Rally for the Remedy would like to share the message from a guest speaker who didn’t have an opportunity to speak at the rally due to time constraints. Unapologetic LGBTQI activist, local drag star (Carmen Adore) and business owner (Hatz by Carlos) Carlos Armenteros speaks to the Wilton Manors business owners:
First, let me say thank you for allowing me to speak today. I am deeply saddened that it is under these circumstances, but I hear you, I am learning from you, I am with you in support, and I will use my voice to spread the message of social injustice that has plagued America for so long so we can work together to end it. The black community’s basic human rights have been ignored and challenged by people who define others by the color of their skin. Innocent lives are being taken by targeted police brutality, and in response to our cries for help and change, the true colors of many have been exposed.
The veil is lifted, and the world now gets to see those who retaliate and don’t believe in equality for all. The evil that exists is in the spotlight, desperately trying to defend their ignorant privilege, and silence voices that have screamed for decades. I am here today to use my voice as an activist. To speak up for things that are wrong and unfair. As a community, we all need to come together to make change – to educate others and make sure the right message is being addressed – with the right narrative.
The profiling and abuse of someone simply because of the color of their skin needs to become extinct. But it will not go away on its own. Not without acknowledging that it exists, teaching others how to read the signs, and calling out those who mean harm or to mistreat others. I call attention now to the businesses and restaurants in our city who have spoken out on behalf of our diverse community and genuinely supported the Black Lives Matter movement. They understand what’s going on in the world that we live in and show support to make it clear to our brothers and sisters that they don’t have to worry about being judged or profiled once they enter the sanctuary of their open doors.
To them, I say thank you for being the change we so desperately need. Thank you for standing up for *everyone*. It’s easy to preach equality - but to practice, it is where the change begins. Too often I hear stories of equality being tossed aside in our own town. When our friends simply want to enjoy the safe space here in Wilton Manors. This town is a sanctuary for the LGBTQ community in South Florida, and it’s meant for all. Not some. Not just “skinny”. Not just “muscular”. Not just “masculine”. Not just “bears”. Not just “drag queens”. All. To be quiet during this time is irresponsible and the patrons that support your businesses are paying attention.
We NEED to know these places support us back. It takes no special effort or cost to simply write out a statement and make it clear to our friends that EVERYONE is welcome. If you own a business here - know this: All money spends equally. Every skin color, every nationality, every background, sexual orientation, gender identity, all of it, contributes to the success of Wilton Manors as a whole. People of color are uncomfortable to come in some of our bars because they're made to feel unwelcomed, venues in our own town have talked of “Urban Nights” and promotions for events geared towards people of color, but are quickly swept under the rug because "they don't want that type of crowd".
Some club owners even use tactics like changing the music playing in their venue to a country playlist in order to dissolve a “particular type of demographic”. Wilton manors is one of the biggest LGBTQ cities in the country, with 20,000 gay people living in just 2 square miles. Even though we fly our rainbow flags proud, our trans women and people of color are made to feel less than because of stigma and discrimination.
We know that the black community has dealt with and seen this treatment for hundreds of years before, yet it’s still occurring in 2020 in a city founded upon bringing safety to those who are targeted for simply being who they are. So many we encounter here in Wilton Manors find it difficult to speak on - in a time when we need as many voices as possible to get the message across. Racism needs to end. Now. It starts right here in our city with reforming our justice system and discarding the old-school practices of business owners who operate on their own feelings and misguided upbringing, instead of with the best interest of all. Don’t forget us. We’re the ones keeping the lights on for you.
A business acknowledging and advocating equality for all is crucial right now. Leading by example is the best way to make a change. I know it’s not going to be easy for some. Some will educate themselves because privilege has given them the grace of not having to know first-hand what's going on and why we protest. Some will continue to shun change because of their own ignorant beliefs and slip through the cracks to see another business day. And some will be exposed for their discrimination, their past dug up and aired out to the world by the powers of social media. Which side of history do you want to be on?