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Petitioning BRIC Arts Media Celebrate Brooklyn!, BRIC, Jennie Livingston, and JD Samson

Cancel Celebrate Brooklyn/BRIC's screening of Paris is Burning & End the Exploitation of the Ballroom Community and TQPOC! #ParisIsBurnt #‎SHUTITDOWN‬

Many in the Trans/Queer People of Color (TQPOC) and Ballroom community have been deeply hurt by Celebrate Brooklyn's/BRIC's decision to continue with their screening of Paris is Burning in the face of hundreds of critiques condemning this event. Our concerns are numerous:

 

- Although NYC's LGBTQ communities are majority TQPOC and NYC's Ballroom community mostly black and latinix gay men, transsexual women, trans-feminine folks, trans men, trans-masculine folks, and queer women, the event was initially slated to feature a line-up that included NOT ONE PERSON from the documentary or the present THRIVING ballroom community and NO PERFORMERS OF COLOR. This is an erasure of our communities which this documentary purports to be representing.

 

- The trans* (particularly trans-feminine) community is featured prominently in both the movie and the present ballroom community, yet they were completely ignored by the event producers, who went so far as to hire a person well-known in the Trans*/Queer community for her history of transphobia (JD Samson). In fact, transphobia wasn't even mentioned in the event description, though homophobia is. This is an act of transmisogyny, misgendering, and violence.

 

- We are also concerned that this is a pro-gentrification event since the music/acts chosen to accompany the screening were geared towards the tastes of new white middle-class residents of Brooklyn and did not culturally reflect the indigenous existing TQPOC communities of Brooklyn or within the film.

 

- While Jennie Livingston and Mirimax profited immensely off of this anthropological foray into the lives of low-income TQPOC ballroom members, through years of lies and dishonesty, Livingston was able to use people for the sake of her own fame and has been living off of their stories ever since. In the meantime, most of the original cast has been murdered or has died in poverty. This is exploitation of a vulnerable population who trusted Jennie to do right by them.

 

- There have been numerous critiques over the 24 years since this documentary was debuted, many explicitly stating that this film does not "honor the lives of the members of the ballroom community" as Celebrate Brooklyn/BRIC put it. One 1993 NY Times article reads:

"There is a lot of anger in the ball world about 'Paris Is Burning.' Some of it concerns what a few critics have called exploitation: making the lives of poor black and Latino people into a commodity for white consumption. "

In spite of this BRIC thought it appropriate not only to show this documentary, but with an ALL-WHITE entertainment line-up. This is the appropriation of our narratives for the sake of entertaining a gentrifying, majority white audience that seeks to consume us and call it paying homage.

 

 

Celebrate Brooklyn/BRIC, YOU NEED TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR ACTIONS AND BE ACCOUNTABLE TO THE COMMUNITIES YOU'VE HARMED WITH THIS EVENT. You need to:

 

- Apologize to the affected parties listed

- Cancel this violent and bigoted event immediately

- Fund an event that is curated and staffed by the communities harmed by this event.

 

 

Jennie Livingston, YOU NEED TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR ACTIONS AND BE ACCOUNTABLE TO THE COMMUNITIES YOU'VE HARMED WITH THIS DOCUMENTARY.  You need to:

 

- Apologize to the affected parties listed

- Use the platform that you've gained through our stories to speak out against the atrocities that are killing us daily. Violence against trans women of color specifically, like the still unsolved murder of Venus Xtravaganza, is still rampant. Share your limelight with people and organizations doing work that benefits the communities in the film.

- Pay retribution to the survivors and communities of the people you exploited in Paris is Burning with all future proceeds.

 

 

JD Samson, while we note your decision to remove yourself from this programming and to apologize, we ask that you remember that accountability is a gift and that you should continue to seek ways to be accountable to the trans-feminine communities you've hurt historically if you seek to call yourself an "activist" and "ally".

This petition was delivered to:
  • BRIC Arts Media
    Celebrate Brooklyn!, BRIC, Jennie Livingston, and JD Samson


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