PASADENA - The unconventional convention Politicon brought together more than 10,000 political wonks and fans from all over the country for a full weekend of panels, debates, TV and movie screenings, art, podcasts, comedy shows, and performances. The annual, bi-partisan weekend drew Republicans, Democrats, and people of all political stripes together providing a unique platform for opposing ideologies to meet in the middle. Headliners included Chelsea Handler, Tomi Lahren, Cenk Uygur, Ben Shapiro, James Carville, Roger Stone, America Ferrera, and Ann Coulter. Although many of the debates received praise and criticism, there were a few that were outright protests broke out.
The Hip Hop and Politics session sponsored by MSNBC where chief legal correspondent Ari Melber and controversial radio host of Power 105’s “The Breakfast Club” co-host Charlamagne tha God dished on hip hop’s role in the current political climate. The session was disrupted by protesters stemming from the recent #BreakfastClubBoycott hashtag trending topic. The morning radio show is under fire for anti-trans comments made during the broadcast just a week after trans NY Times best-selling author Janet Mock appeared on the show promoting her latest book, Surpassing Certainty. Shouts rang out from trans women of color, “We are not a joke, trans people are not a joke!” from one protester, activist and actress Blossom Brown.
The Los Angeles LGBT Center employee with a bachelor’s degree in public health, Brown (who recently appeared on the docu-series ‘I am Cait’) felt the radio show was disrespectful to Mock, trans people, and trans women of color everywhere. “As a Black trans woman, I found nothing funny about the broadcast”.
“I originally went to Politicon as a listener, taking it all in. It is important to understand both ends of the political spectrum and I need to hear all of it.” Brown was also surprised how conservative Los Angeles can be. “I was a bit of a culture shock. As my friends and I walked through the convention, I felt the stares. Although I noticed a lot more conservatives than I thought, I felt we needed to be seen and heard in these circles”.
Since the incident, a petition demanding Charlamagne tha God be fired and asking for an apology to Mock for encouraging transphobic speech was initiated by the Marsha P. Johnson Institute, expressing outrage in citing the iHeart radio show with over 4 million listeners.
“There needs to be a serious dialogue on transphobia coming from hetero cis-Black men. When a Black man is shot, and killed in the streets by police, we as Black trans folks also believe “Black Lives Matter” despite how we are treated in the Black community by our cis peers. Joking that it is ok to kill trans people is problematic.” Brown is hopeful that Charlamagne would be willing to have an open dialogue with other Black trans women. “There are more Black trans women than Janet Mock to talk do. He needs to hear more about our experiences”.
At a previous session, Brown asked panelist chair of the Los Angeles Log Cabin Republicans Matthew Craffey why trans issues are not being discussed in the same vein as other LGBT issues. “I want to know how you can use your privilege as a white male to help us as trans women of color?” Moderated by Melissa Goodman of American Civil Liberties Union, other panelists included Huff Post contributor Alex Mohajer, singer and activist Clay Aiken, Townhall.com and Fox News contributor Guy Benson, and Terra Russell Slavin, Esq., of the Los Angeles LGBT Center. Based on the lack of representation of queer people of color, Brown suggested changing that for the next year’s Politicon. “There should be more people of color and trans people on the panel for next year. Our experiences are not monolithic and the community needs to hear all of us”.
Jamal Evan Mazyck, Ed.D. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @jmbeyond7.