African Americans often personally relate to stories of discrimination, and most believe that laws should protect all of us. In fact, a report commissioned by the Arcus Foundation found that “a solid majority of African American respondents believe LGBT communities face discrimination on a level close to that faced by African Americans themselves. 60 percent say African Americans face ‘a lot’ of discrimination, and 52 percent say gays and lesbians face ‘a lot’ of discrimination.” ((Donna Victoria and Cornell Belcher, “LGBT Rights and Advocacy: Messaging to African American Communities,” Arcus Foundation, 2009: http://bit.ly/1flQ2SE.))
Furthermore, 77 percent of those surveyed favored inclusive employment nondiscrimination protections and 74 percent favored protections against housing discrimination. ((Ibid.))
Emphasize common ground:
- Focus on hardworking, high-performing employees who are earning a living to provide for their families. Americans in general and African Americans in particular understand that employees should be judged solely by their performance on the job.
Highlight examples of concrete harms:
- Contrary to assumptions about current law, in 29 states employers can fire someone legally solely based on sexual orientation, and in 33 states employers can fire someone legally based on their gender identity or expression.
- According to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, African American transgender people face extremely high rates of unemployment, at 26 percent. That is twice the unemployment rate of the overall transgender population and three-to-four times the national rate. Of those surveyed, 32 percent had lost a job due to bias and 48 percent believe they were not hired for a job due to the same bias. ((Jamie Grant, Lisa Mottet and Justin Tanis, “Injustice at Every Turn: a Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey,” 2011: http://bit.ly/1hEO5h7))
- African Americans are more likely than their white counterparts to have public sector jobs that do not provide inclusive employment protections. ((Alain Dang and Somjen Frazer, “Black Same-Sex Households in the United States: a Report From the 2000 Census, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force,” 2005: http://bit.ly/1hEOa4d.))
- 37 percent of black transgender people report having been refused a home or apartment due to bias, and 37 percent report being evicted due to bias. ((Jamie Grant, Lisa Mottet and Justin Tanis, “Injustice at Every Turn: a Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey,” 2011: http://bit.ly/1hEO5h7))
- The July 2011 edition of Black Enterprise highlighted the impact of discrimination in the workplace and highlighted a Human Rights Campaign survey which estimated that only 25 percent of gay and transgender African Americans reveal their sexual orientation on the job. ((Carolyn Brown, Black Enterprise, “Black and Gay in Corporate America,” July 21, 2011: http://bit.ly/180lGAA))
- In a 2011 report, 42 percent of LGB respondents had experienced employment discrimination at some point in their lives, and 27 percent had experienced employment discrimination just during the 5-year period prior to the survey. ((Brad Sears and Christy Mallory, “Documented Evidence of Employment Discrimination and Its Effects on LGBT People,” July 2011: http://bit.ly/162CJOB.))