople.com changes that with a 100% verified Blackness! In order to register with the site, every user must provide authentication of Black identity via photo, selfie, family photo or scanned documentation before they are approved in order to become members. In this way, we hope to slowly build a site that has relevant listings for Black America of the places that we love to frequent, that welcome us, or are interested in Black clientele.

You know we need inspirations like Black Heroes Matter, thriving global networks for change like Black Lives Matter, and websites like yesblackpeople.com, if we are to turn the page on one of the most dire chapters in American history for Black people.

If you missed this week’s news, donate to Puerto Rico, keep taking a knee, and get up to date on the state of racial, health, safety, and brutality stats for Black America. Stat.

Right this second, I’m asking for your help to get YesBlackPeople.com further off the ground. Help us get to New York Comic Con this coming weekend, where we will join the Black HeroesMatter panel discussion and host a #Blackathon with local Black developers, artists and copywriters!

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